Q. WHY IS UNIVERSITY STUDIES MORE CHALLENGING?
(I wrote this in response to a query that was sent me by a student studying in one of our universities.)
THE QUERY: Someone asked me to advise him as to why was it that even though he found studies at the secondary level quite easy, he was usually behind in his university studies – as in completing assignments and revising for exams.
THIS IS MY RESPONSE: The first thing that comes to mind is this: University study is different from studies in high school.
Each subject studied in university requires that a student puts in an hour or more each day to review lecture/tutorial notes (apart from writing essays/completing projects).
It is possible that in university you also sit in hour-long lectures/tutorials, unlike the 40/50-minute lessons that you had in high school.
Photo: Entrance to UPNG. Life there can be challenging there.
PUT IN MORE TIME TO REVIEW WORK
Good tutors advise students at university to spend at least one hour each night to assimilate/comprehend what they are taught in class.
In high school a lot of people could get by with spending a mere 10 minutes flipping through notes and falling back on their “natural brilliance” to come out tops at the end of a term/year.
This will not work at the university level.
A few years ago, I came across a free PDF file written by Dr Stephen Siklos of Cambridge University.
In less than 20 pages, Dr Siklos informed his first-year Maths students that “studying Maths at university is very different” from studying it at secondary level.
From experience, he knew that many who were brilliant at the secondary level often found university work difficult.
CUT DOWN ON TIME-WASTING ACTIVITIES
Check also that you do not spend too much time telling stories or engaging yourself in activities that may take up time that you should be putting into your studies.
DEVELOP OTHER SKILLS: WRITING SKILLS
In Law or Humanities (e.g. Literature), and a few other courses, writing is an important skill. The person who has developed his/her writing skills and “enjoys” writing is a few steps ahead of the others.
(When I studied Science, I did not write much. But when I studied Education, we had to write a lot of essays and term papers.)
In Science, students must learn to write good practical reports for a course (e.g. Physics, Chemistry or Biology), about once a week.
DEVELOP OTHER SKILLS: SUMMARISING NOTES
This is another important skill in some subjects. Summarising chunks of information (from text books/lecture notes) quickly into comprehensible bits that you can remember and use in your writing, as well as in debates. It is a skill you must also develop.
Basically, the point is: Put in more time into your work than before.
You know, there are many brilliant people in high school who never completed their diplomas/degrees.
They thought the habits/skills they possessed in high school were sufficient – but they were wrong.
One of my friends, who is now a senior surgeon, said “the people who complete their medical degrees” are not naturally brilliant.
He said there was one thing they did that many others did not do and that is “they knew how to get their work done”.
It is a matter more of “habits” than of “intelligence”.
May you learn from that also.
Bon chance (Good luck)!