Trying to Help–STUDY

10 Oct

I by no means am an expert on studying.  I’m just as, if not more stressed out, by classes and papers and projects and tests as the next person.  What I can say is I’ve done it the wrong way (GPA below my potential) and now (knock on wood) I’m trying to do everything the right way.  I can provide a few words of encouragement, but if you are having trouble in your classes, you have to dig deep and really look at what needs changing.  It may be something small–like switching to flashcards from just reading, but it may be a big life change like taking fewer credits or taking a break all-together until school works for you.  Be honest with yourself, because ultimately your success–is up to you.

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And before I get to the meat of this blog–make sure you’re not comparing yourself to others or putting an undo amount of pressure on yourself.  It really doesn’t matter how others are doing.  The only person you should compete with in your educational preparation–is you.  Work to YOUR potential.  You know what you are capable of and your limitations, and that’s all that matters.  Everyone has their scene and their strengths and weaknesses.  It’s not fair for a mother of 3, that works 20 hours a week to compare class performance with a 20 year old who lives with mommy and daddy and has their education paid for.  And some people are just really naturally smart and academically superior  [not me].  Admissions committees will not evaluate these candidates in the same way, and neither should you.  Do the best you can do in your situation and that should be good enough.

What works is different for everyone.  So back to the questions you should ask yourself to maximize your studying:

-how much time do I have?

You have to ask yourself how much time you CAN devote to school.

-what are my priorities?

Making a list of what you need to do and what you want to do–in order of ‘must-do’ to ‘wish I could’.

-what prior commitments MUST I keep?

The number of hours to pay bills at your job, the kids, that court date–have to be taken into account on the priorities list.

-Am I wasting time somewhere where I can be doing something on my priority list?

This is a biggie.  Are you watching TV?  Do you take leisurely showers?  Are you sleeping in?  Everyone wastes time find your time-wasters and see if you can decrease the amount.

-Can I combine activities on my priority list?

Or, if your priority list says you want to spend more time with kids, can you combine your running time with kid quality time and play frisbee in the park to kill two birds with one stone?  Can you listen to recorded lectures during your daily commute?  What activities can be done together to add more time to the day?

-what is my best time of day?

Speaking of time and day.  You should study when your brain is the most sharp.  I am best in the morning.  So instead of waking up at 6:30 AM to get ready for work–I now wake at 4 AM to study prior to getting ready for work.

-What mode of learning is best for me?

Visual, auditory, tactile?  If you know this, you can tailor your studying to your best mode.  I am a tactile learner.  So drawing and physically writing is what helps me most.  Making a laryngeal pizza or art project is what cements my learning best.  Figure out yours and that dictates how you study.

-What study tact do I spend most time on?

Even when you fine the best way–you will vary HOW you prepare for classes.  I draw, but I also read the textbook, do practice questions, (rarely) study in a group, and frequently memorize flashcards.  It also depends on the class.  You have to do what is best for the information presented in that class.  Drawing is only so useful in say, a phonetics course.

-Am I setting myself up for success?

Be critical with yourself here.  Are you devoting as much time as you could to your education?  Do you have good sleep (THIS comes into play!) and study habits?  Do you have a good environment, free from distractions to study in?  Do you pre-read in the text (imperative!), take good notes, and review each class daily to at least every other day instead of cramming prior to exams?  Are you doing only the things you enjoy or are you for real preparing for tests?  Do you devote as much time to courses you aren’t fond of?  Even if you prefer socializing, do you sometimes study alone (I suggest groups are only good, AFTER you’ve studied, and just to reiterate or get another perspective on what you’ve already learned by yourself).  You have to maintain practical methods and not fall into traps.

-And finally, the biggest question–is this really what you want?

If you find the above changes too hard, or find yourself wanting to be somewhere else instead of learning–maybe you’re not in the right time of your life or in the right program for you.  Just because this isn’t working right now, doesn’t mean it will never work.  Figure out where you want to be short term and long term and make the changes to put yourself there.

And Luck.  I think a large majority of getting into the program/career falls partially to luck.  Your school, that professor, how you feel on exam morning, what accommodations your work will allow–all comes down to chance and luck.  So I suggest worry about the things you can do something to change–and let the other pieces fall where they may.  I’m still trying to follow this advice myself.  There you have it.  My formula for achieving THE GOALS.

 

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