By Jonathan Mathis, Director, National Honor Societies

How to be a Successful StudentI want to let you in on a secret: I used to play school as a kid. By this I mean I would line up inanimate objects (e.g. stuffed animals, Matchbox cars, action figures) and hold "school"—creating lesson plans, delivering instruction, and even conducting assessments. There was never a doubt about my love for education. However, this does not mean all facets of learning came easy; I had discipline which translated to academic behaviors and strategies that supported my success.

As I furthered my education, I continued to ask myself several questions, two of which are:

  • How do I help others find their academic passion?
  • In what ways can I help my students discover a love for learning that might mimic my earliest memories of teaching, and support a lifetime of success?

Here are some thoughts to those questions: It is important for learners to: ·        

  • Envision their future self.
  • Create goals and celebrate achievements.
  • Be steadfast and tenacious. 
  • Find value in helping others learn and retain content.
  • Determine what it takes to be successful in future studies or professional efforts. 
  • Push and invest in themselves.

While working to get students to and through college, and teaching at the university-level, here is what I have come to know: Successful learners and future academic leaders are individuals who:

  • Possess a motivation to learn.
  • Operate as critical thinkers.
  • Can employ an entrepreneurial mindset.
  • See value in interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Read and pose the difficult questions.
  • Appreciate research and seek opportunities to create new knowledge.

I have offered more than a dozen thoughts for your consideration, but there is even one more important point: Do not be afraid to ask for help. All too often pride or shame stands in the way of individuals functioning at their very best. My greatest contributions to the field of education have been peer-reviewed, critiqued, and received advisement from those who have my best interest at heart. I learned from those notes, and to this day, thank those who have invested in my academic success. Ask for help. As you honor your future, realize there are others who are willing and able to contribute to your academic journey—just ask.