Higher education remains an important aspect of development because the institutes, which are involved in this process, take efforts to build social mobility through knowledge and bring innovation through skill development. According to Shaprio (2009) some major purposes of higher education mean that “higher education intends to enhance understanding through the process of research and teaching Higher education aids in development of capabilities that fulfil the skill requirements at work.”
Almost all students who decide to get into colleges and universities have above defined ideas at the back of their minds. They want to improve their skills in order to become valuable in the market.
Throughout the life, you cannot be sure about the future targets. Student may never want to become a lawyer, doctor or an engineer, but he may want to receive higher education because you can see some close relatives in your life, who have never attended colleges or universities. Although they did good in the rest of their life, it took great effort and time for them to become skilful in their specific fields.
You can be a big dreamer who wants to set example for your siblings and also for others. Parents can want you to finish your school with good grades, so you can start your higher education, but it can be not so simple. You may not have a luxury of having a golden spoon in mouth, but parents always try their best to support you in the studies. It encourages you and makes you think seriously about your educational achievements. When you are in the final year of your school, you set some goals for your higher education.
Goals give people something to look forward and work on. They come to know the importance of working in a focused way. These goals also keep them motivated. Earning a college degree is not an easy task and for some people it becomes a lifelong goal.
Educational goals are created to specify path where on is going. Your goals for higher education can be SMART or in other words, you can become very objective about your educational choices with the passage of time. You can observe people who have gone to colleges and also see how they differentiate from others who never received proper guidance and training in their professional fields. It makes your journey toward higher education much easier. You can decide to achieve your target and embark on the journey of higher education.
Your SMART process for creating goals can be outlined as below:
- Specific: Initially you only wanted to go to a higher education institute. However, later you specified your subject and college to become more focused.
- Measurable: You established a timeline that included dates and amount of money required. It kept you on the right track and your efforts were derived to achieve your goal.
- Achievable: Initially you were not sure about how to attain your goal but then, you finalized steps and procedures to make the goal achievable through effort and hard work.
- Realistic: You wanted to get your degree and for that you were sure that you should complete your classes, term papers and everything that your instructor would ask you to do.
- Timely: You knew that when you should enrol for your degree and start your course to pass exams for the bachelor degree.
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Your strength and weakness: Your strength for the achievement of your goals is your ability to remain focusing. Before starting your journey you have written your goals in positive terms. It helps you in measurement and identification of required effort in specific areas. However, sometimes you set very huge targets for yourself. You do not have flexibility to change your goals, when circumstances change.
Your First Test and Low Grades
First test in the class is always hard, because there you do not know what you have to expect and what you need to do to get better grades. Students are usually not aware of the pattern of the exam and the way it will be taken. They also do not understand the grading requirements. They, usually, focus on things that are not very important and explain them in detail. Sometimes, they go off the track and produce a tangent document that frustrates the examiner. It affects their performance in the classroom. The same thing could happen to you. You could take your first exam very easy. You thought college submissions are like previous exams and you can get good results without putting much effort in it.
When you receive a low grade, then you expect a panic moment. There are always a lot of anticipation and thinking with the first glance on the result. After getting a low grade and experiencing a panic moment, for some time, students usually look for instructor’s comments. The same thing could happen to you after your first submission. You could also expect something good, and the result could be shocking for you. You could hurriedly go back over the paper to see what you had done in a wrong way. You could wait for your professor for hours outside the class.
Finally, your low grades were very discouraging for you. You was hurt and tried to find the gaps in your effort. You identified that your low grades were directly related to the time or effort which you spent on preparing for your exam. You recognized some important points as the reasons for your inability to achieve good results:
- Staying up too late the night before the exam;
- Not spending enough time studying;
- Not eating before the test.
You accepted your low grades and admitted that you need to do better in the coming exam. You were very distressed and decided to quit study for some time and went out for some recreation but then, you thought that your education was your first priority. You also decided to talk to your professor about the reasons of your low grades. He gave you some important suggestions. He told you to stay ahead of time continuously checking about the progress.
Before your first experience, you used to overlook the advices of your teachers, but now, you feel that this is the best thing because teachers can tell the real position of students at the same time; they also come to know that the student is taking interest in the class or, at least, trying to do so.
Every submission is a learning experience for students and first exam has a great deal of importance as it helps in figuring out what professor thinks and how he grades a paper. After getting the results, there is a need to ask the teacher why he has decided to give certain grades. Learning from previous mistakes always help to improve average grades, unless something worst is going with the assignments. Student should try to avoid making similar mistakes in each paper. Learning from experience is the sole thing, which student can do to get better marks, because next time, students come to know the reason behind low grades. The reason can be:
- Improper preparation;
- Wrong habit in the class room.
Students can get over their mistakes by discussing them with teachers and sharing the ideas with peers. Sometimes, setting a good senior or a classmate as an exemplary figure can also help much (Gaugler, 2010).
