Tips for Students

My experience with education was very sad until community college. I can say that there was no class I couldn’t flunk.  Was it the benal curriculum I rebelled against; the idea of authority? I am not sure. Maybe I just liked to party more than go to class.  Regardless, I did not like school. But what was hidden from me until I was in my 20’s was the fact that I really liked learning.

I would like to pass on some of the simple things that helped me the most. These tips may seem obvious to one who does something similar. If you never learned them they can be the difference between a D and an A. These hints have an equivalent to be used on a computer.

On Taking Notes

One idea or formula per page. Nothing is worse than trying to find a formula that you know you wrote down but it is buried like a needle in a haystack of scribble. 

Write down exactly what the instructor writes on the board.

Write big! If you feel guilty about the paper use then use recycled paper. This is more important if your penmanship sucks. Large letters or numbers equal more clarity.

A different folder for each subject

Sifting through sheet music looking for notes to calculate compounded interest is absurd.

Behold the sticky

Remembering required facts and terms that may be boring can be difficult. Before taking a test I put Post Its up in the bathroom, on the mirror, the refrigerator, coffee table etc. It is a way to memorize without monotony.

On Reading

Don’t be afraid to read more than one book at a time. I picked this up from Thomas Jefferson who built a swiveling book stand so he could read different books. I find reading something technical is complemented with a biography, history, satire or a novel. Currently I am reading four books.

If you don’t understand a paragraph read it again.

Karl Popper - Conjectures & Refutations Highlight anything that moves you in a book. It could be a reference, quote, or something that triggers your own train of thought.

Again with the Sticky‘s!  Write your thoughts about what you are reading and stick it in the book in the location of the text.  Criticize the book,  if you agree, exemplify why.  If the book inspires you in a completely different subject do not let ideas go down the drain. They will be there as long as you own the book. It can be interesting to see how the material impacts you at one time differently than another.

Go to Class

Duh! That last one took me way too long to learn.

–By Todd Vickers

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