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Of the tangible factors, being financially secure, topped the list across all groups. This was linked to having a good job and being highly-skilled, not only in specific career areas, but also socially, in written and verbal communication, technologically and financially. The importance of time management, goal setting, and decision making ranked highly. Having a good general knowledge, travel, understanding other countries and cultures, and knowing "lots of" languages (from an intermediate student) also featured.

School was generally seen as an important means of acquiring the skills and qualifications necessary for success. Some comments relating to this were:

  • "To have a really good job you need to have a good education."
  • "No school, no job."
  • "I think to be happy you have to be successful. To be successful you have to go hard at school."
  • "School goes past very quickly. You need to make the most of it, be motivated to set goals and achieve them; take opportunities ... it might be your only chance."

Tertiary study was also seen by some as important in gaining career skills (graphic design, IT (information technology), and veterinary science were mentioned), although it didn't feature as strongly as school learning.

Many students spoke of the importance of family and friends, and establishing good, supportive relationships. These were seen as measures of success.

Less tangible views of success varied widely, depending on the group. However, most students were specific about what constituted success for them. A group of female students from years 11 to 13 named factors such as self-confidence, self-satisfaction, self-esteem, and perseverance through obstacles. Girls of the same age from another group identified learning from mistakes, being unafraid, focused, confident, strong and self-disciplined, and taking pride in their uniqueness. They also equated success with the sense of achievement gained from knowing you did your best.

Some year 7 and 8 students wanted to have authority, self-respect, pride in their work, no stress, and well-roundedness. Success was also seen as being persistent, determined, motivated, passionate, and organised.

One group of students, from years 11 to 13, had a strong sense of what they could offer to the world, measuring success by contribution to society, helping people, making a difference, respecting others, hard work, and giving their best at everything. Another group from years 11 to 13 named moral values, maturity and emotional development, the ability to think logically and analytically, to develop and express ideas, and problem-solving skills.

More self-based definitions of success included feeling represented, being given an equal chance, reaching their potential, having the freedom to make choices, having dignity, and being socially integrated. Also listed were pride, freedom, satisfaction, creativity, reaching goals, continuing to learn, adaptability, motivation, self-discipline, and aiming high. Motivation featured strongly, and adaptability and creativity featured more than once. One student named "social freedom" as a measure of success, equating this with being in the "top echelon of society".

At a more grassroots level, some students from years 9 to 13 saw willingness to help, accountability (defined as "ringing in when you're sick"), punctuality, and having a positive attitude as part of being successful.

Published on: 20 Sep 2007