What Does Success Mean? Re-defining What Success Looks Like With Students

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What does success mean to you? We encourage parents and mentors to talk about what success means with students and help them define it for themselves. There is no “one size fits all”.


Erika Carson, Eds.
Trilogy Mentors, Chief Learning Officer

What is Success and How Do We Define it for Students?

Just like beauty, success is in the “eye of the beholder.”

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t cultural, societal, and professional definitions out there of what it means to be successful, but what it does mean is that success means something different to different people. In addition to encouraging children and teens to become successful, we also need to help them define and re-define their own understandings of success for themselves and what it might look like for the others around them.

There is no “one size fits all” with success

It is important that students look at what they can and have achieved for themselves without comparing themselves to others. Sometimes they don’t realize that other people have had better access to resources or more exposure to other people, places, and things. They also may not realize that this doesn’t mean they can’t achieve the same level or the same type of success as another. It just means that they may have to go about it in a different way, that it may take a different amount of time, and that the results may look different in the end.

Students often beat themselves up for not being as successful as their peers or the people that they see in the media. It’s important that we help them recognize their own successes and challenge them to maximize their potential in whatever ways they can.

So what’s next? Start a conversation!

Talk about what success looks like for you and encourage your child or student to define what it means for themselves. Discuss past achievements and what it took to get there. Then, help them consider what’s next and begin laying a foundation for the journey ahead. Success is never something that is over and done with. That’s why helping students understand how to define, and then re-define, success will help them overall as they progress and improve in their academics, their careers, and their personal growth.