Bill of Rights for College Students

Bill of Rights for College Students

Students carry signs protesting higher tuition and fees.The students in the picture understand that they have certain rights, including the rights to an affordable education.  When the increases in cost seem unreasonable, they organize a protest.

What other rights do students expect?

  • The right to take the classes they need to graduate
  • The right to get their grades in a timely manner
  • The right to be treated as responsible adults
  • The right to express their opinions respectfully
  • The right to have competent teachers
  • The right to respect regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, income, family status, sexual identify, mental or physical handicaps, learning differences, or personal beliefs

You may be able to add to this list. The list of rights below, mainly concern the right to get the best possible education. They may not come to you automatically. You may need to claim these rights for yourself.

1. You have the right to DEFINE A GOOD EDUCATION in terms of your Personal Goals and Interests. Your school has defined their image of a good education but it is a “one-size-fits-all” system leading to requirements for all students.  But each student is different. While your school’s plan for your education will probably provide a pretty good education, you don’t need to settle for pretty good.

2. You have the right to SET YOUR PERSONAL GOALS AND DEFINE THE CURRICULUM that will enable you to meet those goals. In most cases, you can do this by adding to the set  curriculum, adapting it to meet your goals. In some schools and some departments, you can work with a professor and develop an independent study that will allow you to earn credit for your work. At other times, you can simply work on your own.

3.  You have the right to use your  PERSONAL TALENTS AND PREFERRED LEARNING STYLES.

4. You have the right to SCHEDULE YOUR TIME to meet your Personal Goals. You might skim some books, focusing on the main ideas so that you have more time to focus on material you consider more important, material you can now take the time to study in depth.

5. You have the right to DECIDE WHAT GRADES ARE ACCEPTABLE to meet your Personal Goals. Obviously your grades need to be good enough for you to graduate IF graduation is one of your goals. Your grades must be good enough to get into graduate school IF graduate school is one of your goals. But you might find a B or C is acceptable in a class you don’t consider important so you have the time to focus on learning what you do consider important.

If you find this idea exciting, you might want to read it again and think about it. You might want to put a copy on your bulletin board orThe young man with computer shares his goals with friends tape in inside a notebook. You might want to share it on your social network or email it to a friend. Most of all, think about what you want out of
 your education.

 

When you leave comments: Start with your “name” and location. Do NOT leave a website url. Your comment must refer to the topic of the post.  All comments that say “Your ideas are wonderful. I really like this.” will be deleted as spam…. because most spam looks very much like this.

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Exciting News

 Exciting News: Book Published

April 28, 2015: Publication of
Straight A’s Are Not Enough.

After years of research on the best (and worst) strategies for learning, I decided it was too much to add to the website – that I needed to write this book.

Endorsed by Howard Gardner: Graduate School of Education – Harvard University

Endorsed by Daniel Pink: Author of Drive, To Sell is Human

The book even comes with a money-back guarantee so people who aren’t pleased with their purchase can send it to me and get their money back. I am that sure that when you read this book, you’ll want to keep it and perhaps even read it again. It includes a lot of the more recent research and includes several topics that are not on the website. It would also be a great high school graduation gift for friends who will be starting college next year.

To Compare this book with other popular books on Study Skills, Straight A’s Are Not Enough

1. Includes far more Research. Many of those books have NO endnotes or bibliography and NO index.

2. Is based on this Research while most of the others are based on common practices – study methods that have been used for a hundred years or more.

3. Focuses on Getting a GREAT Education based on each student’s personal goals, interests, and the skills they need to develop. Other books focus mainly on grades. When students focus on learning and deep understanding, they learn more and remember longer. Students who focus mainly on grades, once exams are over, soon forget nearly everything. That is not getting a great education.

4. Includes a section of What Employers Want Most. Many employers have discovered that students with straight A’s or the best grades do NOT have the skills needed on the job.

Straight A’s Are NOT Enough is currently available
on Amazon.com and BN.com and should soon be in many bookstores. It is also available as an E-book.

You can, of course, check it out on Amazon and read much of the first several chapters.

