One significant change between high school and postsecondary education and one that you might not expect is study methodology.
Postsecondary education is different than high school in a number of ways. You have more autonomy as a student, there are many new people you'll meet, and the knowledge that you learn will be needed to obtain the nursing, pharmacy technician or healthcare information technology job you want.
One significant change
between high school and postsecondary education and one that you might not expect is study methodology. Many people remember what it's like to cram before a high school exam: You do your best to memorize chunks of terms or formulas the night before the test. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't always work as well in higher education with the reason being that knowledge and learning often serve a different purpose. You're not tasked with just reciting rote material but to also apply it to real life.
Dartmouth College1 gave students a rundown on study tips for higher education, and some of the advice is extremely simple such as using daylight hours to ensure wakefulness. One of the best tips advises students to “study actively.”
What is active study? Active study is a term that gets used a lot in postsecondary education whether it's in medical school, nursing college or a medical coding program. The basic concept behind it is to become an active rather than passive learner. You make decisions about the material. The University of California, San Diego2 suggested students ask themselves these questions about their class material:
- How is this part organized?
- Where does this fit into the “big picture”?
- What is the precise definition of this term?
- Where have I seen this in an earlier lecture?
These questions force a student to think outside of simply reviewing classroom notes. One of elemental way to become an active studier is to put down the highlighter and rewrite and reorganize your notes every time you go over them.
Be a doer The reason why it's important to physically write out information or reorganize it is simple: As the Dartmouth guide to active study noted, you remember about 10 percent of what you read, about 20 percent of what you hear, 30 percent of what you see, 50 percent of what you hear and see together, 70 percent of what you say, and 90 percent of what you do. 3
This is also probably true for every job you've ever held. Before actually doing it, aspects of the position probably seemed difficult, but once you actively engaged in the position, it became second nature. You may not be in the healthcare career you want yet, but by engaging more directly with your classroom information, you can be better prepared when it comes time to gaining some real-world experience.
Be organized Rewriting general notes may not be enough – you also need to know how to organize them around what active study calls the “the big picture.” Facilitate easier, contextual learning by creating flowcharts, study cards or slide shows that give the wealth of information a framework. Diagrams and charts are useful for more passive study down the road, but they're main benefit is in creating them. As you do so, you're actively learning and putting to use classroom information.
Memorization is still key to active study but it may not be as rote as it might have been in high school. You can even use mnemonic tricks if you find those helpful. One example is using a mnemonic to memorize the spinal nerves! Just remember that memorizing information doesn't mean you may fully understand it and unlike high school, graduating through postsecondary education isn't about circling the right answer or filling in the blank; it's about applying information to complex situations, as the UC San Diego active study guide4 noted.
Apply yourself There are two levels of applying learned information. The first is through basic tests and quizzes you can give yourself. These are the same as the homework you've been doing for years by taking classroom concepts and proving you can utilize them.
The next level, however, is more intensive, and tends to be specific to higher education. In the case of nursing school, it may require applying knowledge to clinical situations. Unlike fill-in-the-blank questions, these situations may not have a single set answer, and there could be multiple steps required. This is the epitome of doing as opposed to passively absorbing.
There are a number of active study techniques out there. Try the ones that work best for you and make them a part of your education moving forward.
3 http://www.dartmouth.edu/~acskills/success/study.html (Handout – How to Study Actively)