In this post I offer some advice or tips that can help undergraduate students, especially during their first years, to be successful making the most of classes and learning to maximize their work.
I give this pieces of advice from a deep teaching background and from my own experience as a student.
Most of this tips could seem obvious but many students fail to put them into practice.
Motivation is the key for success in every project, not only in your academic education, but also in your professional life. Without motivation you are likely to give up when you face the first learning difficulties or trouble, and there will be for sure. Therefore, you should bear in mind the reasons that made you start this way (especially when you have difficulties). That is, try to walk with an eye in the goal and the other in the path.
A grade require a lot of effort, but you must think that many people, even with less capabilities than you, have finished it successfully.
This is the big challenge because in primary or secondary school students got used to follow the steps of the teacher, and is the teacher who usually drives the learning process. But higher education is not compulsory and here is the student who has take the initiative driving his/her learning.
What does it mean to be proactive
- Explore the subject by yourself.
- Prepare classes in advance.
- Try to solve problems by yourself.
- Expand the information given by the teacher from other sources.
- Try to apply what you learn to your life or context.
- Let your curiosity and creativity loose.
The teacher is your ally
Unfortunately some times students think about the teacher as a judge or an enemy. But nothing far from true, because the main main purpose of the teacher is to help you in your learning process. You have to change your mind and think about your teacher as your ally. Thus, do not hesitate about ask him or her for help any time you need it.
Make the most of your classes
Classroom sessions are not the only way to learn, but they are one of the most effective. Attend to class just to sign the attendance list could be counterproductive. Thus, if you attend a class, forget about other subjects and try to put all your senses in the topic that the class is about.
Also, you need to know how make a proper use of every type of classs. A master class tries to give you a general idea about a topic, highlighting the most important concepts. So, try to save the key ideas and do not worry about the details.
A seminar, on the other hand, tries to develop a topic in deep. So it is a good idea to prepare the class in advance having a prior look at the topic. This way you can focus on the most difficult aspects of the topic during the class.
Finally, in a problem-solving workshop its important trying to solve the problems before in order to find out the main difficulties or bottle necks.
Also, you should ask your teacher to flip the class.
What is a flipped classroom?
The flipped classroom describes a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion or debates.
Do not be afraid to ask
Related to the previous item, the interaction among the students and between the theacher and the students is essential to take advantage of classes. The teacher can not guess if you have understood a concept or are lost unless you give some feedback to him or her.
- Try to overcome your shyness.
- No such a thing as a stupid question.
- Most of the times your doubts are the same as the rest of your classmates.
- The teacher need a feedback from the students.
Take advantage of tutoring
- One of the main advantages of a private university like this is the availability and closeness of the teachers.
- Every student has a personal tutor.
- Every subject has tutoring hours.
Use tutoring hours for …
- Getting advise from the teacher about how to face the subject or study a topic.
- Reviewing concepts that you do not understand (especially if you missed a class).
- Getting help to solve difficult problems.
- Reviewing your test or exams.
- Respect the tutoring schedule.
- Tutoring hours are not private classes.
Read and write
- Try to complement the class notes with recommended readings.
- Write summaries and schemas with the key ideas of a class or a topic.
Writing about a subject helps you to organize, clarify and fix the ideas in your mind.
Work in groups
- You will have to work in teams in your professional life and you have to get used to it.
- Working in groups have many advantages:
- Helps you to develop social skills.
- Reinforce the motivation being part of a team.
- Enrich the learning with different points of view.
- Helps to develop a critical reasoning.
But working in group is not easy (especially when somebody does not assume his/her responsibility).
- Use a study schedule with the classes, practices, exams, work or project deliveries, etc.
- Make a realistic study plan assigning home time for studying or working on every subject.
- Share your study plan with your teacher.