How to excel as a student this semester

(By: Amanda Pope)

Experts suggest that a student’s ability to excel in a course relates to having passion and resilience.

What is your outlook on the beginning of this second semester? Do you find your value in your marks and become discouraged if you receive a bad grade? How do you overcome your failures and excel as a student?

A student’s ability to excel is not just based on their IQ or their GPA but rather their willingness to have passion and perseverance, according to a psychologist.

“Students strongly identify with the scenario of ‘I’m smart and if I have to work hard that would challenge the idea that I’m smart because smart people don’t have to work hard,’” Diana Brecher, a psychologist at Ryerson University, said. “But when you make a mistake, you have to have an attitude of perseverance.”

“Students must cultivate the quality of GRIT,” Brecher said. “It is a decision and a choice we make. It’s not that people are smarter than others but it’s that people are choosing to not give up.”

The term GRIT was originated by Angela Lee Duckworth, an American psychologist. It explains what allows people to overcome obstacles and commit to a long-term goal with passion. GRIT involves your attitude, behaviours, and beliefs about the world, according to Brecher.

In order to excel this semester Brecher says that students must cultivate this concept of GRIT by following these three steps:

1. Choose your goals wisely

Students need to assess their academic goals and be clear that they are actually passionate about them, Brecher says.

“If a student is enrolled in a program that they do not want to be in, it will be difficult to persevere because they do not care,” Brecher said. “So choose your goals based on your passions, curiosities, and to fulfill your sense of purpose.”

2. Self assess

After clarifying your goals, Brecher says you need to assess both your strengths and weaknesses and find an even flow between them.

“Flow is the midpoint between anxiety and boredom,” Brecher said. “You want to be in a situation where you are challenged enough so you’re engaged but you have enough skill so you’re not anxious.

“If you need more skill you could go to the Learning Success Centre, seek assistance from your professor, or even just spend more time on improving that skill.”

3. Build a personal model of resilience

Once you have enough insight about your strengths and weaknesses, Brecher says you need to ask yourself how you can recover quickly from obstacles.

“You need to think of your own personal experience in a context of strength and great resilience,” Brecher said. “Then apply it to an area of your life that needs more development and perseverance.”

Ryerson University provides a number of resources to help students to excel this semester as well including programs to cultivate your happiness and sessions to help you develop resilience.

Featured photo by Amanda Pope

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