Becoming a Great Student with Less Effort
Becoming a Great Student with Less Effort
If you are that student who works his/her butt off and still manages only to get average grades, you may feel some jealousy when you see others not working as hard as you and getting great grades. How does that happen? All your life you have been told that success comes from hard work, and now you are discovering that this is not true for everyone! Well, you actually can get good grades with less effort, so read through these easy-to-implement tips and become a great student!
- It’s all about the focus really! If you find your mind wandering during class, while reading, when studying for a test, or as you are trying to write an essay or paper, then you are wasting huge amounts of time. Why? Because sooner or later you will have to learn what you missed in class or what you failed to absorb when reading; sooner or later you will have to study all over again for that test or take a bad grade; and sooner or later that essay or paper will have to be finished. When you fail to focus the first time, you are doing everything twice! So, how do you get better focus?
- You may have to do some mental exercises on your own. Hold a pencil in front of your line of vision – look at the pencil; focus on its shape, its color and the size of its point and eraser. Do this until you are thinking of nothing else but that pencil (you can use any object really). Once you are able to do this, you can go to class, read a book, etc. with much more focus as well. Working “smarter” means never doing anything twice!
- To focus in the classroom, sit as far in the front as possible. If you sit toward the back, you will be watching others – what their hair looks like, what clothing they have on, what a great what they have, etc. Your mind will wander. If you are in the front, there is the instructor/professor and the board, being filled up with writing or slides. Now you are looking directly at what your focus should be!
- Lots of studies have determined that the best environments for study vary with the student. One thing, however, is quite clear – no TV and no friends in your space playing video games and/or talking. The rest is up to you – do you focus better when warmer or cooler; do you focus better with headphones and some soft music; do you need to snack while you work?
- The Issue of Note-Taking: This may not sound like fun, but there is a strategy for note-taking, both from lectures in class and from the assigned readings.
- If you struggle with note-taking in class, do a couple of smart things. Now that you are sitting in the front, use your tablet or smartphone to take pictures of what is on the board! Then you only have to take notes on what is said! When you get back to your dorm or apartment after your last class, immediately re-write your notes, including what you have photographed. This serves two purposes. First, by re-writing it, you have cemented it into your memory more. Second, when you have to study for an exam, you have your notes all organized and ready to go.
- As you read from your text or other outside materials, take notes as you read through the content – you will never have to go back and re-read the material again. I know a lot of students just highlight in the text, but actually writing down the important points of what you read commits it to memory better. Then you have notes to study from, not that big text!
- Studying for Tests: The biggest time-saver is knowing what to study. Here is the best strategy: If you have taken good notes from lectures and reading (following the strategies of #2), then your best bet is to look for those concepts that are both in your readings and that have been presented during lectures. Chances are if your professor has taken the time to present them in class and they are also in your reading, these are what you must review for tests. So, find the common denominators and study only those!
- Essays and Papers: O.K., so this is probably some of the time-consuming work you may have to do – everyone always wants one or more of these in his/her class. My “take” is this: you are either a good writer or you are not. If you can whip these puppies out without much difficulty, that is great, but you are in a minority. Most kids really struggle with them. If you use the focusing strategies in #1, you will probably produce them faster, although this does not help in the actual composition part, if you happen to lack the skills. You have two other options: First, find a trustworthy writing service and pay to have them produced, or, second, get the thing written and shoot it over to a writing service for editing and polish. We can’t all be good writers, so we should not agonize over it – just get the help you need!
These strategies are time-tested and proven – I know because I used them and turned a very average GPA into a great one! Take the small amount of time to practice them, and, in the long-term, you will really expend a lot less effort and time to get those grades you want!