5 Character Qualities Needed for College Success

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My husband is a college professor. And he’s shared so many stories of student successes and also of failures with me.

(Be sure to go back and read this story about college failure.)

Through his experience guiding students, he made a list of the top 5 things he wishes all students knew before attending college. And he also shared with me his number 1 tip for college success.

Today I’m sharing the 5 character qualities that he consistently sees exhibited in his brightest and most successful students.

If you want your child to be successful in college and after, focus on developing these 5 character traits from an early age.


Students need to have the tenacity to stick with projects, assignments, and books even when they are not enjoyable. Not every class will ignite a student’s passions and some topics are just more challenging than expected. Yet, it’s important to learn to be diligent in finishing what you start.


Students who are assertive in expressing their needs and finding help are the most successful. These are the students who take initiative on projects and assignments. They complete things first and do things well, because they have that drive and initiative to jump in and get started. Coupled with persistence, initiative makes for a strong college student.


No one knows more than a young adult, just graduated and ready to face the world. However, those students who recognize that there is so much left to learn experience much more success in college. Students need to recognize the need to learn from professors and other students. They need to learn how and when to ask for help when needed and accept that help graciously.


In college there is less oversight, rules, and structure. Many of the students cannot handle this type of freedom and they find themselves in compromising situations and facing the temptation to cheat on assignments. A student with a strong moral compass will be able to withstand the various pressures faced in college and emerge as an adult of uncompromising character.


Students who fully understand the why behind what they are doing and what they are learning are the most successful. College should not be about earning a grade or passing a class. College is about learning, growing, and changing. And those students who have the discernment to evaluate the importance of what they’re learning and make sound judgments, prove to be the more successful and the ones who learn and internalize the information.

I encourage you to focus on character training in your homeschool as you steer your children toward college or a career. Ultimately, it will be their character, and not their academic prowess, that helps them find success as an adult.

Find more musings of a homeschool mom and her college professor hubby on the blog:

Help! I’m Homeschooling a Middle Schooler

Homeschooling Is an Investment

This Isn’t on the Homeschool Lesson Plan

Dear Mom Who Thinks She Is a Failure

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