|12-24-2006, 07:46 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Learning strategies for University?
How do you balance your study habits so that you maximize your grades, relationships, and health?
I have 2 very difficult courses next semester and both include lab components, (one of them is Org Chem), 2 very easy courses, and one that is going to be a special challenge b/c the prof apparently tests off her extremely disorganized and quick lectures only, which makes studying difficult.
How do you balance lab effectiveness? It seems like these are the giveaway grades, but they are so much of a time-commitment.
Strategies for maximizing learning with minimal time investment?
|12-24-2006, 09:55 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Indiana, USA
In a sentence, plan your week ahead. Assign time for working, friends and relationships. But be flexible. A good plan allows resources (time) for unforseen events also (a quiz announced during the week, an extra assignment, etc.)
These are some ideas worth of trying:
1) To maximize grades:
- concentrate your time and effort on those activities that weight more on your final grade. Usually these are exams, so prepare for that. Although homeworks and lab. work are important, I wouldn't use all my time perfecting a report instead of preparing a test.
- Do not reinvent the wheel; if you are stuck on a homework problem, go to the office hours and ask for help. TA's and instructors are willing to help you most of the time.
- For the reading work, write summaries of the stuff you are reading/studying along the way. It can save you time on the long run, but do not get too fancy (avoid the trap of trying to do it on a computer). Also, if you reading speed is average (200 - 250 wpm) try taking a power reading class in your college if it is available. It can help you work more efficiently when reading.
- For the writing work (lab reports, homeworks, papers), I would recommend a direct writing process (See Peter Elbow's "Writing with Power", chapter 4). In simple words, it is a process to write a lot in a limited time window. The main characteristic is that you suspend the abitual critic/create mode (writing a sentence takes you an hour), by decoupling the writing process components. The steps are:
(a) Freewriting: Write non-stop and without erasing about everything you need in your paper/report. Everything that comes to mind. Write every other line and on one side of the page, so you have space for later additions or corrections and can cut later.
(b) Cut-and-Paste Revision: select (cut) the passages that include the ideas you want to express in the paper. Add words, sentences if necessary. And paste on a new sheet of paper.
You will end up with a nice, clean and structured first draft that you can grow into a nice report on little time.
- If you are allowed, tape the lectures; it will help you having more complete notes, and even give you hints of exam questions. You can edit later, but again, do not waste too much on this task.
2) To maxime health:
- Try to do exercise every day. If you tape some of your lectures, you can listen them while exercising.
- Avoid junk food. If you live by yourself, try to decide once a week a meal plan for the week ahead. Check on Jan 07 issue of the Entrepreneurial Magazine for a healthy meal plan for people with little time.
- Do some meditation. I can clear your mind and lower the stress.
3) Relationships/ Friends/Family:
- Reserve a day a week for entertaiment/family/friend activities. If the weather is nice, go for a match of some sport you like (or play if you can).
I have used some of these ideas for my classes for several years (I am finishing a Ph.D. on engineering next spring), and others for just the last year. Experiment with these suggetions; maybe you could use the 30-day trial idea that Steve uses regularly for installing new habits, and evaluate the success you get.
Last edited by Pat P.; 12-25-2006 at 12:01 PM.
|12-25-2006, 04:08 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
If you search the internet or read books on the "college effectiveness", you will get advice that boils down to this: "take initiative". If an 18-22 year old had that kind of initiative, they would not need the advice. The problem with all of this is that "old" people, years removed from college, are telling you what they would have done. They are speaking from hindsight, and you are just trying to figure things out. I hope I am articulating this clearly. The best college advice that I can give: your semester is going to be ok and you will get through it.
As for classes being "hard" or "easy", you will have a different opinion on this before you take the course, during your first week, during midterms and at the end of the semester. At this point, you cannot accurately plan out the whole semester without knowing how the teachers organize their courses and the actual work that they will be giving you. I have taken math courses that were very easy and other that were very difficult simply because the amount of work the teachers gave out.
With that, I would manage the semester as it comes and do not plan more than one week out. And, even a week may be too long. The majority of students in college will do their assigned work at the last minute, managing the things they have in front of them. The teachers know this, and structure their courses accordingly. If you begin to prepare for a project or assignment that is 2 or 3 weeks out, the teacher may cancel the assignment, water it down as the semester rolls on or go over it in detail in a future lecture (making the project much easier). So, planning and preparation in college may be creating more work for yourself.
Also, pick your spots with non-graded assignments. Many times you can just do a subset of work, or not do them it all, and be just fine. This gives you time for the graded assignments.
As for health. If you are 18-22, who cares? Eat what you like, and exercise if and when you want. Personally, I do not think that this is a concern for a college student.
In college, there are so many opportunities to talk with other people. For classes, organizing study groups is a great way to study for tests and work on projects (another great reason not to "plan"). There are so many groups and clubs that are doing interesting things. You have time to volunteer. If you hang out with the right crowd, you have opportunities to go to parties, etc, etc, etc.
I will reiterate: you will be ok, and do not listen to conventional college advice.
|12-25-2006, 05:44 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Pat P. -- Thanks! I am especially going to try that writing technique.
Zero -- thanks as well! I suppose I should've mentioned why I was asking about health, "Personally, I do not think that this is a concern for a college student." I have severe diet restrictions due to allergies and can basically only eat fruits & veggies, meat & eggs (allergic to dairy and gluten, among other things). I also have been dealing with somehting that acts like Mono but isn't (they are still trying to figure it out) so I've been with little energy these past few months and therefore have been looking for ways to maximize my school abilities without draining myself with the effort.
Thanks for the tips, guys! Merry Christmas!!
|12-26-2006, 07:48 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
As for studying, most textbooks are filled with intellectual masturbation. If you can scan the book and find the relevant material quickly and write it down you'll be better off. It's easier to study 4 pages of notes than 50 pages of text.
Also like others stated know when an assignment isn't worth the time. I've had classes where an assignment would take a couple hours to complete, but even with getting a 0 it still wouldn't mess up your grade. That way you can use the extra time to focus on important material worth your time.
|12-30-2006, 04:16 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2006
I'm sure you've seen students that have extremely busy schedules and yet they have the time for social activities, sports etc...
Learn to manage your time effectively. Most students tend to procrastinate. To excel as a student, you really have to defeat procrastination.
Focus and concentration. Are you the kind of student that can sit down, focus and concentrate and finish that task in one seating? I realized most top students have such a characteristic. Laser sharp focus and concentration!
Effective study skills. This is where study smart and hard comes in. Learning to study effectively makes you study smart. Most students tend to fall back to the path of hard work to get things done. That's making life difficult.
Here are some links to help you out:
Time Management from Mind Tools - How to manage time and maximize effectiveness
As' Students Study Skills At Your Fingertips
How to Improve Your Concentration - eHow.com
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