Education News

Attitude and Study Habits Go a Long Way To College Success

This road-map can help students cope with new semester demands.

Donald Foss is a professor at UH
Donald Foss, a psychology professor at the University of Houston, has published a book on doing well on campus. It’s called "Your Complete Guide to College Success: How to Study Smart, Meet Your Goals, and Enjoy Campus Life."
One of the biggest predictors of how well a student will do in college has nothing to do with test scores or grades.

It's about attitude.

"Everyone starts optimistic, which is great," said Donald Foss, a psychology professor at the University of Houston.

But then there are bumps in the road.

"Often times their first paper comes back. It's happened to me, I remember it very well, and it wasn't the grade I expected. And maybe I'm not cut out for this after all — these kinds of doubts can spring up,” he said.

He said that students can calm those doubts by getting involved on campus and using smart study habits.

In fact, as cognitive psychologist, Foss studies the best way to study. He's detailed that in a self-help book.

For example, if a student rereads material before a test and highlights important sections, Foss called that "a waste of time."

He explained that a better way to study is for students to quiz themselves.

"Because being ruthlessly honest about what they know and what they don't know is, I think, the key to success. This is a little bit more difficult, but it is what people now in my profession are calling ‘desirable difficulties,’" he said.

And Foss said that working through those difficulties can translate to more success in college.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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