How to Set Up Students for Success
Stepping into the unknown and feeling the doubts, the fears, the insecurities that live there, makes many students struggle. Trying to cope with systems they don’t really understand, a culture, and a language that is frustratingly unfamiliar. In fact, most students who do not do very well at University struggle, not because they can’t do the work (all University students are very intelligent), but because they are not aware of the specific academic skills needed.
Once struggling students know where to focus, and how to focus, they usually end up doing so much better with far less effort.
So what are these magical academic skills that can help set up students for success:
1) Time Management.
There are only 168 hours in a week. Full-time students should spend roughly 40 – 60 hours a week on their studies, not including travel time. Assuming that an average student spends an hour a day traveling, that’s roughly 67 hours a week on studies.
Then there is the time needed to eat, sleep, shower, and work (most students now work about 20 hours a week at a part-time job), which leaves roughly 10 hours a week to do other things like shop, and spend time with friends, and family. For full-time students, effective time management makes a huge contribution to setting up students for success.
[Also read: Best Time Management Tips for Online Learning]
2) Reading for Information and Understanding.
Most people skim read, they don’t take the time to actually read articles and understand what they are reading. Reading at a University level requires the student to understand the context of what they have read, and how what they have read fits with the topic they are reading about. Information such as where the material was written, when the material was written, and who wrote the material, all impact how relevant the material is to the topic that is being studied.
[Also read: Best Tips to Improve Reading Skills]
3) Essay Writing.
One of the greatest challenges new University students have is in understanding what an academic essay is. The 5-paragraph essay taught in high school, or the report writing techniques taught for business purposes, do not make a good University paper. Plus, not all University essays are the same. You could be asked to critique, analyze, describe, defend, compare, to define and each type of essay is looking for something different. To do well with essay writing, you need to know what the specific difference is for each type of essay.
[Also read: How to write an amazing essay]
Most lectures follow a specific pattern – a major point is made and then examples and other ways of stating the main point follow until another main point is made. When students come to lectures prepared, when they have done the required readings for the lecture before the class, it is fairly easy to pick out the main points and then only make notes as needed on those main points. When students come to lectures unprepared, everything the lecturer says is new and feels important so these students are the ones who are busy scribbling or typing through the whole lecture and often miss the really important information.
[Also read: Awesome Note Taking Tips]
First-year students are often unaware of what the difference is between an academic journal and a consumer magazine. Not knowing the difference can result in some significant grade loss. Even using Wikipedia or Google as the main source of research for a major paper is not acceptable in most cases. Students should familiarize themselves with their University’s online library and draw most of their research resources from there. Most people who mark essays are suitably impressed when a student uses high-quality, relevant academic research materials for essays.
There are two important skills related to exams. The first is exam preparation (studying). Most successful exam prep work is done all semester, basically learning the material as you go. Constantly reviewing reading and lecture notes, summarizing these notes, and understanding how the lectures relate to the course topic and to the other lectures, all help increase your chance of good grades. Exams themselves, often expect students to contextualize material learned, or apply the material in ways not covered in the lectures or readings.
[Also read: Things to Avoid when Preparing for Exams]
You might also be interested to take a look at our recent blogs for more learning tips and guides.
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