Instructional Support (Text Version)

How do you Define Success?

How do you define success? Well, that depends on you. You might think that "success" is earning an associate's degree, or that it is transferring to a four-year university. Or maybe it means receiving a certificate of completion or finishing some skill-based training.

You could think about different degrees of success, too. Maybe you would be unhappy with anything less than an A in a course, or maybe it depends on the difficulty of the subject. Maybe, as long as you pass with a C, you're perfectly content. But no matter how you personally define success, you probably wouldn't consider it to be earning a D or lower grade in a class.

Achieving Success in the Classroom

So if most students consider passing a class to be the minimum requirement for "success," and most students want to be successful in their courses, why aren't more college students consistently successful in the classroom?

We often hear students saying:

Maria: I just can't do it!

Trevor: I'm not good at math.

Daniel: I guess college isn't for me…

Katelyn: I'm not smart enough.

Narrator: Hey, guys? Lucky for you the research is VERY clear about why students experience difficulty in, and even fail, college courses, and it usually has nothing to do with intellect.

Maria: But what is it? What sorts of things should I do to be successful in any given course?

Narrator: Here are a few suggestions to get you started…

Narrator: So, Katelyn, you said that the class you're taking right now is making you feel like you're not smart enough for college. Let me ask you a question: when do you study?

Katelyn: When I can.

Narrator: Now, Trevor, you said that you're not good at math. Who do you study with in order to improve your math skills?

Trevor: Well, really just by myself…

Narrator: So there are two problems here that both Katelyn and Trevor have pointed out. Katelyn, you need to make time to study by creating a regular study schedule, and make sure that it is enough time, as well. Most college success experts agree that students should study two hours outside of class for every hour inside of class. So create a regular study schedule that reflects this advice, and only break from it if an extreme situation prevents you from it!

Trevor, why rely on only your own knowledge, notes, and skills? Try studying with another student from your math class, especially if you feel like it isn't your strongest subject. Studying in a group will give every group member a chance to ask questions and talk about concepts. Add a tutor to your study group, and you'll really be able to notice a positive difference!

Academic Support Resources

Every California community college has a Learning Center, Tutorial Center, or Writing Center that hires instructors and qualified students to provide academic support. The tutoring is free, but the strategies and knowledge you gain will be invaluable. Your tutors have taken the class you are currently enrolled in, and they are trained to get the best out of you.

If you're taking an Online Education Initiative (OEI) course, you'll find a link to OEI's online tutoring inside your course or within your course management system.


Let's recap. Students struggle in college NOT because of intellect. It is because of time management, organization, and lack of quality study time. But the good news is, there are ways to combat this: specifically by doing things like creating a regular study schedule, studying in groups, and utilizing your school's academic resources, such as a Tutoring Center, instructor office hours, or any available online help.