It’s about time that the “STUDY HARD MYTH” is debunked. During my school years, I had studied hard – very hard. I compromised myself in favour of my studies. I abandoned extracurricular activities, sports, creative outlets and my social life. More disappointingly, I failed to achieve the results I set out to achieve. I also forgot to enjoy my education. My education, something that is meant to enrich me, turned into a to-do checklist of tasks I had to get through. I turned into a dead, monosyllabic and monotonous robot. Surely, your education is not meant to suck the life out of you like a leech? Surely, it is meant to enrich your life? A friend of mine recommended that I study “smart” rather than “hard”. This change of mindset struck a chord in me. It also produced the results I hoped for. This is a recipe to “Study smart”:
Remember to like what you study
I constantly remind myself to “like” the subject I am taking. If this is not easy, I find elements that I like and choose to research those areas. During my time in university, I decided to observe and concentrate on my level of engagement. I realised that I am bound to consistently study if I enjoyed the material. Self motivation is best ingredient for success because you aren’t forcing yourself – you are truly interested in being there and learning more. Moreover, you don’t feel bad about putting the extra hours in.
As a literature major, I had to read 4-5 books per week. Despite being a fast reader, this expectation is unachievable. Also, reading quickly curbs my enjoyment of the text. I decided to read all the set texts during the holidays. This decision helped me absorb the text, engage more and even read faster. During the semester, I read the secondary texts that included context and critical theory. This strategy helped me form a more informed and rounded opinion about the text.
Sprinkle some organisation
This is an oldie but a goodie. Organisation is a MUST for success in university. At the start of the semester, I’d pencil out the due dates of all my assignments and exams. I’d also pencil in times for breaks and mini holidays. This is also a useful strategy if undertaking a part time job on the side.
Remember to start early
I’d begin assignments and studying for exams as soon as possible. In the long run, last minute studying is not sustainable. I’d begin an assignment a month before the due date. Through this decision, I enjoyed the research I did. I love the feeling of being immersed in a project. The presence of time meant that I could look into a larger range of texts. I’d also create a first draft as soon as possible and then edit it in phases. I submitted the best version of my assignment – edited, polished, formatted, cited and proofread multiple times. Some people argue that they produce their best essay under pressure – that’s ok! Set yourself a time limit and give yourself the time to finalise the document. I believe that excellence can only be produced during the polishing phase.
Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
University is an overwhelming place! You have access to so many valuable resources, social events and interesting people. You literally cannot give a 100% to everything. Some of my friends tried to give 100% in each area of study – they attended every lecture and tutorial, read every text, finished all the secondary materials and met their tutors regularly. Yes, all of these actions display a high level of engagement and involvement but they also consume a lot of energy. I did things differently – I focused! I focused on my assignments. My transcripts are an important piece of evidence to get a job or masters. If I liked an irrelevant secondary text, I’d bookmark it to read later. If I discovered a text that I found through my research but had no relevance to my assignment, I’d read it at a later date.