What exactly is student success?
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In summary, how can student success, both academically and in the real world, be achieved?
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Success can generally be defined, in many quarters, as achieving a personal goal(s). And the main ingredient needed to achieve a said goal(s), as discussed by these 22 people, could be parameters like hard work, luck or maybe something else.
But what else could influence success? Specifically, student success both academically and in the real world? To answer the question, the meaning of student success needs to be properly understood.
And to this effect, in summary, does student success simply imply getting good grades? And is there a guarantee that the good grades will make a student successful in the real world?
These are the types of questions that this post will address, in addition to these frequently asked questions.
The definition and focus of student success have shifted to the more holistic development of students so that they are prepared for professional and personal responsibilities. However, some parents still seem to want their children’s success to be based on how great their test scores are.
And this obsession with grades, in society, is stressful for many students — even auto insurance companies now factor in good grades to offer discounts.
Getting good grades has gotten complicated, especially in these modern times, with the tons of distractions that abound around us, to the extent that, for example, we now need apps to help us reduce screen time. This and many others, like a child’s environment, have not made it easy for students to stay focused academically.
The difficult living/upbringing circumstances or environment of children could impact their student success. A couple of ways that children’s environment can impact their success academically and in the real world are:
A) Maltreatment and neglect during childhood significantly impact adult neuropsychological functioning, such as non-verbal reasoning and long-term executive functioning.
B) Poor children, according to one research, hear 30 million fewer words by the age of three than children who belong to affluent families.
C) Poor brain development, especially in middle-class and poor children, can cause a 20 percent gap in test scores.
And now, with all of these in mind, here’s how best to define/summarize student success:
Student success goes beyond grades, learning, and retention in school. Students should be able to acquire values and behavioral traits that can make their personal and professional lives fulfilling.
If only children automatically knew how to have the right values and traits, life would be much simpler. But many of them don’t, and expecting them to figure this out on their own is a big ask.
Most students will often fail to understand the responsibilities and pressure of the real world. Take college, for example, where many students can advance to, thinking that college comprises mainly fun times. Undoubtedly, college life will always be memorable, but it may also be the first time when children will manage every and anything on their own.
In a 2009 study by Purdue University, 14,000 students were asked about the first year of college. And, collectively, the majority said that they were unaware of the hard work required in college.
And with students being responsible for their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being amidst the pressure of having to succeed academically in college, many students can be overwhelmed dealing with this sort of pressure that they have never felt since they left home for the first time.
College life, for many students, can be utterly frustrating. Things like high tuition fees, remedial classes, or the lack of connection with professors are likely culprits to blame.
Challenges for Students in School
Despite the focus on the holistic development of students, some students are unable to catch up with the minimum requirement for academic learning at school. Even many bright students find it challenging to stay engaged in the classroom.
And this brings us to some of the issues faced by students in school.
A) Cramming to get an “A” grade
Many of us have come across a teacher or a professor whose main focus is to get students to cram information so they can get an A in their tests. When a lot of information is just offloaded to students without telling them how it is going to help them, then studying and retention becomes difficult.
However, some students, who are good at cramming, may get ahead by getting good grades. But does this type of short-lived academic student success help anyone?
Furthermore, when these high scorers get applauded for their grades, it just psychologically hurts the other students who want to learn new concepts, by coming to school, but can’t retain information well.
Early education builds the foundation of children, but when the focus is getting into Harvard or Stanford or Yale by scoring well, it dampens the spirit of many bright students who are not great at showing how smart they are on test scores.
B) Tests and Assignments
Every school and college needs students to take tests and submit assignments. Otherwise, how else can they assess progress?
But do these tests or assignments help in the learning process? Or, is there any research that goes into the testing process?
Many universities have options that offer wonderful platforms to students for learning. However, that’s not always the case.
Wouldn’t it be better to engage students in critical thinking? For example, how many times are students asked in school to work on a solution to eradicate the problem of homelessness? Many teachers, in this regard, may want to expand their students’ abilities, but sticking to the curriculum often gets in the way.
C) Lack of Freedom
This is more specific to early education than college. For many students, school feels like a prison. There’s a class schedule, homework deadlines, parent-teacher meetings, and more restrictions that students have no say in.
Discussing the lack of freedom, among students, in schools is somewhat a taboo because students have been raised to believe that whatever happens at school is for their best interest.
And hence the institution of corporal punishments that are frequently used by school districts, for example, in the four states comprising Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas? This practice is also allowed by law in 19 other US states and many parts of the world.
If children are punished harshly by their teachers for questioning them or “speaking out of line,” why won’t they feel like they’re prisoned with hampered mental development?
And because of fears and anxiety, brought about by the punishment at school, many students even develop school refusal conditions. Here’s an interesting infographic on what parents can do when their child simply refuses to go to school:
D) Make Personal Connections with Your Teachers
Everyone agrees that personal connections between students and teachers help a lot in school or college.
However, quite often, teachers aren’t able to connect with students and understand their motivations or needs in life due to their rigorous schedules. When teachers can’t make that personal connection with their students, the teachers could miss some underlying issues or problems in the life of students that may impede the success of students.
