Written by Dr. Melvin Randolph
Dr. Randolph obtained his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from
the Graduate School of Business and Management at Argosy University,
Chicago. Currently, he is an adjunct instructor for Argosy University,
Chicago and several other institutions in the ‘Chicagoland’ area.
Last semester, I was teaching an economic class and I noticed that there
was a student who frequently remained in the classroom after the class had
ended. I approached the student and asked if he had any questions about the
course material. The student told me that he had no questions. I asked the
student why he stayed after class every week. The student informed me that
he just wanted to be prepared for the next class. I was impressed by the
student’s answer and it made me wonder what makes a great student. As I
thought about it, I came up with five characteristics that I believe make a
great student. Those five characteristics are: motivation, communication,
good listening, self-awareness, and intelligence.
The first characteristic a good student must have is motivation. The
student has to be motivated to want knowledge if they want to be
successful. This is the most difficult part for a student and depending on
the course subject and the professor; students may find it hard to find
motivation. I always suggest to students to find something to motivate them
about the subject. It is not the responsibility of the school and the
teacher to provide motivation to the student. The student must find
motivation that is unique to them and once that is found, they are on your
way to gaining knowledge and being a great student.
Secondly, students must have great communication skills. I remember being a
college student and being afraid to ask the teacher a question during class
because I was afraid of looking stupid in front of the class. In hindsight,
I realize that I missed out on so much information because of this choice.
I quickly learned that asking questions can in fact help shape and direct
the class, not just for me, but for my classmates as well. What most
students do not realize is that most teachers are happy if students came to
class prepared to listen to the lecture and have questions.
Next, students need to stop listening defensively. Listening defensively is
problematic because students doing this only receive small amounts of the
information being shared. Some people like to challenge questions and
debate theories, but this method can be distracting to the student. A great
student would be prepared to listen openly and actively so that they can
Students sometimes need to look at themselves and ask what type of student
they are in class. Being aware of self is another key component to becoming
a great student. Taking ownership and responsibility in how you receive and
interpret instruction are very important internal characteristics that can
shape a student learning potential. Sometimes as students we are judgmental
of instructors or classmates and we allow it to change our behavior and
block the opportunity to learn something from the class. I believe humbling
one-self and being prepared to accept instruction is also a good plan for
becoming a great student.
Intelligence is needed to be a great student, but when I say intelligence I
mean intelligence in all its various forms. It can be emotional,
linguistic, and/or intra-personal intelligence; all of these are assets in
learning. Whichever the type a student possesses, it can be used to help
the student succeed. Intelligence is especially important when it comes to
thinking critically. I believe critical thinking subjects transcends across
all disciplines and classrooms, so it is a very important skill to master.
Also, studies have shown that students with high intelligence seem to do
well with critical thinking assignments.
In closing, I believe if students were to focus on these five
characteristics (motivation, communication, listening, self-awareness and
intelligence) and use them as a blueprint for their educational journey as
a student, they will definitely be on their way to becoming a great