The following was written by JT Ripton, a writer who has contributed to,,, and other sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @JTRipton.

The college years are full of tough assignments, hectic schedules, and challenging social situations. It’s easy to shrink back and become overwhelmed in that environment, but that can lead to regret later. Inspiring TED talks are always a good go-to for anyone who needs a bit of thought-provoking insight. The following eight talks are particularly helpful to college students.

The Key to Success? Grit

In this short but galvanizing talk, Angela Lee Duckworth relates how IQ and natural talent aren’t the best indicators of success. The factor that has the strongest correlation with success is grit, which Duckworth defines as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” A dogged determination to succeed is going to serve you better than a high IQ serves someone who’s too lazy to study for that big exam.

Dare to Disagree

Most people have a natural aversion to conflict. In this TED talk, Margaret Heffernan speaks about why that’s a bad thing. Using the example of a doctor from the 1950s, she explains how daring to disagree leads to a better understanding and results. Cultivating the courage to argue with others can especially benefit students who must work on group projects. Of course, daring to disagree isn’t just arguing for the sake of arguing. To argue effectively, you need to give issues deep thought and thorough research.

Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

Economist Larry Smith boldly points out why most people fail to have a great career. The underlying reason? Excuses. You can say that having a great career depends on luck, or that you don’t want to sacrifice human relations to pursue your passion. However, Smith says that finding and pursuing the “highest expression of your talent” is worth setting the excuses aside. If you cave in to excuses, it often leads to regret.

The Power of Introverts

The super social nature of life at a university can drain introverts, who value time to themselves. In this personal and touching TED talk, Susan Cain points out that introverts shouldn’t cave in to the pressure to act as extroverts. When they battle their inclinations like that, others around them miss out on the wonderful things that introverts have to offer.

How to Build Your Creative Confidence

In this TED talk, David Kelley argues that you shouldn’t put down your own creative potential. A fear of judgment can hold people back from sharing their ideas with the world. Kelley gives pointers for overcoming this fear and cultivating the confidence to create. Regardless of what you major in, you can get a boost from this motivational talk.

How to Start a Movement

A movement “turns a lone nut into a leader,” says Derek Sivers in this short but powerful TED talk. Using an amusing video of a single dancer turning into a dance party, he explains how movements get started. Whether you want to change the world or just change the way your classmates view homework, this talk can give you a kick in the right direction. Sivers also points out how vital the first few followers in a movement are.

A University for the Coming Singularity

In just a few minutes, Ray Kurzweil explains how advances in technology occur exponentially. This means that the future will bring even more amazing technological advances in health informatics, communication, and other fields. This talk can help college students choose a career on the forefront that’s exciting and relevant for tomorrow’s world.

4 Pillars of College Success in Science

When he was 12 years old, Freeman Hrabowski marched with Martin Luther King Jr. He recounts his experience and uses it to illustrate how important it is for people to take charge of their education and love to ask questions. He also talks about how to help students achieve success in science and engineering fields. The four pillars? High expectations, a community spirit, practical and meaningful experience, and faculty members who are willing to take the initiative. In universities, where all four pillars are exemplified, students should take advantage of every one of them.

Through TED talks, experts present their viewpoints on critical issues that affect both the general public and college students. If you students apply the savvy advice in these TED talks, they may help you find greater success and a rewarding career.