Children look for positive motivation in life, from teachers, beyond academics. Simple things like talking to students, encouraging students to share their experiences in life, and attending extracurricular activities with them can make a lot of difference.
When students do not find that connection, they may not feel enthusiastic about going to school or attending class.
“Dealing with slower-learning students”
Teachers, in addition to making personal connections with students, should take special care when dealing with students who require more time to grasp basic concepts.
And this is because all children are not created equal as some learn faster and perform better than others. But, there are some students with comparatively lower study habits who find it difficult to catch up with coursework.
As a teacher, identifying and engaging in conversations with slower-learning students, which could include motivating their parents toward early intervention for their children, can make a lot of difference in their lives.
Minor initiatives like private tutoring and regular encouragement can motivate these students to work harder. Otherwise, they tend to feel left out in a classroom.
It’s important not to hurt the feelings of these students by mocking their inability to comprehend faster as this can cause students to slip into depression and maybe refuse to attend school.
If a teacher thinks that the student needs outside help and encouragement, then they should make the effort to update the parents and arrange sessions with a counselor. Maintaining eye contact, being patient and understanding, and using creative techniques to teach unmotivated students can also go a long way in their future growth.
Expert Tips for Success in School
But regardless of these challenges, for students, in schools and colleges, there are always ways to make life easier for them. Here are a few more steps that can help steer students in the right direction.
A) Be Friends with Like-Minded People
Though a student might be tempted to be friends with some of the popular kids around, it’s important to find people you can connect with. Attending orientation activities and joining learning communities in college can help you find friends who have like-minded goals.
It is important to meet the right people because deeper connections always make it easier to fight through difficult times in school or college. And keep in mind that whatever the age, students are always influenced by others either negatively or positively.
B) Focus on Your Health
The Public Health Study of College Health Behaviors, published by Harvard, shows that frequent physical activity significantly impacts the stress level, social interactions, and moods of students.
The pressure to succeed academically can make students focus solely on studying. But if they continuously study without a break or physical exercise, retention could prove more difficult. Physical exercise is known to enhance concentration, leading to better retention of learnings in class.
Whether it’s brisk walking, strength training, yoga, or running, students ought to take some time out from their schedules to engage in some physical activity.
C) Join a Club or Group
School shouldn’t be just about academics. When children go to study, they can also explore interesting activities or hobbies by joining clubs or study groups. These also help, as previously stated, in connecting with people other than their classmates.
“Extracurricular activities, according to The National Center for Education Statistics, provide a channel for reinforcing the lessons learned in the classroom, offering students the opportunity to apply academic skills in a real-world context, and are thus part of a well-rounded education.”
Some parents might think that joining a club will put their kids under more pressure. However, students can learn many life skills when they become part of a group -- such as teamwork, group responsibility, diversity, and competition.
Research also suggests that participation in extracurricular activities could increase engagement or attachment with school and help in reducing dropouts.
D) Attend Help Sessions
About one in five children suffer from mental health disorders. These include ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, behavioral issues, mood and anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, or substance abuse disorders as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In many students, the academic or peer pressure at school can tragically lead to suicidal thoughts.
If students are suffering from anxiety or depression, a professional counseling session is surely in order. There’s nothing wrong with working on your mental health, especially with the everyday proliferation of culprits like social media platforms, which has made mental health all the more difficult for students.
Most of the schools and colleges in the US, fortunately, employ mental health professionals who are well-qualified and experienced to understand the issues students face these days, as early intervention can make a positive impact on the overall mental health of a student.
Counselors can also help students to set academic goals, develop time management skills, improve social interactions, work through their problems, and identify interests and strengths.
Here’s a great video that tells how to go about achieving success, which in this case is student success in school.
Factors that Influence Student Success
Now that we have talked about some of the major challenges that students face and how to overcome them, let’s now take a look at the factors that are integral to student success.
The success of students depends on a combination of different factors, some of these factors impact some students more than others.
A recent study commissioned by the National Science Foundation revealed that college students could find success if encouraged to develop personal goals, a sense of belonging, and a mindset for growth, all of which can be achieved via the below-listed methods
A) Support from Family Members
Parents might think that their children are independent enough to make their own decisions, when in college, but it always helps to offer your support and encouragement during the semester, especially during exam periods.
With the way tuition fees are increasing these days, many students worry a lot about the cost of college or the burden of getting an education loan, especially if they know that their parents struggle financially.
A student’s emotional support can help in reducing the stress that students face even if the support is not able to contribute financially to the student’s education.
It’s also quite common for some students to feel homesick when they move away from home. As parents, when you receive texts or calls from your kids, it’s best to make out time to answer or at least call back promptly.
Talking and listening to their problems can be worth more than gold to them. And also, being empathetic in tough situations can boost the confidence of students.
When it comes to students, being engaged with their coursework can produce/improve the love of learning in them.