There is also a new website: www.choose-learning.com  This  website includes more information about the book including all of chapter 4. There are contests and a way students can “ASK JUDY” emailing me their questions – and I will respond.

I am looking for college students who would like to act as Student Ambassadors for the book. While this is not a paid position, it involves several possibilities for earning $1000 or more in your spare time. This would be a good learning experience especially for students studying business or education. Let me know if you are interested. The full details are on choose-learning.com.

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Edward Hughes Update

Cover of Buzan's Book - Use Both Sides of Your BrainEdward Hughes Update: He is Real!

If you haven’t read the story of Edward Hughes, you really should.”  Tony Buzan begins his book, “Learning on Both Sides of the Brain,” with what I call a “Miracle Story,” the story of Edward Hughes, a young man who was a mediocre student but used Buzan’s methods to become a great success. This was one of the early books on learning strategies. This book and the story if Edward Hughes  were probably the greatest influence on my fascination with finding and use effective learning strategies.

After many years, I began to wonder if Edward Hughes was a real person or simply a story to illustrate the power of Mind Maps. I Googled the name and found many people named Edward Hughes. I then Googled  “Edward Hughes Mind Maps” and found a number of sites re-telling the story but no evidence of the real Edward Hughes.

I concluded that it made no difference if the story was about a real person or was fiction created to show what was possible for students who used certain strategies.  Either way, It  brought hope and determination to many students who read or heard the story. Whether Edward Hughes was real or fictional, the story made it clear that by using  strategies including Mind-Maps, Self-testing, and Scheduled Reviews, students could learn far more effectively and make amazing grades.

I don’t always agree with Buzan. I prefer Concept Maps that are totally logical and structural. He uses Mind Maps as a more right-brained, creative way to brainstorm. He presents a very rigid set of rules for his Mind Maps. I don’t like rigid rules and cheerfully  ignore most of them.  I believe people should use the patterns that work best for them.

But, in spite of our differences, I am grateful to Buzan’s work for introducing me to the idea of using visual strategies for learning and for so much more. I hope you will find some of these strategies that work for you.

Thanks to a comment from a website visitor, I was informed that Edward Hughes was a real person. I emailed Mr. Hughes and got a response. What a delight to know that Edward Hughes is real. The story is true.

But I still hold to my original thesis. What is important here isn’t the history of one student. It’s not about him, it’s about YOU.

If a young man named Edward Hughes could use these strategies with amazing results, you can do it too.  What is important is the possibility that every student can improve their learning strategies and their grades. It is the fact that visual strategies such as Mind Maps, Concept Maps or others, along with self-testing instead of re-reading, and using scheduled reviews can transform your learning experience and your grades.

I strongly recommend Tony Buzan’s book “Learning on Both Sides of the Brain.”  You might also want to read the following pages:

The Story of Edward Hughes                      Concept Maps 
  Compare Mapping Styles      and             Scheduled Reviews

Posted in General Topics, Memory, Visual Learning Strategies | 1 Comment

Make This Year Great

Freshman Year – Any Year:
Ten Ways to Make This Year Great

1. Get off to a great year with your roommate.

Besides getting to know each other, it’s important to set some clear guidelines at the Two young women use fingers to form a square as if to frame a scenebeginning of the year. These girls seem to be best friends already. They still need to talk about seting guidelines.

Discuss what time you want to get to sleep – when the lights will go out. The other person can study in a nearby lounge or with a friend who studies late.  When is OK for music, and when do you need it to be quiet. The roommate can certainly get some tunes with an iPod or headphones.

What things can be borrowed or used. Is it OK to use what’s on your desk – stapler, three-hole punch, pens, paper clips, etc, but not what’s in the drawers.  Is it OK for your roommate to wear your clothes? if so should they be washed and returned right away? Most people prefer not to share clothes but might make an exceptions once in a while. This doesn’t mean borrowing your roommates underwear because you forgot to do your laundry.

Discuss how you will keep the room clean. List the chores and plan who does what and when. Make it clear that each washes their own dirty dishes and those of their friends, and that each person keeps their part of the room reasonably neat. Discuss what reasonable means to you.

