Published on February 26, 2018 by Maggie Kohlbusch  


What do I need to do to succeed in college? Is there a secret recipe to get that 4.0, to graduate with the highest honors, and to get into that elite grad school program? What do our professors expect out of us in order to achieve these goals?


I sent a survey asking students and professors to name “Five traits professors look for in their students” in a free response format. The top five responses from students and professors were as follows:

Student Responses

  1. Driven
  2. Attentive
  3. Curious
  4. Inquisitive
  5. Willing to learn and respectful (tied)

Professor Responses

  1. Driven and prepared (tied)
  2. Curious
  3. Inquisitive
  4. Willing to learn
  5. Respectful


Even though the question was completely open-ended, the results were almost identical, revealing that Samford students DO know what professors are looking for and how to succeed in their classes. I don’t know about you, but as we go into finals, this reassurance is very encouraging. We know what professors expect of us. It is now up to us to fulfill these expectations.

So What Now?

The ball is in your court. You have to decide if you want to strive to possess these traits. Based on the Samford professors, they see all of the five traits in approximately forty percent of their students. In the student survey, when the question was asked “Of the five traits that you expect professors look for, how many do you possess daily?” the mean of the responses was that we possess 3.73 out of the five traits daily. Considering we as students know their expectations, what is slowing us down from trying to meet them?

You've Got This!

Seeing all of the traits in a list can be quite intimidating, but your decision to come to Samford shows that you already possess many of these traits. Possessing these traits may be a more attainable goal than you think, and you may already be on your way!


College is not known for being easy—especially a university that is ranked first in the state by Forbes. (You go Sammy U!) Making the decision to attend college in general proved that you are determined or driven. So, you have an idea of what you want your future to look like, and one of the steps to attain that goal was to attend college. When you decided on your major, there must have been something that drew you to that path. Every class in your major can be connected to that interest.

I encourage you to find an aspect of each class that can spark your curiosity in order to see that course as a step to your goal rather than a chore. You must be willing to learn to spark that curiosity. Once you choose to be curious, questions will arise naturally. It is now your decision to be prepared for those courses and to show others (including your professors) the respect that you want to receive. Obtaining these traits looks like a college version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie—if you do A you get B, which will cause C, leading to D, and so on and so forth.

By making the decision to attend Samford and by choosing your major, you are already setting yourself up for success. Do not be intimidated by this list—there is already a good chance that most of these traits are being checked off! Be encouraged that you are naturally striving for these traits, and be challenged to try to the best of your ability as a student.

Still Unsure?

One of the great things about going to a smaller college like Samford is the accessibility of your professors. Based on the survey, professors want to have students come to them directly if students are struggling in a class or unsure of professors' expectations. This is not a surprise to students as 69.23% of the participants in the survey stated that their professors normally made their office hours clear and encouraged face-to-face meetings.


College is challenging, but Samford has many resources to make academic success attainable. Students’ advisors and the CDC are great resources for connecting college skills to the skills needed for life after college. The Academic Success Center is always available to help students make the transition to college easier. As part of our goal to help students set and pursue academic goals, our office provides countless tutoring opportunities which continue to help you throughout your college career.