Canadian in Candia

October 21, 2009

Why the real world made me a better student

Filed under: school — Tags: , — Miriam @ 10:39 am

I’m the first to admit that I was not the best student in high school or college. I’ll admit that I’m still not the best student now. In a way high school and college were phases of life I had to complete to get from one point to the other in my quest to become a grown up. I was involved in sports, I spent time with friends, I did lots of other activities. School was just part of what I did.

I now feel like I did the minimum. I got decent grades, handed in what I had to hand in, but never really went out of my way to understand the material. At least not in subjects that didn’t fascinate me. I was terribly unorganized and generally didn’t get anything done until there was a pressing deadline. I did some really great work cramming out a 20 page paper, or teaching myself things I should have understood weeks before. I didn’t take it seriously.

Then I graduated, joined the real world. I didn’t want to become a rowing coach like many of my teammates did. I wanted to become the engineer I had trained 5 years to be. So I got a job in an office. I dealt with procedures and deadlines. I made money. And I wanted to learn more.

So I went back to grad school. I had a house, I had other responsibilities, so I decided to go back part time and work full time. The difference in my work ethic for school has changed so much.

Homework priorities

I take study time where ever I can find it. I do homework at lunch, I follow the online lectures in the morning before work. I prioritize what homework, lecture or reading needs to be done when. I stay home on weekends. I stress when I get behind.

I’m in school now because I want to be, not because I have to be, and it makes a huge difference. It also makes me realize that I’ve learned a lot by working full time. I’ve learned about prioritizing and scheduling, as well as asking for help when I don’t understand. Work also helps you understand what you want to be when you grow up. Do you want to be the boss, or the research scientist? So many of us do not really understand when we are fresh out of high school what our real goals are in life.

And by the way, I still get my best work done under pressure. It’s just that it comes naturally now.


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