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To Sharpen Your Skills This September, Think Like a College Student in these 3 Ways

Posted by Natalie Hastings on

September is self-improvement month according to, well, the Internet. When I tried to research the origins of the designation, I couldn’t find much. No matter the origin, September makes a lot of sense as a time to dedicate time to reflect on positive changes you want to make in your life.

Whether you teach, have a student in your household, are currently a student or none of the above, something about the back-to-school season signals a time for new routines. As the days begin to shorten and summer activities adjourn, everyone seems to get to work on something new.

Even if you haven’t seen a classroom since, well, the Internet, it’s time to take advantage of the spirit of September and sharpen your skills by thinking like a student—specifically a college student. (Don’t worry, there is no admissions test.)

1. Select Your Course

One of the reasons why January can seem overwhelming is that there can be SO many things we’d like to improve, we get overwhelmed and do nothing. Of the resolutions I’ve personally kept, the ones I stuck to the most were manageable: Floss every day and practice yoga again. They weren’t abstract goals like “Be More Mindful” or “Be Healthier.” They might have been related to those types of goals, but they were concrete and doable.

So it goes with your September course: Pick something you know you can pass, that you’ll enjoy (or tolerate) and that will give you satisfaction upon completion.  Sure, we don’t all tolerate working out every day or making our own lunches instead of buying out, but we might feel satisfied at the end of the month that we did it.

If you need help, ask for feedback from others on what you can improve (anyone living under your roof will no doubt have suggestions), or read up on what others are doing and how they do it.

2. Write Your Syllabus

For self-improvement month, you’re the instructor. Get to work laying out your course outline that will help you achieve your goal—acquiring knowledge, skill, discipline, etc. A course syllabus should have books to read, theories to test, lectures to listen to providing information to absorb and analyze.

After you state your goal, set about a plan of things you need to do or practice to help you achieve it. Remember that finding the resources you need to meet your goal—from books to Ted talks to apps—absolutely counts as work toward your goal.

3. Do the Work Like It’s for a Grade, and Then Grade Your Work

There are courses you can take that are surveys—classes where you can sit and listen in, but there’s no grade recorded. Our September course is not a survey. Plot out the work from your syllabus, record it in your planner like you have to attend class for a participation grade.

At the end of the month, grade yourself. Start by reviewing what you did well, but critically examine what you could do better next month. And then get to work on your October syllabus, or celebrate that you made it the whole month!

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