When I was asked to write an article on the habits of successful students, I did some market research of my own students. Okay, so the sample size was not huge, but the participants are all successful and, not surprisingly, their tips were all very similar. Help them to:
- Study what they love
- Get organised and plan ahead
- Set achievable goals
- Be flexible
- Reward themselves
- Learn from their tutors
- Improve their skills
As a parent, how do you help your student develop successful study habits? Here's what my students had to say:
Get them to study something they love
If your student chooses the course or subjects they want to learn they will be much happier and will, you know, want to learn. And then, they will want to tell everyone about the amazing stuff they have learnt. I have a scientist, teacher, business analyst, (soon to be) lawyer and (soon to be) another teacher in the house, and I have heard so many stories that I am pretty sure I could sail through those degrees (hmm well maybe?). I have LOVED hearing all the study stories that began with 'Did you know?', because when they are enthusiastic it shows that my students have chosen the right course for them. And I know they have loved hearing about my Jane Austen study too!
At the start of each semester or school term, encourage your student to get a whopping big calendar and list all the classes, commitments, assessment due dates they have. Then get them to write in the 'fun stuff' such as sport, job, family, going out. Then suggest they stand back and look. Whoa! Looks like a huge mountain? Daunting? Well, it kind of is. But by having a 'big picture' look, your student can organise that mountain into bite-sized chunks, manage their time better and cut that mountain into little hills.
Encourage achievable goals
The saying of 'due tomorrow, do today' just ain't gonna cut it for university study. So even if your child is still at school, it's good to get them into good habits now. Successful students are organised. They recognise they can't leave assessments to the last minute, and they set themselves specific mini goals to help. So, instead of the goal being 'Write my essay', the goal is, 'I'm going to have an 800-word first draft of my essay completed by Week 6.'
Now, this might sound like a contradiction, given my nagging about being organised. But being organised will give a student more freedom to be flexible because they will be on top of study commitments. So, when an amazing opportunity comes along, they can take it. This also helps if the student falls ill, as they will hopefully be organised enough to catch up when they are well.
Encourage your student with rewards for achieving their goals
And yep, they can even schedule the rewards as well. So, if they have a good week and kick all those goals, reward them. I have found strawberry milkshakes make great rewards, and yes, I am always happy to pay.
Encourage your student to learn from their tutors or teachers
The lecturers and tutors, or teachers (if your child is at school), are your student's best friends in the subject. They really want your student to achieve. Students who regularly attend all their classes will feel more supported in their study.
Improve their skills
If your student is not so crash hot at essay writing and not sure about referencing, there are resources to help them. If your child is at school, speak to school staff about additional help that may be available.
At USC, there are many support services available including free workshops both before and during semester on academic skills such as essay writing, referencing and proofreading. There are also course-specific drop-in sessions, and you can make a one-on-one appointment with an academic adviser. USC also offers a snazzy, free student diary and an online assignment calculator to help your student plan out their assignments and essays.
Your student can also think outside the box with some additional support on offer. One student I know lacked confidence speaking in public, so they joined a Toastmasters group, and are now in demand as a guest speaker.
So, there you have it: my tips to help your student be successful. Now, where do I enrol in those degrees that I learnt through my successful students?
About Dr Janet Lee
Dr Janet Lee received her Doctorate of Creative Arts from USC. She is also mum to four children who have all completed (or are completing) their undergraduate degrees at USC. Janet lives on the Sunshine Coast with two dogs, some very spoilt chickens and her wonderful, noisy family. Janet is a regular contributor to USC's Parent Lounge.