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A Memoir on Studying in
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Contemporary Colleges
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1

Bilal Bugaje

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

CONTENTS
Section
1.0

Page

Introduction.......................................................................................................................................... 3

1.1

Dear Reader....................................................................................................................................................................... 3

1.2

Studying and Reading .................................................................................................................................................. 5

1.3

University Ranking ........................................................................................................................................................ 6

2.0

Issue 1: Interest ................................................................................................................................... 7

2.1

Interest in Versus in Interest ................................................................................................................................... 7

2.2

Interest in Field of Study ............................................................................................................................................ 7

2.3

Post High School Exams .............................................................................................................................................. 8

2.3.1

Scenario One ............................................................................................................................................................. 9

2.3.2

Scenario Two ............................................................................................................................................................ 9

2.4

The prospective Student.......................................................................................................................................... 10

2.4.1

Criteria to Identifying Interest ..................................................................................................................... 10

2.4.2 Rejection

or Redirection.................................................................................................................................. 11

2.5 The Enrolled

Student ................................................................................................................................................. 11

3.0

Issue 2: Reading before Class .........................................................................................................13

4.0

Issue 3: Being on Time ..................................................................................................................... 15

5.0

Issue 4: Prerequisite Topics ...........................................................................................................16

6.0

Issue 5: Consistency not Compensation ...................................................................................... 17

7.0

Issue 6: Immediate Execution ........................................................................................................19

8.0

Issue 7: Submission of Assignments............................................................................................. 20

9.0

Issue 8: Excessive Sleep ................................................................................................................... 21

10.0

Conclusion .........................................................................................................................................23

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges


1.0

Introduction
1.1

Dear Reader

This is a book specially made for you. Did u think I will forget? Of course I know you
dont like reading, much less studying. That means you have two problems: reading and
studying. I will come to the difference between reading and studying (next sub heading) but
for now let me assure you that I have solved both problems in this little book. The problem
of studying is what this entire book is mainly focused on. The problem of reading has been
made easier by making the book only 20 pages long. You can finish it in one sitting, or
maybe two, then you can decide to come back to it at a later time.
They say a good title for a book is always crucial for the books success. Dont ask me
who "they" are. I dont care how many pages these are, I'll call it a book regardless. If the
title had been "10 steps to academic success in colleges" I'm sure it would beat A memoir
on studying in contemporary colleges. I am not criticizing having a number of steps to
achieving anything. The truth is I started writing this book (yea, book) without any numbers
in mind. It just came from reminiscing of my college days which was less than a year ago.
But you know memories, they just come and go without prior alert. If only I had known how
many were coming, I would have named the book "ten ways to blah blah blah. Now that I
am done, well I am not actually done because more could come. I will keep it simple since
simple is all I know anyway.
I apologize, in advance, if I end up sounding like a concerned parent. The truth is that
most of the things I will tell you about are some of the advices your parents have already
told you so many times especially right before leaving for school. Some of those advices are
general like be attentive in class while some are a bit more specific like make sure you
pay attention to math classes. Oh the teachers too, dont they all have so much to tell us.
Their life stories, adventures (I am not sure all are true), and so many amusing stories that in
the end all we remember are the funny ones with their punch lines. To most of us the
secondary school period of our lives have had the most advices given and, as a result, the
most not taken.
Amidst all the confusion in Secondary school, we fail to comprehend the power of
such simple advices like be attentive in class. Perhaps it is because most of the advices are
general in scope. I think it would have been more effective if every parent gave their child
this advice: do not slouch when seated in class. Do not talk with your class mates when the
teacher is talking. Do not chew gums in class but you can take mints. The second advice is
more specific to what exactly the student should do and shouldnt do. Instead of telling the
student dont make noise in class, it will help more if the student is told dont talk to
Ahmad and Mary while in class. That is if Ahmad and Mary are the people the student talks
to the most.

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

Keeping in mind the clarity of a non-generalized advice, I compile what I think are
the most important aspects of a students life, that when changed as directed, will have the
most profound change on the student. Of course it is a good advice when I say dont make
noise in class but you dont find it in this book (oops! only here). The methods outlined in
this book, and the student should keep in mind, are less mechanically instructive and more
suggestive. It is such that the student is presented with the merit s of a method only. The
student decides whether to adopt it or not. In any case, I suggest reading it to the end.
The methods presented are tested and trusted (not like those tested and trusted
politicians that have no doubt been tested but cant say trusted). I testify to it here but I am
sure plenty others, if not even you, will testify to it. Like most students, I didnt take all the
advises I was given seriously. It was after I discovered these methods actually work that I
started referring to the advices I was given. What happened was that I accidentally studied a
topic before the class, thinking I was studying the last class which I missed. During the next
class, I was surprised at how easy it was to understand and ask questions just because I
studied before that class. Blessing in disguise... I then decided: I will check and see which
other advices given by adults actually work.
By no means do I expect the student to adopt all the rules/methods/approaches that
will be mentioned in this book. I know for sure I never adopted all at once. The best I did
was about three methods at once. Only Issue 1 is a prerequisite to the whole, individually or
entirely. A student may decide on adopting only one or two of the methods, if that works
out for the student. Any one of methods that you dont already practise will definitely
change your comprehension in class, and subsequently your grades. Dont worry, start easy,
practise one or two at a time. The more you reap the benefits, the more methods you will
willingly adopt.
Pardon me if there are no references at the end of the book. That is because there
was no research undertaken specifically for the writing of this book. It is all from memories
stamped by personal experience. I guess it is a memoir. I will like to make some concepts
clear, as they are regarded in this memoir. As I mentioned in the beginning; the difference
between Studying and Reading, and secondly, Ranking of Universities.

