Self-Help Tools: Career Choices

Academic Concerns

Make Sure Your Expectations Are Realistic

It is important to set aside enough time to prepare for each course. Don't expect to "cram" a term's worth of material into one night of studying. Research has shown that it is better to study for brief periods of time (30 minutes), taking short breaks in between (5 minutes), than to study for long, uninterrupted periods.

Make Sure You Truly Like Your Major

Many times we are pressured by family, the job market, or our culture into pursuing certain fields of study which do not fit our own unique personalities. It is difficult to do well in courses which we are not interested in. Take the time to choose a major which suits you.

Research the Various Professors Teaching Courses

You might be surprised at the differences which exist among professors teaching the same courses. Try to find one who's style and requirements fit yours.

Learn to Use the "Premack Principle"

The Premack Principle states that "given two behaviors which differ in their likelihood of occurrence, the less likely behavior can be reinforced by using the more likely behavior as a reward". In other words, reward yourself for studying by allowing yourself to engage in an activity you enjoy very much. This will help you develop your ability to delay gratification.

Find Someone to Study With who Has Good Study Skills

Set up specific days and times to meet. You don't necessarily have to be studying the same material, but it certainly is useful to quiz each other on common class notes and/or readings.

Don't Be Held Back by a Poor Academic Record

Just because you have performed poorly in the past does not mean that you are incapable of doing good work. Try to identify and understand the academic, social, and psychological factors that led to your difficulties.

Learn How to Learn

Quite often it is easy to learn things we are interested in or motivated by. However, the task of learning gets more complex when we are required to learn what someone else believes is important. Don't make your education a power struggle between you and your professors. A good rule of thumb is to focus your studying on what the instructor stressed in class. If they didn't think it was important, they wouldn't spend so much time and energy presenting it!