By PLA Team Leader Ramona
Whether you’re an exchange student embarking on a year-long adventure to a breathtakingly beautiful place, a first year student yearning to get involved, or a returning student telling yourself this will be your year of real routine and amazing grades, it’s time to get down to business.
Routine starts in the first week, even on the first day, to get you back into the rhythm of studying and concentrating. Starting immediately keeps procrastination at bay, so you build confidence that you can achieve your goals even if the material is mostly review. As you read, create questions for yourself, and get a friend to quiz you on the material. This will help you build the momentum to hit the ground running when the seriously new concepts are introduced.
You see, studying is like a cactus fruit. As I learned on my trip to the Canary Islands during my study-abroad year in Scotland, a cactus fruit is prickly and deterrent on the outside. It has tiny, one-way hooks on its outer surface, and can cause serious pain if not handled properly or too quickly. The trick to obtaining the precious fruit inside the unappealing fruit skin to avoid rushing, to have patience while opening it, and to have the proper tools or gear. In this case, puncture-resistant gloves would do. Once uncovered, the cactus fruit is a sweet, pulpy delicacy that can be made into jams and other pleasant desserts.
Just like the cactus fruit, studying seems deterrent to the untrained mind, which will put off studying until the new material is introduced, even until the new material has started to accumulate uncontrollably. At that point, the untrained mind will rush into the studying to get at the core of the material – the juicy pulp of the fruit – only to get pricked by the hooks on the outside of the fruit. Stress will set in, and the untrained mind may not make use of its puncture-resistant tools.
So, what are your puncture-resistant tools when facing those prickly, deterrent academics?
- Create good habits now, and stick to them throughout the semester.
- Simply put: avoid distractions and multitasking. The time you spend switching between tasks is wasted, and your level of focus on the task at hand is greatly diminished. Find more information on the dangers of multitasking at http://www.brainrules.net
- Make studying fun while improving your memory! Create stories – especially those with personal, emotional connections – to solve problems and remember details. My Scottish professors pronounced “methyl” as “meeeethyle.” Did I write it down in my notes like that? Absolutely. Did it make me remember some concepts because it sounded hilarious each time I heard it? Absolutely.
Congratulations on building your puncture-resistant tools to surviving and thriving in school this semester! Now, you will be able to enjoy the sweet sensation of conquering your course material and getting to the core of effective studying. After that, only the sweet parts are left. Good luck!