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Choices of Successful Students

This content is based on the OnCourse Workshop by Skip Downing with the same title. When you learn and apply these “Eight Choices of Successful Students,” consider what success means to you. When you achieve your highest success, what will you have, what will you be doing, and what kind of person will you be?

Eight Choices of Successful Students

1. Personal Responsibility: Successful students accept personal responsibility, seeing themselves as the primary cause of their outcomes and experiences. Struggling students see themselves as victims, believing that what happens to them is determined by powerful others, such as their instructors, or by some other external force such as luck. Each person has the ability to make choices and determine the type of learner he or she wants to be and become. Taking responsibility for your choices helps you to work out wise choices and correct yourself when you are not doing well. Next time you have a poor test result or a poor grade on a paper, consider how to best approach the situation. Take personal responsibility.

2. Self-Motivation: Successful students discover self-motivation by finding purpose in their lives. By setting short- and long-term goals and dreams, they work on achieving success in a measurable way. Struggling students have difficulty staying with a plan. They may feel depressed, frustrated, and resentful about the lack of direction in their lives.

3. Self-Management: Successful students master self-management by consistently planning and taking purposeful actions in pursuit of their dreams and goals. Being an active participant in life is an important first step in successful self-management. I encourage nursing students to develop effective tools to keep organized such as a monthly planner, weekly planner, and daily actions lists to get and stay on course. Be sure to track yourself to make sure you are following through with your commitments. Self-discipline is an integral part of this choice.

4. Interdependence: Successful students make wise choices and build mutually supportive relationships. Within the context of nursing school, interdependence is very important as students experience the upliftment of giving and receiving assistance from classmates. An effective study group can provide a means of achieving the goal of successful study and test-taking. Building trust in others may lead to a willingness to interact positively with the people in your life, especially within a culturally diverse environment.

5. Self-Awareness: There are many stressors in nursing school such as challenging exams, new skills to learn, and clinical situations. When you have self-awareness, you can identify what you are doing wrong and make positive changes. Many times, students make habitual unconscious choices that sabotage their success. By identifying these patterns and changing your habits you can avoid these self-defeating traps. Consciously take charge of the outcomes of your life.

6. Lifelong Learners: Choosing to adopt lifelong learning empowers students to regain their childhood passion for deep and meaningful learning. Children are inquisitive and excited about new things. To be a successful adult learner, this passion needs to be tapped. Learning how to learn and discovering effective learning strategies tap into this passion. In addition, lifelong learners develop personally effective processes for learning new facts, skills, and concepts. Seeking out new ideas and putting them into practice are important steps for the successful student. Why not develop a concept map as a study tool? Set up an appointment with the Nurse Mentor and work on new and worthwhile study and test-taking strategies. Lifelong learners use feedback from all sources, both positive and negative, to correct their course. Start viewing life as school where you are always in the process of learning. 

7. Emotional Intelligence: Do you tell others, “I’m not a good student” or “I’ve never been good at test taking?” If so you are in need of this success strategy. The components of emotional intelligence include emotional self-awareness, emotional self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In order to become a good decision maker, people need to be aware of their feelings. This helps you to deal effectively with feelings of stress and being overwhelmed instead of trying to escape them by other ineffective means. Learn to manage your strong feelings. This means to avoid making critical decisions during times of high drama. Make wise choices! In addition, emotional intelligence includes empathizing with other people’s emotions. This is an important quality in a nurse, so learn to become aware of those around you, if you aren’t already. Lastly, there is an art to having healthy relationships. Practice your listening skills, conflict resolution, and cooperation with those around you.

8. Believe in Themselves: Successful students see themselves as capable, lovable, and unconditionally worthy human beings. Learn to develop these qualities and become aware of the special gifts that you bring to those around you.

As you work toward success in the nursing program here at AACC, develop a firm foundation by making the choices of a successful student.

Resource: Downing, Skip (2010).