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How to study at university (Read 1269 times)

Offline swagmaster420x

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How to study at university
« on: October 07, 2014, 03:15:55 PM »
Does anyone have tips

Offline indianajo

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #1 on: October 07, 2014, 04:08:56 PM »
Take notes at the lectures.  I didn't actually read them much, but the act of writing things down made me remember things better. I have an excellent visual memory, BTW.  Words I hear don't stick so well. Before exams I would write out a one page crib sheet with formulas on them I was supposed to know.  I could pretty well see the crib sheet after I wrote it down. 
A mistake I made you shouldn't. Sleep enough at night: 7 to 8 hours.  This has been proven by science to be required to cement memory.  I tried to keep up with the homework, was working 21 hours a day, sleeping three.  didn't do very well. No partying, my only "entertainment" was a part time job driving school busses in the mornings.   It would have been nice if could have taken fewer hours to keep up with the workload, but the draft board had a four year plan- finish in four years or go to combat now as a private, where somebody else does your thinking for you.  In the end the ROTC gave me an extra year to repeat 5 courses I made D- in.  I did graduate, just in time to see the helicopters lift the last marines off the Saigon Embassy.  My transcript was not a good employment reference, especially in the post war recession that followed my graduation. And no, the Army didn't need me during the recession.  Just later when the economy was good.   

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 05:59:28 PM »
thanks friend... I feel like no one has any real substantial dedication to their hw/studying except a very select highly motivated few : P everyone ends up 'studying' for three hours getting done what seems like 30 minutes worth of work haha
I guess this means if I just work more efficiently i will have tons of spare time to play video games

Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 06:24:17 PM »
This is a pretty silly question.

So first i'd recommend not asking silly questions, it will save you time.

Secondly, how you study depends on what is being taught and how its being taught.
1+1=11

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 06:43:49 PM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline mjames

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 07:34:05 PM »
You're a freshman too?

Oh and dude...please


You know you'll just end up cramming the night before an exam  :-X

Offline j_menz

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #6 on: October 07, 2014, 10:10:55 PM »
You know you'll just end up cramming the night before an exam  :-X

Hey. That worked for me.   ::)
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline mjames

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #7 on: October 07, 2014, 11:59:33 PM »
Hey. That worked for me.   ::)

I only cram for ermm less important classes. Like philosophy, and err...economics.

Offline outin

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #8 on: October 08, 2014, 03:33:39 AM »
Hey. That worked for me.   ::)

Me too...although the amount of caffein in my system made me a bit dangerous...had to settle it down with a few beers after the exam....

Offline Bob

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #9 on: October 08, 2014, 03:41:27 AM »
You teach yourself.  Don't rely on anyone there.  Figure out the courses, work ahead, get the work done, and hopefully learn something.  An "A" means you did what the professor expected.  Great, but try to learn something, if it's useful or interesting to you.  B means you didn't quite do what the prof thought (your problem, not theirs.  They won't care.).  C means you showed up.  Everyone passes.  They just made money off you for taking the course.

Audit or just sit in on classes if they're interesting or useful.  You don't get credit for it, but you still get a lot of info that way.  There's no commitment to time outside that class for doing any homework.

If you know what your career path is you can probably start pruning off topic areas, like gen eds.  They're probably not that important for your future unless they're related to music.  Some of the non-music classes are really going to be a waste of time -- Still get the A, but spend as little time on them as possible.  Some classes are the result of a committee deciding everyone needs so many of this course, so many that, etc.  ie Not really taking you much into account.

Just about all the music classes could have "Intro to..." in front of the title.  There's not a huge amount of time to improve.  Everyone who comes in gets a little better at what they're good at.  Hopefully you can develop some skill in another area.  Theory, ear training, etc... You've got maybe about two years of really studying that.  How does that compare to the time you put into piano?  You end up with theory and ear training skills at the level of someone who studied two years.  Ditto counterpoint... orchestration.... modern theory... conducting... on and on....  There's not enough time.


Time.  Block out your practice time.  Use that and forget about it.  Don't let anything touch that time.  Structure time for rest and exercise to support that practice time.  The biggest thing I figured out was to schedule blocks of time for projects.  And then really stick to that.  If it was something like a composer report... After a while I figured out the formula for that.  I would block out 4-5 hours and crank out the paper.  Stressful, but the project got done.  Quality-wise... Not exactly what I wanted for the result all the time, but nearly always it was an A.  Good enough.  Crank out the project and move on.  If you want less stress, if it's more important... block out more time for it.  I just noticed after a while there's a point where you decide to wrap up a project with whatever you've got done.  So why not bump that up a bit?  It gives you a little more control over things.  It's nice to know a project will be done for sure by x-date and time.

