7 Signs You Have Room to Improve as a Student
Do you need to improve as a student? That is a question that isn’t as easy to answer as it appears. For starters, you may think you are just fine because those report cards always show a row of A’s staring back. As long as you are “acing” the class, why worry? Such a mindset can trip you up later in your educational development because it fails to prepare you for when things get challenging. If you are uncertain as to whether you need help to improve as a student, or even if you think you’re just fine, look over these seven signs that we have put together and compare them to where you are at present. Let’s get started!
1. You haven’t become a self-learner yet.
One especially important sign that you need to improve as a student is if you would rather be doing nothing to feed your mind than learning about a new topic during downtime. So-called “self-learning” is one of the number one attributes for people who achieve success academically and professionally. The Internet makes it extremely easy to dive down the rabbit hole of knowledge, moving from one topic to another at will. Self-learning is even something that you can employ while using a mobile device in front of the television at night. Just let your mind go for a bit and start by looking up things you are naturally interested in. From there, graduate to material that is a bit more challenging, then apply to the rest of your studies.
2. You don’t study for exams.
By “you don’t study,” we mean that you neither have good study habits nor the desire or ability to craft a study plan. Cramming doesn’t count! To really excel in future testing situations, you have to be able to look at material and structure a feasible approach to learning what you don’t know and edifying what you do.
3. You’re more concerned with the grade than with getting it right.
We cannot tell you how many people we ran into coming up as students, who cared more about getting full credit for their homework than actually knowing what their homework was trying to teach them. We have said it before on this blog, but it bears repeating: a seven out of 10 on a homework assignment is far more valuable than a 10 out of 10, provided that you actually learn from your mistakes in the process. Learning the how’s and the why’s will always be more valuable than simply getting a question “right.”
4. You pick your social life over your education.
We’ve all been guilty of this one at some point in our educational journeys. The problem is when it gets to be habitual. Instead of hanging back at the dorm and studying for Friday’s test, you hit the Thursday night kegger because that’s what you always do. It does not matter if your grades are in a good place. You may just be benefiting from an easy class. Eventually you were going to run into a subject that requires more effort, and if you cannot break the habit of your social life coming first, then you will be in a world of hurt on that day. The best way to handle this is to realize that everything has its place in your life – socializing, studying, working, etc. – but that moderation and scheduling are key to achieving balance. Look at your week. Find all of the opportunities to prepare academically. Schedule those first. Make sure you have plenty of time to meet your obligations; then find time for socialization.
5. You still aren’t sure of your strengths or how they will translate into a career.
Here is something that we see way too often – bright students who get good grades but who have no idea what direction they wish to go with a major or career. It all hinges on not taking enough time to explore their interests and passions. This indecisiveness is a major sign that you need to improve as a student and give yourself direction for your future career. And just as an aside, it is very important that you start thinking in terms of career instead of following your dreams. You need to know how what you like to do and what you’re good at, translate into marketability.
6. You have trouble taking notes.
Note taking is the cornerstone of your study habits. It is an example of active listening in action. If you’re having trouble with a class, there are ways to improve your note taking abilities so that you’re not falling behind. We recommend using the recorder on your smart phone to capture lectures. Once you hit record, forget it’s there and try to jot down the main points of what your professor is saying as if you don’t have the extra help. Then, after class is over, listen to the lecture again while filling in any gaps that you notice. Lastly, type up your handwritten notes based on hearing the lecture and listening to the recording. This is a three-pronged approach to becoming a master note taker. Put it to use and watch your understanding and your grades climb.
7. You don’t know what you don’t know.
The final sign that you need to improve as a student is when you don’t know enough to know what you don’t know. Confused? Don’t be. We just mean that you have to have an honest enough outlook regarding your own strengths and weaknesses to pinpoint the areas that are the most foreign to you. Think of it like a test. There are going to be questions that you know immediately; questions where you can take a fairly educated guess; and questions where you have no clue of where to begin. Your goal as a student is to identify those areas of cluelessness, and begin building a plan towards enlightenment.
If you met one or seven of the criteria listed above, then you have some serious work to do. But don’t feel too bad. Everyone can improve on their knowledgebase and skill sets. In fact, if you want to stay employed as you get older and find more lucrative opportunities, you will need to be the type of person who is always growing and improving on the person that he was yesterday. Good luck on your journey!
[Image via Oxford Programs Limited]