Working hard, being on time, and going the extra mile with your studies, are all important disciplines of being a successful student. But, did you know that learning takes flight beyond the classroom? Connection, passion, curiosity, and service, are critical components to assimilating knowledge. The deeper, more meaningful gains are not measured in a classroom, but are available to any student who wants his education to make a greater impact in his life.
Personally Connect with your Subject
“Any fact becomes important when it’s connected to another.”
~Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum
Use your own experiences as a jumping-off point for asking questions in class and actively pursue concepts taught in your class time. If you are having trouble grasping a subject, or if you find yourself bored, find a way to integrate it into your own life! Why not do something fun with it! For example, if you are taking a statistics class, why not find out how much each of your friends, who live in town, paid for a haircut, and then calculate the average haircut cost in the area? Or, if you are taking an environmental class, why not go and volunteer to help clean up the beach or assist at the local recycling center? When you make your studies a part of your life, your classes come alive in a real way!
Don’t Pursue A’s- Find your Passion!
“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.”~ Malcolm Gladwell
Grades matter, but only to a point. Put it into perspective. There are many people who receive top grades who aren’t extremely creative, who cannot find other people interesting, be open-minded, or love the process of learning. Keep in mind that after college, no one ever asks you what your grades were. Grades become irrelevant. Ambition and innovation trump grades every time!
Ask Big Questions
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
Success in our studies has less to do with having the right answers as it does having the right questions, especially when we ask bigger questions. The bigger questions are the open ended questions which are not easily answered. For example, “Why do I exist?” or “Why do we have life, and what is its nature? And given that life exists, what’s the nature of intelligence?” They are questions where there is no place to look it up and no simple answers. These are the questions that stretch your brain, and give you the ability to “consider” the various possibilities, which always helps you assimilate new knowledge and information.
Find a way to Contribute
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’
~ Mother Teresa
Helping others is one of those simple pleasures in life, and one of the biggest benefits you’ll ever find in passing your knowledge to others is that you will actually continue to learn new things! Be a life-long learner! Make it real!