5 Habits of Successful Students

by Monty Chadwick

The best students aren't always the smartest students. Many of the most successful people academically aren't necessarily more intelligent than their schoolmates. Instead, they understand what habits will help them rise to the top. Interested in doing the same? These five strategies can help you achieve academic success.

1. Successful students focus on time management

Every student has the same 24 hours in a day to complete their task list—so why do some students seem so much more efficient than others? They likely have better time management skills. Consider these strategies that successful students typically follow to manage their time:

They use a planner. This may seem outdated, but recording deadlines is a good way to reinforce them in your mind. Whether you use a physical or digital planner, this tool is essential for tracking your projects, meetings, and deadlines without letting anything slip through the cracks.

They set intermediate deadlines for larger projects. When you first receive an assignment, create smaller deadlines leading up to the final due date. Record these in your planner.

They don't try to multitask. Some students believe they are experts at managing multiple tasks, but the truth is that productivity decreases when you multitask. Concentrate on one task for a set period of time with as few distractions as possible. You may be surprised by how much you achieve.

2. Successful students study in the correct locations

It may seem inconvenient to leave your home to find another place to study. So why not sit at your own desk? While it may be more comfortable, studying in your bedroom can often lead to less successful results. Think about how much easier it is to get distracted at home—there are many ways you can procrastinate. However, if you settle on a quiet study area away from distractions, you can get more done, and you'll likely do better work because of your heightened concentration.

3. Successful students ask questions

Perhaps you sometimes hesitate to ask questions—maybe you assume your professors or schoolmates will judge you. If so, remind yourself that the entire point of your coursework is to learn. You are only hurting yourself if you don't speak up when you need or want more information.

4. Successful students are present in class

There are two meanings to note here. First, you need to be physically present, whether that's in person or in your virtual learning environment for an online course. Think of attending class as your job.

Second, consider the second meaning of being present—paying close attention and contributing to the conversation. This form of presence can help you better retain the content of the class.

5. Successful students don't cram

Trying to study all the material for an exam in a very short time may, in rare instances, help you in the short term. But you won't remember the material in the long term, and you'll be short-changing yourself on sleep, which can set you up for even worse performance later on. Setting a schedule that divides your study sessions into smaller daily or near-daily events will assist with your learning, your stress levels and, ultimately, your overall success.