If we were to ask a typical student, “What would you do differently in order to perform better than before?” the most probable response will be, “I will try to work harder and put in more effort than I did before.” I know this because that’s often the response I get; but when I further ask whether they didn’t work hard or put in a lot of effort previously, the frequent response is: “I actually did! I put in my best effort, but I don’t understand why I didn’t get the results I expected.”

Think about that. Is it a familiar experience with you? I’ve found that almost any student can relate well with this scenario which is one of the root causes of a lack of motivation and of feelings of despondency among many students; or in the worst case, of an outright dismissal of the need to strive for better academic performance. How else would they have felt? No one actually enjoys going through such experiences. However, this seems to suggest that academic success is not solely based on working hard and putting in more and more effort. Of course that will come in handy, but there’re many other factors! It’s a whole system which comprises of several units; some tangible and some intangible, some internal and some external, some are clearly written and some are at best implied, some can be controlled while some just have to be complied with. To get the best from the whole academic system therefore, each student will have to master all the units; and today, we’ll start by examining the most basic of them all.

It is intangible, but controls the tangible; it is internal yet will produce the external. It will be utterly futile to attempt to get the external results without first having this internal quality. School will be terribly boring without it; even going to class will be like walking from one state to another. This blog will be meaningless to anyone who doesn’t have it. It is that one quality without which no one can ever achieve any success. It is the most fundamental factor of them all: a strong and persistent desire to succeed academically.

Being a student is tough. Daring to be an outstanding one is even tougher. It requires some sacrifices, higher levels of concentration, better thinking, studying and personal habits, and commitment to put the great principles we’d be learning here to practice. A keen desire to succeed is therefore a necessity; it will help you make the right choices for your own education. A few years ago, some psychologists carried out an experiment to find out what were people’s biggest regrets in life; the results clearly showed that it was their education. Some said, “I wish I’d gotten more education”, while others said, “I regret not having applied myself more in school. I didn’t take school seriously enough, spending my time with friends who also didn’t study much”

You can tell if you really have a strong desire to succeed academically by examining how much of your free time you spend learning, and how much of your financial resources you invest in your education through relevant materials. Desire flows from interest; and interest comes when you pay attention to a thing for some time.

Once you have a strong desire to succeed academically, you will have to sustain that drive and keep it alive. Poor results, failures and disappointments are some of the strongest quenchers of desire; but they should never be seen or taken as the end of everything. Failure is only an opportunity to begin again more intelligently; and therefore always brings with it the seed for an equivalent success. What matters is what you make of it.

Jessie Belle Rittenhouse, an American poet who lived in the early 20th century captured this principle so well that I would have the pleasure of quoting her here:

“I bargained with Life for a penny, and Life will pay no more,

“However I begged at evening when I counted my scanty store.

“For Life is a just employer, He gives you what you ask,

“But once you have set the wages, why, you must bear the task.

“I worked for a menial’s hire, only to learn, dismayed,

“That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid”

Life – or school – would have willingly paid; but do you have the desire to demand academic excellence? How strong is that desire?





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