Your education isn't something for which your tutors are solely responsible. As a student you are responsible for driving your education with your tutors’ assistance.
In other words you are the CEO, commander, captain and ultimate boss of your own learning. You need to take charge of your learning in the same way that a CEO manages a business. You know the goals. You have the plans. You’re in control. And it’s up to you to make sure that your business of learning is successful!
The following approaches will help you become more proactive in your learning in order to improve your grades – while still enjoying yourself!
1. Attitude determines altitude
Successful learners have positive beliefs and attitudes towards learning. They embrace new experiences and can see learning opportunities in many different settings.
Though learning in a formal classroom environment is valuable, there are many other learning opportunities open to you.
You can learn from colleagues at work, interactions with friends, reading widely and researching on the internet. View the world as your classroom and stay alert for various opportunities to increase your knowledge.
Due to the exponential growth of information available, if you want to succeed, you will also need to keep on learning.
Even when you don’t do well in an exam or an assignment keep a positive attitude and continue striving for excellence.
Turn your mistakes into learning opportunities! Think of Henry Ford, the world-renowned car manufacturer, who said “Failure is simply the opportunity to try again – this time more intelligently.”
2. You have to be in it to win it
Woody Allen, the famous American comedian, said "Eighty percent of success is showing up".
This holds true for your education too. Your attendance at class is absolutely essential if you really want to learn. Here’s why:
Classroom presentations and discussions provide current information that may not be found in the textbook. Active classroom participation will also enhance your critical thinking skills.
When you pay attention in class, you will be surprised by how much you can cut your study time later on. No textbook can explain something to you like another person can.
Regular class attendance requires discipline and time management skills which are beneficial no matter what career path you choose.
Attending class also increases your interaction with fellow students and a variety of faculty members. This raises the likelihood of finding future business partners and mentors who can help guide your academic, career and personal development.
Going to class is not a decision up for debate. If you want to excel, then you must attend class, full stop.
3. Do your homework
Rather than cramming large amounts of information during the exam period, review your notes daily.
Spend about thirty or forty minutes each day to review the notes you took that day.
Read all assignments before going to class.
This will improve your confidence, calm you down during exam periods and ensure you retain information for a long time.
4. Ask "good" questions
It has been said that there is no such thing as a stupid question. But the truth is that some questions are better than others.
You can improve how you gather information by asking “good” questions.
A good question compares and contrasts, interprets, and makes connections between pieces of information.
Comparing and contrasting information is the process of looking for similarities and differences. For example, both biking and running are endurance activities. Yet these activities differ in that running is weight bearing, while biking is not.
The process of interpreting a question gives meaning to the information contained in it. For example, you can conclude that biking is less stressful to joints than running because biking does not include the same level of weight bearing.
Making connections allows you to use this information in other contexts. For example, you can connect what you know about biking or running to rehabilitation planning.
Poor questions give no indication about what you need to learn. For example "What? I don't get it," simply states that you do not understand the information.
A better question would be "What did you mean when you said that cycling is more suitable than running for rehabilitation?”
This question is better as it opens the door for your tutor to provide you with the information that you don’t have.
Apart from yourself, your classmates and your tutors also benefit when you ask good questions.
Your classmates benefit because good questions stimulate their thoughts, while your tutors benefit because your good question provides feedback about what you do or do not understand.
You will find that the art of asking a better question will be valuable throughout your life.
Remember, education is not some kind of game with winners and losers but rather is a process of growth that lasts as long as you live. Be active in that process and always do your best.