The habits of successful students

Students who go to classes, study at least 20 hours a week and use college tutoring and support centers usually earn a degree. It also helps to make friends. Slackers and loners usually don’t make it through.

But poor academic preparation — not lack of effort — explains the high drop-out rate of low-income college students, concludes a new study. Many low-income students believe they’re ready for college but earn low grades, especially in math and science.

About Joanne


  1. Without a doubt students who are better prepared for college and who study more earn higher grades than those who aren’t as well prepared and who have less time to study. Old news is not new news. How can young adults who aren’t well prepared and who juggle family dynamics and work schedules, be retained in their beginning years in college? Can programs be designed for them to offer better support, to offer funds or free tutoring? I think students who carry burdens hindering their ability to study and who really are driven should seek this support, if and when it exists.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Students who go to classes…

    I had to swallow my tea to keep from laughing when I read this.

    Imagine that: going to class helps you pass college!

    … study at least 20 hours a week…

    And imagine that! If you actually do what the college recommends you do to pass their degree program, you might actually (wait for it…) pass their degree program!

    This isn’t about the “habits” of successful students. This is about minimum thresholds for effective activity.

    The friends thing, though… absolutely. Learning is at its best when it’s discursive, and I encourage all my students, constantly, to form study groups. The ones who do tend to do much better, on average. (Though I’m not sure which way, if either, the causation runs there.)

  3. dangermom says:

    “But poor academic preparation — not lack of effort — explains the high drop-out rate of low-income college students, concludes a new study. Many low-income students believe they’re ready for college but earn low grades, especially in math and science.”

    This is so true–I was middle-income, and got good grades at a rotten high school. I had no idea how unprepared I was for college, and though I did OK and survived, I missed a lot through my ignorance of how much I didn’t know. I was not really prepared to write college-level papers, etc. Last weekend I went to my HS reunion and met up with one of the ‘smart girls’ from back then–we commiserated with each other about how badly we had been prepared for college. We were lucky–we had enough support to get through anyway. Our peers who had less probably didn’t make it.

    That experience has been a big part of my reasons for homeschooling now; I know that at the very least, I can give my kids a better K-8 grounding than I got. After that, we’ll see.

  4. If more students are to thrive in higher education high schools must not only help them earn good grades in demanding courses but also step up their work to guide them through the difficult process of choosing and applying to colleges researchers said last week. At a panel discussion of two reports on college readiness that were released here Jan. Many students even those with good grades lack the information and support necessary to select good colleges complete the applications secure financial aid and actually enroll.

  5. supersub says:

    In other news, breathing is required for survival.

  6. CarolineSF says:

    Business is right. It’s totally unclear on the concept not to mention financial issues as a hurdle in getting through college.

    Families with no college experience need the most help navigating not just the college application process but also (and especially) the financial aid picture.

    In my observation, families with no college experience may have no idea they need that help.

    In addition, those families may assume they’re shut out of the private colleges that are actually likely to offer adequate financial assistance (to a family that navigates the process adeptly) and not even consider applying.

    The entire college picture is skewed beyond belief by the high cost of college in the U.S. and the need for savvy in dealing with financial aid, and any commentary or coverage that doesn’t recognize that is fatally flawed.

  7. K-12 systems are failing to teach kids both academic content and the behaviors, habits and skills that enable success. Kids learn very early that no effort is required, that there are few or no adverse consequences for inappropriate behavior, that they will “pass/graduate” anyway and, of course, they are “college-ready.” It’s all a lie, a fraud has been perpetrated and educatonal malpractice (if the concept existed) is widespread. Naturally, families share the blame, both for failing to prepare and support their kids and the schools.

  8. We used to call this in the Army a BFO. Blinding Flash of the Obvious.