Along with planning... Take all the syllabi, etc.  deadlines, events.... Make one calendar for yourself.  Then plan back time to do those projects.   Work ahead if you can.

It will hurt.  It will suck.  Deal with it.  By the end of the semester it's going to hurt more, you're going to be more fatigued and sleep-deprived... So when you do have some open time, work ahead.  Even if it hurts.  It's less painful to push things painfully now rather than get crunched and uber-stressed in the near future.


That's some advice I would give my past self.  Make decisions.  Prioritize things.  Focus on what's important.  

Probably also be very aware at some point you'll graduate and have to get some kind of job for income.  It's easy to ignore that for a while, but it will happen someday.  Keep that in mind the whole time.  Make connections.  Make projects you can use to sell yourself.  Start prepping your resume and start grooming your references now, then tweak things as you go along.  


For the cramming comments here, the faster you cram info in, the faster it falls out.  If it's important, invest in it long-term.  Music theory, ear training... Those pay off.  Some crappy gen ed... Just figure out what the test is.   Personally I'd just prep a little over time.  Just sitting in class probably prepares you a lot for the test.  Rote memorization techniques can go a long way still even though it's downplayed a lot -- Ex. A professor asks what you think about an article... If you spit back a summary of it, they might be impressed.  You also don't have to read everything they tell you to.  You need the info, the ideas, not time spent piddling through text.  You already know the structure of articles and books.  Use that.  Don't actually spend much time reading straight through things.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #10 on: October 08, 2014, 04:19:02 AM »
Thanks so much for your detailed input Bob! And everyone else who contributed. I just finished my first round of midterms, so I'm in extreme laze mode

Offline quantum

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #11 on: October 08, 2014, 04:39:24 AM »
Start with the exam and assignment requirements, the things that get you marks - prioritize these. Studying for other stuff that doesn't give you credit doesn't show up on paper, it may give you enjoyment but at the end of the day it won't be reflected in your transcript.  It is sad to say, but to "appear" successful at university: grades are more important than learning or personal growth.  I'm not saying the later is not important, just that it doesn't really figure much into student evaluations in school (or at least the schools I've experienced).  By all means enjoy learning at university, just keep perspective.

Plan on running out of time, or not having enough time.  Do stuff early, as early as possible.  Little stuff adds up, and a lot of little chores and assignments can get overwhelming if not managed.  

Administration is part of school.  Filling out forms, waiting 4 hours in line only to be told you need approval of so-and-so.  Sometimes this ends up being more time consuming then official course work.  

Written work eats into music and practice time.  Do your music stuff well in advance.  Learn your rep one to two terms before you plan to play the pieces.  Make use of summer vacation.

If you really really really want to get that A+ in a course, know the entire course content before you even enroll in that course.  This goes for music performance as well.  Eg: Have your recital in performance ready state before submit your proposal.  

Don't underestimate sitting in lecture.  You don't have to be hyper-alert mode all the time.  The simple act of just being there will enable you to soak up a great deal of information.  

Aim to understand the gist of stuff, as opposed to trying to absorb every last word.  Assignments and test questions are not always as intimidating as they are perceived to be.  An example: For this week's homework read Aldwell & Schachter Chapters 1-6.  Next weeks assignment: Write a perfect cadence in D major, in 4 part choral texture (10 marks).  Bonus: do the same in the minor (5 marks).

Know what you want to do after you graduate, and know what future schools or employers will be looking for.  Plan your courses around this.  Eg: If you know the graduate program you want to apply for will only look at the last 2 years of grades, don't put courses which cause you unease in your last 2 years.  

Have a sense of humor. University can be stressful at times.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline visitor

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #12 on: October 08, 2014, 09:36:02 AM »
Hey. That worked for me.   ::)
well how else would you have time to to practice your boomerang throwing & attend wallaby races? :P

Offline bronnestam

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #13 on: October 08, 2014, 12:25:22 PM »
I studied for an M. of Sc. exam in applied physics and electrical engineering. It took 4 years (plus another 6 months to "complete" the courses where I had failed) and is was awfully tough.

Anyway, the last 2 years I worked only a fraction of what I did in the beginning, with the same result or better, so obviously I learned a few things during my way ...

