Friday, June 12, 2015

Recommended Reads for High-Level Students

Lots of people mistakenly think that success in difficult high school, college, or graduate-level courses is directly related to a student’s intelligence. Others believe it’s all about motivation. Smart, driven young people, the myth goes, are bound to do well, and if a student struggles it must be because she isn’t bright enough or lacks the will power to put in the time and effort.

These misconceptions can be very damaging to students. At The Yellin Center, we frequently work with students who blow us away with their intelligence, yet still struggle in school. More often than not, these sharp young people simply need to learn strategies to help them manage difficult coursework. Many times the strategies are not even especially complicated; they’re simply ways to conceptualize important relationships in curriculum, track their schedule, or organize ideas that a student hasn’t tried before.

Ambitious students who want ideas for new strategies that will help them learn more efficiently and produce high-quality work reliably will find two books tremendously useful: On Course by Skip Downing and Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis. Although neither book is inexpensive, both are filled with the kinds of tricks that the curve-wrecking students are already using, often without even realizing it.

On Course starts with a self-assessment tool that students can use to identify behaviors and beliefs that they wish to change. Part philosophy treatise, part bag of tricks, the book helps students understand what causes tendencies they don’t like and guides them through processes for adjusting their habits. On Course is also full of practical tips for taking good notes, improving reading comprehension, studying effectively, and more.

Students should try to get a new, hard copy of Becoming a Master Student, if possible, because many exercises in the book will require them to write on its pages. Like On Course, Becoming a Master Student helps young people to make discoveries about themselves and their habits, since understanding a problem is a critical first step to fixing it. In addition to lots of effective, specific strategies for helping students succeed academically, the newest edition provides information about cutting-edge technologies that make learning, organization, and time management feel easier.

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