Guide to Becoming a Better Student
Students of any age can improve their own education experience if they're interested in doing so. The problem is usually that students want to improve their grades without actually becoming a better overall student. However, you're going to get a lot more out of going to school if you actually try to invest yourself in the experience. This involves making changes to three areas of your education: organization, focus and passion.
Let's take a closer look at how to become a better student through close attention to these three areas:
The most important thing that you can do for yourself if you want to be a better student is to start getting far more organized than you already are. To be a good student, you need to have all of your materials easily accessible and organized in a way that will let you access the information you need immediately. You also need to be able to maintain a calendar of due dates and to stick to a schedule of studying; good students are not people who do things at the last minute just because something is due!
Here are a few basic tips for getting more organized:
- Find a computer system that makes sense for you. This system should have a calendar function that shows due dates and study times as well as a system for organizing the materials and notes for your classes.
- Create a physical filing system for all of your materials. Each separate class should have its own binder which is filled with paper and any other materials that are needed for the class. It should be clearly labeled or color-coded so you can easily identify it. A schedule of due dates and test dates should be inserted into the front of the binder.
- Create a master calendar (those huge desktop calendars are good) which shows when things are going to be due for each class. More importantly, included milestone deadlines. For example, if you have a ten-page research paper due in mid-October, your calendar should have research due to be complete in September and a rough draft done in early October. Creating a master calendar for all classes will easily show you when you need to take care of things so the busy times for each class don't fall at the same time.
- Make sure you have access to information about how grades are calculated. Track grades throughout the semester so you always know where you stand.
- Create a contact sheet that shows how to get in touch with each teacher via email, when offices hours are available and other important information that you may need if a question comes up about a project.
By becoming more organized, you open yourself up to immediately becoming a better student.
All of the organization in the world won't do you any good if you don't have focus and follow-through. You need to set specific study times and commit yourself to keeping them no matter what. Turn off all music, instant messenger programs, cell phones and other distractions. You may think that you work well with them on; you don't. You need to be fully focused on school when you are in class as well as when you are studying.
An important part of this is to make sure that you've made a commitment to putting school first before all else. If you have a part-time job that is wearing you out, you can't focus on school. If you're in ten different clubs that require volunteer time, you may not be able to focus on school. School doesn't have to be your whole life; you can still do these other things. Just make sure that you're focused on school being the priority.
It's hard for most people to get excited about school. However, those people who manage to find a way to get excited about it are the people who end up being the best students. That's because it's a whole lot easier to do well in school when you're interested in what you are studying. Here are some tips for enhancing your passion for your education:
- Take at least one class that interests you in some way. Even high schools allow you to take elective classes. Instead of choosing the one that best fits your schedule, try to find something that you're actually really interested in learning.
- Try to find one interesting thing about each topic that you're studying. So you don't like English classes. But maybe you like reading poetry and you'll get to do that at some point during the class. Get excited about it.
- Be involved. If you're active about speaking up in class, getting to know your peers and teachers and adding to the discussions then you're going to learn more.
- Describe what you're learning to someone who is genuinely interested. This reinforces what you're learning and helps you build and maintain excitement about it. A parent is often great for this.
- Avoid griping. Negativity will cause you to lose your passion and your focus on school. Don't complain about school no matter how tempting it is. Think positively if you want to succeed.
By attending to each of these three areas of your education, you should be able to become a better student at any level of school.