A face to face time with teachers is also important for student success. Parents’ preference for online communication with teachers and staying informed through student portals aren’t as effective in knowing whether their children are happy at school. And that is why parents need to get and stay involved by attending parent-teacher conferences or school activities.
B) On-Campus Counselors or Advisors
Regular meetings with a counselor or academic advisor can help students in achieving success in college or school.
On-campus advisors can clearly explain the requirements of a course and which classes should be taken for a particular degree. They also help in making a thorough plan with required hours of work to succeed.
In the first year of college, many students aren’t aware of the resources and amenities offered by the college. Since advisors are aware of the resources that can help students, they are instrumental in guiding students with their coursework.
As extracurricular activities are equally important in life, advisors can identify the interests of students and suggest a club or group for a student to join.
Counselors, on the other hand, are trained to manage the developmental needs of students in varied age groups. As discussed earlier, if a student is facing anxiety issues or going through a tough phase, it’s recommended to talk to your assigned counselor about your problems.
Here’s an interesting infographic from NYU that shows how counselors are key to the success of students.
C) Self Motivation and Engagement
If a student is distracted or is undergoing deep emotional issues, it would be difficult to concentrate on academics or anything around them.
Some children are intrinsically motivated to perform well, get good grades, and participate in activities, while others need external motivation.
External reinforcements don’t mean that you should just reward your children with toys or excursions when they complete their homework or get good grades. Instead, you can motivate your children to practice what they’re learning and seek answers to whatever comes to their mind from an early age. The process of learning is enhanced when students experiment and discover new concepts on their own.
For instance, a child might not be motivated to write science assignments but may show enthusiasm when the teacher conducts, for example, the vaporization of water in class. Teachers just have to find what motivates a child and then proceed accordingly with lessons.
When a child is motivated, there’s a good chance that he or she will be engaged in the process of learning, which is integral to student success.
D) Out-of-School Activities
How students spend their time outside the school or college campus also impacts their success in life. The experiences students have while growing up, whether it’s spending time with their families on Christmas or going to a summer camp during their breaks, will shape a student as a person. That’s why it’s important to have positive, out-of-school experiences while growing up.
Part of these positive experiences is found by joining youth organizations such as the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Boys and Girls Clubs. Research has shown that children who volunteer at these organizations often demonstrate better behavior in school and turn out to be more confident, even in the real world.
These programs also offer mentoring relationships to students who often look out for support from adults who are closer to their age group.
Another way to better utilize the time of children out-of-school is through youth employment. It teaches students skills and attributes that can prepare them for life in the real world after college.
As many as 76% of the youth in America are working or have been employed by the age of 16. It’s important to make sure that your child’s employment doesn’t come in the way of their studies as they might get tired from work.
The solution to better success in life and academics lies in maintaining a balance between coursework requirements and instilling real-world skills through other activities as already mentioned in this post.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A) Why is academic success important?
Academic success determines how well one is positioned to tackle the world outside college. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean that those who are excellent academically will surely be successful, it offers students a platform to succeed. Schools and colleges give the chance to participate in many activities and learn skills that are useful later on in the real world. That’s why it’s essential to try your best to succeed in academics.
B) What are the causes of poor academic performance among students?
Poor academic performance can stem from many factors, including internal and external causes. Internal causes may consist of an unhappy environment at home, frequent fights, or the student’s emotional state. External causes can include complicated teaching methods, lack of personal connection with teachers, school environment, or social interactions.
C) How can students improve their academic performance?
Students can bring significant improvements in academic performance by setting clear goals and managing stress by connecting with a counselor at school. A few other things that can help during college are reaching out to professors for help, learning with your peers, participating in extracurricular activities to freshen up your mind, and taking notes diligently.
D) How can you be a good student?
Being a good student doesn’t only mean getting good grades. It also means that you’re involved in different activities at school or college so that you can learn valuable life skills. Your participation in extracurricular activities matter as much as your grades, so make sure that you study well, but not to the point that you stop joining social activities like clubs or groups.
E) Does academic success determine success in real life?
Your grades are important for college admission and job applications. When you’re one of the top students in your class, it can result in a better job offer or even a promotion. But grades don’t determine your work effort or life skills. You have to work hard at your job to succeed in life or to build something from scratch. So be focused on more than just academics, and don’t let books be the only thing you study in life.
F) Which qualities are required for college admissions?
Colleges, aside from grades, look for specific qualities in students that align with their requirements. A positive attitude, passion for chosen subjects, an inquisitive mindset, the ability to work in groups, and self-discipline are some of the qualities that help students in securing admission to colleges.
G) How can you motivate students to work harder?
Teaching techniques can make a significant impact on students. Teachers are often the best equipped to help students feel more engaged in the classroom. If students are engaged, they may be more motivated to learn and ask interesting questions in class. Teachers are also well-equipped to make a personal connection with students and understand their motivations and struggles.
Help your students by teaching them to define goals and find ways to study to meet those goals within time. Taking the time to help your students manage their coursework while also insuring their minds are spent in the real world can make all the difference in a student’s ability to succeed.
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