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges


1.2

Studying and Reading

Both studying and Reading are physically carried out the same way; a student picks a
book and absorbs (or makes sense of) its contents. The difference lies in the state of mind of
the student and the intentions of the student at the time the act is being performed.
Studying is the pursuit of academic success. Basically this means whenever a student
opens a class note or textbook, with the intention of passing an exam, or any form of
recognition for what the student is doing, then that student is studying. Recognition could
be an awarded degree, diploma, or a promotion to the next class; in a nut shell studying is
subject to a second partys criticisms and approvals. This second party is mostly the lecturer.
In that sense when students study, the books used are usually directly related to the course
of the student which can elevate the student in that particular course. Studying is
constricted to a narrow boundary of the students field.
On the other hand, reading is any other knowledge that will not necessarily decorate
the students academic tokens. Knowledge, any type, will definitely uplift the student to a
better understanding of that subject read on, but no student will be given a token, like a
diploma, for reading. The intention of a student that is reading is broad, as it can be
anything.
Studying should be carried out by those seeking expertise. This is when a civil
engineer is studying how to construct a bridge in the ocean so that he can add value to his
services. The clause that justifies this as studying is so that he can add value to his
services. Reading should be motivated by the interest to know. Reading is when that same
civil engineer is reading how to bake a banana cake or reading about politics. So, depending
on whether a student values academic carrier or general knowledge over the other, the
student will either be studying more or reading more respectively.

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges


1.3

University Ranking

How is a university ranked? Personally i dont care. But common sense tells me the
universities are evaluated based on certain criteria. Some of the criteria could be
requirements necessary to enter, facilities, lecturers and professors, variety of courses,
social and communal activities, percentage of graduates, average results of graduates,
depth of research, volume and content of library etc. An environment with all these criteria
that are above average in a country will no doubt facilitate a students success better that a
university below average.
Does this mean that every graduate from a higher ranked university knows more (or
is better) than graduates from a lower ranked university? That is a possibility, but this cant
be true. There is also the possibility that every graduate from a lower ranked university will
know more than graduates from a higher ranked university.
All the criteria mentioned serve as a steady force which may, or may not, move the
student towards success. The student has to input his own force to reach for success. An
analogy is when there are two conveyor belts; first one moving at 10km/h and the second at
5km/h. If a stationary student is to be put on each, then the student on the first one
(10km/h) will lead that on the second one (5km/h). Let us call the student on the first one
Alpha and that on the second one Beta. Now assume both students start again from the
beginning. What happens if Beta starts walking at 10km/h? Beta (now moving at 15km/h)
will overtake Alpha (still moving at 10km/h). Conversely if Alpha starts walking at 10km/h,
Alpha (now at 20km/h) will eventually over take Beta (still at 15km/h).
Basically, the original speed of the conveyor belt is the rank of a university. If two
students, who put no effort in to studying, are put in two separate universities of different
ranks, the one in the higher ranked university will most likely outperform the one in the
lower ranked university. After all the higher ranked university has a faster conveyor belt.
However if those two students put effort in studying, then the results could change. In fact if
the student in the lower ranked university puts more effort than the student in the higher
ranked university, there is a very good chance the lower ranked university student will be
more knowledgeable and successful. It all comes down to the amount of effort invested and
seriousness.
In a nutshell, having primary concern in university ranks is for the lazy student. If
admission can be gotten to a higher ranked university, that is good because it gives a
student an edge over those in lower ranked universities. However, final success depends
largely on seriousness and effort put by the student. Lazy students may make it out of a
higher ranked university but the problem becomes apparent when there is no force to push
them but themselves. Welcome to the real world.

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges


2.0

Issue 1: Interest
2.1

Interest in Versus in Interest

To make the topic more comprehensive, the topic can be re-phrased as a students
interest in and in the interest of a student. Both are interests, but mistaking one for the
other can render the whole of this important chapter officially jargons.
To do something in the interest of a student is to do a thing that appears to be best
for the student, based on information available. I hope i havent lost you there. For example,
a parent may choose for their child to attend boarding school. The parent thinks boarding
school is best for that child, given the circumstance. The parent is convinced, that boarding
school is best for the child, because of the information the parent has. However, the
information the parent is acting on could be false as well as it could be true. But since that
parent is convinced, no matter the outcome, the parent has chosen boarding school in the
interest of the child.
On the other hand, to have an interest in something is to want to know more about
that thing. A student who has an interest in a subject is a student that is concerned about
that subject. It is a student who sees the importance of that subject. That is a student who
finds the subject interesting. Now that the difference between in interest and interest in
is clear, the issue for this section will be dealt with.