- don't go to lectures which consist of someone talking for 2 hours while you struggle to stay awake by copying everything they write on the whiteboard (or whatever tool they have). These notes will cost you more than they are worth, because afterward you will be TIRED. If the lecture is not very good, don't waste your time. Copy notes from friends who were more diligent ...
- avoid both late night work and work in general in the place where you live. Find a good place at school, or in the library etcetera, and do your studies there instead. There is a romantic myth about students who stay up all night studying ... don't buy it. Study in daytime, in a dedicated place, and let your own room be a place for leisure and relaxation.
- schedule time for you studies. Both start and stop time. Also schedule time for other activities, like piano practicing or sports.

- always try to find practical applications in real life of what you have learned. University studies tend to be awfully abstract sometimes, without connection to real life. You will learn 1 million times faster and better if you really know WHY you are learning something and how you can use your new knowledge.

- or at least always study a book with a pencil in your hand. Underline, write comments, take notes. This is the shortcut to fast learning.

- STAY OFFLINE when you are studying something. Switch off you phone. This wasn't a problem during my time, because that was decades ago when we were only disturbed by the TV ... but I know the distractions of Internet and smartphones just as good as you do in these days.

- take good care of your physical exercise and eat healthy meals. Sleep your 8 hours a night. If you live in a noisy place, get yourself good earplugs.

Believe me, I have figured this out by trial-and-error.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #14 on: October 08, 2014, 09:28:23 PM »
I don't believe in taking notes.  Just pay attention in class
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Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #15 on: October 08, 2014, 11:10:35 PM »
Everyone is dependent on technology for gratification of today's short attention span, unfortunately.
Thanks for the advice everyone! It's really nice and fun to read these.

Offline Bob

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #16 on: October 08, 2014, 11:53:07 PM »
Collect things for the future.  I'd scan things and pack it all away digitally so it doesn't take up space now.  There is a constructivist philosophy of teaching where it's about you chewing up the info and that's what you get out of it.  The old school approach... Cram in as much info and more than you can handle... I'm not sure that's so bad.  You're only there for a limited amount of time, but you've got the rest of your life to sort through and study the stuff you uncover.

If you're on campus, walking around, don't stick your nose in a smartphone.  Too easy to walk into someone else... or a car... or a bus... Not to mention making yourself an easy target for a criminal.   Just get a bike or something and travel faster.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #17 on: October 09, 2014, 12:09:27 AM »
I walk around listening to music with my awkwardly sized i pAD  in hand.

Offline nanabush

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #18 on: October 10, 2014, 10:53:50 AM »
Study somewhere you are comfortable.  I saw way too many people in the University computer labs just messing around on Facebook, constantly going for coffee/smoke breaks, or just ditching and going for beers with friends (I partook in this MANY times).


I also lived at home for my entire University, and had a VERY easy time studying in the peace and quiet of my own room.  I also took very messy jot notes in class, and would rewrite them.  I had like a 'scrapbook' where I'd just write the course code and date, and then just write whatever I thought was important.  I'd then paraphrase, use some cool colors, and just do some extra reading (even wikipedia just to get a bit of context if you were unsure in class).  I don't study a lot, and I kind of came across as a lazy dude in class (because I'd just have my notepad and a pencil, not like 300 different pens and a laptop and like 10 binders).

Out of that messy paragraph I just wrote, the biggest thing for me was that I didn't write word for word everything the teacher wrote - for many people, just writing notes once in class seemed sufficient enough, and many of those people were flipping through 45 pages of word-for-word notes on the bus on the way to the exam.  Try to condense your notes!  Having jot notes from class, some nicely condensed notes to keep at your house, and the extra readings available, studying is a hell of a lot easier.

====

To paraphrase that:  study in comfortable clothes, in a comfy place, and not on an empty stomach, or if you are sleep deprived.  I highly recommend NOT being OCD about the 'presentation' of your notes that you take in class, but do recommend rewriting them or 'simplifying' them so that when you need to study, the 'meat' of the course is laid out clearly and nicely  :)

**I'm a night-owl guy with extremely messy handwriting, had horrible eating habits (not what I ate, but when I ate, didn't have regular meals), seemed scatter brained.  BUT, I was the study guru, never stressed about exams, and freaked people out about how calm I was for juries/exams.  In class I may have seemed 'aloof' to some haha :P but I really felt that the way I was studying worked for me!
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Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #19 on: October 10, 2014, 03:12:37 PM »
you sound like you had amazing study habits.
I don't know if I would ever recopy my notes to enhance clarity and understanding.
It sounds like a really, really, good idea, but also one of those ideas I know deep down I'm probably never going to try.

