Saturday, January 08, 2011

Weekend Questions: How Do I Study Smarter, Not Harder

Feature Question:

I wasn't a very good student in high school and my course starts in February.  I'm a little worried about studying and how I'm going to manage to get through all of my courses.  I don't want to have no life while I'm studying all the time so how can I study smarter instead of harder?
- Kim M.

When I was teaching, I found that one of the biggest challenges that students had was finding time to get all of their work done and study for tests at the same time.  At a college, like Robertson College, where everything is done at an accelerated pace, it can be difficult to handle your studies in the traditional way.  You have to learn to study smarter, not harder.

When I went to university I consistently pulled C's in my first year.  I studied like a mad fool and still got C's.  All nighters were a big part of my first year.  My problem?  I was studying like I was still in high school.  And it didn't work for me.  I followed all the advice that the study books were giving me but it didn't work.

In my second year I completely changed my strategy.  Here's a couple of things that worked for me:

  • Be alert in class.  That means getting a good night's sleep and completely paying attention to what the teacher was talking about.  I sat at the front of the class so that I didn't dare fall asleep.  I dressed comfortably so that I wouldn't get distracted.  I stayed away from chatterbox's.  When I went to class, I was as alert as I could possibly be.
  • Take complete notes.  That means not only taking notes in class but after class as well.  I would do that little T-thing (you've likely seen it but if you haven't it basically means drawing a T on the page you take notes with the top of the T near the top of the page and the stem off to the left of the page about 1/3 of the way from the edge of the paper).  After class, I would head somewhere where I could sit and fill in the things that I couldn't write down in class.  Later in the evening when I was reading from the text, I would fill in yet more where it was relevant.
  • Go to class.  I know this shouldn't need to be said, but it makes a huge difference.
  • Make connections.  Think about how the concepts that are discussed in class and in your text can be related to what you already know or what you have experience with.  Think about how it could connect to future situations.
  • Talk about it.  Find a fellow student to discuss the day's lecture/text material with.  If you can't do that, talk to a friend or family member.  If they start getting bored with it, start talking to the cat.
I know it is hard to believe that these things can make a difference but the key is that you need to be connected to what you are learning.  Don't just try to memorize everything.  It will take you forever and it will take all the fun out of learning.  Be active and approach your studies in different ways.

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Question:

Will facial piercings prevent me from getting a job?
- Jason

That really does depend on the company you are applying at and the job that you are applying for.  Many companies have policies about facial piercings, tattoos, and extreme hairstyles.  Some companies will allow it if you work behind the scenes.  However, if you want to be seen as a professional and be taken serious, it is best to remove facial piercings, hide tattoos, and keep your hairstyle moderate.

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Question:

I'm dead tired of my job and I think it's time to think about getting a career - not just a job.  But I have no ideas about what I really want to do for the rest of my life.  How do I decided?
G.

Choosing a career can be one of the most difficult things to do.  Have you checked out our series of blog posts on this topic?  Take a look at our Choosing A Career series of posts and watch for the workbook that will be coming soon.

Want to ask your own question?  Send an email to robertson.college.blog@gmail.com and put "Weekend Questions" in the subject line.

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