How to Improve Different Areas of Study (Reading, Writing)
According to Ronald King (1976) one cannot become a college student right after achieving the college card and sitting the classroom. This process does not happen overnight; instead, people put a great effort before they are able to achieve a college degree. Freshman year is actually a transitional period where student come to know the requirements of higher education institutes. They identify some adjustments that are required to become a real college student because this process can present some serious problems, which students cannot have in schools.
It means that there is a great deal of difference between college and high school education. At high schools, pupils have guidelines for every work they do. They are totally on the disposal of their parents or teachers but college exposes these students to an entirely new experience. These students have to work on their own. They have to make their own decisions. They are supposed to be grownups as they have to manage their personal and professional life without assistance.
In this context, Naveen Krishan (2008) writes that college students have to choose their own courses. They are supposed to manage their time properly and find help whenever needed. In colleges, professors cover more material in the lecture room and students need to study outside the class in order to maintain pace with their instructor (Krishan, 2008).
Barefoot et al (2007) also reinforce the above standpoint in their book Step by Step to College and Career Success saying that students at college have to deal with problems independently. They can attain their targets not only by fulfilling the requirements of their course but at the same time they also have to stay prepared for other challenged such as building computer related skills and learning critical writing (Barefoot et al, 2007, p. 16).
One student at second year of college summed up his experiences as below:
“My personal difficulties at college study stem from lack of preparedness. I was not ready to stay away from my home environment. My work ethics did not let me study outside the classroom and I preferred to confine to the course material, however, this was not enough. I now believe that student’s inability to budget time and personal lack of responsibility is the main reason of their failure” (Harry, 2008).
Blerkom, 2011 adds to the above argument saying that in order to achieve total success it is important to set your goals. According to him, the ultimate aim of a student should be the identification of his short-term and long-term goals and then, he should set priorities by integrating all the parts in final success program.
It is important to note the meaning of total success. Success, in one aspect of life, does not mean everything for a person; students rather need to maintain balance in their activities to achieve total success. It means having good physical health, wellbeing, and mental preparedness along with positive attitude and emotions. At the same time, there is also a need to active social lifestyle, because it does not only allow students to learn the skills of time management but at the same time they also come to know the qualities of leadership. Finally, business, financial and computer skills also constitute and important aspect of total success.
Harrington (2011) writes in ‘student’s Success at College’ that the beginning of journey to success is all about knowing clearly what student wants to achieve, because it will put an individual to the right direction. Students should understand about the most important goals in their college life and in their career. It enables those setting priorities and making achievements by creating balance in study, entertainment, recreation, and work (Harrington, 2011).
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Jeffery Heber (2012) suggests some useful tips for the achievement of total success in college life. These tips are as follows: Heber believes that body of a person is a physical vehicle to carry out messages to brain; therefore, students need to invest time in exercise. They find some time for a walk or should go to gym. It will aid them in maintaining a good health that finally makes them able to study well.
The ultimate aim of college education means the achieving of an academic degree, so students need to invest a great deal of time in their studies. It builds foundation of their future life and career. Students must know what they needs to learn and then by putting things in a right direction and this can be done by knowing the best study style that fits each subject.
Along with learning, reading and writing, students must also invest some time in developing their social skills. They can do so by improving their relationship with friend and family members. They can learn useful communication and leadership skills by talking to people because bookish knowledge alone cannot bring happiness and success in life.
Along with all this, entertainment is also a necessary aspect of life. A balanced entertainment helps people to achieve good results in studies but while doing all this, it is important to take care of finance and time.
Learning is the most important aspect of a student’s life and many students face considerable difficulties while learning things. Some blame their memory, while others say that the subject is very difficult, however, these issues can be overcome by appraise knowledge and guidance. Students can improve their grades by knowing the art of learning different subjects and the importance of this process.
Taking notes during the lecture helps to memorize the basic points of a topic. When instructor highlights these points, it becomes easier for students to maintain a flowchart or a diagram having basic information about the issue being discussed.
Along with this, having hand-outs and prints what other students have wrote during the lecture also broadens the concept and makes it easier for the student to remember major things. For this purpose, students need to check their notepad at the door on daily basis.
Interactive learning: Robert McMinn of university of Nottingham shares his experiences and says that interactive learning is the most accepted method of memorizing things at colleges. Students at this stage are mature and have enough ideas in their mind. They can share these ideas and polish them with the help of their peers. Interactive sessions or discussions allow these students to learn things appropriately. It not only improves their concepts but at the same time, it also allows them to minimize the time spent on learning.
Revision: Revision is an important step for the chop, because one time learning cannot serve the purpose. In order to get good grades, students should revise their factual knowledge. However, it is not true for exams that are based on essay, because in those exams one needs to build his/her writing skills and understand the basic concept thoroughly.
After exam, students, usually, take calculators and find out how many mistakes they could have make in their paper. It is also a helpful habit, because it makes students able to estimate their expected grades; moreover, they plan to work harder on coming exams knowing their drawbacks and shortcomings.
