The purpose of this descriptive study is to identify learning approaches (deep, surface, or strategic) among successful undergraduate students and the factors that affect and shape their learning approaches. The study sample comprised 90 freshman students who were ranked in the top one percent portion of the 2013 University Placement Exam (UPE) in Turkey. Students were variously attending faculties of education, law or medicine and were grouped in subject areas of Literacy-Social (LS), Literacy-Math (LM), and Math-Science (MS). Data was obtained via semi structured interviews with students and recorded on a form developed by the researchers. We found that students tend to be inclined to a surface learning approach, their teacher has a rote learning education understanding - the content of the course is quantitative, and exams are multiple choice or use a true/false system. However, they tend to choose a deep learning strategy when their teacher has both research and interrogation based expectations, the content of the course is qualitative, and the exam style is writing an essay or of a fill in the gaps type. Moreover, preparation courses and group of friends t have significant influence on how students internalize strategic learning approaches.