6 Genuine Traits of Successful Students

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Having spent a couple of years in the Nigerian university educational system, I have seen different manner of successful students. Whether they are those who only begin to study once they see the examination timetable or those who began to study during the holiday or those who play a lot and are “back-benchers” etc there is just something they all hold in common.

For you to be a successful student in any Nigerian educational system where the huge percentage of the entire rating of your semester work lie on 2-3 hour examination,  you must possess these traits in you.

1. Ability to plan effectively

Believe me, planning is a skill that creates a demarcation line between students of all classes.

There was this student in our department who plays a lot, stays at the back during class, engages in all manner of “distractive” events that we secluded ourselves from for the purpose of academic excellence, yet at the end of the day, he performs better than us – exam wise.

You know the feeling? I found out that he has this ability – he knows how to plan.

Perhaps, later I will develop an article on the secrets to making successful plans. Planning is not just about developing  a time table that you will not keep, for a student, it goes deeper than that.

When planning, there are a lot of factors you need to consider – your strengths, your intellectual capacity, your nature, type of tasks etc.

2. Ability to Set Goals

All successful students know how to set goals even if they set theirs two days before the examination.

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Goal setting is a skill that is highly rewarded in companies, institutions and life in general. Anyone that adapts this ability while in school have learnt a great deal in life. I have a lot of goals in my life but I am aware that it is not one big step that does the job. I have daily tasks that I undertake that bring me one step closer to my goals.

One major thing I learnt from Tedx talk – one of my favourite youtube channel is that IF YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS, DO NOT FOCUS ON THEM. At first, I was like “seriously?” but I discovered that we fail to achieve our goals because we focus too much on them and neglect the very basic things that will lead us to it.  Instead of concentrating our efforts on things we control, we base it on things that is not under our jurisdiction.

Take for instance, a student who wants to obtain first class honours on graduation.

Everyday he is on his bed day-dreaming how wonderful he will stand to take the award and what he will put on that day. Yes that will provide the basic push he needs but can that really make him a first class student? What he needs is to focus on what are those things that can drive me to my goal? Do I need to stop somethings? What strategies should I employ in studying?….

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3. Direction

The best students in the course are not always the best in the grades.

If successful students are preparing for exams, they know exactly what to read, where to read, which materials will help them and so on. While unsuccessful students (exam wise) will go to the library with a book bigger than their text book, some moderate ones will start reading the textbook from the beginning. Then during examinations they would be confused as their reading retains no direction.

The truth is while they may be more knowledgeable, they may still not be able to make good grades. If you like reading like that, it is good but do it within the semester and narrow down your studies to what you were taught in class, your assignments, exercises, past questions etc when preparing for exams.

4. Consistency

They may be slow, but they are consistent. And what is the end result? A habit is formed.

I remember during my secondary school days, I made it a discipline to read one hour each day. I did that consistently till I felt uneasy if I had not read in a day. At the end it gave me an outstanding result.

It is not one huge step, it is a combination of small consistent steps that would do the job.

5. Easy Patterns

Every difficult course have an easy way to study it

The earlier you discover this way, the more successful you would  be. Not all courses demand long hours of reading, not all courses demand traditional reading method. Some demand discussion, some demand practicals, some demand watching videos, some may even demand reading journals. I do not personally believe that any course is difficult, it is usually the method and the lecturers that make it appear so.

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For instance when we were being taught the principles of electromagnetism where vectors were the order of the day in various co-ordinates systems (Cartesian, circular, cylindrical, spherical) etc, it seemed tough because you were imagining things you cannot see. What did I do? After each class, I watched a video on it that takes the imaginations to animations, making understanding easier.  Imagine if I had crammed that?

Every course have an easy way to study it, successful students always go through that path.

 6. Finding Pleasure

Becoming successful doing what you do not enjoy is analogous to finding a needle in a haystack.

If you really want to consequentially succeed in a course, try to find pleasure in it.

I may be wandering through a course for about three weeks while my study mates are gone far ahead. What am I doing? I am trying to find motivation in the course. I watch videos, see animations, read commentaries about its relevance. I then know what is expected and move in accordance to it.

If you are reading a course and you are not enjoying it, stop find something that could make you enjoy it. If you cannot find one, change the pattern you are using to study.

Thanks for reading.


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