The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Attributes of a Successful College Student

The following represents the second of a three-part guest entry to my blog by Michael Staton who works with Batiq – a “social entrepreneurship company that is dedicated to revolutionizing education and creating more purposeful uses for technology.” In simpler terms, Batiq preps students for college.
Staton interviewed students at Stanford and UC Berkeley. Students were asked to describe behaviors of a successful college student. Then all behaviors were grouped and assigned an attribute name. According to these focus groups, nine attributes, overall, describe a successful college student. Attributes are listed in the order from their perceived commonness -- from the most common to the least. Attributes seem to build on each other and become more difficult to obtain requiring more wisdom and skill as the list progresses. The attributes are listed as: Inquisitive, Adaptive, Self-Motivated, Insightful, Passionate, Committed, Creative, Professional, and Synergetic.
Those that are insightful take learning beyond what is presented to them and find novel perspectives or solutions. They enjoy thinking critically and do not accept a single source, no matter how important or authoritative. They have thought through the opportunities available to them and know which ones they would like to take and why. Unique opinions and alternative visions excite them, and they often think them up. Strategizing and initiating a unique project assures their contribution to their involvements.
Passionate people can inspire others by articulating and arguing their commitments. They know how to affirm the commitment of others. Without regard for companionship or reward, they will initiate and inspire, often with great risk. When others are unenthusiastic, they can be an example of steadfast energy. Passionate people are out to make a difference.
If passion gets things started, it is staying committed that truly leads to accomplishment. Committed individuals persevere despite setbacks and failure, sometimes repeatedly. They stick with activities and hobbies for the long term, and maintain membership in organizations as others come and go. The mastery of a skill is a common determinant of commitment, and truly committed individuals can often perform in one or two areas at a near professional level. They have often sacrificed large amounts of free time to develop themselves and their experience. Committed individuals inquire, find passion, and then provide the follow through that it takes to truly excel.
Creative students are not afraid to try new things. They create original works of art or scholarship. They solve problems that others have failed at solving by approaching it from a new perspective. They have come up with creative solutions for organizations by thinking outside of the box. Being creative is not limited to arts and scholarship; it is also approaching life with a unique vision for themselves, for organizations and institutions, as well as for the future.


Copyright 2006 My College Puzzle