Getting back to being a student is not easy, especially if you have been out of school for a while. But since you have decided to get your master’s degree, there are a few simple habits that, if developed, can help you become a better student as well as have a positive impact on your life in general. Acquiring these habits can help you become more productive, organised, and efficient.
Some of these points might sound obvious, and they are, and you might be under the impression that you are already implementing them in your life. But I urge you to think about these points and analyse if you are genuinely implementing them – the answer might surprise you.
The 5 habits
Do not procrastinate
We have covered this point to death in our blogs, and here we are writing about it in another blog. And the reason we are doing it is that this is a significant point, the importance of which cannot be understated. Procrastination is also one of the most common habits developed by human beings. My colleague, Vidhi Kapoor, has covered procrastination and tips on overcoming the habit in one of our previous blogs – Procrastination.. Saving for tomorrow…….
Depending on the programme of study, you may get access to materials before the module starts for real – use that time to prepare. Make a list of the topics covered in the module (mind-maps are a great tool for this), try to get your hands on as many of the recommended/required readings as you can, and even start reading about the concepts in advance. Doing a first pass before watching the video lectures will help you prepare the ground for sowing, as it were – and it may be that questions that you come across while reading solo will be answered by the lecture, or not – in which case, you’ll know what to ask using the class discussion when the time comes!
Organise your notes in such a way that it is easy to find when the time comes to refer to them. Use a calendar, keep track of your class and fee payment schedules, know when your assignments are due and ensure that you complete your tasks before they are due. Time management is probably one of the biggest reasons students fall behind or stay ahead in their classes. We have covered time management as well in one of our previous blogs. Being organised can also relieve stress because you know what to expect and can be prepared beforehand.
Let’s file “seamless cloud back-ups” under being organised. Even with intermittent internet access, you can still organise cloud back-ups (or external drives if you prefer) – computer crashes do happen, but they are seen as the equivalent of the “dog ate my homework” of yesteryear.
Traditionally, being thought of as a teacher’s pet could make you really unpopular with your classmate. You are all grown up now though: stop thinking like a child! No man is an island! But as usual, we keep forgetting this. If you have a question or do not understand something, ask! The professors are there to help you learn and study better. You can also ask your classmates for help, and hopefully, you will also be able to help them, if asked. There is no better way to truly understand something than trying to explain it to someone else. Active class participation can have several positive impacts on your student life. Teachers notice the students who are engaged in class and will, in general, be more positively disposed towards these students. Don’t be afraid to “raise your hand”, virtually as that may be, and ask questions. It is always better to come away from a class with a clear understanding of the subject. And finally, take notes while you watch the videos – it is the best aid you can have during your revision of the subject.
Use active study methods rather than passive study methods
I will explain to you my understanding of the differences between active and passive study methodologies using a simple example.
When I was in school, I had a teacher that made us study by rewriting something repeatedly. For example, and this is just an example, let us take Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This teacher would make us write the law repeatedly until it became muscle memory. There may be a time when this works, but I have found that there is no understanding of the law here, and this is a passive way of studying.
An active study method is to summarise your understanding of the topic in your own words. This method enables long term retention of the topic and, more importantly, understanding of the subject matter, which will help you to practically implement it at work in the long term.
These are just a few points that will hopefully help you become a better student. There are probably many ways to achieve this more effectively and efficiently. If you know of any, please list them in the comments.
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