2.2

Interest in Field of Study

As intentions hold the motif and quality of any action we perform, interest holds the
force of inertia for any course we undertake. How many times have you, in your high school
class or any class, been bored to your gut? Naturally, we get excited by things that are not
boring while on the other hand we easily get worn out by things that are boring. A topic
or subject is boring only if it is not interesting. Therefore any attempt to make a boring
topic interesting will make it less likely to be boring.
Interest-in is subjective and may vary among people just as two different people
could have two different names. Some might be tempted to say, when asked why they find
certain things interesting and they answer, It is in my nature. Hardly is anyone born in to
this world with the interest in football leagues, or in basketball, or in reading books, or in
yoga, or in computers etcetera. Your interest in anything is not a natural disposition but
rather, it is a fruit of your past experiences. For example, one who loves football may be
because as a child he was exposed to playing football when he had nothing doing, football
kept him company in his idle days and have become friends with football ever since.
Compare this situation to that of a kid born in Alaska where ice fishing is prominent. The
football kid, and the Alaskan kid, when asked why they love what they love will probably say
it is in their nature. A logical conclusion could be drawn at this point. If your present

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

interest is determined by your past experiences, then your future interests are affected by
your present experiences. You can change your future interests now.
As this book is concerned with studying in college, then the reader will fall under one
of two categories: a high school student (prospective student) about to enter
college/university or a student (enrolled student) presently in college/university. The two
will be treated separately because they have varying powers to affect their interests in the
courses they hope to take (or are taking). The prospective student has a clean sheet and has
full power over the course he selects. On the other hand, the student currently enrolled may
face a difficult time in deciding because it means he will either have to change his course or
develop interest in his course. Before diving in to the worlds of the two types of students
mentioned, let us take a look at a dangerous catalyst that is key in determining the discipline
a student selects; The Post-High School Exams.

2.3

Post High School Exams

Final term exams in high schools are rarely taken as serious as the ones taken in the
penultimate year. The reason is because the student is more concerned about his Post High
School Exams at that moment that he is not attentive to his school termly exams. If you still
dont understand what Post High School Exams are, here is a clue: WAEC, NECO, JAMB, SAT
etcetera. Yes, I decided to use a more general term because the discussion here is common
to all of them and none in particular.
We all know there are lots of leaks in these exams. Cmon dont tell me I have to give
you hints on what leak means: chokes, expo, dubs, paper... you get it by now. We (everyone
who has taken his exams within the last 15 years) all know how available leaks are and how
they are becoming more and more easily accessible each year. I dont know why it still
surprises us when we hear news of rampant cheating these days. Anyway we are not here
to investigate that part of the underground, we will save that for ethics day.
Now the assumption here is that leaks are among the tools available to passing
exams, although strictly not advisable. Many people indulge in it anyway, even the so called
smart ones. The model student for this discussion will be Kevin. Kevin is a typical student
about to write his WAEC (or NECO or SAT). He plans on studying because he knows it will be
very difficult for him to get his hands on the leak, even if he does he knows it will be too
costly for him to pay. Two days before his first paper, a friend of his comes to him with the
leak for the first paper which is Biology. He gladly accepts it because he hated Biology
anyway and thought only a miracle could save him from failing. Similarly, the same friend
was able to get his hands on other papers which he also passed to Kevin. The only paper
Kevin didnt accept was Economics because he was confident he knew enough, it was his
best subject anyway.

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

Exams ends and everyone is quite satisfied with the papers that leaked; which was
all. Results came out a few months later and Kevin had As in all the subjects except for
Economics which he scored a mere C. Kevin is certain he can get accepted to any college
course he applies for with that kind of result. Now it is time to select a university course and
this is where it gets interesting. Two scenarios will be presented. You will be the judge of
which scenario is actually smart.
2.3.1

Scenario One

Kevin is overwhelmed by the hype he receives at home. His parents, peers and
acquaintances are so explicitly proud of him that he is also proud of himself. Actually he is
starting to believe it was his intellect that got him all the As. His parents dont normally put
pressure on their kids on what career to pursue, but seeing that their son is a genius they
decide that this gifted son should be stirred in a direction which they feel it will optimise his
intellect. The parents would ask him to study President of the Federation if there was a
course like that but in the absence of that, they decide on encouraging him to be a medical
doctor. They just made a choice in Kevins interest. What started as encouragement, and
doubt on Kevins side, instantly becomes an obligation, and a deceptive certainty in Kevins
head.
Kevin applies and gets an offer. Everybody is happy. Kevin starts his first term and
finds studying difficult. But now he cant tell his parents that medicine is too difficult for
him, not if he is still the genius he is not so sure he is anymore. Kevin writes the exams at
the end of the semester, even though he still doesnt understand how the human heart
oxygenates and deoxygenate blood. He is hoping for Cs in three courses and at best a pass
in the other five. Results come out and he has four Cs, three passes and one fail. He was still
not the worst in the class so he decides that he did OK but will try to improve. If he can
make a good result in the second semester, he can make up for the lack in the first
semester. Second semester passes and he performs just a little better than the first. Now
Kevins major concern is not what he knows about medicine but how can he manage to get
promoted to the next year.
Kevin has lost his purpose. He is lost in trying to score grades that will keep him
worth keeping in his faculty. Kevins new mission becomes how to make the minimum
scores, without need for understanding. He now develops a habit. Usually, a person like that
will get withdrawn from his faculty or advised to change course. Change course or not, Kevin
will repeat the habit he has learnt in Medicine.
2.3.2

