Steve’s Game Plan Ritual

Every quarter, I sit and think about where I fell short in terms of my potential as a student navigating higher education. I have many skills that work for me now, many I probably even do unconsciously, but I am always looking to refine my workflow.

In the past I have fallen for the trap of wanting to address every aspect that I would like to change, but over multiple years I have learned that change is slow and gradual. Although I feel as if I have several weak points that can be improved, to supplement the student I am today, I have narrowed down some solutions to implement this quarter. I will omit personal goals (working out, video blogging, cooking, etc..) from this list, but I still take them into consideration when planning.

However, I would not have been able to come up with solutions if I had not spent time at the end of my quarter reflecting on things I wanted to improve. Here is that raw list of complaints:

  • “Because I am struggling to follow along with lecture, I have no idea what is going on. I do not even know what I am confused about and what to ask questions about. My time in lecture feels wasted, and thus I occasionally skip lecture to instead study previous lectures and then eventually I catch up on a recording of the zoom lecture. I feel as if I should be regularly attending lecture to ask questions, I wish I could be prepared and feel engaged in the live lecture. I had originally planned to prepare for each lecture, but whenever I began to fall behind, I was confronted with the decision of previewing for the next lecture or reviewing the previous lecture, and I chose the latter every time. Perhaps I should not think about completing one before the other, but instead distribute some time apart for both.”
  • “Throughout my first three weeks, I found it incredibly difficult to match my previous 6-8 hours of studying daily. I beat myself up for not keeping up with that goal, I would like to set my goal lower in the two to four hour range and gradually increase it. Also, I should take into consideration that studying from home (covid-19 time) for multiple hours is so much more demanding from studying at a library. Start with smaller increments of time for studying, perhaps I must build up my focus like a muscle.”
  • “I feel as if college is a unique atmosphere where I can learn beyond the classroom through students, faculty, and organizations, but I did not get that experience this time around during zoom university. I know that clubs and some departments make some effort to maintain that social aspect of learning, but I have not made the effort to engage. I am on several mailing lists and have ignored online seminars, lunches with faculty, and clubs. Get involved! Perhaps I was scared for my first quarter back that I would not be able to manage being involved in extracurricular activities and balancing school, but now I know that I am capable with my academic success from last quarter.”
  • “I’m glad I created flash cards for my math classes, but I’m sad that I did not use them enough to make them beneficial. As I wrote my lecture notes, I created the cards, but I only ever practiced with them 2-3 days before an exam. If I want to see some benefit, then I’m going to have to focus on frequency of practice and place more emphasis on flash cards that I struggle more with.”
  • “I tend to underestimate how behind I am because of how I organize my notes. I store all my first drafts of lecture notes together, and gradually replace them when I update my notes for each lecture. However, at any given time my set is complete and mixed with finished notes and my first drafts. I believe that my final notes need to be an independent set so that when I see the most recent lecture notes, I have the last notes I updated instead of the most recent lecture which I have not yet studied.”
  • “I need to make scholarship writing a habit.”

After reading these, I can feel my exhaustion in my endless pursuit for being “the perfect student.” For future reference, I should write about what I did right too. The little wins are also important! By being specific in my reflections, I have been able to create my 2021 Winter Quarter Game Plan to address these problems through a few new tools and goals. Although my game plan does not show my already developed habits and study-skills, it does show the direction I hope to move in.

Winter Quarter 2021 Game Plan

The list may not seem too ambitious, but that is because I have experimented with much larger goals and have always found myself not keeping up with those goals. Even now, I have highlighted two goals that I anticipate I will be struggling with because of how different it is to my current style of learning. I always print out this game plan and keep it somewhere I see it often (usually a binder or my home desk).

Here is some bonus footage of my first game plan from Winter Quarter 2017 at UC Davis. As you can see, my goals are fewer and now more specific than before.

Winter Quarter 2017 Game Plan

I will be expanding upon this post with a video about implementing this game plan on top of my current study skills once I receive my syllabuses to tailor the video to my specific needs for the quarter! Stay tuned!

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