I enjoyed reading Jeff Bennett’s “Hints on How to Succeed in College Classes.” Some might not believe that preceding statement, but keep in mind that I’m an inexperienced student who has just discovered her passion in life and several careers in which she can revel in that passion. I want to double major in philosophy and psychology, then go after my masters and doctoral degrees in philosophy and psychology. My dream is to achieve tenure as a philosophy or psychology professor, or to become a clinical and research psychologist. Doing well in these fields requires outstanding academic scores, and up until this revelation I was a terrible student. I procrastinated, skipped class, and hardly ever studied. Now I am finally motivated to be a successful student. It’s going to take very hard work on my part though, and any information that can help me achieve my goals is priceless.
Bennett presents a plethora of recommendations, but I’d be writing a very long blog if I expressed all of my thoughts on his “Hints on How to Succeed in College Classes.” The subsequent commentary will focus on some of his general strategies for studying.
One of Bennett’s first recommendations is not to miss class. Well, I have missed one day of class already in my English class, and I’m quite disappointed in myself for it. It might seem like I’m being hard on myself, but, as I’ve mentioned before, I used to have a terrible attendance record. Also, last semester I was absent the maximum three days in the the one class I took. Although I had a good average at the end of the semester, I know I could have had an even better one. I’ve learned that by attending class every day, taking concise notes on lectures, and engaging in class discussion I’m giving myself the best chance to learn all the information I’m presented with and have achieve a high semester average. In my opinion, going to class every day is the cornerstone to being a successful student.
According to Bennett, since I have two three hour classes this semester, I should spend twelve to eighteen hours per week studying. It does seem like a big time investment for just two classes, but it pays off great dividends at the end of the semester. I think I am definitely within his recommended time budget. I spend a lot of time reading and taking notes from my textbooks, refining lecture notes, doing all of my homework assignments, and studying for tests. I know that it won’t be enough to attend class every day, there is so much information that I need to do these activities in order to assimilate it all.
Bennett also suggests to always ask for help if a concept is giving me trouble. New concepts are usually easy for me to understand, but not always. I think that’s one of the reasons why I could get away with being such a bad student for such a long time. If I do have trouble understanding a new idea or need to review an old one, I start by reading my notes and textbook and practicing exercises from the textbook. If I need more clarification I go to my class professor who can almost always resolve it for me. Besides those avenues I’m aware that there is also an on-campus tutoring center. My siblings and friends are yet another helpful resource.
Finally, I really love Bennett’s suggestion to use a pencil instead of a highlighter when I’m studying text. He explains that it takes more finesse to underline and will therefore have to pay closer attention to what I’m underlining. More importantly, I think it will make it more likely for me to comment in the margins and do the practice exercises at the end of each chapter, thus helping me to process the information I’m reading. Also, since both my classes are basic core-requisites, I plan on keeping the textbooks for the rest of my life. I know that taking an active approach like this will make quick reviews much easier as I progress in my academic career.