Though we all face difficulties, challenges, and setbacks, a positive attitude can help you persevere and see yourself through to the achievement of your goals. Setting the pattern of a positive attitude in college will strengthen students’ ability to persist as they pursue the other goals that they set for themselves.

If you’d like to foster positive attitudes among your students, review and share these eight factors derived from FOCUS on College Success, Fourth Edition by Dr. Constance Staley, which can help them build and maintain an outlook that supports their desire for satisfaction and success. We’ve summarized the key points below:


1. Recognition that you have a choice. Perhaps a class isn’t quite what you expected, or a project didn’t turn out as you’d hoped. Even if you can’t change the situation itself, you do have control over how you think about it… and yourself.

2. Willingness to take responsibility. Though we’re not at fault for everything that occurs in our lives, consistently blaming others for all your problems and misfortunes will only keep you stuck in the past. By maintaining ownership over what happens to you, you can be more proactive about taking the steps that lead to growth and change.

3. Your attitude towards failure. Did things not go according to your plans or hopes? Think about what happened, identify the possible causes of your setbacks, and endeavor to address similar challenges differently in the future.

4. The words you choose. If you regularly find yourself saying “I can’t do that… I won’t do that… I’ll never be able to…” then challenge yourself to say “I can” and “I will” more frequently. By maintaining a more positive attitude that says “I can” and “I will” to opportunities, you open yourself to new experiences, and you’ll increase your confidence and success.

5. The messages you absorb. Devote your time to media that educate, encourage, or otherwise bring about growth and inspiration. Likewise, focus your attention on people with motivating and encouraging attitudes, and try not to let others’ negative attitudes have an effect on your own.

6. Your approach to life’s challenges. Many successful people faced a long and rocky road to personal and professional achievement. Know that every step of the journey contains lessons that can propel you further down the road to success.

7. Perspective beyond yourself. Extend assistance, kindness, compassion, or just a helping hand to someone. Giving consideration to another person’s needs can brighten their day, as well as yours.

8. Gratitude. Remembering and reflecting on the positive aspects your life will help you maintain a more positive attitude. (Staley, 46-47)

Reference: Staley, Constance. 2015. FOCUS on College Success, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

How do you foster positive attitudes among students? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments.