The definition of success is arbitrary. Success looks different for everyone – students all have different dreams, different goals, and different visions for their lives. For some, student success may simply be the initial acceptance letter to the college of their choice. For others, student success is achieved only after they have crossed that stage and received that tiny piece of paper accrediting their mastery. For some, success is simply a destination, something they are striving towards. For others, success is a journey, a continual growth experience that is constantly changing the way they see and understand the world. For many, success comes with the recognition of achievement, and only then can they deem it success. For a few, success is highly personal and does not require the recognition by peers. For all, however, success plays an essential role in shaping the trajectory of one’s life.
Crucial to student success, to unlocking one’s potential, and discovering one’s passions, is understanding who you are, where you are, and where you are going. It is also important to be cognizant of the obstacles one may face in achieving success, and to begin to think of ways one might overcome roadblocks along the way. As student affairs professionals, it is imperative to help students understand their own identity – and to help them to clarify what their own definition of success is.
Student success encompasses many things. Becoming a successful student does not come without effort and perseverance. Being successful requires a connectedness to the world in which you live – particularly to a student’s community, both on and off campus. It requires a determination to achieve. It requires curiosity and exploration, taking risks and embracing failures. While the world may tell students that being successful means getting the grade, passing the class, and earning the degree, educators and student affairs professionals alike must impress upon their students that to be truly successful, one must learn deeply. This will require students to constantly evaluate what they know to be true, and when presented with new truths, to question, to challenge, and to assimilate this new information into their existing body of knowledge.
A student’s journey to success will often result in the gaining of wisdom regarding different realms of life. When students stay on course with their desired outcomes and experiences, they are able to take part in experiences that help them to achieve their goals. An important piece to remember as students strive to be successful is the vital role of good health and wellness – being self-aware will allow students to understand more of who they are and how they work in diverse situations. However, educators need to impress upon their students not only the importance of diverse experiences, but also the importance of diverse citizenship – seeking out others who are different from themselves.
Additionally, educators and student affairs professionals alike need to strive to be role models, encouragers, and mentors for students as they strive to be successful. Being a mentor will give students someone to turn to in times of celebration and sorrow, and allows them to process their experiences with someone who has been there and done that. Mentorship is not only often personally rewarding, but helps all those involved in the mentoring process.
So, we can conclude, success is fairly subjective. For each student, success looks different, and the role of student affairs professionals is to help each student be successful in their own right.