Research papers can be daunting undertakings: You’re being asked to acquire new knowledge and then present that knowledge in an intelligible format so that others can learn from your work. Moreover, conducting research is important work. The creation and dissemination of knowledge is what academia is built upon, after all.
It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that some students have a hard time writing good research papers. But the most common mistakes are easy fixes. More often than not, the difference comes down to the credibility of the sources being cited. In order to write a good research paper, you have to draw upon real facts and valid arguments. Your paper will be doomed if you consume only hearsay or conjecture – or if you do no research at all!
Nobody likes taking exams. But, unfortunately, exams are ubiquitous in college and so it’s important that students learn how to do well at them. Becoming an excellent exam-taker won’t make you a shoo-in for next Supreme Court justice or CEO of Apple, but it will help you to get good grades (nothing to be sniffed at).
Colleges would have a hard time functioning without exams. After all, there needs to be some way to measure how much students are learning. Exams are a useful way of assessing whether students have done the required reading, attended class, taken good notes, and gleaned some knowledge and understanding in the process.
Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of life is just “showing up.” Often, people misinterpret this advice to mean that simply being present is enough to succeed at most things. But what he really meant is that success only comes to those who commit to putting in the hard work; that if you want to achieve anything in life, then having the motivation to actually “do it” is going to be key.
This advice certainly applies to college. What makes a good student is not the meager commitment to enroll every semester, attend class, and sit through lectures. Rather, successful students are those who make the conscious decision to complete all of the many tasks that need to get done in order to excel. Simply put, there are those who do and there are those who don’t. And only “doers” have a chance of achieving great things.
What do good lecture notes look like?
If you don’t have a confident answer to this question, how can you be sure that you’re not wasting precious time in class? That you aren’t setting yourself up for failure when it comes to quizzes, exams, and writing assignments? Every student needs to have a system for taking and organizing their notes such that every hour spent in class truly “pays” for them.
Students today often want to use laptops to take notes during class instead of using a pen and paper. As a result, not enough of them learn to master the art of longhand note-taking. I think that this is a major problem – not because I’m old fashioned, but because I’m convinced that laptops in classrooms are severely detrimental to learning outcomes.
It’s no surprise why students want to use laptops. They think that they can type faster than they can write. They think that they might lose their notes if they just have paper copies of them. And, let’s face it, they like being able to check their email and social media accounts while in class.
Let me be clear: it’s for all of these reasons that laptops in classrooms are a terrible idea.