Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting Straight A's

Getting Straight A's
While this story may be a little bit of a deviation from my regular blog postings, I felt it was important to share.  In many ways, I think it may help others and so in that reference frame, this blog post is keeping in the tradition of a purpose of helping others.  It is a personal struggle that I went through many years ago and as I begin to consider graduate school in my future, this subject came up with a friend of mine who teaches at a university.

Growing up, I did struggle with math and I found ways to compensate or overcome those obstacles.  Yet, math was never easy for me.  I took the required classes I had to in this subject and then moved on to other things that I enjoyed more.  Throughout high school, I did fairly well, graduating tenth in my class.  In many respects, I could have done better, but since high school was not a challenge to me, I just got by in my classes.  Unfortunately as a result, I never learned how to properly and efficiently study and learn from classwork.

This finally caught up with me after I enrolled in a university and was well into my time in college.  I had been getting by but not necessarily to the best of my ability.  It was at that point that the difficult classes started and I became overwhelmed.  I struggled day after day, trying to learn and retain the information from class. 

As my grades began to spiral out of control, I received a letter from the university.  In this letter, I was told in no uncertain terms that either I improve my grades quickly or I would not be able to continue my course of study.  It was like a ton of bricks hitting me all at once.  I needed my financial aid in order to continue and without that, my dream of graduating from college would not happen.

Somehow I came across a book, Getting Straight A's, and this book changed my life!  During the semester break, I read the book.  While much of it didn't sound too far fetched, I decided to try the steps that they outlined in the book.  I figured at that point, what do I have to lose?   

In a nutshell, this is what I did.  Before my classes, I would make sure I read any reading material that was going to be covered that day in class.  I made sure that I did not skip any classes and showed up every time there was a lecture.  While I didn't skip many classes, I knew that if I was going to improve my grades, I needed to show up.  Next, I went and bought a tape recorder so I could record the entire class.  While in class, I would take notes just as I normally would, but this time I had the recorder taping everything.  It was amazing how many classmates wanted my recorded notes after I started doing this.

Once I got out of class, I would try to play back the recorded tape and transcribe my notes as quickly as I could.  Most of the time, this took place within the same day or the next day at the latest.  The fresher it was in my mind, the more I would retain.  As I listened to the class played back on the recorder, I transcribed my notes which helped me retain more than what I had in class.

The next day, I would go back and study my notes, giving a little more time and emphasis to the information that had been presented.  By this time, my notes were becoming much more familiar.  Hours before the next class, I would glance through my notes from the previous class trying to refresh my mind as to what had been talked about and once again retaining more of my notes.

As I found out, by the time I got to the point of studying for an exam, most of what I needed to know was already being absorbed into my mind.  There was little that I needed to do to prepare for the exam because it had almost become a part of my knowledge base and so studying and preparing was much easier.  The more I did these things, the more I could follow along in class.  Overall, I began to learn at a much more efficient rate that I could easily grasp.

Yes, it did take some hours to do this, but in the end it paid off.  I went from almost being kicked out of school, to getting A's and B's.  My GPA improved dramatically and I began to enjoy college much more than when I was spiraling downhill.  In fact, I tried this same method on a Graduate level statistics class and I got an A in that class.  Later on, I went to massage school and ended up with an overall grade of 93%.

These methods do work that are discussed in the book, Getting Straight A's!  Most of us were never taught how to study.  We are thrown into the school system and the ones that can figure it out, survive and do well, while the others fall by the wayside.  Even if you did well in high school, college is a much different experience.  I would urge anyone wanting to improve their grades and make their study time more efficient, to get this book and read it.  It changed my life and helped me so much.  I highly recommend it and if you are struggling like I was, you'll start to enjoy classes once again and you won't be as scared of exams either!

Blog Post And Images (c) 1/6/13 by Don Shetterly

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