Scenario Two

Kevin receives all the congratulations on his results all the while keeping at the back
of his mind: you didnt actually achieve this result with your intelligence alone. Kevins
parents ceremoniously approached him concerning his university course. Of course the
parents have their own agenda on what course he should apply for; Medicine. Kevin
searches the back of his mind and decides to apply for economics. His parents stunned by

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

his choice ask him why he chose a discipline which is the one subject he scored the least.
Kevin convinces them that albeit his low grades, he has more interest in economics. The
parents see no harm in Economics and allow him proceed to application.
Kevin applied and is granted admission. Kevin is as eager to start life in the campus
as he is to start classes. He had always wanted to know what was going through Karl Marxs
head when he decided to be a driving force behind the socialist movement. He once asked
his economics teacher in his high school but he was told that he would appreciate the
answer coming from a university lecturer better. His first semester was an array of Cs with
no pass or distinction. His parents were not very happy because they have lost their genius,
not knowing they never had a genius. The only pressure from the parents is for him to
improve.
Kevin has now placed himself in a comfortable zone since economics is almost
second nature to him. He has interest in Economics; he is at peace following his interests.
How did he develop interest in economics? It must be from his past experience in high
school. It could be he had an interesting economics teacher or that he found the instability
of international markets amazing. What matters is at the end of his high school, his interest
is in economics and he is studying it. How should a prospective student and an already
enrolled student go about creating an environment friendly to their interest and their
studied course?

2.4

The prospective Student

A prospective student has the most power, in terms of flexibility, when it comes to
having satisfaction in his course. The power lies in the fact that the student has to choose
his area of study. The student could choose any area of INTEREST to him. His case is similar
to a carpenter who measures the wood length twice before finally cutting once; careful
preparation and efficient execution. The prospective student should make sure he has
identified his field of interest before applying.
2.4.1

Criteria for Identifying Interest

The single most effective criterion for identifying interest, simply put, is the
subjective recognisance of interest. Although, there are objective criteria which help stir
our decision in the right direction. To know when you have interest in a particular subject... I
dont need to tell you how because, trust me, YOU WILL KNOW. It could be that subject you
dont mind being in the class and listening attentively throughout a period. It could be that
subject you go out of your school notes to read about. It could be that subject you dont feel
sleepy during its class. It could be that subject you feel confident in whenever the subject is
being discussed outside school. It could be that subject which you dont run away from a
place where people start discussing it. It could be that subject that someone can make a
joke out of, and you will actually understand. It could be that subject that when someone

10

A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

talks gibberish about, you know the person is wrong. It could be many things but the feeling
(yes its a feeling) will be familiar once you feel it. Most of all, it is a feeling filled with
curiosity about that subject; the hunger to learn more.
On the alternate path to identifying interest objectively, the prospective student
should observe a few things. The most reliable of these is the score a person achieves in a
subject. Chances are u will perform well in the university in courses you scored high while in
high school. If you always scored distinctions in physics, chances are you will make a good
physicist or mechanical engineer. A weaker criterion is position in a course. If your high
school grade students and positions them according to each subject, chances are that those
who make the top three in a subject can take a course on it in university. Subject positioning
is weak because it depends on the average of the class. The higher the average is, the
stronger subject positioning becomes as a criterion. Another objective criterion is class
grading. The students who always come out at the top 5 of their class generally have a
better chance applying to and surviving any university course than the rest.
2.4.2

Rejection or Redirection

You must be curious as to what if the prospective student does not get in to the
course he applied for. Most universities reject the application to the universities, which i
think is the best thing for the prospective student. But a lot of Nigerian universities, instead,
will reject the application but still offer the student a different course than he applied for.
The student has been redirected. The student can decide to keep his options open and keep
being a powerful prospective student, by rejecting the offer. Or the student may decide to
risk being an enrolled student in an uninterested course, by accepting the offer. On the
other hand, if the student is rejected from the university, it should not be viewed as a bad
thing. It only means the university has decided to keep you powerful by forcing you to be a
prospective student. To accept this easily, the student must be able to underestimate the
pressures that are making him want to get in to university early. In the long run, it is better
waiting for your course of choice once you understand the hazardous, fickle and
treacherous world of being an uninterested enrolled student.

