1 Why it Matters: Motivating Success

David Evans

Why learn about motivation as a college student?

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 probably here as a result of your life circumstances and many decisions that drove you to better your place in life, expand your education, and add to your career skill set. You are in good company, too.

Consider the following statistics:

  • An estimated 19.6 million students attended American colleges and universities in 2018. Data reports that 14.5 million of these students were enrolled in public colleges while 5.1 million were enrolled in private colleges.[1]
  • In the 2018–2019 academic year, colleges and universities were expected to award 977,000 associate’s degrees, 1.98 million bachelor’s degrees, 829,000 master’s degrees, and 186,000 doctoral degrees.[2]
  • A college education has more return on investment for a graduate in the United States than in any other nation.[3][4]

Your first year in college will be especially important. For many students, the first year is the most challenging year because of the major changes involved: 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. How will you maximize your time in college to your best advantage?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.

This college success course is a resource meant to help you navigate these changes and establish firm footing. It will guide you in building upon your current talents, skills, and interests to help you gain new ones.

American educator and civil rights activist Dr. Marva Collins said, “Success doesn’t come to you . . . you go to it.” This quote truly sets the stage for the journey you are about to take. Your success, however you choose to define it, is waiting for you. Some may believe that success looks like a straight and narrow line that connects the dots between where you are and where you are going, but the truth is that success can look more like a mess of twists and turns, curves and bumps, and hurdles and alternate pathways.[5]

Enjoy this course on achieving success in college. Stay motivated, support one another, and celebrate your every accomplishment along the way.

Adapted from: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-collegesuccess-2/


  1. "College enrollment in the United States from 1965 to 2018 and projections up to 2029 for public and private colleges." statista, www.statista.com/statistics/183995/us-college-enrollment-and-projections-in-public-and-private-institutions. Accessed 10 Feb. 2021.
  2. Duffin, Erin. "Higher education graduation in the U.S. - Statistics and Facts." statista, www.statista.com/topics/2245/higher-education-graduation-in-the-us/#dossierSummary__chapter2. Accessed 10 Feb. 2021.
  3. "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, nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_318.10.asp. Accessed 16 Mar. 2016.
  4. "Enhancing First Year: The First Year Experience." UCD Teaching & Learning, https://www.ucd.ie/quality/t4media/Annual%20Institutional%20Quality%20Report%202014-2015.pdf. Accessed 16 Mar. 2016.
  5. "Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom." Open SUNY Textbooks, https://milneopentextbooks.org/foundations-of-academic-success/. Accessed 16 Mar. 2016.


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Why it Matters: Motivating Success Copyright © 2023 by David Evans is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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