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Personal Responsibility And College Success Essay


            Michael Korda, editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster once said "Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility . . . . In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility" . Personal responsibility can be defined as taking responsibility for one’s actions, including accepting the consequences of those actions. Responsibility is important to all learning and developing . Many factors contribute to a person’s eventual success in college. However, the student has a personal responsibility for his or her success. While families and instructors have some effect on a person’s success, each individual is personally responsible in his or her achievement in college.          
             One way to look at personal responsibility is to see it as responding wisely to opportunities and challenges . Persons with personal responsibility do not wait for other things, such as people or luck, to make choices for them. An important part of personal responsibility is choice. Accepting personal responsibility in one’s life means he or she takes control of the decisions in his or her life. One example is studying for a test. A student who has assumed personal responsibility will create a time schedule and study for the upcoming test. A student who has not accepted personal responsibility will not study for the test. That student will hope that he or she will be lucky and still get a good grade. In a person’s life, he or she can be one of two things when it comes to personal responsibility. A person can be either a “creator” or a “victim.” A creator accepts that things are not working one way and will change them to gain success. A victim will not accept when things are not working and will continue doing the same things. A victim will be the person making excuses for his or her failures. Without personal responsibility, a person’s life would be shaped by outside factors rather than internal factors, including the desire to succeed.

            When a person enters adulthood, he or she has more personal responsibility in his or her life. With personal responsibility comes the freedom to make one’s own choices. The choices made affect a person’s goals. With this in mind, one can conclude that the choices a person makes will affect his or her success in college, whether negatively or positively.  Some students use excuses to advert the responsibility of his or her failures from them. Excuses are self-serving explanations, or accounts. According to some books and journals, people should be taught when they fail to shift responsibility from themselves to independent factors they cannot control.By using excuses, personal responsibility is reduced. When personal responsibility is reduced, performance is lowered. When entering college, the student has a responsibility to study, do his or her own work and maintain satisfactory grades. These responsibilities are critical for college success; therefore a student should take personal responsibility for them. As George Washington Carver said, “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses” .

        Families and instructors play a minor role in a student’s success in college. Parents, siblings, spouses, and other family members want to see the student succeed. They usually will do what they can to help the student in his or her academics. This can include helping them study, ensuring they have the quietness and space to study, or paying for school or supplies. According to one article, the level of a parent’s education plays a role in a student’s college success . It is also believed that a student’s interaction with instructors and other students also plays a minor role in a student’s success .  A thorough instructor who is available to his or her students is more likely a better influence on a student’s success than an instructor who teaches the bare minimum. The University of Alabama Center for Academic Success webpage also believes that personal responsibility and not others in a student’s life is the key to college success. The university’s webpage says friends, family, and faculty may advise a student but the final decision to accept the responsibility is the student’s choice. Although families and instructors can help a student succeed, the ultimate responsibility falls on the student to study and do his or her work.

         The most important reason each individual is personally responsible in his or her achievement in college is motivation to succeed. Motivation can be defined as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. According to the journal article, A Study of University Students’ Motivation and Its Relationship with Their Academic Performance, “student motivation is the element that leads student’ attitudes towards the learning process” . Two deans of Elmhurst College say that student motivation is the difference between students making his or her education a priority or not . According to them, students must choose to focus their time and energy into college to be motivated.  There are different types of motivators. One type is intrinsic, or motivation from the inside. Intrinsic motivation is a major component to human nature . People with high intrinsic motivation usually have an interest and enjoyment in the task. They also usually are competent and self-determined. An example of an intrinsic motivator is the personal satisfaction of achieving a goal. The second type of motivator is extrinsic, or motivation from the outside. An example of an extrinsic motivator is a promotion at work upon completing a degree. Both of these motivators can drive a person to succeed in college. Both types of motivators can influence a student to take personal responsibility for his or her success.

        In conclusion, although families and instructors have some effect on a student’s success, each individual is personally responsible in his or her achievement in college for two main reasons. First, no one else can be responsible for a person’s success in college except him or her. Second and most important, is because of individual motivation to succeed. Personal motivation and responsibility are the two main driving forces behind a student’s desire to succeed.

Works Cited


Afzal, H., Ali, I., Khan, M., & Hamid, K. (2010). A Study of University Students' Motivation and Its Relationship with Their Academic Performance. International Journal Of Business & Management, 5(4) , 80-88.

Causes of Failure in College . (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2012, from The University of Alabama : http://www.ctl.ua.edu/CTLStudyAids/StudySkillsFlyers/GeneralTips/causesoffailure.htm

Crone, I., & MacKay, K. (2007). Motivating Today's College Students. Peer Review, 9(1) , 18-21.

Downing, S. (2011). On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

Goodman, S., Keresztesi, M., Mamdani, F., Mokgatle, D., Musariri, M., Pires, J., et al. (2011). An investigation of the relationship between students' motivation and academic performance as mediated by effort. South African Journal Of Psychology, 41(3) , 373-385.

Quotes on Responsibility. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2012, from Leadership Now: http://www.leadershipnow.com/responsibilityquotes.html

Schlenker, B. R., Pontari, B. A., & Christopher, A. N. (2001). Excuses and Character: Personal and Social Implications of Excuses. Personality & Social Psychology Review (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), 5(1) , 15-32.

Turning Teaching Into Learning: The Role of Student Responsibility in the Collegiate Experience . (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2012, from The National Teaching and Learning Forum: http://www.ntlf.com/html/lib/bib/93-8dig.htm


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