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“Fail to plan and you plan to fail”…. we hear it a lot in the business world. Unfortunately often we just pay lip service to it, rather than really get clear on what we need to prioritise and focus on, how we are going to do it and the underlying why, values or other purpose statement that will guide our decisions going forward.

So instead, we just keep on doing what we’ve always done and often end up “fumbling in the dark” rather than making real, purposeful progress.

It’s the same with our studies. I can still remember when I first studied at university. Transitioning from high school where you really just did whatever you were told to do that day (highly structured) to University where we had absolutely no idea, and just copied down the copious notes that were up on the overhead projector (yep, THAT long ago) in the hope that we’d somehow absorb the knowledge we were supposed to learn.

Whilst the tech might have changed, not a lot else has. I still talk to students who are desperately trying to work out what they need to do to “learn”. Questions like…

“Am I supposed to get the textbook and read it all before term starts?”

“How do I know what I need to learn? There’s so much information everywhere…”

“What do I do with my notes? I just don’t know how to learn it all…”

Which is why planning (and working out where the information is as much beforehand) helps so much. As is linking up with someone a bit more experienced (think student mentor) as soon as you can.

So what does planning look like as a student?

It’s much more personal than general business planning (although you should still do this in small businesses)…

What are your different priority areas?

  • Yes study, but do you also have family commitments, work, sport, volunteering, etc?
  • How much time, energy and focus do you need in each of these areas?
  • Remember each 6 point unit/subject is about 12 hours of commitment each week!
  • When do you have assessments due (these are often available before the term starts, maybe in the handbook?) and how “big” are they. e.g. a 30% Grade means you are expected to spend at least 3 weeks working on it.
  • What other commitments/ celebrations do you need to put time aside for?
  • Do you have flex time in case you get sick (or something unexpected comes up)?

What are your Goals or Aspirations?

What are your challenge areas/ possible threats to your studies?

What do you have in place to work through those (supports, alternate plans, etc)?

What else?

In short, it’s about setting aside the time and focus to plan (much like we do in business) and get a clear strategy in place. It’s the vital first step in a successful study term!