The Savvy Student's Guide to Study Skills

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Introduction

Do you consider yourself to be a savvy student? Your academic career to-date may be impressive---good grades, fair study skills---but when push comes to shove, do you know how to write an effective college essay, to debate ideas with authority, or approach a problem with creativity? How about managing your time effectively while juggling your personal life and hectic school schedule?

Learning more about the essential academic and life skills discussed in our Savvy Student's Guide to Study Skills can be your ticket to success. Read on!

Ch. 1 Reading

The Savvy Student's Study Skills: ReadingYou might think it's a little silly to include a chapter on reading in a book on study skills for high school and college. After all, most people have been reading since before they started kindergarten — and not just words like “cat” and “ball”, but reading symbols, like what a red light means, or the logo of your favorite restaurant. Believe it or not, that's actually the biggest challenge with reading in high school and college — since it's something you've done since for¬ever, you take it for granted…Read more…

Ch. 2 Writing

Savvy Student's Study Skills: WritingThere's a close relationship between reading and writing, because the only reason you write something down is for someone to read it. That someone might be you (which is why we'll talk about note taking); it might be a teacher (so we'll talk about essays and research papers), or it might be a friend, company, or potential boss (we're talking emails here, and yes, there are do's and don'ts for email)—but the goal in writing is to put ideas together in a way that make sense to someone else when they read it. So, if reading comes last, writing comes first…Read more…

Ch. 3 Speaking

Savvy Student's Study Skills: SpeakingMost people don't pay very much attention to how they read, and they pay even less attention to how they speak, since speaking is something we do from birth. But if you stop and think about it, we're better speakers now than we were then, because we are better communicators now than we were then.And that's the problem with speaking—once we get most of what we need, we don't think about becoming any better at it, even though being better at it can help us, and help others…Read more…

Ch. 4 Listening

Savvy Student's Study Skills: ListeningWe already talked about listening as it relates to speaking. Since you really shouldn't start talking until someone else is finished speaking, it's important to listen at least long enough to make sure you are not interrupting someone else. In a perfect world, you'd actually listen to what the person has to say, but making sure you aren't talking over them would at least be a good start. Trouble is, we don't even do that…Read more…

Ch. 5 Debating Ideas

Savvy Student's Study Skills: Debating IdeasIt's time for a little history lesson. The first televised debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon was in black and white, and the sound quality wasn't great, but the debate was remarkable none the less. The amazing thing about the debate was that the opening remarks of both candidates were 8 minutes long. 8 minutes. That's long enough to make four Hot Pockets, or to watch a Beyonce video almost three times. Two people texting each other would be halfway through a complete conversation in 8 minutes—but in 1960, the two candidates for president were just getting started…Read more…

Ch. 6 Working in Groups

Savvy Student's Study Skills: Working in GroupsThere are a couple of very good reasons teachers break students into small groups, and they all have to do with learning. There's no official data to back this up, but anyone who's been teaching for a long time will tell you that, if they're lucky, a discussion that includes everyone in the class will involve 4 or 5 people at most. Half of the remaining students will be furiously taking notes on what's being said because they don't want to bother doing the reading, while the other half are sneaking messages on the phones the teacher told them to put away at the start of class…Read more…

Ch. 7 Memory

Savvy Student's Study Skills: MemoryOne of the best parts of the Harry Potter stories was the pensieve, the dish that looks like a large, flat birdbath where the user could store and later view memories. There is a device that's very much like a pensieve—a computer. Able to make astronomical calculations (literally) and to show us live events from throughout the globe, as well as memories from days gone by, computers can be far superior to the pensieve. Sure, we have to type or download our memories into the computer, rather than extract them directly from our brains or our tears, but the speed, content, and accessibility of computers has so changed our society, it's fair to ask the question, just what do we need to commit to memory, now that computers can remember everything for us, and bring it up on the screen in a matter of seconds?…Read more…

Ch. 8 Learning

Savvy Student's Study Skills: LearningStudents memorize all kinds of things—they learn all kinds of vocabulary, figure out how to work math equations, remember the names of all the Brontë sisters—but when it comes to remembering things, or applying them in the real world, well, that's a problem. At this point, some of you may now be remembering a Henry Ford quote from the chapter on Memory, where he has been quoted as saying that if a fact is in a book, it doesn't need to be in your head. That's great—except you should also remember that the chapter also said you still have to remember what book that fact is written in. More important, you'll also need to be able to figure out if that “fact” is true—and that requires learning…Read more…

Ch. 9 Creativity

Savvy Student's Study Skills: CreativityThe beauty of creativity is that if it's used the right way, it not only solves a problem, but it does so in a way that delights and inspires others, and encourages them to think creatively as well. Consider the success of the Broadway show Hamilton. It takes a pretty creative view of the world to decide to write a rap musical about the first Secretary of the US Treasury, and it takes even more creativity to do it so well that it becomes a universal hit. Hamilton's creativity has made us think a little differently, and live a little larger. But the benefits of creativity go beyond music and art. Creativity has led to innovations that make our lives easier, made us better students, and saved millions of lives. Any creative thinker can proudly claim they've made the world a better place to live when they bring their idea to life…Read more…

Ch. 10 Personal Well-Being

Savvy Student's Study Skills: Personal Well-beingEmotional Intelligence (EI) can be viewed as the set of tools used to make sure you're engaged in living, learning, and being with others in ways that are healthy and productive for both of you. Taken as a group, these skills have the potential to change the world; if all everyone did was engage in a little more Self-Awareness, the level of mindfulness in a typical high school or college would make learning at any institution more like their promotional videos. But if EI can be thought of as a set of tools, where do we get the raw materials EI hones and nurtures? How do we develop the feelings we have, the beliefs we hold, our view of our self and the world?…Read more…

Ch. 11 Self-Discipline

Savvy Student's Study Skills: Self-DisciplineA quick search for the background of self-discipline includes some familiar phrases, like self-control and Emotional Intelligence. But neither one of these quite captures what self-discipline is really all about. Self-control makes life sound like some kind of chemistry experiment, where all the elements are present for something bad to happen at any given moment. Emotional Intelligence gives us the tools to understand how we're feeling in any given situation, but being aware that a choice can be made is different from understanding which choice to make. It can be pretty hard to get past the idea that self-discipline just isn't a lot of fun, but this quote from the author Abraham Joshua Heschel puts a new twist on self-discipline: “Self-respect is the root of discipline. The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.”Read more…

Ch. 12 Time Management

Savvy Student's Study Skills: Time ManagementTalking about time management is a challenge for two reasons, and they both have to do with your parents. Until very recently in your life, your parents were your time management system. They woke you up, told you to get dressed, hurried you through breakfast to get to school on time, got you to your after-school events, told you when it was time to eat, told you when to study, and got you into bed. It's hard to perfect skills you haven't practiced, and since you're pretty new at time management, you might not be drawing on a lot of experience—especially if your parents don't really understand what your day is like.
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