You might even need to set guidelines about when, and for how long one person can have some privacy with their date. I certainly wouldn’t recommend agreeing to sleep somewhere else when your roommate has his girlfriend spend the night. It’s easier to discuss this situaion now rather than when it becomes a problem.

2. Set your goals.

Set goals for your life. Set goals for your college years including the kind of education you want. Set goals for the semester. Set goals for each class.  Write your goals and post them on your bulletin board or somewhere you can see them daily. If you aren’t sure how to do this read Set Challenging but Realistic Goals.

3. Organize your Time.

Older students will often say that the one thing they wish they had done better – or the one thing that helped them most – was Time Management. Read more about creating a schedule and then stick with it. It’s not that hard. You followed an all day schedule in high school. You can certainly do it in college. This is the one thing that has the greatest effect on your grades. For more information, read about flexible Time Management.

4. Get Enough Sleep.

The biggest mistake I made my first semester was not getting enough sleep. Without enough sleep you can concentrate in lectures. You can’t concentrate when you read or write or do anything else. When you get enough sleep, you learn more in less time.

5. Get Regular Exercise.

Sure, exercise is good for your health but this blog is about learning. When you exercise, the blood is pumped faster to your brain, carrying the oxygen and nutrients your brain needs. When you get enough exercise, you learn more in less time.

6. Organize your Materials

You need a filing system. You can buy one of those accordion-pleated files and not need folders. Use one space per class. I like using a plastic crate meant for hanging files. You could even use a cardboard box and file folders. Label a folder for each course. Be sure to put the syllabus or course outline in each file. Later add returned tests, handouts, and perhaps your study notes for each subject. Later when you are looking for something, you’ll be glad you were organized.

7. Avoid the system of MINDLESS Highlighting when you read.

If you highlight anything that might be important, you’ll are likely to get through a chapter without learning anything and you’ll have too much material highlighted to be helpful.  It is important to be sure you understand a paragraph or short section well first. Think carefully about th main ideas. I prefer to take notes on the main ideas and MOST important facts. You can certainly use your highlighter instead – but NEVER highlight anything you don’t understand.

Mindless highlighting leads to needing to waste time reading the chapter again – and with the wrong material highlighted, it slows you down instead of helping you.

8. Get to Know Your Professors Early.

You probably have their office location and office hours on your syllabus. Stop by to say hello. You might share with them what’s been most interesting so far or what you are having most trouble understanding. It’s always nice to start with something nice to say. After you have gotten to know each other, you can greet your professor when you see him or her on campus. Professors are nearly always very pleased to get to know their students.

9. Get to Know Your Library Early.

If you wait until you need to use the library, perhaps doing research for a paper, you’ll be in too much of a hurry to really find your way around the library. Ask a librarian about the different ways of finding information. Ask about what kind of data based they have access and if they can be accessed on your own computer. If so, find out how to do it. Don’t know what a data base is? Ask them and be prepared to be amazed. Doing research this way is really incredible.

10. Keep Up-To-Date in All of Your Classes.

If you put off some of your reading one week, you’ll have that much more to do the next week. Put it off another week – thinking you should have fun the first several weeks – and you’ll begin to feel overwhelmed by all the work you need to do to get caught up.

If you are already behind, make a schedule. Try to double your study time for a few weeks until you are caught up. When possible, get ahead. When you need to spend a lot of time on essays and research papers, you’ll be glad you have some extra time.

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A Most Thought-Provoking Book

A Most Thought-Provoking Book

Book cover: What the Best College Students DoThe book is What the Best College Students Do by Ken Bain (2012) and I highly recommend it.

I checked this book out of the library and shortly after starting the second chapter, I hurried to my computer to buy a copy. I knew this was a book that I would read again and again. I knew it would be a life-changing book.

If you have read this book, I would really enjoy hearing your opinions.

As a child, bored in my classes, I began creating my own learning projects. As a ten-year-old. I was studying algae.  In Junior High, I began wondering how much the different religions around the world were similar, and in what important ways they were different. I studied every book in the library on the topic and created large charts showing similarities.