2.5

The Enrolled Student

Two types of powers a student has at his disposal; Power of choice and Power of
manipulation. Power of choice is the ability to decide which course you take. Power of
manipulation is the ability to manoeuvre your way around a situation where you dont have
power of choice, so you can make the best of it. The prospective student displays power of
choice. An enrolled student has lost his power of choice, simply by enrolling. He will have to
work on his power of manipulation.
If you are an enrolled student that fits the description above (stuck in a course you
are not interested), quit now and posses the power of choice again. There is no better way

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A Memoir on Studying in Contemporary Colleges

than the right way. Quitting may seem a bold move, but better be bold now than regretful
when old.
The power of manipulation, as the name suggests, requires living at the edge. This is
akin to a carpenter who measures once and cuts many times. The first cut the carpenter
makes is not accurate; either shorter or longer. If it is shorter, the carpenter will have to get
a new plank to cut, or make a very messy job he will end up not selling. If it is longer, the
carpenter will have to cut it again to make it measure accurately. In either case, the
carpenter either wastes a good plank (because he cut too short) and must buy a new one, or
the carpenter wastes precious time (because he cut too long) redoing what should have
been done the first time. This is the reality of an enrolled student; the student will either
change course, or the student may have to spend more time than his mates completing his
course.
Of this category of enrolled students, there are some who come out with good
results even though they dont like the course. The moment result scores becomes the
primary criteria in determining ones success, that is the start of a pursuit in a vicious cycle;
the pursuit of marks. Result is a strong objective criterion but cannot account for the
interest of that student in that course. Interest is the father of creativity and innovation.
Therefore good results without interest in the beginning, is just well... Good result. If you
have been looking for an explanation why some second class graduates are more productive
than first class graduates, you just got your answer. After all, degree classes are only marks.
As have been established earlier, if todays experience determine tomorrows
interests. The experiences that can instantly induce interest in a person will be discussed
from here on. Instantly here refers to a month or two. These actions are for both the
prospective student and enrolled student to perform. The enrolled student has a higher
need to perform them. And if as a prospective student, you were able get admission in to
your course of interest, I am sure you are already doing some (or all) of these on your own.
What is a better way to develop interest than to imitate the actions of those with interest.
Understanding these is discussed in the following issues.

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3.0

Issue 2: Reading before Class

The mind is sometimes clear before entering a class, most of the time it is
preoccupied. The goal here is to be able to enter a class with a mind filled with questions. A
mind filled with questions is the curious mind. The curious mind is the wheel that drives
interest. The curious mind doesnt lose concentration in class because it has unfinished
business (questions) to settle with the lecturer.
Going to a class with a clear mind is not that bad, the problem is that a persons
concentration becomes totally under the control of factors such as: how well did a person
rest last night, how comfortable is a person, how energetic the lecturer is etc. There are
cases when all these factors fall right in accordance to the students specifications, and the
student is able to give full concentration. However the point of reading all this is for the
student to be able to take control of the situation. In this case, coming with a mind filled
with questions makes the students concentration dependent on only one factor; curiosity.
When there are questions in mind, all the other aforementioned factors become
insignificant. The student will concentrate automatically, at least until the questions are
answered.
On the other hand, going to class with a preoccupied mind is more damaging
because it distracts the student. This is when the student often finds himself elsewhere in
his mind, then occasionally comes back. A preoccupied mind is also more dangerous
because it is also susceptible to the factors (mentioned in the above paragraph) that affect
the concentration of a clear mind. There is one exception though, the only preoccupied
mind that concentrates automatically is the mind preoccupied with questions on the topic
being studied. Students are given syllabus at the start of the semester for a reason. Here the
student should read the material he has been given on the topic for the next class. The hard
part is starting, dont mind the procrastination, your mind will always find an excuse not to
start.
Find time, whenever and wherever is convenient for you, and begin. Some students
(personally know one) may decide to read the whole syllabus of a semester before the
semesters begins or early in the semester. That is not the most effective methods, first
because it is bulky and might discourage a student, and secondly the student will be asking
the wrong questions most of the time. The wrong question is any question not particularly
relevant to the topic of the day; a student may be asking questions which belong in the next
class. A more effective alternative is reading all the topics for the coming week during
weekends. Personally I think weekends should be used for lengthy assignments, other
readings, or relaxation (anything fun), not for studying school materials. The most effective
method is reading daily. Yes I know you are already thinking of dropping this book because
of DAILY?!! What am I thinking right? I really mean daily but it is not hard work, let me show
you how it is done.

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What if I told you that you can study all the topics you will treat tomorrow in 30-60
minutes? I have been using the word study too often and that is why you are thinking it a
demanding task. I am actually referring to scanning. Scanning is when you briefly go
through a text without the intention of fully understanding it but with the intention of
picking out as many ideas or phrases that stand out. These ideas and phrases that stand out
are things you will now like to know more about. These ideas and phrases become the
subjects of your questions. Now you have an idea. Your mission now becomes going to the
class the next day, listening until your questions have been answered. Ask questions for
those not answered. Simple as that.
Remember it will usually take more than a class to complete a single topic. If you can
scan through only half of the topic, fine. If you can scan through the entire topic in one
sitting, better. The golden rule is that make sure you start from the beginning of where the
next class will start. It is a good practice if you can revise the last parts of the previous class
before beginning your scan. This way, all grounds are covered.

