Tips to Becoming a Successful Student
Or Perhaps Rather - How to Become a Successful Learner (in Life)
Becoming a better student comes from becoming a better learner.
To give you some background, throughout my time in High School and University, I got straight A's. There were many times when I would get the highest grade on an exam out of over 100 or 200 people in a class. People regularly asked me how I was so smart. And I never quite knew how to answer that - Because truthfully, I am no smarter than anyone else - Truly, I do believe that. It saddened me whenever others asked me that - because I make stupid decisions too. I make mistakes. I'm not a genius. I am imperfect (happily so), but perfectly imperfect nonetheless. I am the same as them. And they are the same as me - they just cannot see that.
It's just - throughout my years as a student - I learned how to learn. And that has become one of my greatest assets, not just as a student, but as a person.
We've been taught to learn wrong
Generally, we are taught from the direction out to in:
We take in information from our mentors, our environment, our books and notes and teachings, and that's what learning was for much of our life. It's the easy way to learn - but the knowledge we learn that way usually ends up only good for the short-term; The next semester, the next year, the moment we are told to learn something else - we perceive that new material as something new. Completely new.
And that isn't true.
Learning something new shouldn't feel like a whole new process. It should be like everything else you have done up until now. Maybe with a few tweaks here and there. But nonetheless - learning should feel normal. Not difficult.
The goal of school is not getting high grades:
It is to learn.
And once you get the process of learning down, everything else will follow in place.
Learning comes from the application of knowledge. It happens when the knowledge you take in gets applied back into your surroundings. Learning doesn't happen when it flows in just one direction: it must be internalized and let out.
Some Study Habits of Successful Students
1. Find Your Perfect Study Method
- Rewrite your notes
- Re-read your notes (What I like to do)
- Teach the material to others (Let that knowledge out!)
- Rework problems (What I like to do)
- Flash cards: Make sure you don't take up too much time making them
- Highlight important points or things you know you have a higher chance of forgetting (My favorite!)
- Go to review sessions if available
- Learn as you go in the class
- Schedule your homework / studying time
- Find every reason to be interested in what you are studying
2. Stop Asking for Help
This may sound strange to some of you - but try to keep asking for help to a minimum.
Most of the time, you have the ability to figure out problems yourself even if it takes you longer than everybody else to do it. This is important because the moment you ask for help, you bypass the whole process of problem-solving for yourself - and it can build up greatly as the years go by. As you start to figure things out for yourself, you will not only be able to eventually catch up in your rate of learning with your peers, but you may eventually exceed them and be able to learn your own way of thinking that stays with you no matter what type of class or grade level you are in.
This is how you start developing your own process of learning that stays.
3. Study As You Go Along - Do Not Procrastinate
School can be stressful - but it shouldn't be unbearably so.
Studying in short increments way before the test or exam really helps you stress less by avoiding that mad-cramming that can happen otherwise. And cramming isn't a very reliable studying method anyways. So try to start studying 1 week before the test or exam. Even just going over the material for 15 to 30 minutes a day (or every so often) can go a long way for your future.
Master this and learning & studying will become less and less stressful every time.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Get plenty of sleep so you don't fall asleep in class! Really guys... sleep!
5. Help Others Learn
Give a helping hand to others in your class. Studying, reviewing, and learning together brings the learning process to a whole new level.
Teaching is the key to knowing that you've made it full circle in the learning process: Teaching helps you apply the knowledge that you take in to others when they ask questions and want explanations. If you are able to relay how your mind processes that information, it truly helps you, as much as - if not more than how - it helps others.
Also discussing topics with others can be an enormously enlightening especially, especially in English classes I find. The more mature, personal and complex a discussion is, the more everyone gets out of it: The whole group learns and grows together at an unbelievable rate that can't be achieved alone. When you experience this - it is really eye-opening.
Once you are able to find the right minds, attitudes, empathetic, and open-minded individuals to come together is when one can really re-ignite everyone's love for learning again. As it should be.
6. Learn from Different Sources
If one source isn't working for you, try another.
- Because someone else may be able to explain a certain material better or in a way you can understand it more efficiently. And sharing that information with your peers can really help the whole gang, and even your entire class. Raise each other up.
Example: When I was taking Organic Chemistry, I had a really awesome professor (She taught a tough class, but she taught the material really well); Yet, despite that, Organic Chemistry is still a really difficult class to wrap one's head around. So I remember, after learning about different mechanisms for chemical reactions, I would go to Khan Academy and see if they taught the same mechanism in one of their lessons. And watching those videos really helped me learn the material from as many directions as possible.
Get to know the material: What happens, why it happens, and how it happens.
(Some wise words from my Organic Chemistry professor)
There will come a time in your life when grades no longer matter.
- And there will come a point when school (or even life) is no longer is about recalling and regurgitating information. Those who succeed are the ones who realize that the important thing in life is not the end result, but is about the process.
The way we learn is different for each of us, and the decisions and thoughts that go on in each of your minds during the learning process just can't be completely relayed: There are too many minute thought processes our minds go through in each specific situation or problem.
But I hope some of these tips helped you in putting you in the right direction to figuring out your own learning process that works best for you.
Remember, learning can't be about simply taking in information. You must turn it out - into the world - and see and observe what it does in this ever-changing world we live in.
Learn. Observe it in yourself. Observe it as you let it go - into the world.
Thanks for reading another blog post, and I hope this was able to help some of you. If you have anything specific you want to ask about doing better in school, comment down below. I'll do my best to give you the best answer I can.
And until next time,