Self-Regulation Key to Academic Success

Self-regulation is important to student success.  Simply defined, self-regulation is the ability for a student to control and direct their own feelings, thoughts, and actions.  A highly self-regulated learner will be able to plan and execute specific behaviors needed to perform well on a test or assignment.

Knowing which study specific behaviors to utilize and developing a commitment to executing those behaviors are the keys to the self-regulated learning process.  Self-regulated learners are good at creating study schedules and sticking to it.  Self-regulated learners are highly motivated, organized, and value the learning process.

Self-Regulation for Improving Grades

Self-regulation operates through three components: motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive. In the motivational domain, students believe in their capabilities and value learning and the study process as a valuable task. Valuing academics and the behaviors associated with it can enhance one’s persistence when faced with hardships of completing homework, study time, and effort to complete projects.

Improving student motivation is a significant component of the specialized college admissions consulting process.  At a high level, this is achieved by creating a series of objective, measurable goals the student works to achieve week-by-week.  As the student's day-to-day study related behaviors improve, motivation, attitude and work efforts often improve as well.  The key is creating a series of victories for the student and providing support and encouragement as they walk down the road to success.

Self-regulation’s cognitive component relates to the efforts students use to complete tasks necessary to perform well in school and process the information more effectively.  Some students may employ more visual strategies such as utilizing note cards, while others might employ more auditory strategies like creating mnemonics or tape recording lectures.

Students can learn which type of learner they are by utilizing the services of an Educational Consultant or an Educational Psychologist. Unfortunately motivation, organization, and overall study strategies are not commonly taught in public schools today.


Metacognition is the third component of self-regulation.  In metacognition students set goals and monitor their progress as they undertake activities necessary to perform well academically. As part of this process students develop insight into obstacles to understanding or memorizing material and use strategies like notecards, mnemonics, rhymes, or visualization strategies to help in solving the problem.

While the ability to self-regulate is an essential part of a student’s healthy emotional and academic development.  Self-regulation has also been demonstrated to be an excellent predictor of a student’s academic success.  Poor self-regulation skills can result in poor academic performance is has also been shown to predict a student’s probability to drop out of high school or college prematurely.  Focusing on video games, computers, music, friends, or extra-curricular activities in lieu of schoolwork are all issues poorly self-regulated students face.

Because self-regulation is a learned skill, it is important to teach it at a young age.  A licensed Psychologist or Educational Consultant can assist with developing these skills.