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…To encourage scholarship, social activity…

June 20, 2012

After being out of college a year, I appreciate looking back on the accomplishments made while in school: the skills established, the lessons learned, and the friendships developed.  Even the relationships established with professors provided their own sense of… rightness.  I will never forget the professor who tested my knowledge until my head was numb or the professor who had the heart to waive an exam grade due to an unexpected circumstance.

Two unforgettable quotes passed on by professors are as follows: “Work hard. Play hard.” And “Work smarter, not harder.

I remember taking my first economics course freshman year.  I read the chapter before each class, took diligent notes, sat toward the front, and answered questions posed by the professor.  After a few weeks I found myself bored—the professor only repeated the information in the book, which I thoroughly comprehended the day before.  On the first exam, I got a 98%.  So, I stopped reading the book and just listened to the lecture.  I again achieved a 98% on the following exam.  The difference: I freed up reading time and classes were no longer boring.  Pareto Optimal!

So, the next year, I was taking a science class, and using my lesson learned from the economics class I decided to not read the book.  I attended every class, printed all the PowerPoint slides, and added notes during the lecture.  When the exam came around, I studied the slides and notes very carefully.  I got a C on the exam.  For exams, this professor liked to use information and problems not lectured on out of the book.

Now, I’m sure your thinking “Wow.  That was dumb.  You should have checked rate-my-professor and read the comments.”  In a sense you are correct, so I pass this lesson to you:  Know the teaching style of your professors.  If you want to get those good grades, you need to know what to study for exams and how much studying you need to do well.

The takeaway I wish you to absorb is that you should be efficient in approaching your classes. Know yourself, and what it takes to achieve the grades you want/need to acquire the career you want.  First factor in that you need good grades to achieve your degree and acquire that dream career.  From here, the best strategy is to start out each new course by reading the book, attending all classes, taking good notes, and being engaged in class.  If you do this, the first exam will be cake, and you will be able to determine which of these resources provided the most benefit.  Cut out the time spent but not used, and utilize the time gained to enhance more important skills relevant to your career aspirations.  Provided your analysis is correct about the first exam, then in preparation for the second exam you will have studied just enough of the right things to acquire the top grade.

Work smarter, and earn your right to play hard.

By Kyle Rinderle, Educational & Leadership Consultant

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