Friday, 17 June 2011

Guest post 3: You have to be taught how to study by Jewels

In the past few weeks I haven't been around here as much as I would have liked because I have to study for my exams. I also don't have time for commenting and reading your posts and I hope you understand. My last exam is on the 8th of July and I'll be back then. I feel really bad for neglecting your blogs and also for neglecting my own blog. That's why I asked you all to write guest posts for me about studying/learning and some of you kindly helped me out. 

I already got back results for three exams and I'm very happy to say that I was quite successful; for one I got an 8, for another 8/9 and 10 for the third one. It's good to know that my blogging abstinence is paying off.

Today’s guest is the lovely Jewels, whose writings you can find here and here.

"Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance." 
Will Durant (1885-1981) U.S. author and historian

I was that girl in school, that girl that got good grades without studying. I never learned how to study, as most kids did. I never learned how to take proper notes, highlight important passages, or make note cards. I will not apologize for being semi-brilliant. I always did well in subjects that I was interested in. Subjects I didn’t care for well those I really didn’t care how I did in anyway.

All through high school I’d have cried at the thought of bringing home anything lower than a B, unless it was in Math, in which case I was and still am, hopeless. In college I breezed through, charming teachers into good grades. I thrived on essays, oral presentations, and multiple choice questions. If you gave me an opportunity to explain why my answer was the correct one…then watch out. I could have the strictest professor tilting their head in thought, eyes darting side to side, and then eventually the nod. I am a believer in the theory, “If you say it with enough conviction people will believe you.” It was a theory that helped me through many a class, test, and out of a lot of jams.

You must be wondering then if I’m smart at all or just a really good bull shit artist who is adept at looking cute and unassuming to get what they want. Well, I ask you, wouldn’t it take somebody really smart to realize and then capitalize on this ability? ;) The truth is that I am very smart. When I put my mind to a task in school, a project, a paper, or a major (I had a couple) then nothing would stop me from excelling. That is until I found alcohol.

You don’t need to know about my downward spiral into drinking…it wasn’t pretty but it sure as shit was fun! *I am not advocating binge drinking…but when you go to an “Art for Kids” class drunk…oh it’s fun!* The end result was a GPA lower than any I’d ever had (think in the low 2’s) and I was NOT alright with it. I was determined to graduate with a 3.5 or above and I only had 2 years to do this in. For those of you who don’t understand GPA’s it’s all averages and numbers and I think I already said I’m not great at math…suffice it to say that it was not going to be easy. It meant I was going to have to…gasp…study!

I quickly discovered that you have to be taught how to study. How to decide what is relevant and what isn’t, how to actively listen and take notes, how to make charts, note cards, outlines, and that I had never learned these things! Teaching yourself how to study is not an easy thing to do. I remember crying, frustrated that my efforts weren’t paying off when it came time to see the grades. Turns out it is hard work when you can’t just float through classes. For the first time in my life my easy to come by B’s weren’t going to cut it; I had to ace every class to get that GPA up.

There were many tear filled all nighters as I struggled to understand concepts that were foreign to me. I never had a problem in my classes that were related to my major, though they required extra work they were never overly difficult to me because I was invested and interested in them; even dissecting a brain and psychology research statistics (these were NOT fun classes) were tolerable. It was the requisites, the Spanish, History, Math, Religion classes that often left me wanting to jump from the nearest roof.

I know that I was supposed to be writing about a study story but they are all kind of a blur to me. I suppose this is more the anti-study story. I am blessed that things come pretty naturally to me. I didn’t have to study much in high school or college. I did however work my butt off all the same. I am proud to say that I am a member of Psi Chi, the Psychology Honors Society, which means I had a 3.5 or above in all classes regarding psychology (a 3.8 actually). I graduated with an accumulative GPA of 3.4. It wasn’t the 3.5 or above that I was hoping for but I am still pretty proud of it and the progress I made bringing it up.

"The result of the educative process is capacity for further education."
John Dewey 
(1859-1952) U.S. philosopher and educator

If I had the money I would still be in school. I’d love to go for my Masters and maybe even a Doctorate. I love school, love learning, love writing papers even and there are just so many subjects that fascinate me that I would like to know more about. That being said there are times when I read blogs, tweets, or facebook status updates and see how stressed people are about their classes and think to myself, “Are you sure about that, Jewels?” To anyone who is out there bettering themselves through education, congratulations and keep up the great work! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look up with pride at that college degree hanging on my wall…I promise you it is worth it.


  1. I also coasted through school and had to teach myself to study. I'll confess I still took, and take, short cuts, even now. I love learning new things but I rarely give it the time it deserves. Even studying for my degree is slotted in around a full time job and a busy life. My study skills are there, I just don't use them all that often.

    Congratulations on buckling down and working that GPA though. That takes guts.

    Congratulations also to you, Starlight. Sounds like things are going well.

  2. this is really inspiring Jewels. At school I felt the same way as you said. I never really cared to study when I was in grade school and high school. I wouldn't even read my textbooks and end up getting the highest (even perfect)score in the class. And i took pride that i was the youngest among my classmates. Studying was not even encouraged at home. My parents were confident I had the brains. But College was a different story. It didn't help that I wasn't passionate about my course. But I was challenged and then I learned to really study, painfully. Like Jewels, I would love to go back to school and to finally take the course I really want.

    woah i got carried away! lol

    p.s. Starlight, congrats on acing your exams. your abstinence really did pay off. and don't worry, we understand you have to set your priorities (you really should!)so proud of you!::)

  3. Starlight-Congrats on your grades! That is fantastic. Thank you again for having me here to guest post. I had a blast going back and remembering me and studying. It may have been hard at the time but it is one of the things I am proudest of.

    Thanks so much guys for taking the time to read my guest post and for leaving such lovely comments. :)

    Light208-I think every smart person takes short cuts...we're smart and they are there...why wouldn't we!

    Maria-Thanks so much. I too was the youngest in my grade and even started college at 17. I took pride in just "getting it" and never realized how difficult school would be outside of high school! What a shocker!

  4. It's like we went through the same life in school. Thanks for this.

  5. I look at Almost's Nieces and revel in their ability to just go to school. But, the oldest one is 21 and wishes everyday she could just go to school and learn without worring about two jobs to pay for it all.

    And then there's Bonus Brother who will be spending more than his four years in high school if he doesn't get his act together.


    The lesson? Hind sight is 20/20. As for me, school also came easy, but my price is that I didn't enjoy it fully while I could.

  6. Firstly, Starlight, Congratulations! We are really really proud of you...

    And Jewels, when you spoke about how you scored easily in school, I could relate to that coz I used to avoid studying if I could, while in school...I knew I had the brains, and so was a little vain perhaps...I was always the above average category...and I was happy with that though I knew that if I tried, I could do better than that...College saw me putting in a lot of hard work, and it paid off...right now, though, my studies is kind of stranded due to a few personal obligations...It is sad, but I really cannot do anything about it!

  7. Thank you for all your lovely comments. I'm glad that we all liked what Jewels wrote.

  8. Rita-it doesn't come as a shock to me that you are naturally smart.

    Julianna-I think it is hard to appreciate what you have when you have it...much easier to realize those thing sin hindsight. I am glad that I lived in the moment and enjoyed college...just not as thrilled that it made my grades suffer.

    Caterpillar-I think it was almost worse to be able to float through high school because when you get to college it is almost too late to really learn how to study and retain information. Glad that you found a way to make it work and I hope that things work out for you and you are able to get back to your studies.