Which three strategies will you employ to be independent and motivated learner?

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What a great topic for a new semester! I might suggest some of the following:

  • Budget your time: Develop a means of setting aside time for each class you need to work on each day and then each assignment for that class. I always tell my students that if there is nothing to submit, they should always spend time reviewing material or preparing for the next class. To be a motivated and independent learner, never look at any day as an "off" day. Prepare yourself a little more each day so that you are always ready for the next class and next assignment.

  • Work hard and then reward: Put the phone away. Turn off the TV. Find out what really motivates you to work hard, and then give yourself little rewards along the way. Perhaps after every ten math problems, you will check social media for five minutes (do make sure to really limit your time, or it becomes counterproductive). Maybe after finishing all of your assignments, you treat yourself to coffee each day. Perhaps you finish half of your work and then go for a run with friends. Setting little goals that motivate you to stay on task and finish assignments helps you stay on track.

  • Study with friends: Whether you understand the material pretty well or really struggle, getting together with friends and working on new material together often helps put some energy in the grind of learning. I had several study groups in college, and in some, I was a leader. In others, I was the one needing more help. But with a light atmosphere and a feeling of we're-all-in-this-together, those study sessions were a great way to push me to work harder.

  • Ask for help when you need it: Assess your own understanding. Check to determine when you have gaps of information—those moments when you might think, I really have never learned whatever the teacher is currently assuming I fully understand already. And then ask for clarification so that you more fully understand the material. This could be through office hours in a one-on-one session or during class, but it's your responsibility to make sure you're fully understanding the material being presented.

  • Remember what the real goal is: If you can place your current learning situation in the context of your overall goals, it really helps to stay focused. What IS your real goal at the end of all of your education? Visualize it. See yourself succeeding at whatever goal you have set for yourself. And then look at the path that it will take to get there, one class and one assignment at a time. With each assignment you complete, you are one step closer to that ultimate vision you've created. Make it more tangible. Put quotes, photos, or graphic representations around your study area to remind you of your goal so that you are focused to stay on task to achieve it.
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