• Motivations and Incentives

    First and foremost in studying and exam-taking are the incentives which drive or motivate us toward a goal. Incentives can be roughly divided into two classes: rewards and threats (or rewards and punishments). Basically, we react toward pleasant things and away from unpleasant ones. If you are “lacking in motivation,” or, more correctly, low in motivation, it means that you have not reacted enough toward the rewarding side of study or away from the fear of failure in a way that brings out your best self. People who do not measure up to their potential ability are called “under-achievers.” The graph in Fig. 1 illustrates their relative position (UA). Industrious,…

  • “This Subject Is of No Value to Me”

    How many times have you wondered, “Why do they make us learn this?” when confronted with a course for which you can see no earthly use? Driver training is a subject whose immediate value is obvious, but when it comes to many other things, like required mathematics, English, or history, the values become more obscure. The ruling about each separate required course has been passed upon by many people: school board members, educators, legislators, parents, and specialists in educational research. Each decision is backed up by fairly good evidence. One reason why certain subjects are required is that fundamental schooling has a benefit for society as a whole. There is…

  • Maturity

    Most people confuse maturity with adulthood. Maturity deserves a close look, since it contributes to your success in studies; if under-developed, the low degree of maturity may hold you back. Maturity is the ability to see the connection between today’s actions and tomorrow’s results. This eliminates the question of one’s age. Usually maturity improves with age, but not always. If a child can modify his behavior today on the promise of what will happen next week, and an adult cannot, it is correct to say the child is more mature than the adult. If one high school pupil can spend part of each evening at homework help while the other…

  • Girls and College

    A great many girls in the top half of their high school class do not go to college. This is a great loss to the nation in more ways than one. But there is an even deeper kind of loss: A girl who does not have the benefit of a good education finds out later that in many situations, including rearing children, the lack of the common fund of knowledge shared among her college friends leaves her out. She has to settle for a poorer job. She will have trouble dealing wisely with her children. She may even have to settle for a less desirable husband. This brings us to…

  • Competition

    Whether you are approaching the end of high school, or are already in college, or perhaps preparing for some special, post-graduate, or Civil Service exam, you must face an unpleasant fact: There are almost always more people competing than there are openings. Much unnecessary grief comes from not realizing this in time. Suppose that you are applying for a job for which you have had a fair amount of experience. You may imagine that you are a shoo-in for the job. But you are depending upon something which a competitor may also have, and he may have more of it. If you take an exam which contains questions that you…

  • Why Do We Compete?

    Each institution of higher education has its basic graduation requirements. They include a C average, and also usually include certain basic subjects all must take. The low-C students find the competition for a college C very keen. It may surprise many to learn that about 21% of the grades given in basic subjects are D’s and F’s (Figs. 2 and 3) They may have the opportunity to retake, at added cost, a few courses to earn a C, but eventually they are weeded out if they fail to improve. Figure 3 shows an idealized normal grade distribution curve which, of course, seldom occurs. In practical cases, the curve may be…

  • The Pace at College

    The competitive nature of college work is responsible for a faster pace. After all, only the better pupils from high schools can be admitted. When you go to college, you are saying, in effect, “For four years, self-education is my business. It is a competitive business, with the highest rewards going to those who make the most of the opportunity.” The familiar saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s whom you know,” is making less and less sense as the competition by business and industry increases to get those with know-how. There is a change, for example, as you move into college in the amount of attention given to the…

  • Attendance

    Attendance, while generally compulsory, is more liberally viewed than in high school. This means that you occasionally are permitted to “cut” without offering an excuse. Those who do not know how to discipline themselves with this feeling of freedom usually cut too many classes, thinking it will not matter. But cuts not only become a matter of official record – viewed as a big question-mark by prospective employers; they reduce very definitely your grasp of the subject. It is assumed that you are mature enough to want to attend, if only for selfish reasons. Professors are not likely to find time for appointments to go over work with you if…

  • Personal Attention

    The expanding population and the slow growth of college and university facilities have necessitated large classes in most subjects except foreign languages and advanced courses. The large classes often meet in smaller sections for more personal attention, it is true, but the professors are even then not as accessible outside class hours, mainly because they have so many students in their courses. They have far less time than is necessary to discuss each important point in the subject with each student, personally. This is not altogether bad. Students should become self-propelled as quickly as possible, for their own good. The enforced lack of personal attention in large classes has the…

  • Counseling

    Every institution takes into account the difficulties of transition from high school to college. The majority of teachers and staff at every college has experienced a little of that “alone feeling” that overtakes a person who has left familiar surroundings, friends, and family. There are trained people in counseling centers at all large institutions to take care of those needing someone with whom to talk. Their existence is a gratifying relief to busy professors who are hired to be concerned mainly with academic-matters, such as explaining principles to students and improving the clarity of teaching, keeping abreast of their changing subjects by extensive reading, and preparing and grading quizzes and…