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Avoiding Conflict: 8 Simple Secrets of Successful Students

  1. They work efficiently. The harder you work, the more you'll learn, right? Well, maybe not. Studies show that effort all by itself is the single most overrated trait in producing success, when it's actually one of the least significant factors. Setting priorities and working efficiently will get you a lot further than random mental exertion.
  2. They try to find classes that interest them. It's not always easy, especially when you have to blast through a lot of Gen. Ed. Requirements, but you'll do better if you choose classes that you find interesting.
  3. They follow directions. Take notes. Write stuff down. Make sure you fully understand your assignments. It's your responsibility to make sure you are clear on what you are supposed to do. If something is unclear, don't be afraid to ask.
  4. They get enough sleep. Nothing is better for good decision making and clear thinking than a good night's sleep. If you're not a "morning person" try to schedule your classes in the afternoon. If you can't and other people's partying is keeping you up, buy some earplugs.
  5. They eat well. Junk food is cheap, easy, and filling. But your brain will work better if you eat green veggies, fresh fruits, and low-fat protein. You'll look and feel better, too.
  6. They learn from their mistakes. Instead of trashing yourself or blaming someone else when you screw up, try to see what you can do differently the next time for a better outcome. Everyone makes mistakes; if you take responsibility for your actions and learn something from the experience, you'll be ahead of the game.
  7. They network. If you're a college student you're part of a community, and it's likely that others are going through a lot of the same things you are. People who hold certain ideals in common tend to feel more successful than those who hold completely individualistic views. Ask for help if you need it, and try to extend yourself to other students, too.
  8. They have extensive experience in the areas that interest them. If you're lucky enough to know what you want to do after college, get an internship while you're still in school. Studies show that college students who served in internships were 15 percent more likely to find employment in their chosen fields after graduation and 70 percent believed they were better prepared for the workplace because of the experience.

Choron, Sandra and Harry. College in a Can. New York: Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2004.