Higher Education Values Grit in Prospective Students

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College resumes focus on academic performance, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, hobbies, and awards. But colleges also explicitly look for a handful of traits, including a positive attitude, leadership, curiosity, open-mindedness, compassion, creativity, collaboration, cultural intelligence, empathy, and grit. 

Intelligence may be the best-measured trait in all of human psychology. Higher education knows just how to measure intelligence in a matter of minutes. But grit is one key trait that educators may often overlook. In the educational realm, grit embraces theories of passion and perseverance.

Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. Someone with grit can persist in something they feel passionate about and persevere when facing obstacles.

Character strengths such as grit enhance students' perseverance when confronting challenges and improve academic performance. Gritty people can perform tasks and keep track of achieving goals throughout their education progress. They are also interested in learning involvement, the durability of commitment, and tenacity through stimulating teaching.

People must possess grit no matter what long-term goals they try to achieve. And grit can grow  and develop over time to some extent with patience and perseverance. 

Why Grit is a Desirable Trait in Applicants

Intelligence, although exceedingly crucial in higher education, leaves a lot unexplained. Some intelligent people aren't high achievers, and others who achieve a lot don’t have the highest test scores. One study found that smarter students had less grit than their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test. 

Study findings suggest that among the study participants (Ivy League students), people who are not as bright as their peers compensate by working harder and with more determination. And their effort pays off: The grittiest students -- not the smartest ones -- had the highest GPAs.

“In my experience as a professor, grit is more important than intelligence,” Michael Campion, Ph.D., Herman C. Krannert, Distinguished Professor of Management, said in a recent Student Select interview. “As long as a student is smart enough, which is usually ensured based on minimum test scores and grades, grit matters the most to completing the program and especially being successful in the field after graduation.” 

“In fact, struggling early in life or school but overcoming the obstacles due to grit usually characterizes the pattern of professional superstars. Something about failing and overcoming leads to extremely high levels of motivation. Perhaps it is the fear of failing again or the sweet taste of success,” Campion continued.

Grit has been introduced as a distinctive feature noticeable in successful learners and it is a conception that should be both social and emotional. 

Many experts have found that grit construct may significantly improve learners' educational success and has a remarkable role in learning. Both effort and persistence as a facet of grit may impact a student’s academic experience. 

Numerous studies have examined the relationships between grit and cognitive or non-cognitive issues like educational achievement or personality traits. For instance, positive connections exist between grit, grade point average (GPA), accomplishment, and homework completion. Correspondingly, several studies have verified that expeditionary learning significantly influences learning purposes that may have a prolonged effect on students preparing for progressive educational scholarships and professional provision.

Active learning is deemed a vital factor in experiential and student-centered instructive contexts. Engaging students in everyday, realistic situations is one aspect of education that provides practical and motivating learning for students when given responsibilities during the learning process.

“Grit is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute,” Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of the book Grit stated in her research findings.  

“Being naturally smart and talented is great, but to truly do well and thrive, we need the ability to persevere. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success,” Duckworth continued. 

She believes that gritty individuals approach achievement as a marathon; their advantage is stamina.

How Students Can Demonstrate Grit

Generally, grit incorporates the ability to sustain interest and exertion in projects that require some time to finish. Those who do not steer from their original objectives have a high grit. 

“80% of success is showing up.” That quote belongs to the legendary actor, author, filmmaker, comedian, playwright, and musician Woody Allen.

“My observation was that once a person completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strikes out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book.”

The people who are all talk are the ones who strike out and get stuck. Other people who follow through with their words are the ones who make consistent progress and get real results.

1. Persistence

Very few people know how to do something correctly the first time they try. But every kid, at some point during their childhood, went to soccer practices, ballet classes, guitar lessons, karate, arts and crafts classes, etc. Any of these environments helped kids learn how to overcome challenges and persist. 

Similarly, students face failure or struggle in the classroom every day. But persevering in the face of this challenge displays grit. Students should take risks, power through challenging tasks, and understand how to navigate frustration without giving up.

2. Clarify Goals

It is difficult to commit fully to multiple long-term goals simultaneously and expect that we will achieve success. The demands of one goal will likely supersede the other, or your skills will not develop as well as necessary in either area.

But the grittiest people are very clear about their ultimate goal, and most of their smaller goals align with that goal. Grit is about sustained, consistent effort toward a goal, even when we struggle, falter, or temporarily fail.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice 

Gritty people spend A LOT MORE TIME on tasks or assignments than the average person. For example, a student whose strong suit is English and who simply can’t understand a math problem will need to practice, practice, and practice their math skills to succeed in the classroom. 

4. Surround Yourself With Gritty People

The people around you greatly influence your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When you spend enough time with a particular group, how they do things becomes how you do things.

Their norms and values will rub off on you and become your new standard. One of the most efficient ways to grow your grit is a kind of positive peer pressure. In the same breath, educators can also help learners boost and promote grit by being aware of the assignments given to students. 

The assurance of honesty that educators demonstrate both within the classroom and at home is vital as students develop perseverance and grit both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.

Grit is desirable for college students because it enhances their perseverance when confronting challenges and improves overall academic performance.


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