Reflections of a mature student: How to read beyond your level

First class back and we are given a pile of reading to do, for me is not a problem I enjoy this side of academia, it can get overwhelming when given a long list of articles and books to read. DON’T STRESS, I know it is patronizing and easy to say (write?). Your first class always has to go like that in college. You are told this is what we the lecturer expect from you the student, be it an essay, an exam, or whatever hoops they want their students to jump through. And it can be intimidating. A little hint: if it is an essay your lecturer want from you, then you don’t have to read everything they give, just what you need for your essay. Of course what is provided helps to shape your thoughts and ideas about the subject.

Have the right mindset:

This isn’t school anymore it is expected that you are interested in what you are doing, and I know that isn’t the case for everyone, if you are stuck doing something you really are not interested in changing your mindset and approach is more important for you. Unfortunately, what you are going to read is going to be tested on in some form or another and that in itself can ruin the enriching experience of reading to learn rather than reading to pass a test, you should be reading for yourself and not for the teacher.

Have the right mind set.

When reading articles:

Read the intro/abstract while this might sound like a pain to do, it is important to do. The intros have loads of interesting stuff about who the work ended up influencing, and other bits that often stick with you, they also give an understanding of the book as well. On reading the abstract with academic journals is simple: the purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects.  Abstracts also include the key terms, which is important to understand the “technical” crux of the information found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Both the intros and abstracts develop a foundation for the readers to work.

Read the intros and abstracts they are helpful for developing the foundation to what you are about to read.

Ruin it for yourself:

Get a feel for what you are reading before you read it, you can read reviews, summary’s or I like to read what people critiqued about the reader and the work. Having an understanding of what you are about to read allows you to ask yourself questions while you read it, this allows for active reading rather than passive reading. You want to be actively reading because simply reading and re-reading the material isn’t an effective way to understand and learn.  You shouldn’t be wasting your time figuring out what the author is trying to say. Instead, your energy needs to be spent on figuring out if he’s right and how you can benefit from it.

There are no spoilers in learning, actively engage in the readings

These are three easy things you can do to level up your reading. I’ll have more tips on reading and leveling up soon.

Categories: Rob's notes

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