Study Like a Harvard Student

Studying can be really hard and a pain in the ass. You have to find the motivation to do it and of course finding the right way to study. No two students are same by any means, but here are some basic pointers to really get it going.

Preliminary Steps

1. Choose classes that interest you. That way studying doesn’t feel like slave labor. If you don’t want to learn, then I can’t help you.
2. Make some friends. See steps 12, 13, 23, 24.

General Principles

3. Study less, but study better.
4. Avoid Autopilot Brain at all costs.
5. Vague is bad. Vague is a waste of your time.
6. Write it down.
7. Suck it up, buckle down, get it done.

Plan of Attack Phase I: Class

8. Show up. Everything will make a lot more sense that way, and you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run.
9. Take notes by hand. I don’t know the science behind it, but doing anything by hand is a way of carving it into your memory. Also, if you get bored you will doodle, which is still a thousand times better than ending up on stumbleupon or something.

Phase II: Study Time

10. Get out of the library. The sheer fact of being in a library doesn’t fill you with knowledge. Eight hours of Facebooking in the library is still eight hours of Facebooking. Also, people who bring food and blankets to the library and just stay there during finals week start to smell weird. Go home and bathe. You can quiz yourself while you wash your hair.
11. Do a little every day, but don’t let it be your whole day. “This afternoon, I will read a chapter of something and do half a problem set. Then, I will watch an episode of South Park and go to the gym” ALWAYS BEATS “Starting right now, I am going to read as much as I possibly can…oh wow, now it’s midnight, I’m on page five, and my room reeks of ramen and dysfunction.”
12. Give yourself incentive. There’s nothing worse than a gaping abyss of study time. If you know you’re going out in six hours, you’re more likely to get something done.
13. Allow friends to confiscate your phone when they catch you playing Angry Birds. Oh and if you think you need a break, you probably don’t.

Phase III: Assignments

14. Stop highlighting. Underlining is supposed to keep you focused, but it’s actually a one-way ticket to Autopilot Brain. You zone out, look down, and suddenly you have five pages of neon green that you don’t remember reading. Write notes in the margins instead.
15. Do all your own work. You get nothing out of copying a problem set. It’s also shady.
16. Read as much as you can. No way around it. Stop trying to cheat with Sparknotes.
17. Be a smart reader, not a robot (lol). Ask yourself: What is the author trying to prove? What is the logical progression of the argument? You can usually answer these questions by reading the introduction and conclusion of every chapter. Then, pick any two examples/anecdotes and commit them to memory (write them down). They will help you reconstruct the author’s argument later on.
18. Don’t read everything, but understand everything that you read. Better to have a deep understanding of a limited amount of material, than to have a vague understanding of an entire course. Once again: Vague is bad. Vague is a waste of your time.
19. Bullet points. For essays, summarizing, everything.

Phase IV: Reading Period (Review Week)

20. Once again: do not move into the library. Eat, sleep, and bathe.
21. If you don’t understand it, it will definitely be on the exam. Solution: textbooks; the internet.
22. Do all the practice problems. This one is totally tiger mom.
23. People are often contemptuous of rote learning. Newsflash: even at great intellectual bastions like Harvard, you will be required to memorize formulas, names and dates. To memorize effectively: stop reading your list over and over again. It doesn’t work. Say it out loud, write it down. Remember how you made friends? Have them quiz you, then return the favor.
24. Again with the friends: ask them to listen while you explain a difficult concept to them. This forces you to articulate your understanding. Remember, vague is bad.
25. Go for the big picture. Try to figure out where a specific concept fits into the course as a whole. This will help you tap into Big Themes – every class has Big Themes – which will streamline what you need to know. You can learn a million facts, but until you understand how they fit together, you’re missing the point.

Phase V: Exam Day
26. Crush exam. Get A.

Taken from Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, daughter of the Tiger Mother (x)

Best of luck

Continue Reading

Surviving a Boring Lecture

Everyone has been in one of it. The problem occurs, when you perceive every lecture as one.

Scare yourself straight. “If I don’t pay attention to this lesson and remember every single sentence the teacher says I’ll never get into college. If I don’t get into college, I’m never going to earn my degree. I’ll end up 35 years old, still living with my parents and no hopes of getting my own house and family. No one will respect or dare depend on me for advice or anything. Say those words to yourself, share yourself that way and you will pay attention.

Even A students get bored at times by lectures.  What is the difference between the A student and the C student?  Their approach to the lecture.  Don’t let “boring” become an excuse for not showing up to class.  Dive right in, sit near the front, buy a coffee, and simply face the fact that you will be less than entertained for a couple of hours.  Get in the mental game and you will survive.

Note Focus Since the teacher is boring, you need to find something you can make interesting. While I usually don’t recommend note taking unless the student really enjoys the process, this is a time when note taking can be a huge advantage.

When you take notes, you give your brain an explicit purpose in listening to the teacher speak. If you’re not writing something down on your sheet of paper then you instantly know you’re probably not paying enough attention. While you shouldn’t try to get down every word the teacher says, if keeping up with the teacher is an absolute breeze then continue trying to write down more. This process forces you to focus on the teacher despite the lecture being boring. It gives you a clear and measurable objective when it comes to focus. If at the end of the class, you have no notes written down then you definitely failed. If you have pages of notes written down then, whether you enjoyed it or not, you at least focused a little through the lecture.

The Subject – Not The Speaker  Make sure you’re focusing on the subject of the boring lecture instead of the speaker. Focusing on a person that talks too slow or speaks in a monotone voice can be downright painful. If you want to put up with it then it’s usually best to focus as much of your energy on the subject as you can. Don’t try to hear the teacher’s enthusiasm. Don’t listen to emotional content. Listen as if the teacher is just a computer reading off something. Listen mechanically instead of emotionally.

This is a process of distancing yourself from your own emotions. Do everything you can to keep all your emotional energy on your own representation of the information you’re being told. By focusing on that you can limit your distraction and boredom during the worst of it.

Absolutely read the material before class.  If you are unfamiliar with the course material then it will only magnify the boredom.  Not reading would be like signing up for a book club, going to the gathering but never bothering to open the book. How boring!  Be sure to prepare and stay in the loop.  When you are reading the material create possible questions to ask in class (if the professor takes questions).  Participating in class speeds up time for you.  And, you never know, your question could prompt others to speak up and the class could take an intriguing turn.  Dare I suggest, you might enjoy the class then.

Do not take out your phone to answer, chat or read emails.  Again, this will make the boredom worse.  You are essentially running away from the problem by turning to the cell phone rather than confronting the issue head on.  This is a C student response.  Moreover, it is a bad habit.  After college, you might find yourself in other boring situations like work meetings.  It is not a good (or beneficial) idea to tune out and gravitate to your phone while others are talking.  Indeed, there will be times when your good friends bore you!  Would you take out your phone while they talk?  Of course not.  For class time, strengthen your concentration abilities and keep the phone in your bag.

Through The Motions If you’re absolutely desperate to focus then eventually, it’s best to focus on going through the motions. If you learn to go through the motions of focusing then you’ll eventually start actually focusing on the subject. It’s virtually automatic. If you can’t force yourself to focus mentally than just forcing yourself to go through the motions will be able to get you most of the way there. When you go through the motions you’re giving your brain the signals that you’re trying to focus on the subject. Most of the time, your brain follows the motions you put your physical body through

 

Source

Continue Reading