Skip Navigation


Skip Side Navigation


“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”

– Lao Tzu

What is self-regulation?

Self-regulation is a goal directed characteristic that pertains to a person’s ability to monitor and control their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. For example, let’s say you have a biology exam in two days that you really need to study for. But, you also have just been invited to a big party tonight. What do you do?

Your ability to self-regulate will help answer this question. If doing well on your exam is the most important goal for you (which it probably should be), then you will be able to control your thoughts and feeling about going to the party, and that will ultimately result in your studying for the test.

Why is it necessary?

Self-regulation is probably the most important academic success characteristic advocated in this portfolio. The longer you are in college the more this will become apparent. One of the most important differences between what a student experiences in high school and what a student experiences at a place like OU is the degree of freedom available.

Life at OU is constantly moving. One group of students may be going to lunch, one going to study, and another going to play video games—not to mention the constant forms of social media communication and other activities that can divert attention from what, on most occasions, you would easily say is your top goal: studying. How quickly you are able to harness and develop your capacities for self-regulation will have a large impact on how much academic success you find at OU.

Will it be easy for you to say "no" to the party? Will you have a tough time not constantly checking your phone? What if there is a game on, or a movie, and you have a paper due? Will you be able to make the right choices in these kinds of situations? In the end, your level of self-regulation will be reflected in how you answer these kinds of questions.