Just recently, I read an essay written by Benjamin Franklin entitled “The Temple of Learning”. Although the essay was more of a criticism intended to a prominent educational institution of his time, he was able to mention some insights that caused me to evaluate my performance in the university. In the essay he said that reaching the top of the temple requires “work, patience and diligence”. The ones who did not make it were the people who “withdrew their hands from the plow” and decided to “sit down with Madam Idleness and Maid Ignorance”. What is it that really helps us survive the rigorous and challenging life in the university? As I pondered on this question, my mind settled on a single conclusion —- STUDYING.
Ever since grade school, we’ve been taught about the importance of developing good study habits. There is really no exact formula on how to accomplish this but here are some ideas that I found very useful.
Yes, this is pretty obvious but still there are many who take this great learning opportunity for granted. Attending your classes regularly will allow you to gain valuable insights from your professors and classmates that you can’t learn by yourself. We learn more if we participate and the classroom is the best place to do that. When you attend your classes, you’ve already begun “reviewing” and you’ll be more acquainted with the coverage of your exams.
If you feel that your work load is getting out of control then it’s time to sit down and evaluate how you’ve been spending your time. Slash down activities that will not help you reach your goals. Minimize (and iif possible, AVOID) procrastination. As you do so, you’ll see that your schedule becomes more manageable and you experience lesser stress.
It’s really hard to survive in the university if you are alone, especially if you are dealing with concentration-breaking problem sets and assignments. Remember that two (or more) heads is better than one. Don’t be afraid if you think you can’t contribute that much to a study group. It’s the camaraderie that counts, and for sure your classmates are eager to help you.
Studying a day before the exam is not really studying. That is called cramming, and will not do you any good. Together with proper time management, allocate certain hours each day for your studies. Review what you learned that day and study in advance for your classes tomorrow. This habit will improve your ability to retain information.
A sleepy mind is a tired mind. Lack of sleep will not only kill your neurons, but will also degenerate your brain’s capacity to process and retain information.
Yes, most nerds out there love the library more than anything else, but today, scientists discovered that learning is enhanced when you are alternating your study spaces. Keep in mind that memory is coloured by location. And oh! Never study beside your bed! For me it’s like a magnet that pulls me to sleep.
Don’t categorize yourself. Most students spend their time worrying where they stand on the learning strata. Instead, use this time to figure out the learning strategies that work best for you.
Going back to old Ben’s essay, I personally don’t want to sit down with “Madam Idleness” and chitchat with “Maid Ignorance”. I want to be one of those few who reach the top of the “Temple of Learning”. I know that it’s the same for you. Studying takes a lot of work, involves a lot of patience and requires constant diligence. Don’t worry, it’s all worth it in the end.
Distance learning courses are increasing in popularity as people seeking a career change work on gaining the additional qualifications they will need to make the switch. Finding and maintaining focus can be a problem when studying in the home environment with all its distractions. Here are some tips to help you stay on track and get the most out of your distance learning course.
Create a space specifically for study. Aim for a business-like, well lit, adequately ventilated and heated, quiet place well away from distractions. If this is impossible, try using the silent, reading area of your local library as a study venue.
Make sure you have all the study materials you will need readily to hand. Text books and reference material should be neatly stored in your study area and you should have plenty of pens and paper if required. If you’re studying away from home, make sure your laptop battery is fully charged or that you have the necessary cables with you.
Keep your eyes on the prize. If you find motivation slipping away, remind yourself why you began this course in the first place. Set yourself small, staged goals and promise yourself little treats and rewards as you achieve each one.
Make sure you drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated. Drowsiness is caused by dehydration and you won’t study effectively if you’re falling asleep! Remember to eat properly before you settle down to study too. Your brain needs nutrition as well as water to function at its optimum.
Establishing your preferred method of studying is usually a case of trial and error. Some people work better with chunks of text to deal with, others find bullet points easier to remember. Your course materials will probably contain guidance on the most popular study techniques and your designated tutors will be able to offer advice too.
