It’s been a while since I’ve been a student, and apparently in the meantime I’ve become a bit complacent. My successes went to my head a too much, had a slight negative impact on my attitude. What I’m talking about today is the work ethic required to be a successful student.

But before I talk about how I plan to accomplish that let me define “successful student”. For most that means grades. I couldn’t care less about grades, never did except briefly while getting my master’s degree (I paid way too much for that to accept anything less than honours). So for me success was never about grades. But what else is there? Simple, it’s the learning. And getting good grades in a course doesn’t mean you learned a lot in that course, it just means you learned exactly what you needed to get a good grade, which is usually far less than the course’s potential.

I was in the middle of the third week of the course, thinking about what I learned so far, and trying to project how far I’d get if I continued at this pace. What I saw displeased me.

I’ve been very┬áconscientious of paying attention to the lectures, and doing my labs and doing them as soon as possible, not the night before they were due. But I haven’t read much of the textbook, and I haven’t dug into enough Android material to make sure that I excel in this course. See the problem is doing what you’re supposed to can (usually) get you good grades, but little more than that. The lectures and labs are typically designed with an average student in mind, and typically this “average” is a very unscientific lowball estimate. So if you do all that you have to in a class – guess what, that makes you average :)

For example, this week all we have to submit is evidence that we have our development environment set up. But the prof’s already talked about layouts and views, and the three chapters in the book had even more stuff such as activity lifecycle. That’s a lot of material to go through, and I am barely aware of it.

The solution is not to complain and not to expect but to do something about it. What I have to do is the same type of thing I used to do when I was a student, at least in courses I cared about:

  1. Read the textbook, whether it appears currently necessary for graded work or not.
  2. Go through all the examples looking not for the easiest way to accomplish one thing but for the most complicated thing about them, and look up the question marks.
  3. Learn, try, understand as much as I can, pushing that limit as far as possible. I’m very critical of excuses, and especially so if they come from me.

I’ve been doing some of this but not enough. Yes I have a lot of other stuff to do, but I also did when I was a student. I’ll see what ends up working better – assigning specific times for myself to do this stuff or trying to do a little every couple of days or taking on a project.. oh wait there is an assignment coming.. yes.. good :)

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