Research Schools

Tests and GPA's Don't Always Predict Success in College

Success in high school requires no secret formula. Achieving good grades and excellent exam results will undoubtedly contribute to your academic progress on admission to college. 


Improving your leadership skills, dedication, and value as a member of society through extracurricular activities will make your applications even stronger. However, will these same qualities bring you success at college? The answer may surprise you. While you will need to achieve the same kind of success in college, the path is slightly different. In high school, you are likely to have teachers, counselors, parents, and mentors who are ready to give you advice, whether you demand it or not. 


You can talk to high school students to get an idea of what has worked for them and look in your school's notes to find out the different academic tracks for success. At college, you no longer have the same support network or a prescribed path to success. Instead, once you get there, there are endless paths for you to follow! 


You will have to rely on some of your "soft" skills to develop effective academic habits, identify available support systems, and stick to assignments when they become difficult. In this note, we describe four keys to a successful college education. 


You might also like: Top 10 College Majors and How to Start Them

Skills Necessary for Success in College 

Time Management
If you thought proper time management in high school was juggling, then time management in college might seem like a complete three-ring circus. Not only will you have to keep up with your academic work, but you will also have to maintain a whole new social life, find and search for new extracurricular clubs, and perhaps even get a job at the same time. There's a lot to do, and it can easily get out of hand if you don't have a plan.


To gracefully perform all your duties in college, start slowly. As a beginner, take extra precautions not to overdo it. Take a balanced course load that matches your abilities. While you may be tempted to crash into many new, exciting extracurricular activities and add extra credits to prove your academic skills, you will have plenty of time to do so later when you have adapted to more challenging situations.The first semester of your first year is a time when you can ease into college. As you become more comfortable in a college and learn more about your ability to juggle all these new responsibilities, you can make choices to have more commitments as you see fit.

For many, college is the first time that you are required to take on a range of new responsibilities with answering only to yourself. Your parents probably will take more of a backseat seat than they did in your school years. 


Your teachers are much less likely to show a personal interest in you than your school teachers. You can still make meaningful relationships with your professors - it just takes a little more initiative. Think about attending classes, especially in subject areas that you plan to study seriously. Ask thoughtful questions about the course, and you will be sure to show that you are a committed and interested student. By building a meaningful relationship with your teachers from the first year onwards, you are more likely to receive support or mentoring.


You will also need to be proactive in your social life and extracurricular activities. There may be clubs that you would like to join similar to those you attended in high school, or you may want to try something completely new. You will need to read the campus flyers, emails, and student center materials to find out what activities and clubs are available for you. Contact current club members to find out more about commitments and what you can expect.

Self Advocacy
College is a time of independence. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't build support systems and rely on them as needed. It is essential to build and develop relationships with new friends and professors at an early stage, so you have a support system in place when you need it. 


If you are struggling with a particular class or concept, talk to others who can help you. You can get help from a friend in the class, or you can ask a tutor for help. Some colleges offer free tutors – so be sure to explore the options available at your institution. You can also be present during office hours to ask questions or get clarification on complex concepts. Remember that your teachers are interested in you and want you to succeed, but they may not even know what is hard for you if you never ask for help. 


In addition, most colleges have many systems in place to support your mental health. If you feel overwhelmed, lonely, or simply confused by your new college student life, it is best to seek support sooner rather than later. Seeking help does not make you weak - it merely proves that you are strong, intelligent, and able to use the resources available to support you.


Check with your college to see what resources are available for you. They may include:

  • Office of academic advice

  • Writing center or an academic tutor

  • Reference Library

  • Campus Medical Center

  • University Consulting Centre

  • Career services

  • Religious bodies

Perseverance is often indicated as the quality that is most likely to lead to success. Most people face obstacles in life. Some of more than others. Your ability to pull yourself together after you have been knocked down will be something you will rely on throughout your life.


If you fail the test, fail your campaign for class president, or miss the final free throw, you may feel like an absolute loser. You only have two options. You can give in to this terrible feeling of letting yourself and others down, or you can to rise above it and learn from your mistakes so that next time you can succeed. Sometimes, you will be knocked down over and over again, but it is a student who continues to recover and decides to work harder than before, who will ultimately succeed.


Read more about how perseverance predicts success, according to Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher who has become a psychologist and has studied success with students. 


Success in college may seem more challenging to achieve than success in high school. However, by learning to manage time well, by taking the initiative for your education, by creating and using a support network, and by insisting on facing adversity, you will set yourself up not only for a successful college experience but also for success in your career and life outside of college.


Will your GPA hurt your chances of admission to your dream school?

See how your GPA will affect your chances - and then get recommendations for schools that match your profile. 


To sum up
Success in high school requires no secret formula. Achieving good grades and good exam results will undoubtedly contribute to your academic progress on admission to college. Proving your leadership skills, dedication, and value as a member of society through extracurricular activities will make your applications even stronger.


You may also need to rely on some of your "soft" skills to develop practical academic skills, identify available support systems, and stick to your goals even when they become tough. If you consider the skills discussed in this article, as well as your GPA, it may lead you to a successful college experience.