Beliefs of College Students: Survey Results

The results of a survey I recently conducted to validate 17 proposed beliefs of successful college students are provided below. Each of the beliefs can be tied to growth mindset and GRIT constructs. Most of the 32 respondents were from Texas, but Georgia, Florida and California were also represented. Of the respondents, 77.24% currently work in higher education (mostly 2-year public community colleges); the remainder work in a variety of industries, including accounting, banking, and health care. Only three of the respondents are students.

Overwhelmingly, respondents validated the following 17 proposed beliefs. Highlighted in blue are the ones that 90% or more of the respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” students should hold. Highlighted in green are the ones for which 80%-89% of respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed. Highlighted in red are the ones for which the percentage who strongly agreed/agreed was lower than 80%.

  1. I am responsible for my own learning. (61.3%, 38.7%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 100%
  2. Other people want me to succeed. (25%, 46.9%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 71.9%
  3. Resources are available to help me succeed. (46.9%, 43.8%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 90.7%
  4. Using resources available to me is a sign of strength. (78.1%, 18.6%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.7%
  5. Challenges and being challenged lead to growth. (68.8%, 28.1%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.9%
  6. Hard work matters more than talent. (28.1%, 53.1%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 81.2%
  7. Determination and hard work impact my success more than how smart I am. (22.6%; 64.5%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 87.1%
  8. My future is not limited by my history or current circumstances. (65.6%, 25%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 90.6%
  9. It is OK to stop doing something that isn’t working and try a different approach. (78.13%, 18.75%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.88%
  10. How I pursue my goals should have a positive impact on myself and others. (50%, 50%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 100%
  11. Pursuing a worthy goal takes time and effort. (75%, 21.88%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.88%
  12. Challenges can be overcome. (46.9%, 53.1%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 100%
  13. When faced with a challenge, looking at it from a different perspective can help me overcome it. (65.5%, 34.4%) = 99.9%
  14. It is OK to have to work hard to understand something. (75%, 21.9%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.9%
  15. My intelligence and ability to learn can be developed. (53.1%, 43.8%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.9%
  16. With hard work and effort, by potential is unknown and unlimited. (59.4%, 37.5%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 96.9%
  17. Struggle and sacrifice, and sometimes suffering, are sometimes necessary to achieve goals. (59.4%, 31.2%) – Total strongly agree/agree = 90.6%

Of all the proposed beliefs, only two (2) had more than one respondent disagree: (a) 3 respondents disagreed with #6 – Hard work matters more than talent; and (b) 2 respondents disagreed with #2 – Other people want me to succeed. No respondent strongly disagreed with any of the 17.

Listed below are the additional beliefs respondents suggested:

  • You can be a lifelong learner.
  • When you are either in doubt, or stuck about what to do-do something, don’t just sit there perplexed.
  • Things take time. Nothing is gained instantly.
  • It is ok to fail, and try again and again, until you succeed.
  • Good will come from bad things that happen to you. It’s not something you can see at the time of the bad thing, but there is always a rainbow at the end of the storm.
  • that they are aware of the end results of the career they are pursuing with respect to the opportunity for gainful employment, a livable wage.
  • Students hold all the keys to their own success. But it is important to have someone to show them what those keys are and how to best implement them.
  • A strong belief in oneself that he/she is capable of being successful.
  • I will complete no matter the obstacle that gets in my way.
  • I’m not entitled to anything; I create my own destiny.
  • I should direct my will, persevere, and develop grit.
  • That I am worthy of success.
  • Internal locus of control and assuming responsibility for outcomes.
  • Students should learn how to be their own advocates.
  • Persistence.
  • I will not let naysayers determine my destiny.
  • It’s ok- and smart- to ask for help.
  • You have to plan to succeed.
  • Never give up!
  • If I take care of myself, I can then take care of others. It is important to believe in myself. I forgive others who don’t see the importance of me pursuing an education. Mastery is more about the journey to improve than it is being an expert. Failure is important if you can learn from it.
  • Your studies must be your priority. Sacrifices will most likely have to be made to achieve your goals and, while in school, that sacrifice will often be sleep and/or time with friends.
  • Perseverance

Further validation is needed, but this appears to be a good starting point. The question eventually will become, how do colleges create experiences for students that help them develop these beliefs.

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