Habits to Develop for Success in University

November 24, 2023
5 min read
Cress Warnell

When it comes to achieving success in university, developing positive habits is absolutely crucial. These habits not only help you navigate the academic challenges, but also contribute to your personal growth and overall well-being - in this blog, we will explore the key habits that every university student should strive to cultivate!

Goal Setting

Setting realistic and achievable goals is crucial for success in university, and it one of the best habits you can develop early on: It provides direction and motivates you to work towards achieving your desired outcomes. Without clear goals, you may find yourself lacking focus and easily distracted.

Importance of setting clear goals

When you set clear goals, you are able to define what you want to achieve and create a roadmap to reach them. Having clear goals can help you to stay focused, prioritise tasks, and make better decisions, as well as providing you with a sense of purpose that helps you stay motivated when faced with challenges, which can in turn help you cultivate a positive mindset that manages your mental health and helps you stay healthy.

Short-term and long-term goals

It is important to have both short-term and long-term goals throughout university: 

  • Short-term goals are small, achievable targets that you set to accomplish within a few days, weeks, or months. These goals help you stay motivated and build momentum towards your long-term goals. 
  • Long-term goals, on the other hand, are bigger, broader objectives that you aim to achieve over a longer period of time, such as completing your degree or landing your dream job.

Strategies for staying motivated

  • Break your long-term goals into smaller milestones (short term goals) to stay motivated.
  • Reward yourself when you achieve your goals to maintain motivation and mental wellbeing.
  • Track your progress regularly to stay motivated and make adjustments if needed.
  • Find a support system or accountability partner to keep you motivated and on track, and so you can encourage each other to keep up with your healthy habits.

Goal-setting advice for international students

For international students who are studying abroad, developing good habits through goal setting becomes even more important. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Align your goals with your personal and academic aspirations.
  • Be aware of the resources and support available to you as an international student.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities and connect with fellow international students.
  • Set realistic goals that consider the challenges and opportunities unique to your situation.

Effective Time Management

Time management is a crucial skill that every successful university student must possess. With the countless lectures, assignments, and extracurricular activities demanding your attention, we understand it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. 

However, by establishing a schedule, prioritising tasks, avoiding procrastination, and following our time management tips for successful students, you can effectively manage your time and excel in university.

Establishing a Schedule

One of the first habits you should develop is establishing a schedule or daily routine; creating a routine helps you stay organised and ensures that you allocate sufficient time to each task. We suggest you start by designing a weekly schedule that incorporates your classes, study sessions, and other commitments - don't forget to include some downtime for relaxation and socialising! Just because you have a productive schedule doesn't mean your social life has to be put on pause.

Prioritising Tasks

Another essential skill to master is prioritising your tasks. As a university student, you'll often face numerous assignments and deadlines; in order to stay on top of your workload you will need to identify the most important tasks and tackle them first to prevent last-minute cramming, and ensure that your work is completed to a high standard.

Avoiding Procrastination

We all have a tendency to procrastinate from time to time, but it's crucial to overcome this habit in university, as procrastination can lead to stress, rushed work, and missed deadlines. To avoid it, break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and set deadlines for each - by holding yourself accountable and tackling your work in a timely manner, you can overcome the urge to procrastinate.

Time Management Tips for International Students

As an international student, adjusting to a new academic environment can be challenging. Here are some time management tips specifically tailored to help you succeed:

  • Get familiar with the culture: Understand the local customs and practices to effectively manage your time in a foreign country.
  • Utilise campus resources: Take advantage of libraries, study spaces, and academic support services to optimise your study time.
  • Allocate time for language studies: If English is not your first language, allocate time for English language improvement to enhance your academic performance.
  • Join study groups: Collaborating with fellow students in a study group environment can help you manage your workload and gain valuable insights.
  • Stay organised: Keep track of important dates and deadlines using a planner or digital calendar.

By implementing these time management habits and tips, you can enhance your productivity, have reduced anxiety and stress levels, and achieve academic success at university. The ability to manage your time effectively will not only benefit your studies but also set the foundation for your future career.

Study Techniques

Understanding learning styles

Every student has a unique way of processing and retaining information - understanding your learning style can greatly enhance your studying techniques. Some students are visual learners, while others are auditory or kinesthetic learners; we encourage you to experiment with different methods in order to determine which works best for you:

Active reading strategies

Reading textbooks and research papers can be overwhelming, especially with the vast amount of information to digest - there are multiple ways you can develop active reading strategies to help you understand and retain the information, such as highlighting key points, underlining important concepts, and taking notes in the margins. It's a good habit to engage with the text by asking questions or making connections to enhance comprehension and retention.