The above tips really work for those who want to follow the genuinely. At first glance, all these things seem to be common sense, but in fact, above given ideas are very helpful. Dr. Bob Kizlik (2012), who says that effective study skills should be learnt and practiced by students who want to get good grades, also strengthens this viewpoint. It is not enough to know that you want to study instead of one need to actually do it and this process needs a lot of information about how to do it better. He argues that practice does not make a man perfect rather perfect practice makes perfect. Dr. Bob Kizlik (2012) also presents some useful ideas important for effective learning. These ideas are summed up as below:
- Make a schedule: It is crucial to make a useful schedule, because without it student cannot understand the importance of allocating time in valuable tasks.
- Make every hour count: Student should make every hour count by engaging properly in every class, social event, lecture or laboratory.
- When student should study: Student needs to study at the time when he is alert after having rest. Holding a book in hand cannot serve the purpose.
- Revising schedule: Robert McMinn Bob Kizlik (2012) also emphasizes the importance of revising schedules as they polish ideas and skills very effectively.
Along with learning effective research, writing is an important part of a higher education. Deborah Lupton argues that writing can be of differ kinds including creative, critical, analytical, explanatory and differentiated. Academic writing needs a clear focus on the research question and before finalizing the plan the writer needs to conduct some research to schedule his writing task. It required finding out more about a particular phenomenon about which writer has to write.
After researching the topic and analysing the question introduction part is written, in which the writer sums up what he is going to do in the latter section of the paper. He should also provide brief background information to the topic.
The main body of the essay follows introduction, where main issue is discussed. However, there is a need to think about what kind of essay it is. If it is critical, the writer should use critical language by analysing each point of the topic. If the essay is explanatory then every part of the research should be explained in detail.
Finally, conclusion section sums up the entire argument. Sometimes, recommendations are also written in this section. Referencing is also an important part of academic essay. Students should develop understanding about different writing styles. They should also study the method of writing in text citation and bibliography (Lupton, 2012). All above tips can help in producing a terse essay that can really help students in attaining good grades.
Social mobility: The ability of individuals or groups to move within a society with changes in income, education, occupation etc.
Development: The process of developing.
Innovation: Something new or differently introduced.
Skill development: Development of useful abilities.
Skill requirements: To be able to do all current quests that the market demands.
Luxury: Out of ordinary pleasure.
Silver spoon in mouth: To be born in wealthy and privileged family.
Final year: The year in which a student is required to complete his degree.
Objective: The goal of one’s efforts or actions.
Guidance: The act or function of guiding.
Training: Intended for use during an introductory, learning, or transitional period.
Professional field: The work that a person chooses as a profession.
Ease: Freedom from difficulty or great effort.
Embarked: To involve (someone) in an enterprise.
SMART: Refers to goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, real and timely.
Term paper: A long essay, report, written by a student at the end of a term.
Enrol: To enlist.
Bachelor degree: A degree awarded by a college or university to a person who has completed undergraduate studies.
Flexibility: Susceptible of adapting something easily.
Circumstances: An incident or occurrence.
Submissions: An act or instance of submitting.
Anticipation: Expectation or hope.
First glance: To look quickly or briefly at once.
Panic moments: An outbreak of fear for some time.
Gaps: Inconsistency in work.
Distressed: Affected with or suffering from distress.
Recreation: The time spent on entertainment.
First priority: Something that is given first special attention in studies or work.
Progress: Advancement in studies or work.
Overlook: To fail to notice something important in studies.
Peers: A person of the same legal status such as friend, classmates etc.
Exemplary figure: Someone who is worth imitating, for example, students can follow their teachers.
A higher education program at college usually encompasses four year time period. It makes students mature, professional and well-groomed individuals. Some main purposes behind getting higher education include “enhancing understanding through the process of research and teaching” and “aiding in development of capabilities that fulfil the skill requirements at work.” Almost all the students who decide to take higher education have the above-mentioned ideas behind getting admission in higher education institutes. You wanted to get higher education because the people around you have never taken higher education and faced many difficulties in becoming successful in their specific fields and eventually, in their lives.
You could never have a luxurious life, but you had big dreams and your parents supported you to achieve them. It was the reason why you took your studies seriously and set an example for your siblings and others. After completing your school, you set certain goals for your education as goal gives a direction to your life. You observed how the people, who get higher education, are different from the people who never received it. It made your journey toward getting higher education much easier.
You remember the time when you gave your first test at the college. It did not go well. You were not expecting a low grade but you got one. After getting a bad grade, you tried to figure out the gaps, which made you score low grades. You consulted your teachers and took their advices seriously. Then, you realized that achieving a college degree requires a great effort. It is much different from school where the students are completely guided by their teachers and parents. Entering a college or university is an entirely different experience for a student as he relies on his own for everything. He has to make decisions without any assistance from parents or teachers.
Now you can sum up the tips for progressing in college life, as if students should invest time in group discussions and individual studies. They should build their social skills as well. Students can improve their grades by using different techniques for learning, taking notes, and highlighting important points can help a lot. Interactive learning is the most accepted method of memorizing things at college. Revision aids a lot in memorizing things. Making a schedule and learning effective research writing can be very beneficial for the student. In short, students should be able to take action-oriented initiatives to improve their learning capacities.