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.

Postgraduate Studies: How to Invest in Your Future

Image courtesy of Colin Howley (CC 2.0 Flickr)

For many, the idea of committing to further education and postgraduate study can seem like a daunting prospect. But the benefits to your career far outweigh the time taken to do them. Here are some things to consider when deciding if postgraduate study is right for you.

 

Money, money, money

Although postgraduate study can be expensive there are lots of funding schemes available and some courses are offered part-time, so you can keep working as you do them.

It’s true that career earnings for those with postgraduate qualifications is on average higher, but you won’t necessarily start off in a job on a higher salary, so it’s worth remembering that further studies are about investing in yourself for the long-term, not immediate financial gains.

 

Career goals

Postgraduate studies can help you change career as well as develop in your already chosen field. Many traditional careers expect you to have a postgraduate qualification as standard, so make sure you know what your studies can lead to in the world of work and how things might change. The nature of work is always changing, and so are the types of skills employers are looking for. Try to anticipate what the skills are you‘ll need to thrive in your career 20 years from now.

 

Networking  

Making contacts is a great way to kick-start your career and a lot of them can be found through postgraduate studies. Your professors will always have a great number of contacts that you should make the most of. You don’t have to devote all your time to it, but it’s a necessary evil – putting yourself out there can help you land that first contract.

How to Choose a Career (You Will Enjoy)

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Image courtesy of Melody Hansen (CC Flickr)

 

Choice Anxiety

Choosing a career, like many things in life, can seem like a daunting prospect. In some countries you’re expected to have an idea of what you want to do as early as 14 years old!

After that it’s hard work towards a university place and finally off to 50 years of work in your chosen profession. This can seem like a lot of pressure and to make big life decisions before you’re really aware of these things!

At such young ages, it is often our parents who have a large say in what we’re doing – though that’s not always the case or indeed a bad thing! But some realism is needed here, as we can’t always know how our tastes, opinions and curiosities will change as we move into adulthood and the world of work.

But how to find a career that you enjoy in the long run? There’s no one answer, but here are a few suggestions…

 

It’s ok to be confused

I think this is often overlooked, but it can help to ease the anxiety that we (and society) place on finding that ‘dream’ job. Perhaps it’s hard not to feel pressure when you see friends or siblings doing well, but I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people are confused – even if they don’t look it! So don’t pile extra pressure on yourself.

 

Find what you like to do – this will help

It’s not particularly surprising, but finding the thing(s) that make you happy is a breakthrough in itself. The more you do, the more likely opportunities to get paid for it will come along. This won’t work for everything, of course, but think in the same ‘ball-park’ and things will become clearer.

 

Transferrable skills

Perhaps the idea of a career is outdated, except for truly vocational and highly specialised professions, such as doctor or lawyer. So, studying medicine or law might be the only way for someone to work in those two professions, of course.

But studying either law or medicine will undoubtedly give you skills and knowledge that could be applied elsewhere – as a health correspondent or legal adviser in the charity sector for instance.

The most important thing here is that there are a multitude of careers and jobs out there that required a range of skills. If you’re not sure what you want to do in the long-term – don’t worry! So long as you are picking up transferrable skills and keeping an interest in a wide range of things, something will happen further down the line.

 

Try it out

Shop around. Be bold. Ask for advice and make it easy for people to let you help out. Talk to people who are doing the sorts of jobs you’re interested in and ask them how they got there. Impress them with your curiosity and knowledge! All of these things will give you a better idea of what’s required for certain careers and what the reality of the day-to-day work is.

Student Life in London Made Affordable (Part 2)

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In the first part, we looked at ways to spend less while travelling or shopping for food in London. Read on for some further money-saving tips.

 

  1. Take full advantage of your student status

Being an international student in the United Kingdom can be expensive, but it has its own privileges too. Discounts and great deals are to be had just about everywhere. Restaurants, museums, art galleries, cinemas, retailers, banks often have something exclusively for students. So, take advantage of your student status by flashing your identity card as frequently as possible.

 

You may also want to join student discount schemes or clubs such as ISIC or NUS. An ISIC cardholder, for example, could get benefits in over 125,000 locations worldwide currently. Although there’s usually a fee to join these schemes, it’s worth spending the money because you’ll be entitled to innumerable discounts while your card remains active. Of course, how much you save would depend on how frequently you choose to take advantage of the offers you receive.

