What sets apart highly successful students

One of the major differences we found between highly successful students and mediocre ones: average students think they can tell right away if they are going to be good at something. If they don't get it immediately, they throw up their hands and say, "I can't do it." Their more accomplished classmates have a completely different attitude-and it is largely a matter of attitude rather than ability. They stick with assignments much longer and are always reluctant to give it up. "I haven't learned it yet," they might say, while others would cry, "I'm not good at history, music, math, writing, or whatever." Traditional schooling rewards quick answers-the person with the hand up first. But an innovative work of the mind, something that lasts and changes the world, demands slow and steady progress. It requires time and devotion. You can't tell what you can do until you struggle with something over and over again.

Ken Bain, What the Best College Students Do