Being a First Year Student at University, in the Biosciences, I’ve looked back on my journey to where I am now, especially my approach to education and here are things that I would like to share to anyone who is learning, whether it’s in secondary school. University or even at home and whether you are learning a Science-related subject or not.
- You don’t have to spend one hour on each page to have learnt something [well]!
I used to be a person who, when it came to exam period in the library, would spend hours in the library ; I would be the first to get there and the last to go back. Anyone seeing me would have thought that I was a hard worker, and indeed I was but in exams I found that all these hours siting in the library working hard was not doing much for me and I would not get the grades I felt represented how hard I worked, especially in comparison to other people.
Over the next few years of exams I would do the same and again the grades would be what I felt was average or even much lower than the rest of my classmates. Looking back on these younger years I realised that my approach to learning was wrong. If , for example, I had a chapter to read that contained 10 double pages, I would spend 1 hour reading over each page and trying to memorise things as well as much detail as I could. I finally adopted the approach ‘ study smart’ and not ‘study long’ and that approach to learning has saved me time . I just make sure that I read and understand the articles and books I read and if I really wanted to remember it for an exam, I would make sure I read over them regularly ( e.g. once every 2 days ) and that would help me retain that same information for longer.
2. Follow your own path – You Do You!
In the early years of school, around the teenage years, I remember adopting the habit of what I call ‘negative comparison’ where in certain areas that I felt I lacked in, I would look at other who had these qualities I so desired, either thinking ‘Ah wow , she is so good at art ! ’ , ‘they have all the answers to the questions the teacher asks’ or even ‘ this guy always gets at least 99 % in all his exams’.
One thing I would do if I could travel back in time is to advise myself before I entered secondary school in this way: ‘Don’t be worried if it seems as if a certain classmate next to you has it all and you don’t seem to yet- just carry on, fix your own weak points instead of focusing on others’ ; or in other words ‘Do you’ .
Today, if I feel that there are areas I lack in, I will make an effort to build on those areas so I can be the best person I can be ; If I’m not happy about it, I’ll work on it so I can reach where I want to reach, whether it’s consistently high grades as my goal or something else.
3. You Be You:
Don’t forget to have some time to practice the things that you love to do, whether it be drawing or singing, as well as your studies. Especially in certain homes where lots of emphasis and value is placed on studying above all.
4. Understand, don’t memorise!
From a young age I’ve enjoyed learning new things and if I were to ask me what learning meant in the dictionary , I would probably write something along these lines : To learn = To understand.
However, coming into higher years where exams become a bit more serious, the focus was really to tick the boxes provided by the mark schemes ad requirements given and I found that as I began to ‘memorise’ rather than really understand the content taught to me by my teachers, education and learning became boring to me and it wasn’t long before I felt exam period to be a big duty to carry out, much like taking out the bins- I have to make sure I revise to get good marks; all the while still having that desire to really understand the topics for myself.
But again there’s a happy ending because I’ve gone back to where I want to be where I take the time to understand what I’ve learnt and the more I REALLY learn, the more I love.
(It probably sounds as if I’ making the educational system seem really boring but in fact, the point I’m trying to make here is that your approach to learning can really govern how much fun you have doing it and how well you do in the classroom , even when things don’t seem so easy).
5. Don’t be swayed by the ‘ Didn’t do nothing ’ braggers.
In your lifetime, you’ve probably been across someone in your classroom who brags about how they went to party a day before the exam or maybe hadn’t done any preparation until the last minute but still got great grades .
Now, while there are some cases where that can happen, most of the time these people actually put in more effort than you think so if you’re someone who feels they need to put in more work to get something out, then do what you need to do to get it. If you know yourself well enough to know that last-minute revision is just not for you or that you need to devote more time to understanding certain topics than forget about how other people do things and simply do what is best for you.
6. Don’t lose focus
Especially when you get to higher years , in college and university ,having been through the education system for a while. It’s important to remember why you’re studying (e.g. to get good grades to get to a good university, to get into your dream course or even to get a 1st Class Honours degree) or else it can be easy to find yourself monotonously doing the same thing, with time flying by . Re-focusing yourself can also help to motivate you.
I don’t know whether that was the same experience for you but this was mine and I hope that there’s at least one person that I’ve helped or encouraged today.