Essential Strategies to Help You Become an Outstanding Student

Students taking notes in adult education classroom
Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty Images

More than anything, teachers want to see growth and improvement from their students. They understand that their classroom is filled with learners of many different levels of ability and just want each student to become better versions of themselves. A teacher's job is to differentiate instruction to provide each student with an education that meets their individual needs—this is challenging, but effective teachers make it happen.

Though highly effective teaching is important, it is not the sole responsibility of the teacher to ensure that students are performing well. After all, teachers cannot ultimately control how much effort students are putting forth. Teachers are there to guide, not force.

Students must come prepared to absorb knowledge and try their hardest to apply what they are learning to their lives. Every student experiences school differently, but each of them can improve and become a better student if they try. Becoming an outstanding student can make you much more successful in every area of school, from relationships with teachers to academics.

Try these strategies to become an outstanding student if there is room for improvement in your life.

Ask Questions

This could not get any simpler. If you do not understand something, ask the teacher for help—that's why they are there. Don't ever be afraid or embarrassed to ask a question, this is how you learn. Chances are, several other students have the same question.

Be Positive

Teachers love to work with students who are pleasant and positive. Having a positive attitude will directly impact your learning. Though there will always be bad days and subjects you don't enjoy, it is important to let positivity permeate everything you do. This will make school more enjoyable for you and you will find success easier to achieve.

Follow Directions

Following directions and instructions is an essential aspect of being a good student—not doing so leads to mistakes and poor grades. Always listen carefully and take thorough notes when a teacher is giving instructions and explaining something, especially new material. Read written directions at least two times and ask for clarification if you still don't get it.

Complete Assignments/Homework

Every assignment should be completed to the best of your ability and turned in to the teacher on time. There are two negative outcomes when work is not completed: you miss out on important learning opportunities and your overall grade is lowered. To avoid learning gaps and poor scores, do your homework no matter what. It may not be fun, but it is an essential part of school and learning that excellent students do not skip.

Do More Than Is Required

The best students go above and beyond, often doing more than the minimum. If the teacher assigns 20 problems, they do 25. They seek out learning opportunities and are excited to learn. Try doing extra research about ideas that intrigue you, finding your own ways to practice, and asking the teacher for extra credit opportunities to become a better student.

Establish a Routine

A structured routine after school can help you maintain academic focus at home. Your routine should include a designated time and place for homework and studying that you can count on each day. The goal is to minimize distractions and make a commitment to prioritize completing assignments over other activities. A routine for getting ready for school each morning can also be beneficial.

Set Goals

You should always set academic goals for yourself that apply to both short- and long-term learning. Whether one of your goals is to attend college someday or you just want to get a good grade on an upcoming test, it is important to self-direct your accomplishments. Goals will help you to maintain focus throughout your education so that you always remember what you are working toward.

Maintain Focus

Good students know how to stay focused in the face of distractions. They know that they are responsible for their own learning and do not let other people or situations stand in the way of that. They make academics a priority and keep their sights set on their long-term educational goals.

Stay Organized

Your level of organization directly influences your level of success in school. Try keeping your locker and backpack neat and tidy as well as recording all assignments and important deadlines in a planner or notebook. You will find that school becomes easier to manage when you can find and keep track of things.

Read, Read, Read

Good students are often bookworms. Reading is the foundation of learning, after all. Strong readers are always looking for opportunities to increase their fluency and comprehension by picking books that are entertaining and challenging. Set goals for yourself and check your understanding as you read to instantly improve your reading skills.

Study Hard and Study Often

Developing solid study skills is a great way to be the best student you can be. Learning does not begin and end with the delivery of information—your brain needs time to shift new information into your long-term memory if you are going to have any chance of remembering it when you need to. Studying helps to anchor concepts into your brain so that information can fully crystallize.

Take Challenging Classes

Learn to feel comfortable being challenged. A healthy amount of challenge grows your brain and it is better to experience difficulty than to coast through school. Push yourself to achieve goals that are harder for you to reach for larger pay-offs in the long-run than easy courses will grant you. If you are able, select tough classes that will really make you think (within reason).

Get a Tutor

If you find that there is an area in which you struggle excessively, getting a tutor might be the answer. Tutoring can give you the one-on-one help that you need to make sense of difficult courses and concepts. Ask your teacher for tutor recommendations and remember that there is nothing wrong with needing extra help.