Education can be one of the greatest advantages we can have in life. It broadens the mind and gives us perspective. It opens up worlds, cultures and experiences that are different from our own. Whether formal or informal, academic or practical, our education can shape our lives. Some people seem naturally able to learn and study. They find it easy to memorize things, plan tasks, write essays and meet deadlines. For others it can be far more of a struggle. The majority of us are somewhere in between.
But whatever your level,
Discover Your Learning Style
It is important to know honestly how you study best. Many people learn best by listening to experts speak, for example. Others need to discuss things they have learned with their peers or repeat things in a new way. Some are almost entirely reading-based learners. They like their textbooks, sources, and note taking to see them through their studies. Many people are a combination of several of these. What is essential is to identify the ways that you find the most and least helpful, for example. Visual learners may find a “mind map” or diagram to be invaluable while it is meaningless to others. Some students may flee in the other direction if faced with pages of solid text while others will dive in! No single method is any better than the other in itself. But they can have very different levels of success in your own learning. Try to identify which is best and incorporate it into your learning routine. You may not be able to change the fact that some of your classes or lectures are delivered verbally when you prefer to read. Or that some of your subjects have a visual aspect when you’re really more of a listener. But with a bit of self-awareness you can adapt almost any delivery style to suit you. Why not read some of the notes aloud and record yourself, playing it back when you have some spare time or need to study? Or take notes during the lecture that you can re-read or type up so that they are more likely to stay in your head. Whatever method you choose, make sure it is one that works for you and that you’re more likely to stick to. It is also important to discover whether you consider yourself a social or solitary learner. Solitary learners need their own time, space, and quiet to study. Social learners often like to be in a study group with friends or to discuss things out loud. Select a method that suits you. If you don’t dread the method of learning itself then it will be far easier to stay motivated and productive!
There is no faster way to become a weak student than by leaving things to the last minute. Some people find staying organized and ahead of schedule easy, but most of us need a little help. Try making a timetable or calendar and include all important deadlines along with their word counts. If you’re writing an essay that is not due for a while but has a large word count, maybe start work early alongside other projects. Planning ahead means that you have the space and clarity to actually be calm with your projects. This means that you are more likely to express yourself clearly, structure an argument well, or respond creatively to a task. If you are tired, stressed, and overworked, your work will suffer. Some projects may by nature be last minute but it is not a good habit to have. If you find yourself in a last minute position time and again, you’re probably not doing yourself justice. You can still have a social life and work effectively. The trick is to be honest with yourself about what needs to be done and then work at it over time. Cramming and last minute dashes have been shown to be ineffective. Even though many of us have tried to make them work!
Becoming an excellent student includes knowing exactly what you want to achieve. It is only then that you will be able to identify when you’ve gone off track and can then correct it. Be very clear on what each piece of work is asking of you. Approach it methodically and know what you should have learned by the end of it. Setting goals and achieving them will help to give you the self-motivation to continue with your good habits. Before you know it, you and your work will be more successful and productive than ever before!