I am writing this at the end of the Destress week but you will be reading it after starting to check your midterm results and thinking about whether or not you are meeting your own expectations.
A ‘C’ grade is fine. If you get a ‘C’ for a paper, an exam or a report, that’s fine. It means you met the minimum requirements of the assignment. The problem, however, is that if you aim for a ‘C’ and then just drop to a ‘D’ on a minor quiz worth only 5%, it would bring your overall grade down from a C to the D range, and then you might start to be on Academic Probation.
So aim high – just in case you miss. If you’re not achieving ‘A’ grades, why not? Are you working hard enough? I have spent several hours recently talking to students on Academic Probation about the risk of dismissal, and unfortunately we always need to dismiss some students every semester. I would rather help everyone get off AP – and it always comes down to the simple thing of not doing enough work.
So this is a gentle reminder that might help all of you think about how you are structuring your time and how effective your studies are. Now, to begin with, you should be on 15 credits, or 5 courses of 3-credits each (some of you are doing Nano courses, but otherwise this is right). For each of those 3-credit courses, you should have 2 classes per week of 1 hour and 20 minutes each. When we include the breaks between classes we can round these to one and a half hours per class, or three hours per week per course. That’s fifteen hours per week of classroom time, every week.
But, (and this is a big but that many often forget), you are expected to be studying for 2 hours outside the classroom for every 1 hour you spend inside the classroom. That means for those fifteen hours in the classroom every week, you should be doing a further 30 hours outside the classroom, involved in such activities as reading, researching, writing assignments, revising for exams, meeting teams and working on group projects, and then reading again. That is a total of 45 hours per week – more than most full-time jobs. If you are lucky enough to take a proper lunch-break during the day, this would mean you work (for example) from 9am to 12pm, have a break, and then carry on from 1pm through to 7pm, every single day, from Monday to Friday. Want to go to the gym at 5pm? Then you need to add another hour on at the end of the day of study.
And how do you study? Are you taking hand-written notes in the classroom, and then taking time to make notes of your notes on your computer? This gives you the chance to review your professors’ class and make sure you understood everything… and it gives you the opportunity to follow up if there were any confusions. When you read before class (and I hope you all read before class – if not – please change that habit now), are you making notes while reading? Again, hand-written notes best, then make notes of your notes on your computer. This way you are, in effect, reading the text twice, but (importantly) engaging the brain. Otherwise the texts are likely to go in one eye and out your ear.
Sounds like a lot? It is. And that’s what work is. A lot. Our mission is to be the most relevant business school in the world and that includes preparing you for the realities of the workplace.
What about sleep? Are you getting eight hours per night? If not, why not? If you live next to campus you probably only need to get up at 8am for a 9am class, which means you can switch off at 12am and still have a good night. Lack of sleep, however, has the same effect on cognition and reflexes as being drunk. You wouldn’t turn up to class drunk, so why turn up without the right amount of sleep?
And finally, play. You might think that with all the work I am describing above, you don’t have time to play, but that is, of course, not true. I would like all students to be involved in different clubs and societies, some professionally focused (HMCC, MUN, Finance and Banking, for example), some sports focused (basketball, football etc.) and some just for ‘fun’ (chocolate, music and jamming and so on). I have just been listening to some fascinating TED talks about the importance of play and it was a welcome reminder that we must all find time in our busy lives to play. Play can be having a laugh with your friends, it could be going to the cinema or theatre, or it could be playing FIFA, Fortnite or the guitar. It could be playing sport, it could be reading for pleasure, or having a really good belly-laugh by enjoying comedy (such as stand-up at a comedy club or on TV).
If you have read down to here, you would be right in thinking that I am not saying anything new. Researchers and medical professionals have been talking about this for many many years. The amount of time for play has increased exponentially over the past few centuries – we have more free time than ever before. So make sure you take advantage of it. Work hard, but remember to also play hard. And then, breathe, and rest.