I understood that learning was a lot more important than grades. I stuck with this firm belief from the time I was about ten years old until today. Ken Bain’s book tells stories of other people, very successful people, who believed the same thing, that learning is more important than grades. That was exciting.

Then there were descriptions of research, not on what students learn when they read an article, but their approach to learning. Those who skim for facts to memorize so they can do well when tested are called Shallow Learners. They soon forget. Deep Learners read in order to understand. They remember much longer. And then, there are the Strategic Learners whose goal is not to understand, but to make the highest possible grade.  I was soon searching for the details of their research.

These ideas have been around for quite a while, but this was the first time I had read about them and understood the importance of these categories for learning.

I finished the library copy just before my copy arrived in the mail. As I began a second reading, I paid close attention and began to question of few of the conclusions. My critical thinking skills were now fully functioning – which is always an exciting experience.

Thought-provoking is such a great term. This book provoked great thoughts in my mind. The more I read, the more new questions and ideas come to me. Thought-provoking books are the best kind.

This in not a book on study skills, although it is found under study skills on Amazon.  Ken Bain selected people he considered especially successful and interviewed them, asking about their experiences in college. He was hoping to find what learning experiences had led to their success. The stories they tell are interesting to read.

Much of the rest of the book covers research on learning. Since I was a science teacher and taught physics for several years I found the studies of how students did and did not learn in physics most intriguing. Apparently, strategic leaners were able to make good grades in physics without understanding any of the basic concepts.

Students were tested on their understanding of the basic laws of motion several months later and the grades they made had little relationship to what they really understood. Some students still believed the same “common sense” false ideas they’d had before taking physics.

One example describes a weight at the end of a rope. The question: If someone swings it around in a circle and the rope breaks, how will the weight move? Some believed it would continue going in circles. When the professor demonstrated what really happened, they thought he was tricking them.

As a result of this research many physics class are changing, testing students more on concepts rather than on problems solving.

This brought back an interesting memory. I had a terrible physics teacher in high school who was absent more than he was there. So I was a bit apprehensive when it came to taking college physics. I took the non-calculus class.

Before class, I spoke to the professor. I explained that while I could do  the seesaw problems, I didn’t really understand why it made any difference how far the people on the seesaw sat from the fulcrum.

The professor smiled and said something like “That’s good. That’s really wonderful. You will do very well in physics. None of the other students understand this either, but they don’t know that they don’t understand.”

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My Learning Breakthrough Moment

My Learning Breakthrough Moment

Black and White Photo of Horace ManmIn an education class I once took, the textbook included fifty short chapters, each by a different famous educator. The chapters included articles or excerpts from a book or speech.

Horace Mann (shown in photo) was one of these educators. He argued against the idea of education only for the elite. He is called the Father of the “Common School Movement.”  He wanted all students to have the same opportunity to get an education.

I looked at that book and  immediately had a terrible feeling. I knew I could read that book five times … I could read it fifty times …  I would remember some of the ideas but I’d never be able to remember who said what. The exam was certain to include essay questions asking us to compare the opinions of several educators on a topic like teacher training or curriculum.

I have no idea if other students worried about this. I suspect they started reading on page one and just plowed through the way they always did.

I was finishing the first chapter when the idea came to me. Instead of reading the whole book, I could skim the chapters and find the three, four or maybe five main ideas from each educator. That seemed like a good start, but then what?

I would create a chart. I’d write the educator’s names down the left side. Across the top, I’d list topics. For each educator, I filled in a few details under topics they mentioned. This was a large chart.

After completing the chart, I began looking for important relationships. This was the key to making sense of the information.

If thirty or forty educators discussed the same topic, I knew it was important but had no intention of trying to remember what all of them had to say. I chose the educator who first raised the subject and a few more with strong  contradictory opinions  like those advocating practical classes like agriculture and home economics compared to those who recommended a strong education in the classics.

Some topics were rarely mentioned or never seemed especially important. I skipped them. Sometimes only two mentioned a topic but held opposing opinions. These were important. Continuing this way, I soon had four or five pages of notes. I read those key opinions carefully. Occasionally, I wrote down a very brief, well-known quotation.