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4.0

Issue 3: Being on Time

It is said that time is money, that is for a businessman to decide. In a similar manner
time is knowledge, in the case of a student. The more time spent in pursuit of knowledge
the more knowledge becomes available. This could be the time a student spends studying,
the time a student spends doing assignments, the time a student spends doing research etc.
The most important application of time relevant to this discussion is the time a student
comes to class.
The first few minutes of a class usually lay down the scope, basic ideas and
expectations of that particular class. It is also critical because this is the time the lecturer
makes clear the link (connection) between the previous topic and the new topic, if a new
topic is started. The critical time of any class I have estimated to be the initial 15 minutes.
Missing the first 5 minutes of a class is better than missing the first 10 minutes. Likewise
coming before it starts is better than missing the first 5 minutes. Every second within this
crucial time is significant and can make the difference between understanding that class or
not. However there is no much significance between missing the first 30 minutes and
missing the first 40 minutes, or even an hour. Once the student misses the initial critical
time, chances are the student will be unclear about the discussion going on, and must study
that class at his personal time.
The only help to the student will be if the student Read before Clas and has an
idea of what is being discussed. Hence by adhering to one rule, it becomes easier for the
student to make up for the lack of adhering to others.

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5.0

Issue 4: Prerequisite Topics

Why dont students ask questions in class when they obviosuly dont understand the
topic? It could be lack of confidence, stage fright, lack of speech skills, fear of being
perceived as a nerd, fear of being put on the spot etc. But dont we all know someone (if not
ourselves) that has considerable confidence, no stage fright and can talk as loud as any
other, who does not understand and still refuses to ask a question? This is a mysterious
question.
The answer is that the student doesnt know HOW to ask the question, without
sounding very stupid. To put it another way, the student doesnt know WHAT to ask.
Lecturers teach students about a chain of concepts each linking to the other. An example for
physics students is learning about distance, then time, then speed, then acceleration, then
force, and so on. In every class, the latest chain changes; if the last class was on time, next
class will be on speed. Questions are asked to clarify concepts that are not clear, especially
the ones relevant to that class. Questions can be asked about previous classes but not every
lecturer will be willing to attend to that. Unless it is actually a smart question, and not
something so basic that you would have understood if only you were attentive the last class.
Imagine a student asking a lecturer, who is teaching the topic acceleration, the
question what is distance? At best the lecturer will ask the student to refer to previous
class notes. In the same class, another student may ask the question will moving in a
circular distance affect the linear acceleration of a car? The lecturer will gladly answer this
student. Both questions concern distance but the former is attributed to an inattentive
student while the latter is attributed to an attentive student. It will be safe to assume that
the former student also doesnt know the answer to the question the latter asked. The
main difference becomes that the former student doesnt know what to ask while the latter
knows exactly what to ask. Consequently, the former student doesnt understand the latter
students question, while the latter not only understands the question of the former but
probably knows the answer to it.
A student that is aware of the topic that was discussed in the previous class will be
able to follow the discussion as well as ask smart questions. The student should have in
mind that all classes are prerequisites to the next class. The student will be able to
effortlessly make sense of the classes, as well as construct sensible questions to help clarify
unclear parts.

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6.0

Issue 5: Consistency not Compensation

Consistency means regularity, uniformity and stability in carrying out ones


endeavours. Compensation means payback for what was lacking in ones endeavours. The
student must be consistent in studying, reading or any of the methods the students will like
to adopt among the ones stated so far. To be consistent in anything requires good discipline.
The student must be able to commit the mind to whatever needs consistency. Why do
students study for an exam, understand it, pass it then forget what they understood after a
semester or two? This is because the students use the method of Compensation instead of
Consistency, in their studying.
Consistency in studying means reading for a certain amount of time every day. If the
student decides on 30 minutes on weekdays, then the student must make sure studying is
done for 30 minutes every weekday, not exceedingly more or scantily less. This means the
student may study for 25 minutes or 35 minutes some days. Compensation in studying
refers to pilling up studying times and deciding to cover it at one sitting. If the same student
mentioned were to miss studying the whole weekdays, to compensate, the student will
study for 2hrs 30mins (30 minutes multiplied by 5 weekdays) on a weekend. Compensation
method seems logical and that is why it is tempting to trust in it. Compensation method is
not bad, actually helpful in some cases but consistency method offers much more.
Compensation is for short term while consistency is for long term.
Consistency offers more fruit than the cumulative time spent in studying, which can
be achieved using compensation method. Consistency is constancy. Consistency is easystudying and time effective. It does not require the student to allot lengthy time for
studying, short times are set. The effect is an almost 100% efficiency because the students
concentration is present while studying. There is no excess demand on the mind for
concentration. Consistency is time management. Since a predetermined time has been set
for studying, other activities fall in to plan (schedule) because the student knows when
studying starts and finishes for the day. Consistency is preparation for engagement. A
consistent student will be able to answer at least more than half of a quiz (or test) if given
inadvertently in class. Likewise a student will be able to defend himself when met with a
question outside of school environment. Consistency is long term memory. Long term
memories are created from frequency (consistency in studying) not intensity (compensation
in studying). Therefore most of what a student learns while indulging in consistency will
most likely be in the students memory for most of the students life. That is unlike
compensation in studying for exams where the student forgets what was understood a
semester or two afterwards.
If the student requires to study more than the time set for consistent studying, the
time allotted for consistent studying should not be altered. It should remain as it is, only
then it is consistent. A separate time should be allotted for any extra studying. An example
is during exam times (if you are consistent with studying you wont need more than two

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hours to study for any exam.), assuming a student needs 5hrs to study. The student already
has a consistent studying time of 30mins a day. What the student should do is to do the 5hrs
studying such that the student must be finished before the 30mins for the consistent
studying. Or the student should start the 5hrs studying after the 30mins set for the
consistent studying is elapsed.

