Study Early, Study Often

Posted on December 6, 2011 by

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Time magazine’s Amanda Ripley discusses South Korea’s Educational System in her article found here:

“On a wet Wednesday evening in Seoul, six government employees gather at the office to prepare for a late-night patrol. The mission is as simple as it is counterintuitive: to find children who are studying after 10 p.m. And stop them. In South Korea, it has come to this. To reduce the country’s addiction to private, after-hours tutoring academies (called hagwons), the authorities have begun enforcing a curfew — even paying citizens bounties to turn in violators.”

Hmm. . . At first glance, I found this article surprising and a bit humorous. Seoul officials raiding underground tutoring facilities almost equates with the way U.S. officials conduct drug raids. In Seoul’s case, however, the punishment almost doesn’t fit the crime. How can late night tutoring really do that much damage? I am notorious for late night study sessions that carry on into the early morning hours. In college, all-nighters, lots of water and energy drinks or coffee are the norm. I thought there was something IUSB students could learn from South Korea’s passion for academic excellence until I read further:

“When I visited some schools, I saw classrooms in which a third of the students slept while the teacher continued lecturing, seemingly unfazed. Gift stores sell special pillows that slip over your forearm to make desktop napping more comfortable. This way, goes the backward logic, you can sleep in class — and stay up late studying.”

(Sidebar: Let me just say that the forearm pillow idea is brilliant!) This is actually a pretty sad story. How can a student devote 14 or more hours a day to supplemental learning just to sleep through the information they could be learning in the classroom? On second thought, there is something IUSB students can take away from South Korea’s “culture of educational masochism”: study smarter, not harder. (Duh, right?) Seems a little cliche to even say. But take a look at South Korea’s GDP growth over the last 40 years. Ripley says it has grown nearly 40,000% due, in part, to the obsession with academic excellence. That is astronomical! Although their system is certainly flawed, South Korea has been doing something right over the years. What could a little educational reform potentially do for our economy? I am going to continue to look into this subject. I’ll let you know what I find.

In the meantime, fellow students, here are some tips for studying smarter

1) We have a saying in the Writer’s Room on campus that definitely applies to studying smarter: “Come Early, Come Often” Let’s tweak that a little and say “Study Early, Study Often” – Stop trying to fit three or more chapters of course content into your memory the night before a test. It won’t work!

2) Stay organized! Remember those huge notebook sized Agendas they gave you in middle school? Yeah, get one and keep track of your assignments and due dates.

3) Read your textbooks. That’s a no-brainer right? It should be but I’m willing to bet there are at least five students in each one of your classes that have yet to pick up a book. Don’t be a statistic.

4) Where and when you study matters. Find a spot you can access often and go there everytime you want to study. Studying during daylight hours helps too.

5) Take a break every once in while. Map out, say, 50 minutes of study time with a 10 minute break in between subjects. Stretch your legs, walk around, hop on Facebook or Collegehumor.com and have some fun for a few minutes. You will be more attentive when you get back to the books!

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