Monday, October 19, 2009

A successful student ?!?!


I've had a couple of interactions with recent grad students - tapping into my knowledge of 'the system'. There is no doubt that in each person's mind they want to be a successful student - however the definition of what a successful student is varies from person to person.

Some people want to be a successful student that takes as many courses as possible in order to graduate as soon as possible. They generally seem to look for courses that are low-impact so that they can get that coveted 'easy A' - I guess this would be the grad school equivalent of speed dating, but instead of partners it's courses, and and the end of the night instead of a name and number your get a degree. In my opinion this isn't being a successful student. In many respects it's probably a short term success and a long term failure.

So do grades not matter? Should we take the slow path through grad school? Those are silly questions! No, you should not take the slow path through grad school - unless you don't need a degree as a credential of course, so you are more free to experiment. Grades also do matter because in most cases they are an indication of how much you've learned.

So what is a successful student - and by extension a successful learner? Well, as far as I am concerned, a successful student is a student that has found that balance in their work-home-school life where they are able to take just enough courses to challenge themselves, where they learn new things, connect them to existing knowledge and can then go out there and practice what they've learned and analyze and improve their own performance.

How does one become a successful student?

Well this is a topic for another post ;-)
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