Career Corner: Habits of successful students

Ceasar Mendros joined the Office of Career Development in July 2018 as a Graduate Assistant Career Advisor while he pursues his master’s degree in College Student Affairs at Nova Southeastern University. With his new Career Advisor position, Ceasar is thrilled to advise students in achieving their dream job.

Top Four Habits of Successful Students

College students’ definition of success can vary depending on their situation and goal. However, it is not a secret that successful students also do well outside of academics. So what effective habits do successful students have that separate them from other students? Inspired by Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Effective People”, and combined with my own experience and observations, here are the top four habits of successful students.

Proactive Mindset

Being a college student does not only include reading books and taking exams. Most likely you are part of different organizations or clubs, and you act as a significant other, as a child, as a sibling and as a friend. Having a proactive mindset helps you keep up with these responsibilities. If you do not have a forward-thinking mindset yet, here are some tips to keep life from sneaking up on you. First, create a habit of consistency because being successful is not always about getting everything done perfectly. Creating a to-do list for the week helps you visualize all of your responsibilities. Then, putting that into your calendar helps you remember what you need to do. With all your duties and obligations, having a system that reminds you what you need to accomplish is advantageous.

Problem Solving

When I was in undergrad, my professor once told our class about her take-10 policy. Take-10 forces students to spend 10 minutes looking through their resources before reaching out to the professor. These resources could be their syllabi, emails, textbooks, classmates or friends. The rule helps students to become independent and encourages them to ask for help without wasting time. Likewise, successful students also ask for help when needed. When dealing with anxiety, depression or mental burn out, they ask for professional help when they cannot deal with the issues by themselves.


Successful students develop a healthy relationship with their classmates, professors and other staff at the university. By doing this they build a network of people who potentially can help them find research, internship, volunteer and job opportunities. Recruit a Shark Day is a great opportunity to take advantage of. Research has shown that 85 percent of jobs are found through word of mouth. Having these relationships helps you to have an edge. If people know and trust you already, there is a bigger chance that they are willing to write you letters of recommendation. So how do you this? When the new semester starts, create a strong first impression by introducing yourself to your professor and telling them how excited you are to be in their class. Likewise, if you have free time, go read articles that relate and benefit your class and interest your professor. When I was in undergrad I used to send articles to my professor, and he would always incorporate it in our class discussion. Presenting appropriate articles shows you are engaged in class and in the field.

Health Conscious

Another habit that successful students have is to make time to take care of their physical and mental health. Burnt out students cannot function to their maximum potential, which is why being mindful of the food you eat and drinks you consume, physical activities you include in your schedule and the amount of sleep you are getting is crucial to your overall success. Research has shown that maintaining a healthy diet is linked to information processing which leads to better memory, alertness and higher grades.

Whatever your definition of success is, always make sure that you are mindful of your habits because they have long-term benefits as a student and as a professional. These habits are not necessarily in order and cannot be perfected overnight. Always remember that small choices become actions, actions become habits and habits become our way of life.

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