Secrets of the Most Successful College Students

March 19, 2013 

What the Best College Students Do What the Best College Students Do

An article on, by , and based on the work of Ken Bain, provides a useful list of 8 traits that Mr. Bain’s research found were common in highly successful college students

According to Mr. Bain, the first thing students should do is “Think beyond the transcript. The creative, successful people profiled in this book—college graduates who went on to change the world we live in—aimed higher than straight A’s. They used their four years to cultivate habits of thought that would enable them to grow and adapt throughout their lives.”

Another important point, building on the work of Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Professor and researcher, is that the most successful students have a “Growth Mindset.” This means that these students do not believe intelligence is a fixed attribute. Rather, they believe that intelligence can be developed over time, based upon experience and additional learning. This opens students up to a much wider range of educational experiences.

The full list of traits is below.

  • Pursue passion, not A’s
  • Get comfortable with failure
  • Make a personal connection to your studies
  • Read and think actively
  • Ask big questions
  • Cultivate empathy for others
  • Set goals and make them real
  • Find a way to contribute


Secrets of the Most Successful College Students

What the Best College Students Do

Interviews with Dr. Dweck



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