Strengthening Academics

There isn’t any “one size fits all” set of learning and study techniques. Top achievers capitalize on their personal uniqueness as they learn.  StrengthsQuests provides you with the knowledge to determine how  to leverage your strengths for academic success. The University of Arkansas is committed to providing academic resources that will allow all students to achieve their academic goals.  Please click here to see list of  Academic Support  Resources available to enhance your your ability to be successful.

Four Key Factors That Will Determine Your Achievements in Academics

1. Your beliefs about your talents to achieve

Never underestimate the power of what you believe -- it will directly affect your achievements. What you believe about your talents can affect whether you will even attempt to achieve. Your beliefs directly influence your emotions, attitudes, behavior patterns, and motivation.

2. How well you know, understand, and value your talents

One of our primary goals is to increase your understanding of and appreciation for your greatest talents. This forms the basis for increasing your confidence and for building achievement patterns.

3. The extent to which you apply your talents through strengths

You should provide the initiative for designing your education around your talents. This is likely to produce superior results, because you won't be "getting" an education, you'll be creating one. And it will be based on who you really are and the person you have the capacity to become.

4. Your motivations, desires, and goal-setting practices

Numerous studies identify motivation as the single most important factor in academic achievement and graduation from college. Specifically, they point to two important motivational dynamics: First, you must have multiple motives for achieving and persisting. Second, these motives must be important to you personally. Having only one reason for achieving (for example, to make more money or to please someone else) usually results in lesser achievement.

Four Tips for Developing Academic Strengths in College

Your overall academic experience can be greatly enhanced by the perspective and direction you take in setting goals and making key decisions. Consider these four suggestions.

1. Define college success in terms of maximizing your talents through strengths development.

If you are going to assume responsibility for your college experience, you must come to grips with defining success for yourself.

So, what is the best outcome of college that you can imagine? Most people would say getting a 4.0 GPA, graduating Magna Cum Laude, getting a well-paying job, or gaining admission to medical school, law school, or some other graduate or professional school. These are good, but your considerations should go well beyond your college years. Defining college success in terms of identifying and building upon your greatest talents emphasizes building yourself into a person of excellence.

2. Select classes on the basis of your talents and strengths.

Considering your talents is particularly important as you select classes for the early portion of your college education. In these first couple of years, it is especially important to build your confidence by following your talents. Far too many students who enroll in college never graduate, and many of those who drop out do so in the first year. Why? Quite frequently, the reason is that they have selected classes that don't suit their talents. As a result, they don't experience the success they expected, and then they become frustrated and disillusioned and eventually give up.

Be sure to continue to apply the strengths approach during the rest of your college career. This means that every time you select your classes, ask yourself two questions: (1) Which of my talents will I be able to apply in this class? and (2) What strengths will this class help me create? If you don't know the answer to either of these questions, get more information about the classes you are considering. If you have to say "none" to both questions, you must ask yourself why you are enrolling in the class in the first place.

These comments may be controversial, so let's be clear: We are not anti-liberal arts, nor are we trying to undermine the need for all students to have certain basic skills. We are certainly not trying to limit students' exploration of new fields.

What we oppose is educational practices that give students placement tests to find out what students can't do or don't know -- and then force them to focus first on where they struggle before they can learn about their most naturally powerful talents.

3. Consider your talents when selecting extracurricular activities.

To gain maximum benefits from college, think about college as a total experience in which you purposely become as deeply involved as possible. This means making college the focal point of your life. Becoming personally involved might include forming study groups, meeting with professors, and making use of campus programs and services. If possible, live on campus or near campus -- and with other students -- or at least form close relationships with people from college.

As you make decisions about extracurricular involvement, seek opportunities to build on your talents in strengths development. For example, form relationships with professors and students who share your talents. Become involved in clubs and organizations that provide opportunities for you to use or develop strengths.

4. Choose your college jobs by considering the opportunities they provide to develop strengths by following your talents.

Most college students must work in order to make ends meet. That is a reality, but it is also true that employment during college presents another opportunity to build on your talents. Therefore, carefully consider where you'll be employed and what type of work you'll do. The most ideal situation would be (1) to work on campus so you can increase your involvement, and (2) to work in a job where you can use and build on at least some of your most natural talents. That way, you will be doing more than just earning money.

See Chapter 7 in the Online Book for more information.