Why Grit is the Primary Survival Skill Required in College


Staying on task, keeping time balance, time management and scheduling are all survival skills required in college. Research indicates that college survival depends on one’s ability to cope or persevere, have self-efficacy, endure and have passion for something, also called grit (Wright, Jenkins-Guarnieri and Murdock 293). Grit determines aspects such as academic success (Bazelais, Lemay and Doleck 33). Grit enables one to exhibit cognitive as well as behavioral factors such as emotional intelligence, in-built stress management capability, as well as being capable of managing personal internal or external demands (Strayhorn 2). People join campus for a number of purposes. Co-curricular activities and social life are some of the extra-curricular activities that one looks forward to in college. While high school has several restrictions, life in college is more free and diverse, a situation which might make it difficult for some students to survive as they find it a challenge to balance class work and extra-curricular activities. Some of the factors which cause one to stay off-task such as culture shock can be curbed through passion and perseverance. Back to back classes can also be easily managed when one has passion for what they are doing, a trait which overshadows other methods of surviving such classes, for example having enough sleep and heavy breakfast. This study explains why grit, as exhibited by passion, endurance and perseverance is the principal survival skill required in college above time management and scheduling, time balance. It also focuses on grit as a means of staying on task and surviving back to back classes.

Grit as the Principal Survival Skill

Grit implies sustained perseverance or endurance as well as cognitive and personality traits, persistence, meta-cognition, creativity and flexibility and determines the ability of students to cope with college life (Strayhorn 2). “Grit is defined as the passion and perseverance essential for achievement of long-term goals; it can involve working through challenges, over a period of years, against tremendous odds, and despite periods of plateaued progress” (Reed and Jeremiah 252). The survival skills required to stay and pass through campus include time management, and scheduling, keeping time balance, staying on task and surviving back to back classes. Student persistence, endurance and passion as derived from grit is the primary factor behind the survival skills required in college in terms of academics (Strayhorn 2). Personal traits and perseverance determine whether one survives college. Achievement emanates from combining talent with effort and not the former per se (Wright et al 293). “Grit requires perseverance when the going gets tough” (Stayhorn 6). Grittier people have been found to work harder and with consistency and being capable of surviving through life than those who do not have grit, exhibiting stronger trait factors that lead to success; the scenario is the same in college survival. 

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Time Management and Scheduling 

Time management is vital in academics and has been associated with better achievements (MacCann and Roberts 11). It determines whether one hands in their homework in time or not and can make the difference between failure and success as viewed by many campus students. Time management also leaves one with a lot of ample moments for self reflection. However, irrespective of how good a student is at managing their time, if they do not have perseverance and determination, they cannot survive college (MacCann and Roberts 11). In fact, ample time management leaves one with free moments for personal reflection. Without time management, one can find themselves overwhelmed with academic work, especially those who have back to back classes that follow in close succession or students who engage in many co-curricular activities. Even so, grit and perseverance can bring about time management, and not vice versa (MacCann and Roberts 11). No matter how much one manages their time, if they lack the zeal and passion, they cannot focus in whatever they are doing, as such making grit the primary survival skill required in campus.

Keeping Time Balance as a Survival Skill

Keeping time is a survival skill required in life; college is no exception. It can be difficult to balance between extra-curricular activities and class work in college (MacCann and Roberts 11). There are many games as well as clubs that fit one’s specifications, tempting them to join as many of the associations as possible. Even so, to avoid flopping in class, it is better to be choosy while opting for extra-curricular activities. One should go for what they are good at and which also leaves them with ample time for class work. Being picky about extra-curricular activities is a good method of avoiding getting overwhelmed by either academics or such events. People join campus for a number of purposes. Co-curricular activities and social life are some of the extra-curricular activities that one looks forward to in college (Reed and Jeremiah 254). Even so, academic success remains the primary goal for many college students (Reed and Jeremiah 254). Even though the higher institutions do not exist to exclusively inflict academics into students, their principal purpose is academic achievement, which is also the main measure of campus success (Strayhorn 6).As such, good balance should be maintained between extra-curricular activities and academic work. No lectures should be missed because one must attend to an alternative activity, unless it is part of the course of study. When one lacks passion and perseverance for their course in campus, they might find it difficult to balance their time schedule (Stayhorn 6). As a scapegoat, people tend to procrastinate what they do not like even near deadlines, an aspect which is well curbed by grit.

