If you’re one of the many lucky students to be beginning your new endeavor, you have probably heard many times over how different college education is from high school. Well, in case you need to hear it one more time – it’s very different. To save from an in-at-the-deep-end feeling, follow our tips to help you through your first semester at college.
Check the syllabus
Being prepared gives you more of a head start than you might think. Jumping into a whole new branch of education, a new experience, and new topics can be overwhelming, and it can be comforting to feel a little bit prepared and organized. Not only that, but you are giving your brain a good head start; showing up to class knowing what you will be learning allows you to get in the right head space.
Get ahead with reading
While you are still in a state of excitement over your shiny new books, read them! You may not remember everything you read, but you are slowly opening your mind to this new information. Make small notes on post-its and add them in here and there.
One of the biggest jolts you will experience as you make your way from a high school to a college education and beyond is how you are expected to think. While thousands of teenagers are currently spending their last summer at home, counting down the hours until they can leave the nest and make it on their own, few realize the work involved at college and then in the big world. No longer spoon-fed information and sources, you and you alone will be expected to collect and analyze information from your lectures, study them, evaluate them, then create links and form ideas from this. This is called critical thinking.
So how do you think like this?
Question things – everything! Don’t just accept what you are told as truth, and don’t be satiated with basic information. If you read or hear something, ask why. How was this information found? Who found it? Is it a fact? Are they biased? What does it prove? You will find yourself starting to think outside the box.
Tools for using this technique: Pick up a few tabloid newspapers and go through them. Tabloid papers are renowned for half-truths and fake sources, so it is a good way of putting your skills to work. Read a story and looks for parts you could question. Phrases like “Sources reveal”, “It seems that,” or “Rumor has it” are classic holes in storytelling.
What sources? Are they reliable? How does it seem, and to who? Where are these rumors coming from and is there any truth to them? After you have read the story, write down as many solid facts as you can glean, as well as your questions. What conclusions have you drawn?
We live in an age where we have access to more information than ever before. This, however, comes with its own problems, as our ability to remember, organize, and connect these masses of information is dwindling. Visual thinking is not a new process, but with today’s hectic lifestyle it is certainly becoming clear how efficient it can be. You may not be a visual learner or artist, but you certainly don’t need to be either to reap the benefits of visual thinking.
Generating and linking ideas
Visual thinking can help you discover links between your ideas, and even generate new ones with ease and speed. When there is too much information inside your head, it can be incredibly difficult to focus on just one at a time. Being able to map out and see your ideas in front of you means you can see each piece of information separately and together at the same time like you can on an actual map. You can then begin to bridge the gaps and connect ideas, as well as generate new ones with ease and speed.