Wayne State University

Aim Higher

University Advising Center

Reasons Why Intelligent Students Sometimes Fail

  • Lack of motivation: Motivation is the key to success. It is what keeps you moving forward in spite of difficulties.
  • Poor time management: Managing your time effectively is crucial as you attempt to balance multiple responsibilties, (i.e. school, work, leisure and family obligations). It is important not to become so overcommitted that you can't devote the necessary time to your studies.
  • Lack of perseverance--giving up too easily: Learning a new skill or new subject is difficult and requires a commitment of time and mental energy. Mastering the subject or skill does not happen overnight, but requires concerted effort and repetition over time.
  • Inability to apply concepts to different situations: Learning something new requires going beyond the facts. To truly understand a concept you must be able to apply it. Until you have a thorough understanding and are able to recognize its application in a new situation, you don't have a true understanding. College-level work calls for the application of concepts in new situations.
  • Inability to complete tasks: Everyone gets "stuck" sometimes. The wise person seeks assistance. Work through the task and identify the area that is giving you problems, then seek appropriate assistance.
  • Fear of failure: Failure is a fact of life. If Thomas Edison had quit the first time his light bulb didn't work, we'd be sitting in the dark. What is important is not to become discouraged when things don't work out. It is important to learn from your mistakes and move on.
  • Procrastination: No one does their best work at the last minute. Procrastination can lead to stress, substandard or marginal work, and poor performance on exams. College-level work calls for pre-reading material for lectures and frequent review of material. This requires planned study times each day, not last minute cramming.
  • Excessive dependency: Independent thought and action are keys to success in college. Depending upon your professor to tell you everything you need to know for an exam is a recipe for failure. Take responsibility for your own learning, cover the material required, and seek out needed help and resources.
  • Too little or too much self-confidence: Self-confidence is a wonderful thing, but over-confidence can be detrimental to your college career. An accurate appraisal of your abilities is key to success in college. Recognizing areas that require further development is the key to your success as a student and as a person. Conversely, too little confidence can paralyze you and prevent you from building on strengths you already possess.
  • Inability to delay gratification: You may experience classes at the college level where there are few graded activities, forcing you to wait for feedback on your progress. It is important that you stay motivated in spite of this lack of feedback. You can help yourself by creating milestones for yourself to measure your progress and keep yourself motivated.
  • Lack of balance between critical, analytical and creative thinking: College-level work requires several types of thinking beyond rote memory. Critical, analytical and creative thinking are not automatic, but are skills that can be learned. Make the effort to learn these skills for a substantial pay-off in mastering your coursework and boosting your grade point average.