Change the pitch of your learning curve

This time of year can be stressful for students, especially those who foolishly become preoccupied with pointless extracurricular activities, such as studying.

It seems calm — midterms gone, a few weeks to term finals — but I remember this as the moment you had time to contemplate that you were doomed.

At first there’s new-year buzz: Students observe who’s become hot and/or cool, learn the new consensus jean-waistline height, and decide when to wow their peers with the three guitar chords they’ve been practising.

Then midterm marks painfully remind you: Time to prepare for a long grind of studying or pack it in.
Well, relax students: I humbly suggest you can do both.

As a veteran of high school, university AND comedy college, I’m qualified to point out that every school skill you pick up can be performed after graduation by iPhones, spell-checkers and whoopee cushions.

You’ll forget most of the “facts” you learn. But if you use class as a springboard for half-assedness, well, that’s the type of skill a person will use for the rest of his or her life. “Teach someone a fib, they’ll cheat for a day,” the old saying goes. “Teach them how to fib and they’ll cheat forever.”

How To Study Without Really Trying:

  • Find a good spot: The ideal area is a soundproof spot in your own room so you can lock your door and put a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on it while you play Call of Duty: MW3.
  • Break studying into segments so you don’t get overwhelmed: For instance, if you plan to watch The Simpsons before you start your homework, you might say: “OK, I just have to watch Bart wake up and realize he’s joined the Junior Campers. Then it will be no time at all until Homer finds the Krusty Burger.” In this way, even all-night Simpsons marathons won’t seem too daunting.
  • Study the hardest stuff first: This will give you the illusion that you’re getting smarter as you go.
  • Highlight everything: I don’t know why it works, but all the smart kids highlight so often that their books increase in weight. You should follow suit, as a status thing.
  • Get help from other people: Any experienced student knows the most effective way to learn new information is to grill smart people on the day of the test. Find a nerd in the morning, grab their arm and ask them questions in a tone of voice usually not heard outside of 911 calls.
  • Above all, don’t panic. Schools never let students fail the same grade twice. Technically, you could ignore your teachers from the first day of Grade 1 and be on your way to a 24-year vacation topped off with a diploma.

By the time you hit 30, you should really have those guitar chords nailed.



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