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Why It Matters: Motivating Success


A group of students sits in a circle on the lawn in front of a college building.
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

―William Jennings Bryan, politician and orator

Welcome to this course on succeeding in college! You are here as a result of many life decisions and fortunate circumstances that bode well for your future. You are in good company, too. Consider the following:

  • An estimated 20.2 million students attended American colleges and universities in fall 2015.
  • This year, colleges and universities are expected to award 952,000 associate’s degrees, 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees, 802,000 master’s degrees, and 179,000 doctoral degrees.
  • A college education has more return on investment for a graduate in the United States than in any other nation.[1][2]

How will you maximize your time in college for best advantage? Your first year in college will be especially important. For many students, the first year is the most challenging because of major changes: new people in your life, new independence, new responsibilities, new subjects to study, and new disciplines to embrace. Your greatest new challenge may be balancing school, your family, and a job.

Word cloud showing the concepts that go into college success: attend class, eat nutritiously, avoid substance abuse, engage actively, define your goals, think creatively, avoid stress, be honest, appreciate diversity, etc.

To help you navigate these changes and establish firm footing, you are offered this college-success learning experience. It will guide you in building upon your current talents, skills, and interests in order to gain new ones.

As you build new skills and integrate them into your daily life in college, you will be rewarded with success all the more. “Success doesn’t come to you . . . you go to it,” says Dr. Marva Collins, an American educator and civil rights activist. With these words she sets the stage for your college journey. Your success, however you define it, is ever flowing.[3]

Enjoy this course on achieving success in college. Above all, stay motivated and celebrate your every accomplishment!


  1. "Degrees Conferred by Postsecondary Institutions, by Level of Degree and Sex of Student: Selected Years, 1869-70 through 2024-25." Degrees Conferred by Postsecondary Institutions, by Level of Degree and Sex of Student: Selected Years, 1869-70 through 2024-25. National Center for Education Statistics. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. 
  2. "Enhancing First Year: The First Year Experience." UCD Teaching & Learning. UCD Dublin. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. 
  3. "Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom | Open SUNY Textbooks."Open SUNY Textbooks. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.