During your studies, you are going to have to make hard decisions. Most university programmes do not educate you for a single profession. It is often the choices you make during your studies that shapes your education, and sets the direction for your professional career. Your interests may change several times during the course of your studies, so it is important that you take time to reflect on what is important to you.
To plan the course of your study in the best way possible, you want to:
- Engage yourself in your curriculum and achieve academic insight.
- Find out how you work the best.
- Set goals for yourself.
Try the exercise “What is important for your student life?” The exercise may invoke useful considerations for you about your studies.
As a student, you have to learn the background, theories, tools, and methods of your study, and learn how to apply them. If you become well acquainted with the curriculum for your programme, you will get an essential knowledge of what is expected of you academically.
The academic requirements are described as learning goals, which cover both a content and a presentation aspect. The content aspect often expresses criteria in relation to knowledge, skills and competences:
- Knowledge consists of familiarity to the background, schools, theories, tools, and methods of the study
- Skills are concerning the ability to apply the study’s tools and methods to analyse core objects of your study.
- Competences are concerning the ability to design, control, complete, and evaluate a process.
Because the learning goals comprise the assessment criteria of the individual exams, it is crucial that you have read them. In addition, the curriculum states which test forms you will encounter (Oral exam, written exam, etc.), and which assessments are used in your exams (7-point grading scale, passed/not passed, etc.).
An important requisite for planning your study is knowing how you work best. Perhaps the following questions can help you get started. See also “Manage your time” in the menu to your right.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What time of day do I usually perform at my best? If you read or write more focused during the morning, you may want to schedule your studies regularly to this time of day.
- Do I read/write best when I am alone or in the company of others?
- Do I read/write best when I am at home or some place else, such as the library?
- How long can I keep my focus? If you can read heavy academic material for only 30 minutes at a time, you should naturally not plan to read 300 pages in one sitting.
- Am I good at motivating myself, or do I need to make some arrangements with other students to get started?
- Do I start reading/writing, if I have 5 - 10 minutes available? Or if I have 20 minutes? Or do I need at least half an hour? Why?
- How many hours of sleep do I need?
- How many hours will/can I use on my studies daily/weekly/monthly?
- How many hours will/can I use on my leisure activities daily/weekly/monthly? (Friends, sport, family, etc.)
- How do I typically procrastinate?
Most people cannot read and be fully concentrated for more than an hour, so do not push yourself to read several hours in a row. Make sure to comply with the agreements you made with yourself. Some students find it easier to read for a predefined amount of time whereas others find it easier to read a predefined number of pages. Use 15 minutes every day to evaluate your effort, so you know where to start the next day.
During your studies, you will probably fint that many things will compete for your time. It can be specific areas of your study, preparing for exams, or social activities. Make a habit of setting goals for yourself, to make your time management easier, and enjoy less stress by achieving a better balance in your student life.
Take some time to consider what your own goals with the study is.
It is important that your goals are:
- Precisely formulated, so you can evaluate when you have achieved them.
- Equally ambitious and attractive, and more importantly, suitable to you, so you want to follow them.
- Realistic and time framed. If you are determined to follow your goals, they will control your actions. Make sure to take note of everything in your calendar, make an overview of your day, follow your plans and goals, and revise everything regularly
Here are some examples of goals:
- I want to say something in each lesson. I will prepare a question at home for each lesson that I find interesting, and speak up in class.
- I want to get a grade of seven or higher in science studies.
- I want to read literature that is not part of my curriculum, to expand my academic horizon.
- I want to use half an hour each day on sport or culture.
Your goals will typically change from semester to semester.
Write down your goals and thoughts
You need to write your goals somewhere. Use your computer, your phone, or an old fashioned notebook, where you also note other things from your study. Try writing down how you experience the lessons, what you find difficult and easy, or whatever thoughts that just come to mind. You can also make notes of your own successes, and reflections on which habits you have, which habits you would like to change, etc. You will most likely find that such notes will be very useful and valuable to you over the course of your education.