The Study Dude—Own the Mindset for Top Grades

You want to accelerate your learning, right?  I watched a good friend gain mastery of PhD level subjects.  She got fixated on her passion and mastered it over decades, gaining ground every watchful minute.

I want that for me, and I want that for you.  I want us to give 110%.  That requires zeroing in on our brain power.

When I entered university, to my shock, I scored top grades in university math.  But I later switched programs and failed to achieve a PhD in Communications.  But with a different mindset, I may have reached my goal.

So, what does it take to reach your PhD potential?

Yes, it takes a certain mindset.  But to achieve that mindset, we first need a foundation.   Here are bits of that foundation, mostly from Ian Gibbs, author of 23 Tips to Learn Stuff Better, and partly from me.  These tips may help you nail an A to one day claim your dream career:

Ian Gibbs’ first rule is “to own it.”  He says, “If it’s important to get up early, then own it.  Set your alarm clock (or two) and make sure you get enough sleep” (p.  2 of 115, 20%).  Why?  If you’re regularly late for an AU Webinar, it can lower your grade.  So, own it.

In life, similarly, every wrong we’ve done, we should own.  Instead of letting our wrongs slide, we could work to better ourselves.  Figure out where we went wrong and find solutions.  And the next time we get assigned a task, ask ourselves, “How could I do the task better?” (p.  10 of 115, 26%).

Whenever I feel down about myself, I cheer up with the thought of “how can I preform better?”  We can always make ourselves smarter, sweeter, and stronger.  And my dad’s missus says that when she does a task, she aims to do it well.  If not, she asks, “Why bother?”  So, own it.

Ian Gibbs says not to blame others for your mistakes: “The truth is you’re the only one who can learn what you need to.  No one can learn stuff for you” (p.  4 of 115, 21%).   But do let the wise guide you.  After all, wise people have better roadmaps.  But where do you find these wise people?  Luckily, many publish books.  And for every hundred books we read, one or two may skyrocket your success.  So, keep reading.

Ian Gibbs says let your passions boost your academic edge.  “If you’re interested in chemistry or geography or English literature, then good for you.  Enjoying the subjects you have to learn is a big help.  But what about if the things you’re interested in aren’t on your school syllabus?  Learn as much as you can about whatever it is that does interest you ….  If you continue learning, after a while you’ll discover you’ve become an expert compared to the rest of your class” (p.  15 of 115, 29%).  Take career aptitude tests.  They’ll help you study disciplines that stir passion.  My personality type gets passionate about marketing.  I just wish I had known this sooner.

Learn from extracurriculars that overlap with your studies.  A “reason to learn extracurricular stuff is that, although it might seem extracurricular to you, it probably ties in with stuff that is on your curriculum” (p.  16 of 115, 10%).  Gibbs believes that your extracurricular will eventually overlap with your studies.  Extracurricular stuff is fun.  But I say go nuts on extracurriculars tied directly to your studies.  If you are studying law, join the debate club.  If you’re studying kinesiology, join a wrestling team.  And if you’re studying communications, join toastmasters.  Pick an extracurricular that’ll boost your GPA.

Consider double majors that don’t lead to dead end careers.  Some academic fields scream for more than an extracurricular.  They pine for a double major.  Math on its own doesn’t seem to have the best career outlook, but a math and finance double major can turn you into a powerhouse.    Statistics goes great with a psychology or sociology degree.  English and art make for a great double major.  And business goes with most anything.  If you’re in a dead-end department when it comes to careers, consider the double major.

Whatever you choose, know that every success comes with at least one fall.  So, own your mistakes to get your A’s.


Gibbs, Ian.  23 Tips to Learn Stuff Better.  E-book.

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