Monday, January 27, 2014

Students: Do you know how to study?

Salisbury University starts its spring semester today, so I thought it fitting to have a post directed primarily, though definitely not exclusively, to students. 

A recent survey indicated that fully a third of all college students view not knowing how to study as their biggest obstacle to academic success.  These results represent yet another example of the incompetence of our government school system -- is it really too much to expect that freshman students will arrive at college equipped with basic study skills?

Well, anyway, the real point of this post is to try and offer some help in this area.  By way of philosopher Stephen Hicks, here's a lengthy but invaluable resource for you students out there.  It's on how to study, and it is really excellent! Even if you have good study habits, you'll learn something of value from this article.  As an example, consider this excellent piece of advice:
Reverse engineer big projects and final exam prep. Throughout the semester, you’ll probably have big projects like term papers to turn in. One thing that helped me complete these tasks on time and with little stress was reverse engineering the task. As soon as I knew the due date for a paper, I marked it in my calendar. Working backwards from that due date, I established  mini-deadlines for myself. For example, a week before the actual due date, I might have a deadline to complete the rough draft. Two weeks before the actual due date the mini-deadline might be to write half of the paper. Three weeks before the actual due date, the mini-deadline might be to have the research complete. And so on.

I did this sort of reverse engineering for my law school finals as well. About mid-way through the semester, I sat down and planned out my finals prep for the subsequent six weeks, working backwards from the final exam and creating tasks for myself to complete as I got closer and closer to finals.

This takes some discipline, but this approach is much less stressful than waiting until the last minute to complete a project or study for a final.
I strongly suggest that you bookmark this page and refer to it frequently.  And for you OLS readers who are not students, it's still worthwhile since many of the ideas and suggestions will increase productivity in other aspects of your life.