You just failed your first exam of the year. You are thinking to yourself, “There are two more exams, so if I get an A on both exams, I can still get a B in the class.” Want to achieve a better GPA at Mines? Want to be more effective in studying and learning new concepts? If you answered yes to either question, you should know that academic success will come with hard work and motivation. Understanding a concept and excelling at exams is not a walk in the park. CASA (Center for Academic Support Resources) at Colorado School of Mines suggests these strategies for academic success: time and stress management, cooperative learning, and effective studying.
First, ask yourself, how much time do you spend studying every day? If you said 12 hours a day, you might be exaggerating a bit. You want to spend about the same amount of time as you do in class for studying time to review and understand the concepts that were taught in class. Dedicating study times are also a good way to maximize studying time and relaxing time. For example, study or do homework for 50 minutes, and then rest 10 minutes. Another strategy for time management is to prioritize your assignments. Always begin homework/study with the most difficult subject. In this way, you have more time to review concepts and ask questions if needed. Finally, in terms of stress management, the best way for this at Mines is a simple solution. Every student at Mines is stressed because of the high workload and the depth of understanding in concepts. So, try to make stress your friend. Every time you are stressed out, think to yourself that this stress will benefit you and that the stress is because you have prepared so well. By realizing that stress can actually benefit you, it will help you in the long run.
In addition, forming study groups and learning cooperatively is probably the best way to learn something or work out a homework set. By interacting and speaking to others, you get to learn the material as well as the others in your group. By setting a goal as a group to accomplish something, it will be more likely to complete the task when there are more people in a group for accountability. Also, if you can’t figure out how to do a problem, it is likely that someone else might. By forming groups, other classmates can help you and you can help others as well. After all, by helping someone, you are relearning the material, hence strengthening your concepts as well.
The third key point is effective studying. Follow up with your priorities and focus on the task at hand. Don’t study and have something distracting you at the same time, such as having Facebook open while studying. Studying for 50 minutes and then checking Facebook for 10 minutes is the better solution in terms of helping you learn the material and complete the task at hand.
Finally, motivation is a critical part that ties the strategies all up. Motivating yourself to learn and understanding concepts is how you will succeed. Let’s revisit the example that you failed your exam. Don’t just shove it away and not look at it anymore. Take this opportunity of failure to learn and treat failure as a pathway to success. Review the mistakes you made and talk to your professors if you don’t understand something. Asking your professors about something you don’t understand is better than not asking at all. Professors have office hours for a reason and that is to help students. Remember, “failure is the key to success”. As a student at Mines, there will be many academic challenges and obstacles that you will have to face. In order to excel in these challenges, you will have to take action and find the path to success.