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IT 10F5 "Survival Guide" continued from Home page

 

Developing effective study skills:

                                               

Developing effective study skills is exactly what it states. The process of teaching yourself new study skills. While the study skills that you used in high school may still be mentally just within your reach, however you must ask yourself four(4) questions.

1.                  Were the study skills that I had in high school adequate?

2.                  Is my work schedule flexible or is it ‘set in stone’ reliable hours (ie. 8am- 4:30pm Monday thru Friday)

3.                  How willing am I to do whatever it takes to earn my degree online? Will I do whatever it takes to navigate my path to success? In 3 months? In 6-12 months? In 18 months?

4.                  Will I minimize every bump in the road and continue on my educational journey?

Everyone has a ‘support team’ in their lives, this may be your parents or siblings, your spouse and family, your mentor or close friends. It is said “Your friends are the family that you get to choose.”, my grandmother used to tell me that all the time. It is true, you are the nexus of a group of people who will support your every positive decision. These people will be glad to hear the news when you tell them about enrolling in a distance learning course. Let them know how exited you are about the prospect and some ways in which they may be able to provide you with help, or feedback, or advice on how to manage your life, work, family, and school and still manage during all of that to also get some sleep! Whom ever it is in your life that you find instrumental in helping guide you and/or ground you, will more than likely be willing to help you in ways that you may never have thought of.

                        Your family, if you have children, regardless of age, will not necessarily fall into the “Glad for you and happy about your decision to continue your education!” They may not understand the necessity of your furthering your education. Unless you are more financially comfortable than most “starving students”, they also may not really be thrilled when you try to talk to them about sacrifices that you and they may have to make in the course of your education. One very easy way to enlist their aid and support is to “show them the vision” of you with a better paying job, possibly and nicer house, or a pool, and some nice perks for them like vacations, summer camps, or whatever fits their fancy. What I mean by this is get your family to emotionally invest in your dream of a better life for you and them when you finish earning your degree. You may be surprised by the many various ways and by the amount of support that your family will give you when they can “see” where your college education is going to take you and them. They may give you a quiet hour or hour and a half of time before or after dinner in which to study and complete assignments. They may cook dinner for you so that while it is cooking, after a long day at work, you can do some studying or participation posting to your forums. If you have older, teenage children, they may take an interest in proofreading or editorial review of your essays and assignments by your spouse and teens as you engage in the editing and revising steps of the writing process, or any number of other ways in which they may show that they are united with you in your cause. Smaller children may not be much swayed or impressed but you already knew this right?

 

Effective study skills, as an adult, do not include:

                    Staring at your boyfriend or girlfriend over your notebook of doodles.

                    Studying while laying in bed reading with your stereo system turned up full blast.

                    Studying while focused on other things at the same time like  when watching tv or spending time with the family.

These are all distractions!

 

Effective study skills may include:

 

                     Studying in the morning, rather than reading the paper read assigned reading materials or make posts to the class forums over coffee.

                     Read reference materials and text book materials at lunch at work, or over dinner at home.

                     Taking a specified “study break” in which everyone in your home knows they are not to disturb you. (This can be 30 minutes or 1 hour depending on household) This break can be just after you arrive home, during dinner preparation, after dinner, while other family memebers are doing homework also.

                     Learning what type of learner you are through personality testing, which will probably be among one of your fist class’ checkpoints. After finding your learning type, learn the suggested tools for retention and study habits that accentuate your “type” of learning tools. Try multiple tools of both your type and secondary sub-type, which are the highest and next highest scores on the tests. Then take the first learning type and couple it with the dominant learning type from the second set of exercises. This will help guide you sets of “tools” to help grasp and retain the vast amount of information that confronts you in such a relatively short span of time. These tools may include putting main topics and points together in musical or rap arrangements to aid in retaining info via phonetics and repetition. Possibly you will need the tools of reciting back information aloud thus activating the auditory as well as the visual memory.

