In all endeavours we should attempt to excel past expectations and achieve the best we can achieve; for some of us that come easy, for others not so much. There are many stresses put upon us by others, and many more that are put on by ourselves. As a student I know there are expectations to retain knowledge, pre-read textbooks, complete assignments, study for exams, pass said exams, eat healthily, maintain the rage, maintain a work life balance, hold down a job, pay my fees, and somewhere in all that actually sleep. I know that a lot of people out there are going to think that the life of a student is easy, that compared to the real world there are no pressures, that how hard could it be to simply rock up and pay attention, and until I returned to study, I would have shared similar thoughts. But I have since seen the struggle of being a full time student, full time parent, part time employee, full time friend, and full time human being. The juggle is difficult, but I thought I would share some of the simple things that have helped make me a Studious Student and the habits that can be adopted to ensure that you too can be the best that you can be.
Pay attention and Study
The temptation to skip class, study in the evening, study in front of the TV, read only the sections of the textbook that you need to for the assignment and coast through is strong. But at the end of the day, you are paying a large sum of money (my course is totalling somewhere near $18,000 which doesn’t include textbooks) to be in class, absorb knowledge and pass. For my course, the Diploma of Nursing at CQUniversity, we have to attend three full time days per week, 0830 till 1600. During those days we have classes that are a mix between lectures and tutorials, clinical skill development, and content discussions with the instructors. In those classes it is not unusual to cover large volumes of textbooks, broad subject material and a ton of detail. The expectation is that you take the information from class, add another 40 hours per week in reading and studying to fill the blanks, and keep up with what happens in the rest of the week. If that sounds intense, that’s because it is. I began the course thinking the 40 hour reading and study on top of classwork was over exaggerated. By the end of the second week, I realised it wasn’t enough. I spend, on average, 50-60 hours reading textbooks, journal articles, news articles, research papers, and anything remotely related to the subjects at hand. All of this study now brings up the total hours spent on Schooling to 75 to 85 hours a week. But it pays dividends, for every hour I work during the semester is three hours I don’t have to madly cram for an exam at the end, it saves me countless hours in research for assignments, and gives me the confidence and ability to answer correctly when the instructors ask something of me. It also means when I am on placement, I am confident in my own abilities and know my own limitations. So I implore you, pay attention in classes, take notes, read the textbooks. As I like to say to my other budding nurses, You are studying to save a life not pass an exam.
The temptation as a student is to see a reading list that has been prescribed more as a set of guidelines, though the broader we read, and dare I say it, even outside of the prescribed reading, the better students and better graduates we become. I have purchased every book on my reading list (that was available), either Prescribed or Recommended, and I have collected over a dozen other books of use from book fairs, second hand stores and family. All of these books have been useful at one stage or another. I also read journal articles, health news, nursing news and magazines, blogs, Twitter feeds, converse with Nurses in the field, overseas and local professionals, I endeavour to gather as much information regarding our profession, how to conduct it and the latest and greatest procedures I can. This gives me a wide and varied base to draw from for exams and assignments. It means I am as up to date as I can be, and as a professional, ensures that I am maintaining my professional development habits which will serve me well in the future. My suggestion is read broadly and read often. Buses, trains, morning tea breaks, lunch, quiet times in the lounge room, relaxing in the bath, everywhere is a potential reading spot to absorb more knowledge.
Anyone who is anyone has crammed at one stage or another, and if they say they haven’t, they lie. I have crammed for exams in the past and it serves to only have you pass in the short term but provides no long term information retention. During my time in the Navy we would be learning a new concept every week, with an exam on the Friday. It was expected that you pass the exam on the Friday so you could start a new subject on the Monday, if you failed however, you would resit the exam on the following Thursday, and still have the new exam on the Friday. Now you had two exams to study for. So cramming became a way of life, which was ok for passing exams and frying brains, but horrible for long term retention. The only way we retained the information was through constant drill and use. The information became so second nature, that I could almost step back onto the bridge of a Patrol Boat and not have too many dramas. However, in Nursing you are studying to use information one month, two months, three years or even a decade later. Cramming is no longer effective, and rigorous drill is ineffective as there is simply too much information to rote learn and reflex learn. So, slow, methodical learning through reading, writing, studying, revising, and reciting is the only viable way to retain the information long term. Now within all of this your individual learning style still applies. I am, for example, an aural learner with visual tendencies. Which basically means I learn best by listening, but can get away with reading. Some people are kinaesthetic, which means they learn through movement or by doing. The difficulty is going to be discovering what works best for you and going for it. I remember listening to a recording of a friend of mine, which ran for just over 45 minutes, with the rules for Navigation, droning on and on and on, and listened to it over a two day car trip incessantly in the interest of passing an exam on the other side. Which I did. So for me that worked.
So there we have it, a quick look at some tips and pitfalls of study and being a Studious Student. I am in no way the perfect student, but I have learnt over time some habits that have helped me. So I now pass them on to you. If you have other hints, tips or lessons learnt from your study, add them in the comments below, or connect with me on the connect page. Don’t forget to subscribe so you can get regular updates on what is happening on the blog.
Maintain the Rage