Picking up from the previous installation of the UOL Student’s Guide to First Class Honours, let’s talk about how I chose the further units to study for right after my exams.
I thought I should choose my further units based on what I WANTED to learn instead of what I COULD learn because it would motivate me to study harder. Interesting stuff always excites people. However, it was challenging to do that because you have no idea what each unit is about. You had to spend at least half an hour researching each unit before you can make an “informed” decision. That was too much time and it would just lead to more procrastination anyway.
After talking to lots of people that already graduated from school, I decided to choose a unit that would teach me how to learn.
Here are 3 reasons why that’s important:
1. Most of what you learn in school is not going to help you in life
Unless you become an academia, for example a teacher or a researcher, that statement is absolutely true. Try asking your friends that have been out in the workforce for at least a year whether they use what they learn in school. They’ll either say “No way!” or hesitate for a while and go “Well, yea… a little bit, I guess…”
Learning to learn helps us acquire new and relevant skills. When we go out into the workforce, these skills eventually determine our value as employees/entrepreneurs. It is evident that people who learn faster produce more results, which mean higher pay and faster promotions. So, what’s the point of going to school? Education is the best opportunity to learn how to learn because the stuff they teach us at UOL is actually pretty damn tough.
With that, I made my mind on the units pretty easily. I also chose a unit that was dubbed the most difficult unit in UOL – Elements of Econometrics. It required students to pass statistics 1 but I was exempted from it. The only thing I knew about statistics was mode, mean, and medium. Boy, it was going to be a hell of a ride.
2. Your grades are a gauge of aptitude and attitude for employers
During job interviews, employers are identifying how potential employees can create value for the company and/or its customers. However, most fresh graduates have little to no professional experience, which makes it really hard for employers to identify business value in them. When graduates say that they have this skill or that skill but no prior experience to back that up, employers usually take that with a pinch of salt. The things you do in your CCA are really different from the working world.
The only thing employers can look at as a proof of your legitimacy is your grades! If you say that you are driven and passionate in your resume, then your grades should be able to back that up.
Professionals know that intelligence and a positive attitude produce results. Having good grades probably means having intelligence and a positive attitude. And what’s why grades are a gauge of aptitude and attitude. Learn to learn.
3. Google might become Skynet
Okay, I’m just kidding but computers are replacing human employees at an increasing rate. (Skynet is a computer system in the Terminator movies that tries to take over the world and destroy humanity.)
Jobs that require people to take instructions and execute them without doing some form of analysis or decision making are being replaced by computer programs. So, if you are unable to analyse and make decisions, you’re going to be obsolete. The ability to analyse and make decisions come from learning to learn – are you able to take in vast amount of information, make useful conclusions, and create output?
Machines are fast in calculating stuff but their processes are not perfect because they’re man-made. When you have the ability to learn, you will not only be able to understand how machines work and control processes but you will also be able to identify what can be improved in the processes, which makes you a valuable asset to the company.
Today, there are even computer programs that can learn how to learn. It’s a concept called machine learning. So, learn to learn before it’s too late.
So, here are 3 ways to learn how to learn:
1. Keep asking why
In the second installation of the UOL Students’ Guide to First Class Honours, I talked about how it’s better to deeply understand the mechanics of a few theories or concepts than to briefly remember the properties of many theories or concepts.
The best way to understand the mechanics is to keep asking why and don’t take things at face value. If the lecture says that the utility curve should always move towards the top right hand corner of the graph, ask why. If he/she then says that because it has to be tangent to the budget line, ask why again. If he/she then says that because the consumer has to maximize utility, ask why again. In this way, you will know the exact cause and effect chain that is going to help you deal with multiple exam scenarios. By the way, the answer to the utility curve thing is rationality. No lecturer to ask? Google it.
2. Be skeptical
Don’t take what your lecturers or friends say at face value. Always stop and think whether what they say make sense. You don’t have to find evidence to support it yet. You just have to rationalize with yourself and determine whether what they say make any sense at all.
3. Apply the stuff that you’ve learned
Start doing exam papers early so that you can apply the knowledge that you’ve acquired from your lectures or textbooks. This achieves 2 things – Reinforce whatever you’ve learned and determine whether you’ve really learned how to learn.
Oh, by the way, learning to learn really works. Almost scored 80 for EOE.