Studying these few pages was easy and exciting. My educators came alive. They were involved in a number of important debates. I could almost picture them in front of me, shouting and pounding their fists.

Years later, looking back, at this experience, I realized this was an advanced use of a compare/contrast chart though, at the time,I had never heard of compare/contrast charts.

I certainly enjoyed studying the material this way, I remembered much more, and not surprisingly, made an excellent grade. The professor was impressed with my amazing memory. It wasn’t my memory that was so good. It was my strategy.

You might want to read  Compare and Contrast Charts

and about Advanced Compare and Contrast Charts:   Matrix Charts

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Falling in Love with Physics

Falling in Love with Physics

For those who have experienced it, the hour of the awakening of the passion for knowledge is the most memorable one of a lifetime.                                               —  Colin Wilson

When I was in High School, my teacher for chemistry and physics was totally incompetent and he was out sick more than he was there. We never even did any experiments. So, when I got to college, I was nervous about taking either subject, assuming other students would know so much more than I did. Twenty years later, working on a Master’s Degree in Biology, I had to take the dreaded physics class. It wasn’t a hard class. It was Physics for Non-majors.

Little girl on a see-sawI went to speak to the professor before classes began. I explained that I’d learned things like the simple problems with levers: Mass x  distance on one side must equal mass x distance on the other side in order to balance. This explains why the heavier child sits close to the fulcrum of a see-saw while the lighter child must sit further away.

I confessed that, although I knew it was true and I could do the problems, I had no idea why the distance should make a difference. It didn’t make sense.

The professor nodded. “That’s wonderful,” he said with a smile. “You know more than most physics students. They don’t know any more than you do, but they have no idea  there is something more that they don’t understand. You will do very well in this class, I’m sure.”

This class was wonderful. Every class began with a demonstration or experiment. In every class, we struggled with the questions of why these things happened. And, to my amazement, I feel in love with Physics.

I’d been in love with Biology since I was a toddler. The first book I ever bought was The World of Plant Life. It was a book for adults and I was only 9 or 10 years old. I saved up my allowance and did chores for months to pay for my book. My favorite Christmas present was a microscope, not one sold for children, but one meant to be used in a classroom. I was in about 7th grade and bought books about the tiny creatures that I was finding in pond water. I was learning more on my own than I learned in school.

But Physics? That had never been my sort of thing and now, because it was so exciting to understand things in new ways, to discover that I could understand why things worked … I fell in love with physics. I took more classes and they really were hard. I had to re-take Calculus (not for credit) because I’d forgotten everything in twenty years. I took enough physics to get my certification to teach Physics as well as Biology and Math.

And still I continued to learn more. I found books on having fun with physics. Then, in another wonderful class, we studied the physics of toys. And to my surprise, my understanding of how toys would behave in a weightless situation were better than the ideas of the more experienced physics teachers. Perhaps because I was more interested in WHY, rather than just knowing how to solve problems.

The first Physics classes I taught were summer classes for gifted kids in grades 4-8. They let me teach a class called “Fun with Physics.” What a wonderful way to prepare me for teaching High School Physics… and for making that class fun too. But when you find a subject that you really love, you want others to understand how wonderful it is.

My wish for every student is that you fall in love with at least one of your subjects  – that you love it enough to continue your study independently, and that you find ways to share your love of that subject with others.

Fall in love. The single most powerful thing you can do to
foster learning is to fall in love with what you’re learning.                     — Ronald Gross in Peak Learning p. 67

You might also be interested in reading    Independent Learning

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Student Loans

Scissors and red credit card. Some students need to cut their credit card to prevent over-spending.Student Loans: Good idea or Too Much DEBT?

There are two main ways that college students end up deeply in debt. Some get a “free” credit card and can’t stop spending. The spend $500 and perhaps pay off $50 or $100. If they never spent any more, they’d finally get rid of the debt. The problem is that they go out and spend even more. When you spend more than you can afford to pay back you get deeper and deeper into debt.

Student Loans are the second way that student go very deeply into debt.

