The Supreme Importance of Following Through (for College Students)

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By Jessica Peyton Roberts of Aim High Writing

Have you ever had someone say to you, “We should get lunch sometime!” but you know that lunch is never going to happen? That’s probably because previous interactions with this person have taught you that she makes promises without ever following through.

Want an easy way to win the trust and respect of professors, roommates, and employers?

Do what you say you are going to do.

If you tell your professor you will email them a rough draft of a paper they have offered to look over as soon as you get back to your dorm – Email Them.

If you tell your roommate you will text her over Christmas break to ask when she needs to be picked up from the airport – Text Her.

If you promise your boss you will call her with some ideas for a project – Call Her.

When you follow through, you establish yourself as trustworthy to others, while inspiring self-confidence in your ability to get things done.


If you want people to trust you, do what say you are going to do. If you know you are going to miss a deadline and have a valid excuse, inform your professor in advance about the situation. Tell your boss if you can’t make it to work on Thursday evening. If you tell your roommate you will take out the garbage, then bag it up and get it to the curb.

The benefit of following through over time is that when you cannot complete a task or fulfill a promise, people will be more willing to give you the benefit of a doubt and let it go, since they know this is a rare deviation from your otherwise dependable behavior.


Set yourself up to be a person of your word by following through on promises promptly. That might mean setting aside 10 minutes after you get back to your room to send the email you said you would, or blocking out a morning to make a few calls. If you promise to do your part of a group project by 5 p.m., then you better be sending out your work by 4:59.

Every time you resist the urge to procrastinate (or skip the possibly annoying task altogether), you are further cementing following through as a habit.

Doing what you say you are going to do goes a long way for seeing yourself as a responsible, conscientious individual who respects others by honoring your word.


Age does not necessarily correspond with personal maturity. Rather, people who deliver on what they promise signal to others that they understand how to function as an adult in various academic and professional settings.

The college students I perceive as adults are those who respond to my messages in an appropriate amount of time, send me materials I request prior to meeting, and show up to our sessions prepared.

The students who claim they “forgot” or -worse- “I didn’t check my email” are hard to take seriously because what they are really saying is, “I chose to not make our work together a priority.”

Every promise or pledge, big or little, that you knowingly fail to honor, is a conscious CHOICE not to follow through. This is childish.

And, conversely, every time you do what you say you’re going to do, big or little, it is a conscious CHOICE to decisively follow through. This is called being an adult.


If you want to be treated like an adult and win the respect of your peers and supervisors, make following through a habit. It’s the best way to present yourself as a trustworthy and dependable individual, in the classroom, workplace, and in your personal relationships.


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