Psychology

The Key to Study Success? Don’t Set Goals, Create Habits

Image courtesy of Geraint Otis Warlow via Flicker (CC 2.0)

 

We’re always told that it’s good to dream big. That we should have our goals planned out: write a hit novel, become a surgeon, run a successful business.

 

But as we embark on making those dreams a reality at university and beyond, we can come unstuck. Most people have experienced those difficulties to some extent. The progress to achieving our goals is slow-moving. There are still a lot of blank pages that we’re trying to fill.

 

So, what’s the key to achieving the goals we set ourselves and realising our dreams?

 

Some Psychologists suggest that instead of setting goals, we should create habits.

 

They argue that a goal is too far off in the distance for it to have a significant effect on our daily lives.

A goal doesn’t help you get the thing done. In fact, until you reach the goal you exist in a sort of state of failure, e.g.  ‘I haven’t written a novel yet.’

 

Instead, we should create a habit that fits with the sort of person we are, or want to be.

 

For example, writing that thesis is a daunting prospect, with many thousands of words to compile.  But if you create a habit: ‘I’m the sort of person who writes for an hour every morning,’ the thesis takes care of itself.

 

In both cases (goal or habit), the end result is often the same (these completed). But crucially, our happiness, and therefore our ability to produce our best work, is far greater when we employ habits.

We’re creatures of habit after all.

The View From Campus – “I’ve Been Admitted, Now What Do I Do?”

 

This month’s article features Heather Augar, Director of International Admissions, Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)

 

Describe your institution in five words?

  • Global
  • Diverse
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Student-oriented
  • Affordable

 

What is FDU best known for overseas?

FDU prepares students to succeed in a world marked by interdependence, diversity, and change by integrating global education in all phases of university life.

 

New Jersey’s largest private university, FDU has campuses in the metropolitan New York City area; Vancouver, Canada; and Wroxton, England. Over 100 BA, MA and PhD degree programs are offered in our four academic colleges.

 

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?

Undergraduate: Business, Engineering/Computer Sciences, Sciences, Liberal Arts, Hospitality Management, Theater, Filmmaking

Graduate: Engineering/Computer Sciences, MBA/Business, Hospitality Management, Public Administration, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Psychology

 

What are the top five countries represented at FDU?

  • India
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Korea
  • Canada

As of fall 2015, FDU had 1,703 international students from more than 80 countries out of our total population of 12,000 students at our two campuses in New Jersey.

 

How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?

IELTS has become one of the most frequent tests submitted and is widely accepted amongst U.S. universities as proof of English proficiency, as it is as FDU.

 

 

Post-Admissions Next Steps

If international students are admitted to more than one institution, what are the most important next steps they should take?

Students should carefully check their letters of admission to verify the date by which they must confirm their intent to enroll. For most students applying to U.S. universities for the fall term, this will be May 1. However, universities with spring or multiple terms as well as those with rolling admissions may have different confirmation deadlines.

Once the final university choice has been made, students must contact the other universities that they’ve applied or been admitted to in order to inform them that they no longer plan to attend.

 

What advice would you give to students making their final decision where to attend?

It is important to do as much research as possible. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with faculty, staff, current students and alumni of the university whether in person or via social media.

Make sure that the final decision is the university that is the best match-academically, financially and socially.

 

Can international students receive financial aid from U.S. universities?

Many U.S. universities, including Fairleigh Dickinson, offer scholarships and other types of aid to international students. It is important to do research about each university of interest to learn what types of scholarships or aid programs are available.

 

Is a deposit needed to secure a place at the college or university students choose?

This varies by the institution. In some cases, a financial deposit is required to confirm enrollment. In other cases, a matriculation/intent to enroll form is required without a monetary deposit. It is important to read admission materials carefully to learn what is required and the deadlines for submission.

What is an I-20, and how can international students get theirs?

An I-20 is also known as a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status. It is a document issued by a Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) approved U.S. educational institution certifying that a student has been admitted into a full-time study program and that they have demonstrated sufficient financial resources.

Students who have obtained an I-20 form are eligible to apply for a non-immigrant student visa to the U.S. Some U.S. universities issue the I-20 at the time of admission whereas others issue this upon confirmation of intent to enroll.

The View From Campus – Public Universities Admissions

This month’s article features Robert Hardin, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for International Recruitment, at the University of Oregon

 

  • Describe your institution in 5 words? Green, unique, groundbreaking, welcoming, and thoughtful.
  • What is your institution best known for overseas? The University of Oregon has alumni from around the world that have made an impact, including: Phil Knight (founder and president of Nike), Daniel Wu (actor), Renee James (former president of Intel), Ann Curry (journalist), Ken Kesey (author), and Chuck Palahniuk (author) to name just a few. UO is also known around the world for having successful sports teams and individual athletes.
  • What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?
    The University of Oregon’s top academic programs are: Accounting, Architecture, Education, Psychology, and our sciences, particularly Biology and Physics.
  • What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution?
    China, Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. We are an international university with over 3,200 international students (about 14% of the student body) from 103 different countries.
  • How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students?
    IELTS is one of the few ways we allow students to prove English proficiency. It is a helpful and valuable tool for us to determine if a student has the level of English needed to be successful at the University of Oregon.

 

Making Admissions Decisions

 

Do most public universities have set deadlines for international admissions?
Yes, most US public universities have deadlines. However, some deadlines are more flexible than others. At the University of Oregon, we accept applications after the deadline if there are spaces available. However, if you want to apply for scholarships, you will need to meet all posted application deadlines.

 

What are institutions looking for in an application essay/statement of purpose?

We want to get to know a little about the applicant. The essay is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself other than your grades and test scores.

 

What needs to be in a letter of recommendation that my teachers/professors are asked to write?
Teacher letters of recommendation should go beyond what grade you received in a class. We want to know more about how you performed as a student. For example, a letter of recommendation from your math teacher talking about the hard work and effort it took to earn your grade in the class will help us better understand your true academic potential.

 

How important are test scores in university admissions decisions?

In the US, there is no standard practice for admission decisions, so each university sets different expectations. However, the vast majority of US universities value your class grades more than your test scores or other factors.What are the most important factors public universities use to determine admissibility of international students?
Grades are usually the factor that public universities consider the most important. At the University of Oregon, our research shows that high school grades are the best predictor of success for new college students. Test scores are often the second most important factor. After test scores and grades, it is common for public universities to use other factors such as grade trend, strength of curriculum, extracurricular activities, essay, and teacher recommendations.

 

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