Offline Bob

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #20 on: October 11, 2014, 04:45:19 AM »
Ingrain your notes and the textbook in your head.  Spend time focusing on that, on memorizing things.  It goes a long way.  More drill, less making everything look pretty.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline indianajo

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #21 on: October 12, 2014, 08:14:38 PM »
You teach yourself.  Don't rely on anyone there.  Figure out the courses, work ahead, get the work done, and hopefully learn something.  
I didn't spend $2000 of my summer job/before school earnings, and $4000 of scholarship money, on tuition, to teach myself.  
I nearly flunked out because the assoc professors in the junior & senior courses were expecting me to teach myself the mathemetical methods of physics.  I didn't have a clue, and they weren't showing it in class.  The Rice math department taught you how to derive calculus from a few axioms, and how to take three equations of vector algebra and resolve them.  They did not suggest a series of exercises to help memorize the 40 techniques of breaking up a calculus problem into bite sized chunks.  They left that up to me, and extra work was something I had no time for.  The extra exercise work wasn't in the text books they were selling anyway at the university book store, I've found them in surplus texts used by state schools and community colleges.  
What the Junior/senior physics courses required was expansion of the problems with infinite series of mathematical transforms, like sin, cos, euler equations.  This wasn't taught anywhere on campus - except-
Later in life I met another Rice physics student that did flunk out , and he told me the mathematical problem solving techniques techniques were taught by a fellow undergrad physics student who ran a physics homework seminar in the basement of one of the resident dorms, late at night.  As an economically challenged student, hanging around dorms late at night to be taught essential information was not in my budget.  I was eating and sleeping at my parents house.  No wonder the physics program had 16 guys making A's and 4 guys making D-'s.
I transferred to a state school across town, where the instructors (lecturers, many of them) earned their  pay and actually showed the students how to do things.  I made some A's and graduated.  I wonder now why Rice degrees are worth more than UH degrees? Because the people that get them can teach themselves?
I've since found out by reading, some texts for sale that run you through the mathematics that physicists actually use.  Pity when I went to the  Rice physics assoc professors and asked questions, they just repeated the same things they said in class.
My private piano teacher ran me through exercise books (Berman, Czerny) that were going to give me techniques I was going to use in performance pieces.  it was an excellent piano education. It is a pity the $6000 (of my own money and the Moody foundation's, not my parent's) I spent to no effect at Rice were wasted.  I enjoyed the core required courses like History & English Lit, but the junior senior courses in my major (physics) were a waste of my time & money.  While the Modern Physics full prof was teaching Resonances and the Eight-Fold-Way,  the Physics proffs at U of Texas Austin (which would have required housing expense, I couldn't afford to go there at age 18) were developing the Standard Model of partical physics.  

Offline Bob

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Re: How to study at university
«Reply #22 on: October 12, 2014, 10:00:30 PM »
Yep.  Some of the most backwards things are found at a university.

You're buying your free time to some extent.  You can spend it teaching yourself/learning, or on what you want.  As long as you pay the bill.  And you've got live people (profs, maybe other students) who can give you advice.  Actually with the internet though... You can find a lot of good stuff here too.  You can absorb the piano culture a bit through PianoStreet.

The teacher/prof is really just a guide.  If you don't pay/aren't enrolled as a student anymore, they'll still be nice enough, but they wouldn't spend any more time on you.  Actually... They'll focus on you more as a freshman or sophomore.  Because they want to see what potential you have.  Once they figure that out, they'll adjust their efforts toward you.


I suppose that may be another key piece of advice... I didn't hear of this until I was out and I didn't do much of it.... In some classes, you need to be in a study group just to survive.  The study group will have some wisdom passed down that will get you through the class.  I never ran into a class that required something like that myself... Something where the class is taught by TA's or profs who don't care and the tests are handed down by the department...


One line I remember from a scheduling counselor/prof.... "We're not here to teach you anything you can use in real life.  We're here to teach you the theory of things.  Then you apply that throughout the rest of your life."  Great... but at some point, you just need a job, and theory doesn't cut it for someone making hiring decisions.  You can get experience in your field though... on your own.  And probably unpaid if you're an undergrad/college student.  You work "for the experience."  Haha.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."