College success is not as difficult for most young students as learning how to take on adult responsibilities. Letting go of adolescence and becoming an adult is more challenging according to Carl Pickardt, Psychologist and adolescent specialist. If you take responsibility for showing up to class regularly, turning papers and work in time, and sacrificing some of the time spent with friends in favor of more study time, you have won half the battle for achieving college success. Being responsible for meeting the demands of college (ability to respond and step up to the plate) is one of the keys to college achievement.
You already have been using some of the higher level thinking skills needed to succeed in college. You use these skills when you solve your life problems and overcome obstacles. Your lack of success in college will not be because you are not smart enough. There are many different types of intelligence and my experience in working with hundreds of students has shown that practically every student is smart in one way or another. For more information on different types of intelligence other than IQ, you can read the theories of Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Robert Sternberg (Successful Intelligence) and Daniel Goleman (Emotional and Social Intelligence).
In addition to self-responsibility, there are three other factors you will need to succeed in college:
1. Learning how to learn and study skills – You need to learn how to learn effectively and the ways that you learn best. Most colleges offer at least one college success course which can teach you these skills. These courses also need to be taught to high school students, but sadly few high schools provide them. A good college success course will teach you: how to study and learn, reading comprehension strategies, your best learning styles and types of intelligences, how to set and reach your goals, time management, discovery of your talents and strengths, career exploration, writing skills, note taking, problem solving, and more.
2. Work Ethic – Good study and work habits will lead you to success in college and in the work force. Good study skills will only be effective if you apply them. They will be worthless to you if you do not use them.
3. Motivation – Without motivation you will not consistently use good study skills, work habits and your intelligence and potential. There are two types of motivation, the carrot (pleasure) and the stick (pain). When you use these together you will have a powerful motivational combination. Keep your long-range goals for achieving a college education in your mind's eye. For example, let's say you want a degree in secondary education to become a teacher. Visualize and imagine yourself as a teacher who is making a positive difference for your students. Enjoy the positive feelings that come when you see yourself as a great teacher. This is the carrot and a reminder of one of the benefits (pleasure) you will experience by achieving your goal. Also remind yourself of the stick (pain) or the consequences if you do not achieve your goal of completing a degree in secondary education. It can deprive you of becoming a teacher. Reminding yourself of the benefits and consequences will help you to stay motivated and persistent. Also break your long-range goals into small steps. Every step accomplished provides you with positive feedback and will increase your motivation to reach your long-range goals.
You can succeed in college, in your career, and in your life. Where to begin? Start with college success by taking responsibility, learning how to learn effectively and how you learn best, using good study skills and work habits, and by fueling your motivation to succeed. Use these four keys and you will open the door to college success and the gateway to your dreams.