Study tips for old people

June 14, 2016

study-tipsYes, this is what it looks like when old people study.  It isn’t pretty.

We still like taking notes the old-school way, with pen and notebook. In this case, penS and notebookS. Because I have to keep a journal as part of my homework, and also I like to take notes when I read. I’d say that it’s the only way I can remember things, now that I am old, but I always liked to take notes on my reading.  Oh, and we still highlight our textbooks, we seniors. Although I must say I highlight less of the text than I did when I was 18. So maybe I’ve grown.

I know you’re wondering why there’s a portable CD player on the table. One of our books includes a CD of relaxation and regression exercises. There is no link. So I had to go buy a portable CD player. Do you know how hard they are to find? My nearby Target was out of stock so I had to go to another, further away Target. Do you know how much we old people hate having to drive around in traffic?

Yes, that is the APA style manual. American Psychological Association. Our papers must adhere to this stylebook. Of course, it’s not quite like the AP (minus one A) style manual that I learned to use in journalism class and used during my whole career. That AP stands for Associated Press.  So this new style manual reflects a big change for me.

Oh wait. Let me share my study tips in a list. I’m sure you’ll find them (if not riveting,) helpful.

1. Don’t try to take notes on your phone.

I mean it. It’s just too small. It’s perfectly ok to buy an old-school notebook and use a pen. Honest. There’s something about the act of writing it down with a pen that helps with retention. I think.

2. Turn off other media and walk away from your laptop.

Multi-tasking is a young person’s game. Focus is our game now. Gone are the days when we can listen to music or watch TV and study at the same time. Focus on the task at hand, which is studying.  Also, do not have a glass of wine with your studies. Or other substance. No.

3. Highlight.

Oh, you don’t have to highlight every word, like we did the first go-around in college. But highlight the…highlights. And then highlight in your notebook. Yes, that’s what I do.

4. Read. And reread.

These days I have to read, highlight, take notes. Then reread. And read again. Hey, I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head at my age and there’s not a lot of room for more. Repetition is the name of the game when it comes to learning. And retaining information.

5. Reflect.

I’ve developed a bad habit in this world overloaded with information, and that is only scanning the surface when I read. Because we can’t possibly save to our brains every single piece of info that comes our way.

But that surface glance? That just doesn’t work with learning. I really have to take the time to read and then reflect on what I’ve read or it doesn’t sink in.


Proof your work carefully!

First, there are the errors we just don’t see because we know what we wanted to say, and THAT’S what we see. That’s the hardest kind of typo to find. I have learned the hard way to print my papers out and read them, hard copy. Amazing what I find.

Then there’s the famous auto-correct error.  I can’t believe I turned in a paper that referred to the energetic CHANGE of experience instead of CHAIN of experience. I had to send a quick note days later to my prof, because I found it days later, to be sure he knew I knew the correct terminology. Because I sounded like an  idiot. Once burned, lesson learned.

So, those are my study tips for now. I’m sure I’ll have more down the road. What would you add?

26 comments on “Study tips for old people
  1. Michelle says:

    Where are the cups of coffee to keep us awake? I think it is marvelous you are continuing to exercise your brain and to continue the love of learning. I agree about staying away from gadgets. Disruption for sure!

  2. ryder ziebarth says:

    YES on one through five. Especially #2. I can’t process noise and anything else at this age.The proofing is essential, too. Especially with auto-change on both microsoft word and the IPhone. And pen and paper is a MUST!! But sadly, I don’t re-read the notes I take too often, but I do, interestingly, retain a lot of what I WRITE down. Good list!! The only other thing I’d add is tape the list to your wall in front of your desk; I have a collage in front of mine.

  3. pia says:

    I too think it’s great you’re back in school!

    I went back at 44–now consider that young because I was so crazed I would have my papers printed out a week before. if I was in a presentation had to lead it because I was used to being in charge—bad.

    Instead of relaxtion tapes etc I watched truly horrible TV. It made me laugh. And though I took a full load of classes, did a 1600 hour internship (in two years but i did something like 2200 hours) worked–which I had to quit because of family responsiblities, I made sure that two nights a week were reserved for friends–even if just for an hour.

    Love love love APA style as it’s so intuitive and easy, I think!

  4. T.O. Weller says:

    Carol – you say it isn’t pretty but I think it looks amazing!
    Here’s a new definition to add to the dictionary for the word ‘pretty’: “A table surface blanketed with a woman’s necessities as she explores a subject that brings her joy.”

  5. My daughter is 22 and in university currently and she prefers the old school method to studying over anything else. She finds she does a whole lot better what this kind of preparation.

  6. Haralee says:

    It does look pretty to me, pens and hi-lighters and notebooks! I happen to love back to school supplies.
    A few years ago I decided to take an online course for 4 months. It was highly intensive and I found earplugs worked well for me. They muted sounds so my focus was just as intense.

  7. candy says:

    So glad studying is over for me, wonderful ideas.

  8. Diane says:

    Great tips!
    I used to be able to read a lesson through once and was totally comfortable with standing before a crowd of kids and teaching. These days, I read it through. Then through again. Then a couple more times. Then again just before I give it. And this with highlights and notes. And even then I sometimes look at the paper with a blank, “What was this about again?”
    And, oddly enough, I retain completely irrelevant, totally useless stuff instead. Verbatim. Sigh.

  9. Andrea says:

    I like having music in my home when I have to do important stuff – Ive put on praise and worship CDs when I have to do work at the computer – it helps too! 🙂

  10. Oh this is so me!I just love this! I remember learning APA in grad school at age 47 thinking my life was over, but I took to it pretty well. In addition to hard copy notes and highlighting text, of course I found an electronic version on my tablet where I can download pdfs and use Adobe reader to highlight and take notes. It never ends.

  11. Sophia says:

    I must be old because I seriously use all of these tips.

  12. Notes on a phone! Perish the very thought, Carol! Oy!

  13. Excellent tips! I can’t take notes on my phone, either. I’m still a paper and pen kind of girl!

  14. Angie Scheie says:

    Hilarious! I really did highlight EVERYTHING back in the day. I still love my highlighters 🙂

  15. I’m all about the highlighting, which makes me about pen and paper too, I guess!

  16. These are so useful! Studying never came easy to me, but hopefully these tips can help!

  17. Amber Starr says:

    I have to write everything down if i want to retain it! I’m definitely not an auditory learner.

  18. Lisa Rios says:

    These are some wonderful study tips that could help anyone anytime. And my way of taking notes are almost how you have described as that is the best always. Thanks for the great tips.

  19. Liz Mays says:

    You brought me back to my study days, that’s for sure! I still highlight. lol

  20. Roxy says:

    These are great tips! I think the hardest one for me is getting off (and staying off) my phone and/or social media. I try to only look when I take breaks, but I find it so hard to ignore texts!

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