 

  1. Use the internet to help you spot discounts and offers

London undoubtedly provides an uninterrupted choice of free events and discounts all year round  but how do you get to hear about them before it’s too late? After all, if you can’t be in the right place at the right time, none of those benefits can be enjoyed.

The internet can be a great help in this regard: there are several websites that tell you where to find the best student discounts in the UK. A couple of popular ones are StudentBeans and UniDays, both of which are also available as mobile phone applications. Most university students download these apps on their phone so that they don’t miss out on great deals, even on the essentials like laptops.

 

So if you follow these useful tips, enjoying student life in London shouldn’t cost you a fortune!

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

privilege
Form : noun
Meaning : a special benefit that a group of people has
Example : If you become a full member of this club, you can enjoy many privileges.

 

exclusively
Form : adverb
Meaning : for only one particular person or group
Example : This café is exclusively for staff; visitors have to go out of the building to get food.

 

flash
Form : verb
Meaning : to show something, such as an ID card, to someone very quickly
Example : The police officer flashed his ID card at the security as he entered the private building.

 

take advantage of (something)
Form : phrase
Meaning : to make full use of something
Example : Josie’s kids took advantage of her absence to play in the rain.

 

 

in the right place at the right time
Form : phrase
Meaning : be in the best position to make full use of an opportunity
Example : Miguel isn’t very skilled, but he got the job because he was in the right place at the right time.

 

miss out on (something)
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to fail to benefit from an opportunity 
Example : It’s sad that you won’t be attending the party – you’ll miss out on all the fun.

 

fortune
Form : noun
Meaning : a large sum of money
Example : Siobhan’s new motorbike cost a small fortune.

 

The View From Campus: Tips for Funding a U.S. Degree

EIU

Photo courtesy of jrmyers (CC licence)

 

Eastern Illinois University

We spoke to William Elliott, Assistant Dean of Graduate & International Admissions at EIU about financing a U.S degree.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words?

Nationally ranked comprehensive Midwestern university

 

What is your institution best known for overseas?

EIU is known primarily for its programs in Technology, Economics and Business Administration

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your institution after the U.S.?

India, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, South Korea and Nigeria. International enrollment is 373 out of 7990 total enrollment.

 

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process?

We use IELTS as a part of our suite of language proficiency tests accepted to gauge a non-native speaker’s mastery of English language. It’s our belief that we should be as flexible as possible in acceptance of IELTS and other testing tools so as to allow our students more flexibility in their choice of use and availability.

 

Tips for Funding a U.S. Higher Education

  1. What are the best sources of funding for international students coming to the U.S.?

Most institutions will offer scholarships and graduate assistantships based on a combination of GPA (grade point average), financial need, and/or other factors.

 

Graduate assistantships can be offered in every graduate program as well as non-academic units. Assistantships provide a monthly stipend in exchange for duties performed in research, teaching and service, as well as a tuition waiver scholarship.

 

  1. How should prospective international undergraduate students look at the price of a U.S. higher education?

A student should understand that due to the strong accreditation system in the US, price is not a good indicator as to the quality of education they will receive. It’s possible for a student to be price-conscious and still earn a degree that will not only help them succeed in their career, but also be the equivalent of a higher priced, more “prestigious” university (as long as their school is equally accredited).

 

  1. For postgraduate students, what is the best advice for finding institutional aid?

My best advice would be to be as interactive with the graduate faculty as possible via whatever technological means available. A big part of successful graduate education is to search for a program that is a good academic fit for both student and their faculty.

 

  1. Talk about the role of work in funding an international students’ education in the U.S.?

Students must have their own means of outside funding and/or scholarship and monetary awards and not plan to support themselves with on-campus employment. The best that one might hope for might be to recoup some money from OPT (Optional Practical Training) employment after graduation, but that is not guaranteed.

 

  1. Are there funding sources available for students after their first year of studies, in case they don’t receive any institutional support initially?

In some cases there might be departmental awards or scholarships that come available once a student has proven their academic talent. Again, these should serve more as an unexpected reward for great academic performance, and not as a hopeful source of base funding.

 

We’ll have more interviews with university faculty members in the campus spotlight, so stay tuned.

 

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