Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Study Skills

The transition into new life phases can be startling.   Each phase requires new things out of you and you must adapt to the new phase by transforming yourself.  You will not have success in college if you go about it in the same way you did high school.  There is much less hand holding in college and there are fewer margins for error.  You will need to produce challenging work much faster.  You will be utilizing critical thinking skills more often, where you will need to more often explain why and how as opposed to what.  Later you will find a similar transformational change required of you once you embark upon your career.    You can do this, I’m just asking you to mentally brace yourself for the onslaught.  When it comes, work at it furiously (James 5:11) (2 Timothy 1:7).
Reading is different than study, but I find it amazing how people try to pass classes in college without reading much less studying. Notice how I separated reading from study because they are different activities.  Don’t waste time studying useless information.  Study in the specific sense is the intense work to get the right information into your brain.  In college, you are expected to arrive with your reading complete BEFORE the professor does the lecture on the topic.  You need to actually do this.  The idea is that you essentially teach yourself the material so that you can focus on the more challenging aspects of the material to be presented by the professor.  The Cornell Note system works well here.  Read the material, make your notes and write out preliminary questions you need answered during the lecture.  Some professors respond well to questions in class while some don’t.  If the class is done in a lecture hall, then questions tend to be less appropriate.  If you find it impractical to get your questions answered immediately, then do some book research to fill in holes.  Study groups are excellent in filling holes also.  All professors hold office hours and work with students one on one, just check your syllabus to find their office hours, otherwise ask.