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7.0

Issue 6: Immediate Execution

Procrastination can easily poison a students mind with promises of tomorrow. But it
seems tomorrow hardly ever comes. This is a contributing reason why students fail to do
assignments. When a student fails to do an assignment given that is due in a day, that
student displays lack of seriousness. But when a student fails to do an assignment that is
due in a month until the month elapses, most often than not, that is procrastination.
It makes a person wonder why an assignment could be given out a month or
semester ago, and still unfinished a week before submission date. No the actual question is
why is an assignment given out a month ago, and not started a week before submission
date? The answer: Procrastination. The student thinks he has abundant time to engage in
the assignment because the minds of most students work with deadlines. The student
should know that time can never be abundant. Dead-lines are lines for the dead (in mind)
not the living-lines for a promising student. The student within the living lines should make
sure assignments are completed as early as possible, without rush.
Let it not be until tomorrow what you can start now. Start is the key word. The
moment an assignment is started, one of the hard parts is done. Starting an assignment
doesnt necessarily mean taking out a sheet (or a computer) to start writing what will be
marked. Starting an assignment could be as subtle as thoughts, as light as ideas or as vivid as
imaginations. One key principle to apply right after any of the mentioned starting points, is
to make a written note of it. Some students have excellent memory and may decide to
make mental notes but I advice making a paper note. Mental notes to some are just another
form of procrastination. Make sure the moment an idea, thought or imagination appears,
the student writes it down (in a paper, or phone, or PDA, anything available). Memory is
bound to forget it soon.
For students in technical areas, like engineering, where lab reports are plenty,
making an outline of the report should be considered as a start. Outline is the flow of the
report not the format, while format is the structure of the report. The format given by a
lecturer is not really a start because it is a given. If a format is not given and the student
creates a format, then that is a start.
For example, a student is given a lab report (or any assignment) due in two weeks,
the student starts taking notes and making an outline for the report while in (or
immediately after) the lab. Once the notes and outline are recorded (in a sheet, PDA etc),
the student has already started. The student then starts typing some of the report later that
night while the lab events are still fresh in the mind. The student repeats that for the next
two nights and the student has completed the report. All that is left now is correction and
editing. The student leaves editing until week end, which takes him just about 30mins.
Voila! All done, a week before submission date. The student can now submit, or while
waiting for submission date, can carry on with normal routine and other assignments.

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8.0

Issue 7: Submission of Assignments

The previous issue, especially the example above, illustrates the advantage of
completing assignments early. The previous point emphasizes the early start of an
assignment while this point emphasizes its early completion. The two work hand in hand
most of the time but at the same time, a student may decide to adopt the previous and
leave this point, or vice versa, and the student will still find it rewarding. Although adopting
both is most rewarding. Starting early and completing early are not as intertwined as we
may be led to think.
Since the last section already discussed the need to refuse procrastination and start
assignments early, this section will look in to completing assignments. For this point to stand
independent of the last one, let us assume a student has started the assignment
disregarding whether it was early or not early. Even for students who start assignments
early, sometimes completion is not until the last moments. Early completion gives the
student a closure with that assignment and the student can concentrate on other
assignments. The student can give them full attention, focus and resources like time and
brain power, in to solving them. Therefore a student should try to take a single assignment
at anytime, concentrate on it and finish it in good time.
Multiple assignments can be started by thoughts, ideas or imaginations that come to
the student. But the student should concentrate on only one at a time. This by no means
suggests that the student should ignore such inspirations. Actually the student should make
sure all notes are written down for any of these inspirations. But the student should not pick
up a pen and sheet (or computer) to start writing that part of the assignment that will be
marked, without being ready to see it through. This refers to the actual assignment, which is
the same one that will be submitted. This excludes thoughts and ideas which will not be
submitted, although as was discussed earlier they signify the start of any assignment.
The result of not completing in time is that a student submits an assignment that has
been rushed, regardless of early start or late start. There will undoubtedly be many mistakes
from spelling mistakes to incorrect conveying of ideas. Time is precious when you dont
have it, but when you have it, time can make your work (assignment) precious.

