Student Success: How to Be a Successful Student

Plus inspiring success quotes for students from visionary thought leaders and entrepreneurs.

Written by The Blue Ocean Team

The Blue Ocean Team shares case studies, stories and practical insights related to the blue ocean tools and principles developed by Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

What is student success? And how to be a successful student?

If you have asked yourself these questions, then you have probably spent a bit of time comparing yourself to those around you: your academic achievements, job prospects, popularity, and all the things that go into making someone ‘successful’. Perhaps this makes you struggle even more to get the grades and recognition you want.

But measuring your worth by comparing yourself with others is often a losing battle. A better strategy is to break away from the pack and stand apart.

How To Be a Successful Student in College?

So how to be a successful student in college or university? In this blog we’ll share some habits of successful students, what are the qualities of a successful student, and needed skills for student success. Look at some of the behaviors, habits, and routines that make up your life and find ways to change them. At the end of this blog you’ll find some inspirational success quotes for students from visionaries of our times.

Easier said than done, we hear you say – and you’re right. But blue ocean strategy will show you how to use simple tools and apply them to come up with your student success plan. Blue ocean strategy is a strategic framework for creating an uncontested market space and making the competition irrelevant.

Here is a simple blue ocean strategy tool that can help you tackle this issue. It is called the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC) grid, developed by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, the authors of a global bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy. Just ask yourself these four questions: what do I need to eliminate, reduce, raise and create to achieve student success? (Check out the ERRC grid to find out more). By setting realistic goals, and committing to achieving them, you can be an example of student success. Why settle for anything less?

Student Success the Blue Ocean way

Medical tourism in Thailand is a blue ocean.

The ERRC Grid’s characteristics of successful students

9 Habits Of Successful Students

1. Stop cramming

We’ve all done it at some point: stressing out the night before a paper is due, relying solely on coffee and junk food to get through. While everyone is guilty of cramming, the real issue is that it simply doesn’t work. Making a study plan is a far more effective way to retain knowledge, leading to better results. And unlike studying into the early hours the night before an exam, it won’t leave you feeling drained and stressed. As always, technology is out there to help: check out some of the apps available to organize your learning. Coming up with a student success plan will get you ahead of the pack.

2. No more destructive self-criticism

Honest self-reflection can help us grow and flourish as individuals. Taking a realistic view of ourselves can be motivating, and it’s definitely a habit of successful students. However, negative voices inside the head are harmful more often than not, especially when applied to attributes about ourselves that we can’t change, such as our intelligence, height, and so on. So instead of focusing on what we cannot change, let’s identify and act on the specific things that we can!

3. Cut down your caffeine intake

In small doses, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks, can increase concentration and energy. However, we all like to overdo it occasionally, which can lead to insomnia, anxiety, stomach upsets and an inability to focus. Why not try green tea instead? It has much less caffeine than coffee and contains antioxidants that fight, and may even prevent cell damage. And it doesn’t stain your teeth.

Successful student drink coffee, but don't overdo it

Successful student drink coffee and use social media, but they don’t overdo it.

 4. Reduce social media time

Is your life a one big Instagram filter? Do you express yourself in memes and determine your social standing by how many likes you get? While social media has become an inseparable part of our lives, it has also made us easily distracted and less attentive. This is having a major impact on our productivity. And while you probably won’t be able to cut out social media altogether, be smart about it: keep track of how often, and for how long, you’re using it. And switch it off when studying – the brain isn’t built for multi-tasking. It’s difficult enough to concentrate without having all the funniest YouTube videos at your fingertips!

5. Raise your activity levels and do more exercise

Physical activity is crucial for maintaining a healthy body, but it is also good for the mind. Studies have shown that it can sharpen the memory and improve thinking skills. Aerobic exercise, in particular, appears to increase the size of the hippocampus – the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. One thing you can do immediately and for free is to take more steps every day. Download a step counter to your smartphone, and find reasons to walk more each day.

6. Increase face-to-face time with family and friends

If you commit yourself to just one goal in this list, pick this one. ‘Real’ time with your loved ones can prevent depression, which is significant knowing how many of us struggle with mental health issues.  Go back to basics. Less screen time and more social interaction will make you and those around you healthier, happier and your life more active too.

7. Join a student club or organization

One way to increase your student success in college is to start growing your social circle is by joining a student club, society or organization, especially if you’re just starting a new school or university. Whatever clubs you end up joining, you’ll get to know people who have similar interests to you, and it can also look great on your resume.

But also look for opportunities to discover new interests and seek people who see things from a different point of view. You might be surprised by what you learn.

Can’t find a club you’re interested in? Why not start a new one? To get inspired, check out how this group of high school students is making an impact in their schools. 

Successful students

Successful students look for opportunities to discover new interests and ideas.

8. Take up meditation

You don’t need to be a Buddhist to practice meditation. Candles and incense are optional, and there’s no obligation to sit in a lotus position. The good news is that anyone can meditate, and just a few minutes a day can make a difference. Meditation can reduce stress, make you more present in the moment, and there is evidence that it can improve concentration, memory, and creativity.  If you are a complete beginner, read this New York Times article, which offers a practical introduction to meditation and some exercises to start you off.

9. Find a mentor

Achieving student success is will increase exponentially if you find a mentor. Having a mentor is a unique opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by, someone who has more knowledge and experience than you, whether in an academic, professional – or any other – area of life. Sports coaches, yoga teachers, lecturers or even an elderly neighbor can become a truly life-changing friend and mentor if you reach out. Bear in mind, though, that a successful mentoring relationship is based on mutual respect and trust.

A Strategy for Success in College

Use a strategy canvas to visualize your goals. Transfer the items you listed under eliminate, reduce, raise, and create to a strategy canvas, another blue ocean strategy tool. The Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas – a visual tool that helps you map your goals, thus making them easier to achieve. In one picture, you can look at yourself now and how you want to change in future. The nine factors we used are just a suggestion – you should choose whatever makes more sense to your personal goals and life situation.

For more inspiration, check out these five examples of strategy canvases in various industries. 


Strategy Canvas for Student Success

Medical tourism in Thailand is a blue ocean.

Strategy Canvas © Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne.

Success Quotes For Students

Here are some of the success quotes for students that will surely inspire you to do better and achieve the student success you want.

This selection of student success motivational quotes come from great visionaries of our time, authors of Blue Ocean Strategy Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk, and more.

Don’t compete. Create.

– Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

– Steve Jobs

Obsess about customers, not competitors.

– Jeff Bezos

One of the really tough things is figuring out what questions to ask. Once you figure out the question, then the answer is relatively easy.

Elon Musk

You don’t need to have a 100-person company to develop that idea.

– Larry Page

Recent posts

You May Also Like…


Learn the essentials of blue ocean strategy and shift created by #1 Management Thinkers in the World.

For anyone tired of competing head-to-head and wanting to seize new growth.

Average user rating


blue ocean studio

Powerful tools to create your business strategy

Follow a guided process for new market creation, build innovative business models, and transform your business within our interactive workspace.