Five Characteristics That Predict College Success

By Huntington Learning Center

It’s impossible to guarantee that your high schooler will go off to college, excel in all subjects, graduate summa cum laude and embark upon an incredible career. But wouldn’t it be nice to know that your teen is on the right path?

There are a number of benchmarks that are correlated with strong student performance, including a high GPA and taking challenging course work in middle and high school. But there are also certain characteristics that are common among students who do well in college and go on to become goal-driven, lifelong learners.

Here are five student characteristics that are predictors of college success and tips on how to build these traits in your teen:

  1. Resilience – College—and life in general—can be stressful at times. Teens must be able to deal with the everyday challenges and issues that arise in a mature, productive way. Take a step back and let your teen fail and experience disappointments, then help him reflect on what he learned from that failure. This will help your teen build mental toughness and grit that will serve him well later on.
  2. Perseverance – Students must learn that no accomplishment comes without effort and persistence. In fact, there’s a good chance that some of the role models in their lives had to work very hard to get where they are. Encourage your teen to set goals big and small—for college and beyond. Remind her that everything worth doing requires effort and dedication.
  3. Decision-making ability – College is a brand-new adventure and it requires that teens be independent. The ability to make decisions is essential in college. Talk with your teen about how to come up with multiple possibilities to solve any problem, weigh the pros and cons of each, and decide/act with confidence. Decision-making and problem-solving go hand in hand.
  4. Self-management – Self-management is vital as teens move into college. No longer will mom or dad be there to micromanage and keep them on track. You can cultivate this skill in your teen by encouraging her to embrace a growth mindset. Teach your teen to believe that she can always learn, improve and grow with effort.
  5. Self-advocacy – Hopefully, teens learn in high school how to ask for help and speak up when their needs are not being met. Colleges professors expect that their students will do so, so the more you can step back while your teen is in high school and put him in the driver’s seat, the better. If your teen doesn’t get the grade he wants on a test, for example, it’s up to him to talk to the teacher about how to close those knowledge gaps and retake the test, if possible.

One last tip for teens as they move toward college: establish a support system. College has its ups and downs. Your teen should feel comfortable reaching out to friends, teachers, family members, or a counselor or other mentor when he needs to.

And remember: Huntington is here for your teen as well! Call us if your teen needs help getting prepared for college and you want to ensure she has the skills and aptitudes to succeed.


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