College and university life can provide many challenges for students, and it’s always good to have someone around who can give students the hints and effective tips that help them get the most out of their study time and their school years. In fact, the advice that Stefan Knapen provides at his website StudySuccessful.com can be applied to many situations and to people of all ages. After all, learning starts immediately and is a never-ending process! Check out Stefan’s site for answers to your questions about study habits, personal development, modern technology, and more.
7SR: You moved quickly through your university years and are now attending medical school in your early 20s. You must be incredibly busy! How do you fit everything into your schedule?
Haha, yeah things are going pretty fast. Well, what I did in my first couple of years was focussing on setting up a system. What kind of schedule should I use, how much work can I take on, and experimenting with different studying techniques. Probably one of the most interesting concepts I learned was the ‘Parkinson’s Law’, which teaches us that work expands with the amount of time you give it. So by taking up a lot of work, you won’t have a lot of time left to give to it. This results in the need to be highly effective in that work.
Take preparing a presentation for example. I could work hours on creating the perfect powerpoint, preparing all the jokes and practicing the presentation a couple of times beforehand. Now, as I simply did not have that time I needed to find the input which yields the highest results. So I focus on the story, I focus on the core principle. The powerpoint lay-out is not a priority at that point. This is also why starting the night before usually works out ‘fine’ (although it is for stress-reasons definitely not recommended!)
7SR: Here at 7 Speed Reading we encourage students to learn to speed read so that they can get through their research and study projects more quickly. Is this something that you’ve found to be helpful?
In med school I have to read a lot. In keeping up my blog I have to read probably even more. So learning the principles of speed reading helped me definitely. I don’t recommend to always speed read, but if it is a low-density text and there are only a couple of principles to get out of it, speed read your way through it and memorise the concepts later.
7SR: You wrote a free guide on how to build a personal website. Why is it important for people to have an online presence?
First of all: in this day and age it’s really simple. If you don’t own your own domain name somebody else will soon enough.
Second: Anybody who will ever have something to do with you will Google you. Being aware of your online presence and working on it as well can give you easily the ownership of the top 5 results in Google. Now, what do you want your future employer to find when he Googles you. Your own personal website, where your CV is clearly outlined and links to your portfolio? Or that picture where your roommate throws beer over you at that frat party on Facebook?
The free guide is a simple step-by-step instruction on how to create your own personal website. Check it out at StudySuccessful: http://studysuccessful.com/blog-as-student/
7SR: Good study habits are important for success in school, and can be applied even in a person’s later professional life. What are some of the study habits you encourage people to develop?
The best study habit would probably be finding out how you work as a person. Do you learn the most from lectures or from books? Do you like to read text or look at pictures? Do you study better in the morning or in the evening? In your first years these are core concepts to figure out. Find out where you are good at and use that.
7SR: What are three things you would recommend to someone who is starting their first year at university?
Again. Find out how you work. What is your way to do things. Together with that: also find out how social aspects of the University life fit into that, because they have to fit in there. This is the best time to meet new people, to make new connections. Use that. Say yes, become busy and find out how you can flourish!