                     Learn the SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review) method for learning to quickly gather information from textbooks and reference books and articles. This method will help you retain anywhere from 20-80% more of the information that you read (according to my daughter Stephanie, who is a Sophomore in High School and uses Jumpstart tutorials each summer previous to the fall classes beginning, I am not quite sure whether she got this statistic from one of her text books, or a reading and retention tutorial that she is using)

 

Learning to effectively manage your time:

                                               

Again, a fairly self explanatory topic. Along with your new study habits, as I have previously mentioned, managing your time is imperative to mastering your classes. Mapping out the “lulls” in your schedule, such as if you take a bus to work or other public transportation. Do reading assignments or write out discussion question responses on your breaks and lunch periods at work. Everyone has downtime in their day, print out the reading material and take it with you. If you commute with a carpool, at times you are not the driver you could read printouts of reading materials. If you work in a phone center or job that has lulls and occasional downtime and access to the internet. I would recommend downloading a tabbed web browser (1), and logging into the site during these dead spots in the demands of your job. If you have a laptop you could log in and post for participation and attendance during your lunch break. Finding times when you are just “hanging out” and using those times to your advantage for study time and computer time is as important to your studies as any assignments you will ever have.

You must map out your days or weeks in order to cover all of the posts, materials, participation and attendance posting requirements. Checkpoint assignments will be given either every Work week, and sometimes you will find that you must complete checkpoints in two or three successive weeks in a row, in addition to the other Discussion Questions and assignments which are listed in your course calendar. If you are one of those people who can map out their days, weeks, or months fairly consistently then effectively managing your time will be a breeze. However if you are like the author of this essay, no scheduling skills whatsoever. That’s alright, always keep in mind that in education the idea is not to test what you already know, but to teach you new ideas, concepts, habits, and skills and then test those skills. There are many templates that you can download online for this purpose. They have weekly and monthly planners, school year planners, calendar sheets, etc. A great place to get these templates is MicrosoftOffice online. It can be found on the main www.microsoft.com website. They are quite handy in helping you to organize your schedule. Especially if you read your syllabus for the week ahead on Saturday or Sunday so that you can loosely schedule these requirements into your week.

Also for the purpose of keeping up with your active posting requirements for each class, a good rule of thumb is: Each participation week will have at least two Discussion Questions, as you are required to post 3 times on three days during a Participation week, it is a good idea to also do your required posts at the same time you submit your DQ response. This means that you will automatically cover two of the three days required. This will leave you the choice of Friday, Saturday, or Sunday as the third day to log in and post. For work weeks you need only post 2 posts on 2 days that week to meet the attendance requirements for the class. That is simple, either choose your two least hectic days and plan to use them, or post Monday and Saturday each work week, in addition to the work that is due to be turned in that week. Also keep in mind that it never hurts to add an additional post at the same times for insurance.

 

Setting and achieving goals:

                                               

Learn to set short-term, median-term, and long-term goals. Make sure as you are reflecting on your goals that you make sure your goals are simple and attainable. Failing to meet or exceed the milestones that you have placed along your educational path, can cause loss of self esteem and feeling “left behind” by your classmates. So make sure before you add it to your list of goals that it is not just a “hope” but a reachable point where you can look back and review the steps that it took to reach that point and as you check off that goal you can apply those same steps to your next goal. These three types of goals are the building blocks or stepping stones towards attaining your educational goals and even professional goals after your degree is completed. Keep this list of goals handy, and refer back to it often. Check off or cross off goals that you attain and replace them immediately with another goal. Doing this exercise often will help to keep you motivated along your path to success, and will also raise your self esteem and your confidence in your ability to attain the things that you want to attain.

 

Conclusion:

                                               

When you enroll in a distance learning course these suggestions may help you to “survive” the experience. Hopefully by using a few of the suggestions in this guide you will not only survive your course of study but thrive in the learning environment. This is a process, not an ordeal or a way to show you how much or how little you may know about a given subject. Take it easy on yourself, do not become overly critical or if you start out well, try not to become overly confident in your performance. Each week is filled with new ideas and new challenges, try to shed the highs and lows of the previous week and strive to give your best efforts every single week. Pay attention, and do not fail to ask questions and to network and communicate with the other students in your class. The interaction of the classroom is one of the foremost learning tools that you can use to understand other perspectives and styles. Become a lifelong learner, learn to enjoy learning. The assignments that you are given are not to be driven only by a desire to attain a favorable grade, but to teach you things about your course of study, and more importantly to teach you more about yourself.

 

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