10 Defining Traits of Great Students

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Teaching is a difficult job. The ultimate reward for a teacher is knowing that they have the opportunity to impact a young person’s life. However, not every student is created equally, and this is a good thing. If every student were the same, teaching would be a boring job. Instead, it is an exciting and adventurous journey.

Some students are simply more challenging than others for a variety of external factors.

Most teachers will tell you that they don’t have favorites, but the truth is that there are students who possess certain characteristics that make them the perfect student. These students endear themselves to teachers because they're dedicated to learning while also​ make the job of teaching easier.

Characteristics of the Best Students

Stellar students share many of the same qualities. Here are those that teachers tend to love.


Most teachers want students to ask questions when they do not understand a concept that is being taught. It is truly the only way a teacher knows whether you really understand something. If no questions are asked, then the teacher has to assume that you understood that concept.

Good students aren’t afraid to ask questions because they know that if they do not get a particular concept, it could hurt them later on when that skill is expanded. Asking questions is often beneficial to the class as a whole because chances are if you have that question, there are other students who have that same question.


The perfect student isn’t necessarily the smartest student. This is important to realize in this discussion. There are plenty of students who are blessed with natural intelligence but lack the self-discipline to hone that intelligence. Teachers love students who choose to work hard no matter what their level of intelligence is.

The hardest working students will ultimately be the most successful in life. Learning to work hard early on will pay off. Being a hard worker in school simply means completing assignments on time, putting your maximum effort into every assignment, asking for extra help when you need it, putting in the time to study for tests and quizzes, as well as recognizing weaknesses and looking for ways to improve upon those weaknesses.


Being involved in extra-curricular activities can help a student gain confidence which can improve academic success. Most schools provide a plethora of extra-curricular activities that students can participate in. Most good students get involved in some activity whether it is athletics, FFA, Student Council, FCCLA, etc.

These activities provide so many learning opportunities that a traditional classroom simply can’t. These activities also provide opportunities to take on leadership roles and they often teach people to work together as a team to accomplish a common goal.

Confident and Influential

Teachers love good students who are natural leaders within their classroom. Whole classes have their own unique personalities and often times those classes with good leaders are good classes.

Likewise, those classes that lack peer leadership can be the most difficult to handle. Leadership skills are often innate. There are those that have it and those that don’t. It is also a skill that develops over time amongst your peers.

Being trustworthy is a key component of being a leader. If your classmates don’t trust you, then you will never be a leader. If you are a leader amongst your peers, you have the ultimate responsibility to lead by example and the ultimate power to motivate others to be successful.


Motivation comes from many places. The best students are the ones that are motivated to be successful. Likewise students who lack motivation are the ones who are the hardest to reach, are often in trouble, and eventually drop out of school. Students who are motivated to learn are easy to teach.

They want to be at school, they want to learn, and they want to succeed. Motivation means different things to different people.

There are very few people that aren’t motivated by something. Good teachers will figure out how to motivate most students in some way, but those students who are self-motivated are far easier to reach than those who aren’t.


No skill is lacking more in this generation of students than that of the ability to be a problem solver. With the impending Common Core State Standards requiring students to be adept at problem-solving, this is a serious skill that schools are going to have to work extensively at developing. Students who possess true problem-solving skills are few and far between in this generation largely because of the accessibility that they have to information.

At the simple click of a mouse, students today can access more information than ever before, thus rendering problem-solving skills virtually obsolete. Those students who do possess true problem-solving abilities are rare gems that teachers love. They can be used as a resource to help develop other students into becoming problem solvers.

Welcoming and Grateful for Opportunities

One of the greatest opportunities that this country offers is that every child has a free and public education. Unfortunately not every person takes full advantage of that opportunity. It is true that every student must attend school for some period of time, but that doesn’t mean that every student seizes that opportunity and maximizes their learning potential.

The opportunity to learn is undervalued in the United States. Many parents don’t see value in education, thus their children don’t see value in education. It is a sad reality that is often overlooked in the school reform movement. The best students take advantage of the opportunities they are afforded and value the education that they have an opportunity to receive.


Teachers will tell you that classes full of students who follow the rules and procedures have a better chance at maximizing their learning potential. Students who are well behaved are likely to learn more than their counterparts who become student discipline statistics. There are plenty of smart students who have disciplinary problems. In fact, those students are often the source of ultimate frustration for teachers because they will likely never maximize their intelligence unless they choose to change the behavior.

Students who are well-behaved in class are easy for teachers to deal with even if they struggle academically. Nobody wants to work with a student who constantly causes problems, but teachers will try to move mountains for students who are polite, respectful, and follow the rules.


Unfortunately, this quality is one that individual students often have very little control of. You cannot control who your parents or guardians are. It is also important to note that there are plenty of successful people that did not have a good support system growing up. It is something that you can overcome, but it does make it a lot easier if you have a healthy support system in place.

These are people that have your best interest in mind. They push you to success, offer advice, and guide and direct your decisions throughout your life. In school, they attend parent/teacher conferences, make sure your homework is done, require you to have good grades, and generally motivate you to set and reach academic goals. They are there for you in times of adversity and they cheer for you in times that you are successful. Having a great support system doesn’t make or break you as a student, but it definitely gives you an advantage.


Being trustworthy is a quality that will endear you not only to your teachers but also to your classmates. No one wants to surround themselves with people that they ultimately cannot trust. Teachers love students and classes that they trust because they can give them liberties that often provide learning opportunities they would not be afforded otherwise.

For example, if a teacher had an opportunity to take a group of students to listen to a speech by the President of the United States, the teacher may turn the opportunity down if the class given that opportunity is not trustworthy.

When a teacher gives you an opportunity they are putting faith into you that you are trustworthy enough to handle that opportunity. Good students value those opportunities to prove that they are trustworthy.

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Meador, Derrick. "10 Defining Traits of Great Students." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2018, thoughtco.com/characteristics-that-make-perfect-student-3194412. Meador, Derrick. (2018, February 4). 10 Defining Traits of Great Students. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/characteristics-that-make-perfect-student-3194412 Meador, Derrick. "10 Defining Traits of Great Students." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/characteristics-that-make-perfect-student-3194412 (accessed February 18, 2018).