Note-taking methods

Effective note-taking is crucial for successful studying. Develop a note-taking method that suits your learning style, whether it's the Cornell method, outlining, or mind mapping, find a system that allows you to capture important information while organising it in a way that is easy to review.

Summarising and synthesising information

As you encounter vast amounts of information, it's essential to develop the skill of summarising and synthesising. Take the time to condense lengthy readings or lecture materials into concise summaries and practice synthesising information from multiple sources to create a comprehensive understanding of the topic in your study space; you will thank yourself later when exam time comes around.

Practice tests/ past papers

One great way you can check to see how much of the subject content you have taken on board is to test yourself with practice tests and questions, or even by completing past papers - in test conditions, of course! - this will help you practice your memory and recall when it comes to specific context based information, as well as allowing you to practice exam style formatting in your answers.

Creating effective study groups

Studying in groups can be a productive way to learn and clarify difficult concepts - however, it is essential to create effective study groups, where you will actually be able to focus and get your work done without too much distraction. Study groups can also help you to improve your self confidence as you increase your knowledge while building connections and friendships with your peers. 

In order to do this you should choose individuals who have similar goals and work ethic to you. Assign specific roles within the group, such as the facilitator or researcher and encourage active participation and accountability to ensure everyone benefits from the collaborative study sessions.

Organisation Skills

Being organised is a crucial skill for success in university and a habit you must create for yourself - with multiple lectures, assignments, and exams to keep track of, it's important to develop effective organisation habits. Having your study materials organised is essential for efficient studying; you can create separate folders or binders for each subject or module making it easier to find and review specific course materials when you need them.

Here are some key habits to help you stay organised throughout your university journey:

Keeping track of lectures and assignments

One of the first steps to staying organised is keeping track of your lectures and assignments. Make sure to have a schedule of all your classes and note down important dates for assignments; this will also help you to plan your study time effectively and ensure you never miss a deadline.

Planners or digital tools

A planner or digital tools can be a lifesaver when it comes to staying organised. You could use a planner to jot down your daily tasks, deadlines, and commitments or alternatively, if you prefer digital solutions, there are plenty of apps and tools available that can help you stay organised and set reminders for important tasks that you may forget or not have time for, especially during busy periods.

Digital files 

In today's digital age, it's important to effectively manage your digital files - create folders on your computer or cloud storage and organise your files accordingly. Name your files in a consistent and meaningful way to easily locate them later.

Developing these organisation skills will not only help you succeed in university but also in your future career. By staying organised, you'll be able to manage your time effectively, reduce stress, and stay on top of your academic responsibilities.


Developing self-discipline habits is crucial for succeeding in university; self discipline involves creating routines and sticking to them, even when faced with temptations or challenges. Without self-discipline, it can be easy to procrastinate, lose focus, and fall behind on your academic responsibilities.

Avoiding distractions and setting boundaries is essential in maintaining self-discipline. We can minimise distractions such as social media notifications or unrelated websites while studying - by setting specific study hours and dedicating a distraction-free zone for studying we can ensure we are getting the most out of our learning, and that the rest of our effective study habits are not wasted.

Staying committed to your academic responsibilities is another important aspect of self-discipline, meaning attending classes regularly, completing assignments on time, and prioritising academic tasks over leisure activities. This requires making conscious choices to focus on your studies and avoid procrastination.

For international students, self-discipline can be particularly challenging due to cultural adjustments and language barriers. To develop self-discipline habits, establish a consistent routine, create a study schedule, and find a support system that can help you stay motivated and accountable.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is a vital skill to develop throughout your university journey, as it not only helps you better understand and absorb the course material but also enables you to engage and connect with your professors and fellow students. Here are some habits you can adopt to enhance your communication skills:

  • Participating in class discussions: Be an active participant in class discussions by sharing your thoughts, asking questions, and responding to your classmates' ideas. This will not only demonstrate your engagement but also help you clarify your own understanding of the subject matter.
  • Seeking help when needed: Don't hesitate to ask for clarification or assistance from your professors or classmates, as this shows that you are committed to your studies and willing to take the necessary steps to overcome challenges.
  • Collaborating with peers on group projects: Group projects offer an excellent opportunity to practice effective communication. Communicate openly with your group members, delegate tasks, and maintain a collaborative mindset to ensure the success of the project.
  • Communicating effectively through written assignments: Written assignments play a significant role in university education - make sure to practice clear and concise writing, provide proper citations, and proofread your work to convey your ideas effectively.