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9.0

Issue 8: Excessive Sleep

Without presenting any scientific research, it must be apparent, even intuitive, that
sleep and laziness are related. The relation is such that if one is in excess, the other also
becomes present in excess. If, however, one is in adequate proportion, the other will appear
reasonable. Therefore anything, like excess food intake, that may lead to sleepiness will
ultimately induce laziness. Likewise anything that may induce laziness will ultimately cause
sleepiness.
The adequate amount of sleep may be hard to decide in terms of hours. Ideally,
medical research suggests 6hrs to 8hrs minimum sleep for maximum rest in every 24 hours.
It is safe to assume there is a threshold that represents the maximum rest for any person, in
hours. For some, the threshold is 8 hours, some 6 hours and some even 5 hours. The
scientific research should not be merely disposed off but the student should know that the
human body is capable of being trained to sleep (and have good rest) for less than 5 hours.
The hours should not be too little. Even as a student tries to reduce their sleeping time, it
should be kept in mind that the body has its limit. The problem of excessive sleep begins
manifesting itself when a student transcends that threshold.
A question must be raised as to why excessive sleeping when most of the time
students dont get to have enough sleep in 24 hours anyway. Students get busy, not
necessarily with academic stuffs, and end up not having enough rest. So shouldnt this
section be trying to address that and encourage students to rest more and less of
unnecessary endeavours? True but actually this is where it starts, and ends in excessive
sleep. In keeping with the principle of cause and effect, excessive sleep is the ultimate cause
of laziness and here is how: late night endeavours cause inadequate sleep, inadequate sleep
causes tiredness, tiredness brings about the need for more sleep, the need for more sleep
causes excess sleep.
Along the chain: tiredness is a form of laziness, the need for more sleep may cause a
student to sleep at a time that could be used for something else (not necessarily academic).
And finally, the most harmful part is when the students mind justifies excess sleep after
waking up by saying, the student needed the sleep, the student was tired anyway and so it
is justified. If this justification happens once in a while, then ok but when this keeps
happening like every week, or twice a week, that is unhealthy.
Here are some of the effects of excess sleep. It may make the student miss a class
especially morning classes, if the student decides to payback the missed sleep at night. If the
student decides to sleep in the afternoon, the student may miss afternoon or evening
classes. Excessive sleep is almost addictive and it makes the student lazy. This laziness will
be present in most of the students affairs and it may not be noticeable at first until the
student reflects or is told by another.

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An easy test to gauge level of laziness is to stop and think at how difficult simple
tasks are becoming, or how difficult it is to carry out activities that were formerly easy to
execute. Thirdly, if a student is lazy, according to the cause and effect chain, it means the
student must have passed a stage of little sleep and lack of concentration. The students
affairs during this time will also be affected badly. Assuming the student does manage to
make it to classes, the student becomes sleepy and unable to concentrate. If the reason is
because the student is not getting enough sleep, then it makes sense. But if the student
sleeps excessively, and consequently cant concentrate in class (which is an effect of excess
sleep), then it becomes a habit that will appear in every class.
Sleeping should be kept healthy simple by avoiding any of the aforementioned
causes of an unhealthy sleep. If a student is finds it difficult to wake up in the morning, the
student should wake up nonetheless even if it is an hour short of the normal sleeping time.
The student may payback the hour as siesta. Siesta is quite an important tool in this case.
For example, if the student normally sleeps for 6 hours, and the student only gets 4 hours of
sleep, then the student can create a break of 2 hours within the day to perform siesta.
Remember the sleep is per 24 hours, in the end the student has slept for the required 6
hours in 24 hours. The siesta should be taken as rest not as a full blown sleep. As for those,
whom i am aware of, that are not able to sleep in the afternoon due to habit, then it
becomes imperative for them to sleep early and have the rest they deserve for the next 24
hours to come.
There are few excuses to staying up late as there are few excuses for doing anything
wrongly. It may be easy for the student to engage in a healthier sleep if the student weighs
their priorities. There will always be preference to studying, be it secular or religious, over
other matters. If a student is convinced of this preference, then it shouldnt be hard to
adapt to a healthy sleep habit. A student with right amount of rest will find many
endeavours easy (not only studying), as will also find adopting the points described in this
book.

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10.0

Conclusion

A short conclusion made for a short book. The difference between a students
interest in and in the interest of the student should be understood by now. Otherwise
read Issue 1 again. The importance of having interest in your field of study cannot be
emphasized enough because it is the foundation of any successful studying. If interest is
strong, you will most likely succeed, if interest is weak, your entire study could collapse after
much has been built.
This does not mean you should blindly turn down any suggestion given by those who
are looking out for options in your interest. The most active agents here are parents or
guardians. You should try and make them understand why it is vital for you to select your
area of interest. Im sure most of them will understand but if it proves difficult, simply hand
them a copy of this book and let them read the section on Issue 1.
If you have read the book past the first Issue, the most common theme is study a
little before class and a little after. Appealing changes will start appearing to your
understanding, and that is about where studying should give room for reading. Pick a field
you are interested in, it could be sports, history, psychology, architecture, information
technology etc, and get a book on that. There is plenty information on the internet but a
printed copy of a reading material is safer for your eyes.
Once you get the hang of the methods illustrated in this book, it will do you good to
adopt it to other aspects of your life. The discipline will easily complement your religious
practice, maybe your sports. I may have to write another book on those two topics. It may
seem as if I am asking you to be too serious, but by the time you start adopting this method
in studying without hassle, you can extend it to other endeavours almost automatically.

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Contact:
Bilal Bugaje
Telephone Num: +234 706 782 4353
Email Address: bilzane@hotmail.com

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