Grit as a Way of Staying On Task

Staying on task is a survival skill required in campus (Prevatt and Yelland 674). When the off-task tendencies get out of hand, the menace can be an indication of serious issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which can imply failure to survive in campus (Prevatt and Yelland 674). However, in order to stay on task, grit is called for so as to combat circumstances that might deviate a student’s attention from staying on task, the major one being culture shock. According to Salisbury and Pascarella, culture shock is one of the factors that psychologically deviates students from staying on task (25). Culture shock implies that students meet a totally new divergent social environment from their own. Through diversity and globalization, the internet has made the world a single global village. Even so, many international as well as local students still face culture shock when they arrive in campus. For one, people come from different environments. What one society believes in would be shunned in a different domain (Salisbury and Pascarella 26). Norms such as kissing in public are an abomination to some people who condemn the scenarios and are uncomfortable amidst a society that entertains public airing of relationships (Salisbury and Pascarella 31). Against this backdrop, when such people join colleges in diverse societies such as the US, they are significantly affected psychologically and can lead withdrawal from on-task attention, unless they can persevere and adapt to the environment through grit (Salisbury and Pascarella 31). They lose focus and cannot stay on task; performance in campus all boils down to their coping skills and how emotionally strong they are. The scenario is one amongst the factors that indicate that grit is the principle aspect required to survive in campus, no matter what other skills one possesses.

Surviving Back to Back Classes

Back to back classes are common in campus. In order to complete the syllabus within the officially scheduled time, many colleges set up back to back classes. Surviving back to back classes does not come easy, especially for a freshman who has just joined college. The lessons can be overwhelming and could even lead to one deviating from learning due to stress and burnout (“Ics.Uci.Edu”, 2018). Back-to-back classes are difficult to survive when one does not plan well in advance. At times, students miss classes or fail to concentrate (“Ics.Uci.Edu”, 2018). One of the ways of surviving such lessons is through having proper breakfast as one might not have proper meals during the day, or carrying snacks or even considering dropping the back to back classes if they become overwhelming. However, the major motivator behind easy survival for back to back classes is grit. No matter what routine one puts themselves in, if they do not have grit, they cannot survive back to back classes. Passion is required to put one through class (“Ics.Uci.Edu”, 2018). Even with packed lunch, heavy breakfast, having enough sleep, lack of passion and endurance can still imply failing to survive back to back classes which are almost unavoidable in college.


Surviving back to back classes and staying on task, all survival skills that take one through college, can be achieved through passion, endurance and perseverance as portrayed by grit. Back to back classes are unavoidable in campus and might lead to one losing focus and getting overwhelmed. Many students find it difficult to cope with the short time intervals between classes. Even so, despite other methods suggested for surviving such lessons, without passion, one would still deviate and procrastinate their tasks and find themselves encountering burnout. Aspects such as staying on task which can be affected by culture shock can be thwarted through impeccable passion and perseverance for one’s course as a survival skill in college. Time management and scheduling, and keeping time balance between activities are survival skills only achievable when one possesses grit. As such, grit is the primary survival skill required in college.

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  1. Bazelais, Paul, David John Lemay, and Tenzin Doleck. “How Does Grit Impact College Students’ Academic Achievement in Science?.” European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education 4.1 (2016): 33-43.
  2. MacCann, Carolyn, and Richard D. Roberts. “Do time management, grit, and self-control relate to academic achievement independently of conscientiousness?.” (2010): 10-17.
  3. Prevatt, Frances, and Sherry Yelland. “An empirical evaluation of ADHD coaching in college students.” Journal of attention disorders 19.8 (2015): 668-677.
  4. Reed, Lora, and Jim Jeremiah. “Student Grit as an Important Ingredient for Academic and Personal Success.” Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning 44.1 (2017): 252-256.
  5. Salisbury, Mark H., Brian P. An, and Ernest T. Pascarella. “The effect of study abroad on intercultural competence among undergraduate college students.” Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice 50.1 (2013): 9-31.
  6. Strayhorn, Terrell L. “What role does grit play in the academic success of black male collegians at predominantly white institutions?.” Journal of African American Studies 18.1 (2014): 1-19.
  7. Wright, Stephen L., Michael A. Jenkins-Guarnieri, and Jennifer L. Murdock. “Career development among first-year college students: College self-efficacy, student persistence, and academic success.” Journal of Career Development 40.4 (2013): 292-327.
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