Networking is an essential habit to develop in order to succeed in university; by actively building connections with individuals on the same page as you within the community of your university you can open doors to new opportunities and broaden your horizons.

Start by attending events and joining clubs or organizations that align with your interests. This will allow you to meet like-minded individuals and build relationships that can support your academic and personal growth.

Don't underestimate the power of forming connections with your professors and classmates. They can serve as valuable resources, providing guidance, support, and networking opportunities. Take the time to engage in meaningful conversations and participate actively in class discussions.

Stress Management

Stress management is a crucial skill to develop in order to succeed in university. Thanks to the demanding academic environment coupled with personal responsibilities, it's not uncommon to gradually build up overwhelming levels of stress. However, by adopting certain healthy habits, you can effectively manage stress and maintain a healthy mindset throughout your university journey.

Practicing self-care and maintaining a balanced lifestyle

One of the most important habits to develop is practicing self-care and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. This includes getting enough good sleep, eating nutritious meals and having an overall balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activities. Taking care of your overall well-being will not only reduce stress but also improve your focus and productivity.

Sleep quality

Getting into the habit of sleeping well and getting a good night of rest regularly can prove to be incredibly beneficial, and help you to grow into the best version of yourself. A tired you is not going to be capable of doing well - academically or in your social life!

Seeking support when needed

Another crucial habit to get into is recognising when you need support and seeking it when necessary. Whether it's reaching out to friends, family, or university resources, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Building a support system can provide you with valuable guidance, encouragement, and a sense of belonging during challenging times.

Finding healthy outlets for relaxation

It's important to find healthy outlets for relaxation to counteract the pressures of university life, it's vital you take breaks and enjoy time outside and involving yourself in regular exercise, especially outside, is an amazing habit to get into that can be hugely beneficial for your mental health. 

Taking breaks and engaging in activities such as meditation, yoga, or taking a short walk or spending time on hobbies can help you unwind and recharge and build your mental strength. These outlets provide a much-needed break from academic stress and contribute to your overall well-being.

Stress management tips for international students

For international students, managing stress may present additional challenges. Adapting to a new culture, navigating language barriers, and being away from home can amplify stress levels. To effectively manage stress, it's essential to prioritise self-care, build a support network, and seek assistance from international student services offered by the university.

Adaptability: Embracing Change and New Experiences

Developing the habit of adaptability is crucial for succeeding in university. As a student, you will encounter numerous changes and new experiences throughout your academic journey, and by embracing these changes, you can enhance your ability to navigate through unexpected situations and thrive in a dynamic environment.

One of the key aspects of adaptability is being open to new perspectives - university exposes you to a diverse range of ideas and beliefs that you most likely will not have encountered before. By actively seeking out and considering different viewpoints, you can broaden your understanding of various subjects. This open-mindedness fosters personal growth and allows you to approach challenges with a fresh perspective.

Adaptable students actively seek opportunities to learn and grow; you should not be afraid to step out of your comfort zones and try new things, as by continuously challenging yourself and embracing new experiences, you can expand your knowledge and skills. This willingness to learn and grow will not only benefit you academically but also personally and professionally.

Cultivating Adaptability for International Students

For international students, adaptability becomes even more critical, as moving to a new country and adjusting to a different culture can be challenging. However, by cultivating adaptability, as an international student you can navigate cultural differences, develop resilience, and make the most out of your university experience. Engaging in cultural exchange programs, joining international student organisations, and seeking support are just a few ways to foster adaptability in an international setting.


Throughout this guide, we have discussed various habits that are crucial for your academic journey, and it cannot be emphasised enough how important it is to develop these habits as they not only contribute to your success in university, but also lay a solid foundation for your future endeavors. Remember, these habits are not formed overnight, but with consistent effort and practice, they can become ingrained in your daily life, while you are in school and hopefully after.

Now that you have learned about these habits, it's time to start implementing them - don't wait for tomorrow or the next semester! Start today, and you will gradually witness the positive impact they have on your academic journey. 

Success in university is within your reach, and by adopting these habits, you are setting yourself up for a fulfilling and prosperous future.

If you still have any questions relating to university life or education related topics please contact Summer Schools today, or read our other informational blogs! We are here to help students - if we can provide any answers to your questions, support or assistance, make sure to let us know.

Cress Warnell

Cress is a skilled copywriter who transforms ideas into captivating content. With a passion for words and a keen eye for detail, she crafts compelling copy for Summer Schools, helping students explore their options in education.

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