• Globally, student support mechanisms focus almost exclusively on academically ‘under-performing’
    students, especially as insofar as academic development practices are concerned. This article makes a
    case for a shift in approach. Using the context of one country, South Africa, we sought to better
    understand the strengths that academically high-performing students (AHSs) employ in order to succeed.
    We drew on a conceptual lens based on Bandura’s theory of the self. Data was collected by means of
    document analysis, individual interviews and focus group interviews with ten (
    n = 10) purposively
    selected academically high-performing fourth-year undergraduate students in a school of education at
    one university. The findings show that beyond typical family and institutional factors, the students’
    capability of effecting change through intentional and cognitive agentic influences is critical to their
    success. Importantly though, in finding their self-agentic capabilities, some found mutual support with
    and for peers who shared in their passion for success. This asserts the relevance of Ubuntu as a concept
    that underpins the understanding of ‘self’ in this context. The findings are important for theory in
    problematising Bandura’s self-agentic theory and expounding its application to peer learning support. It is
    also important for practice because understanding the AHSs’ negotiation of self-agency brings refreshing
    insight to the student success conundrum.