Admissions officers have historically looked to admit students based on academic performance. About 93% of Americans say high school grades should be a minor factor in admission decisions.
But colleges also explicitly look for a handful of traits, including leadership, curiosity, open-mindedness, compassion, creativity, collaboration, empathy, grit, and proactiveness.
In the educational realm, proactiveness means managing time, recognizing the need for help, establishing good relationships with professors, and finding a good place to study and work.
Why Proactiveness is a Desirable Trait in Applicants
Proactivity has become a significant theme within organizational psychology but has yet to receive much explicit attention within higher education research. Bateman & Crant developed the notion of a proactive personality trait in 1993.
They suggest that individuals high in proactivity actively search and take advantage of different opportunities, display initiative, take action, and persevere until they reach their goals. They are motivated and dedicated to making an impact on the people around them.
Research has shown that in an educational context, students with higher proactive personalities enroll early, network with successful students, and keep up with their schoolwork. Many psychologists predict that a proactive nature will be positively associated with proactive behaviors.
A recent study uncovered three indicators of academic success related to proactiveness: self-directed learning, mastery goal orientation, and grades. Successful university preparation courses will enable students to learn independently, be motivated to achieve, and do well in university assessments.
“In overview, this study indicates that proactivity-related variables are predictive of both important educational outcomes and amenable to change. Thus, proactive behavior is brought to the fore as an important consideration in higher education settings with significant practical implications for preparing and supporting students,” researchers stated in the study.
How Students Can Demonstrate Proactiveness
Proactive students anticipate future challenges, advocate for themselves, and seek advice and help when needed. They plan and set aside enough time for their studies while recognizing the importance of balance for socialization and relaxation.
One way students can demonstrate proactiveness in the classroom is to get to know their professors. Dartmouth College Academic Skills Center stated that knowing professors is one of the most essential elements of academic success, helping students when they have questions or need extra help and separating them from other faces in the crowd.
Creating a study plan also allows students to see how they should spend their time. It ensures they set aside enough time outside class to complete homework assignments, study for tests, and review and retain crucial information.
And lastly, proactive students don’t wait for stress to take over their lives. Research has found that students who participate in regular physical activity report lower levels of perceived stress. While these students still grapple with the same social, academic, and life pressures as their less-active peers, these challenges feel less stressful and are easier to manage.