Thursday 18 April 2013

Do you feel good about your studies? Five tips to get more satisfaction out of your course

After spending a few months in tertiary studies, many students are either struggling to keep up with their coursework or fighting off boredom. Students in this position either think about changing their field of study or dropping out completely, believing they are not cut out for either the specific course they are doing or furthering their studies in general. But if you are in this situation, try to follow these five tips to get more out of your course before you make any changes to your course.

Get perspective

If you’re having difficulties with the material you’re working on, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Remind yourself what you want to achieve and what you want to end up doing once you have qualified.

If you’re not enjoying your coursework right now, it doesn't necessarily mean that you won’t enjoy the application of what you’re learning now in the next module you study. Try not to make any major decisions until you get the opinion of an academic adviser – it may be that a little patience and perseverance is all that’s needed before you start to enjoy what you are doing.

Get an attitude

You may have heard the phrase “your attitude determines your altitude” - whatever you are doing, your frame of mind goes a long way to either turning it into a success or turning it into a disaster. Remind yourself that you are the master of your own destiny and don’t allow other people or things to get the better of you.

Get competitive

If you are competitive by nature, you can have a lot of fun with your studies. Instead of thinking that you’re at a disadvantage in comparison to other students, you can turn things around by getting competitive and turning it into a game.

Think of every project as a challenge and set out to do your assignments better than anybody else. Try to surprise everyone by doing outstanding work. You can also select a few fellow students and compete against each other – with a prize set for the highest marks!

Keep your eyes on the prize

Whatever you do, don’t ever forget that you have a long-term goal in your tertiary education. Even if the goal-posts shift, try to bear in mind that your career goals can only be achieved by staying the course and working hard.

Get support

It’s unfortunate but true that some students don’t receive much encouragement or support when it comes to studying. Some students don’t have any encouragement from family or don’t even have any family at all, but that doesn’t mean nobody cares.

There are lots of people who care very much that you succeed in your studies. For instance, people who work at the institution where you study have a big stake in your success. They are judged on your performance, so if you don’t do well, they don’t do well either.

People from all walks of life are concerned about education and the issues students just like you have to face. If you feel like you’re not getting the support you need at home, then try to find an organisation that deals with student affairs and talk to them. You might find that there are plenty of people who are willing to cheer you on and would like to see you succeed.

If you are seriously thinking of changing your field of study or major, ask yourself the following questions before going to speak to the relevant people at the institution where you are studying:

  • How did your interest in this field of study begin?
  • How much research have you done to find out more about the type of job you aim to get after your studies?
  • Can you see yourself doing this work? Is it a realistic and practical vocation?
  • Where did this idea come from? Did it stem from a passion? Was it a suggestion from family or friends? Social/cultural influences? Recommendation of a teacher or mentor? Was it out of a desire for money, power, prestige or success?
  • Is it a good fit for your academic ability and strengths? Is it a good fit for your personality?

Write down the answers, and if you think you have a solid reason, go ahead and make the change. Whatever you decide to do, good luck and work hard!

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