Along the path to achieving their academic goals, students will experience challenges, surprises, obstacles, and triumphs. If they apply themselves, they’ll learn diligence and discipline, and get to know themselves better in the process.  What’s more, the skills, observations, and experiences they gain in college will help them as they transition into their future careers.


In today’s post, members of Cengage Learning’s Student Case Study program describe the actions and attitudes that have helped them reach their academic goals and succeed in college.

Read their responses, and share your own tips for experiencing academic success in the comments section below. You may also want to ask your students for their observations! 


When it comes to academic success, there are many different ways to do well in a class. There are many different teaching styles that professors use and this generally dictates how helpful course materials will be. … In my mind, the biggest key to academic success is the ability to adapt to the professor and thrive using whatever techniques they use.

—Zachary Kucera, Student, Northwestern University


I think that the key to being successful in college is understanding that being a full-time student is actually a full time-job. Like a job or a profession, you must take all of your products seriously, you must be attentive and you must strive to have a good relationship with your professors—the equivalent to a boss. Unfortunately people take the concept of college less seriously than they should, and when they are further in their studies with a bad GPA and no valuable experience, they are in a bad situation.

One time I had to make an aphorism that really explained success. I stated, “Success is the jalapeño in the salad bowl of life.” For a person to be successful, they must dare to be different than others. Some may not like you, some may disregard you—but to others you can be seen as brilliant, and for yourself, your life will be complete and worth something. What I think is most important is that you should be daring to step outside of your comfort zone and the social norm and care about school, care about learning and be excited about bettering yourself.

Success is not only measured in whether or not you receive your diploma, it’s what you learned and what you will take with you that will be most important. Taking college seriously and working hard to better yourself entirely will enhance your ability to be a professional employee and will only make you more prepared for the future.

—Monica Rosenberg, Student, State University at Oneonta


Success is such an elusive term. Really, I think that that what constitutes real success is defined by the one working toward an achievement. With this in mind, there are many different kinds of students… to be frank, some are slackers while others are determined hard workers. The key to being successful in college then is going to vary from student to student, as well as for the many experiences students have in college.

I am an admitted geek, as I am sure I have said before. I love to learn, quite frankly thirst for it, and I work my hardest to reach every highest achievement I possibly can. Despite my attempting to reach the top though, doing so is not what I consider success. What I consider success is understanding what I am learning as I work my way to accomplishing things. Actually learning things is the key to success. To do so, I think it is best that students participate in discussions and ask questions, whether in face to face groups or virtually. Asking questions and gaining the perspectives of others really lends to a well-rounded understanding and interpretation of academic material that can be used to complete assignments that will bring one to accomplishments in academia. The best way to ensure success is to keep the mind engaged, ask questions, research personally, and talk to people in order to actually learn what is being taught.

—Joy Hamilton, Student, University of Dayton