Make sure that the information you have gleaned from research is from reliable, accurate sources. Where possible, stick to the course material and if in doubt, check things out with your tutor. Be wary of using information held on unofficial, publicly edited websites as this may not be correct or up to date. Always cross-check information you have gathered from sites such as Wikipedia and other similar websites.
It can be difficult to stay on track with a distance learning course when your life is already busy with a day job, family and friends. It’s important to make yourself a realistic study schedule that you will be able to stick to and keep to it.
Make the most of your allotted study time. Turn off your mobile, don’t be tempted to check out what your friends have been up to on Facebook and leave Twitter alone too!
Make sure that you space your study periods out across the week. Don’t try to cram too much into one session. Your brain will soon reach saturation point and then trying to study is pointless as you simply won’t retain what you are reading. Take regular breaks, especially if you are using a computer to work.
If you find yourself struggling, ask your course tutor for guidance. You will be able to contact them by phone or email and they will be only too pleased to help you. Learning is supposed to be enjoyable and fulfilling, so don’t suffer in silence and feel that you are getting nowhere.
Good luck and enjoy your studies. Keep your eyes on the prize; the effort will be worth it!
Home study might seem like a great idea but it takes a good deal of self-discipline to keep your mind on the job in hand and make effective use of your time. Here are some tried and tested tips for successful home studying to help you stay on track.
Laying on your bed with music playing in the background and the lights down low might seem like a comfy space to study in but it won’t be conducive to productivity. Set aside an area specifically for study. The best environment is quiet and free from distractions, well-lit and well-ventilated and a comfortable temperature. If you can’t manage this at home, try relocating to the local library where you’ll find an area set aside specifically for quiet study and reading.
Good organization is very important if your study time is to be maximized. Gather up all the materials you will need before you start. If possible, store your text books and reference materials in your assigned study area together with a supply of pens and paper if you need them. If you’re planning to work away from your home office, make sure your laptop battery is charged fully or take the cable with you.
The best way to keep yourself motivated is to set little, staged goals and reward yourself with a treat or reward as each one is achieved. Sometimes a visual aid is good here, perhaps a poster displayed somewhere in your study area showing your milestones which you can tick off as you reach each one.
If motivation begins to fade, remind yourself of the reasons you decided to do this degree course in the first place and what you will be able to achieve for yourself when you pass.
Your brain and body need nutrition and hydration to function at their best. If you become dehydrated, you’ll start to feel drowsy and won’t study effectively. A rumbling stomach is not a good aid to concentration either, so keep a supply of healthy snacks like fruit to hand.
Everyone has a preferred method of studying and working and it’s usually discovered through trial and error.
Most course material contains some guidance on the most effective study methods and your course tutors will also be able to offer advice on this until you find what suits you best.
The internet is a mine of information, regrettably much of it useless. When sourcing reference material for your course work, make sure that it’s reliable and accurate. Whilst it is good practice to seek extra information rather than just regurgitating what’s contained in your course materials, always double check information gleaned from Wikipedia and other similar websites as it may not be correct.
There are many distractions at home and it can be very difficult to keep on track. Draw up a realistic work schedule and stick to it. Explain to friends and family members that you really must finish the assignment you’re working on before you join them to kick back in front of the TV for the evening.
Working alone at home is tough but you can do it if you apply yourself. Switch off your mobile phone; leave Facebook and Twitter alone and knuckle down to work. If it helps, schedule in short breaks between targets for refreshments, down time and checking emails.
Space out your work periods across the week and don’t stuff too much into each session. If you overdo it, your brain will just become saturated and you won’t retain what you’ve read. Remember too that it’s important to step away from your computer screen at least every couple of hours for a short break. Try to vary what you do; rather than spending large chunks of time just studying, break it up perhaps by working on an assignment for a while then returning to your reading.
Enjoy your studies and keep your eyes on the prize; all the effort will be worth it in the end.
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