Suggestions for Learning
Above all, remember that education is an active process, not a passive one. The
more immersed you are in the material, the more you will learn. The corollary to
this is that you must assume a large part of the responsibility for your own learning.
Let your instructor gather sources of information for you and to organize them -
however, do not depend upon him or her to spoon-feed the material to you in a lecture.
All of us are responsible for our own learning.
What are my suggestions for how you can get the most out
of your courses, including mine?
- Read everything that you can about the topic being studied.
Class material should comprise a small percentage of your exposure to a topic.
Read a variety of sources; all too many students depend upon their textbook as
their sole source of information. This is a major mistake, particularly today
when so much information is available to us from a variety of sources.
Among other sources,
- The internet has exploded with rich material on finance during the
past decade. Use the search engines to rapidly find information that you want.
- Periodicals in your field (such as Fortune, the Wall
Street Journal, and Business Week for business majors) should be read on a
- Trade books written by leading practitioners in the field
provide valuable insight.
- Talk with people who work full-time in the field. You
will find that they love to discuss their jobs with others.
- Even TV shows are valuable. In finance, entire
channels or networks are now devoted to financial topics.
- Learning generally occurs in three stages: knowledge,
analysis, and synthesis. Knowledge is acquiring information and
committing it to your memory. Analysis concentrates on applying the knowledge to
specific areas. Synthesis focuses on understanding the subject's
relationship to other topics or fields. Try to learn about new subjects in this
- Recognize that learning is not a linear process. One
day you struggle with a topic - the next day you dash to the finish line. Don't get
discouraged on the difficult days; it is a normal part of the learning process. On
the difficult days, focus on a small part of the material or else find a different
reference work on the same material in order to approach it from a different angle.
- Don't worry about understanding a
topic 100%. Just read, read, read . . . the gaps will be filled in as you are
exposed to more material.
- Ask critical questions as you study. E.g., why would anyone
want to do this, what need does it serve?
- Reduce topics down to their simplest terms. Most complex
subjects have a very simple base or underlying logic.
- To increase your understanding, concentrate on applications of
theory. For example, in finance, construct a spreadsheet to solve or model a particular
type of financial problem. Practice, practice, practice. There is no
substitute for repetition.
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