We have all read the stories about students who believed the story that they could get such a great job after college, they should be able to pay off their student loans in just a few years.  For a few students who land top paying jobs that might be true. But for many other students, they keep paying and the debt keeps growing larger. It often is impossible for students to pay off such loans.

Even Barack and Michelle Obama just finished paying off their students loads not long before moving into the White House. In 1912 Obama said they’d finished paying ony 8 years earlier. He also said that for their first eight years of marriage they were spending more to pay off student loans than for the mortgage on their condo.

The ideal situation would be to have a combination of savings, students grants,part-time jobs, and a small government loan that could be paid off fairly quickly.

Liz Weston has a blog and a newspaper advice column.  Some of her older columns on the topic of student loans were pretty scary with parents needing to sell their home to pay off a loan. This was her recommendation and I believe it is excellent advice.

Are student loans a bad idea?

Source: asklizweston.com

Personal Finance Columnist

 

Posted in Organize: Practical Strategies | Leave a comment

Garden of Memories

During your college years, create a Garden of Memories

In the Palm Beach Post this morning, March 10, 2013, and I read the story of Susan Spencer Wendel. She was an award-winning writer at the newspaper for 20 years. In 2011, she was diagnosed with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Susan Apencer Wendel is shown with her husband.disease. She was just 44 years old and had a husband and three young children, ages 9, 11 and 15.

With only a few years to live, “she decided to live with purpose and intent – to plan special trips with her most cherished loved ones, to plant a vivid ‘Garden of Memories’ in their souls.

With only one finger that she can still control, she wrote a book about her experiences, “Until I Say Goodbye,” to share their trips,  their adventures and their experiences planned to help create those wonderful  memories.

Susan is a brave woman, thinking not about herself, but about helping those she loves to enjoy her final year. As you can see in the picture with Susan and her husband, she is facing her death with a huge smile. She is  spending her time enjoying life and enjoying time and experiences with those she loves.

One thing that  really struck me was the image of a “Garden of Memories.”

Remember your College Days as you grow older

As the years go by, most students forget the names of their professors. They forget their roommates and the friends in college. They also forget many of the wonderful experiences. You don’t need to forget.

Get a nice scrapbook or bound journal. Write in your journal every month or so, describing the most interesting events and experiences. List the classes you are taking, the names of the professors and a little about the class.

List your friends, when and how you met them, where they were from, and some of the experiences you had together.

Take pictures of your dorm rooms, college buildings, your friends, and at least your favorite professors. Put prints in your scrapbooks and label them clearly with the names and when it was taken. When you return for your 25th or 50th reunion, you will be glad you have this reference to help you remember. You will be able to say, “Remember the day when we …..

Create your own Garden of Memories

If you are spending all your time studying and pretty much wasting time with your friends, begin planning memorable Beautiful flowers represent a Garden of Memoriesexperiences. The picture represents a garden with a wide variety of flowers – or college years with a wide variety of memorable experiences.

1. Plan a few day trips to nearby cities, National Parks, or nearby attraction.
2., Plan some unusual parties. You might come as someone you admire, or as your favorite character in a book.
3. Do some volunteer work together. Collect food or other supplies for families left homeless by a fire or storm.
4. Start a new club to meet other students with similar interests.
5. Spend some time, alone or with friends, campaigning for a favorite candidates.
6. Form a band or chorus, maybe just for fun, maybe to play in local restaurants.
7. Visit nursing homes to sing, to hand out Valentines, or small holiday gifts. Take time to get to know some of the people in the nursing homes.
8. Go on a work project together, possibly even in another country.
9. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Get to know some of the people who come there for a meal.
10. Run in a marathon, or other activity to help raise money for a charity.
11. Eat at restaurant serving food you have never tasted. Have you eaten Indian food, Korean food, Mexican food?
12. Meet International students and introduce them to your own customs.
and I’m sure you can list many other interesting and memorable activities.

Whatever you choose to do, take pictures and write about it in your journal. You will be creating a Garden of Beautiful Memories. And, at the same time, these activities will enrich your college experience.

Posted in Memory, Positive Attitudes | Leave a comment

It’s NOT about straight A’s

A+ on my Science TestIt’s NOT about Straight A’s

Look at the books on Study Skills. It is amazing how many promise “Straight A’s”

Getting to Straight A+
How to Become a Straight A Student
Straight A Study Skills
Getting Straight A’s
From F to Phi Beta Kappa

There are only a few people who should aim for Straight A’s:

If you’re planning to go to Medical School, Law School, or other highly selective graduate programs, you might really need Straight A’s or something close to that. In fact, having Straight A’s isn’t enough to guarantee your acceptance. It helps to have been active in organizations, done volunteer work, independent research, and several  internships in your field, preferably working with someone who is well-known in the field.

But most students are BETTER OFF if they do NOT aim for straight A’s.

Students who are most serious about getting Straight A’s often take fewer classes and avoid the more challenging classes. They often use more effort memorizing material rather than understanding it.

Students who are interested in learning, who aren’t worried about an occasional B here and there take more classes and more challenging classes because they are more interested in learning than in grades.

A well-rounded student does NOT spend every minute studying.

  • They explore many interests.
  • They participate in several college organizations.
  • They take time to meet and get to know people from a wise variety of backgrounds.
  • They develop strong and lasting friendships.
  • They do volunteer work or internships, often in several areas.
  • They believe that getting a true education is more important than getting the best grades.

I just read an interesting blog on the topic. Jon Morrow who had nearly straight A’s in college  wrote a guest blog at    blog.Penelopetrunk.com  . He add much more detail. You might want to check it out. Jon had a good reason for trying to get straight A’s; he was planning to go to law school (but later changed his mind). His five reasons are not unusual.

  • No one asked about my GPA.
  • I didn’t sleep.
  • I’ve forgotten most of it.
  • I didn’t have time for people.
  • Work experience is more valuable

If you are interested in getting a great education, ask yourself several questions:

  1. Are you getting enough sleep?  eating properly?  getting regular exercise?
  2. Do you understand and remember much of what you are learning, rather than memorizing  for tests?
  3. Are you putting time in your schedule for people, for friends and meeting new people?
  4. Are you actively participating in several college organizations, learning teamwork and leaderships skills?
  5. Are you setting aside time for summer work or internships in your fields of interest?
  6. Are you pursuing your own interests and having a good time in college? Are you allowing time to enjoy yourself?

The aim of education should be to teach us how to think rather than what to think, rather to improve our minds than to load our memory with thoughts of other men.   — Bill Beattie

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Colleges of the Future

Colleges of the Future: Visions of Sal Khan

You should know the name: Sal Khan. He is the creator of Khan Academy. If you haven’t checked out his website, do it very soon: www.khanacademy.org .

Now he had written an interesting, thought-provoking book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. It is well worth reading and can be read in a single evening.

He begins with the  story of the cover of Sal Khan's booktutoring a cousin in math using the Internet, eventually  putting his short videos on YouTube. Now his videos are  used by MILLIONS of students, teachers and parents around the world.

He goes on to suggest ideas for helping students get a better education, most based on his own experience. I strongly disagree with some of his ideas, but others have real possibilities.

As a student at MIT, he apparently found the lectures a waste of time, and skipped  all lectures, using the time to study on his own, and was thus able to take twice as many classes. My experience at many different colleges is the opposite. Most lectures were excellent. Some were so inspiring that I still remember lectures from nearly 50 years ago. Some of those long ago lectures changed my ways of thinking and even changed my life.

If you are tempted to follow his example,  be sure that you aren’t in danger of failing a class if you skip lectures. You should also realize that many students are auditory learners and remember material from lectures more easily than from textbooks.

The most important idea in Khan’s book, an idea that students and educators everywhere need to understand, is that students should not let teachers dictate what and how students should learn. Students must take charge of their own learning. They must challenge themselves to explore ideas, relate ideas to their own experience, and find ways to remember what they are learning. This insight is both radical and empowering.

Educators haven’t made much progress finding a way to transform university education, making it meaningful and available to all students. Perhaps students could join Khan by letting your imagination go and describing your vision of the university of the future.

Please share your best ideas here.

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