Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Committing Time to A&P

The student handbook at our college recommends that students spend about 2 hours of study time outside of class for every hour in class (including lab).  I tell my students that's the average . . . and A&P is an above average course . . . so count on spending even more time studying outside of class.

But what to do about time commitments to family, friends, hobbies, and jobs?  Depending on your life situation, these could also be very demanding of your time and attention.

In my book Survival Guide For Anatomy And Physiology: Tips, Techniques And Shortcuts I outline a few strategies that may help you.  Here are some of those tips . . . and few others:
  • Share your study time with others.  If you have kids, then do your sketching and coloring and concept mapping side-by-side as you kids do their homework.  Kids will be more motivated to do their homework when they see mommy or daddy doing homework.  And it brings them more into what you are doing, giving them an inside peek at what is taking up so much of your time these days. You can do this with your spouse or friends, too, even if they're not in your A&P class . . . you can work on A&P while they work on their homework (or their sewing or their stamp collection).

  • Set aside alone time.  Some of your study time probably needs to be free of the distractions of others around you.  So set aside time each week to work alone.  This may mean getting child care or elder care for part of the week.  But such a sacrifice may be worth it if it helps you succeed and reach your goals.

  • Get your significant others on board.  I recommend that before starting A&P (or early in your A&P adventure) you have a heart to heart chat with your friends, your family, your coworkers, or anyone else who will be impacted by the time and attention you'll need to be giving to your studies.  Try to make them a part of helping you achieve your goals.  Ask them what they are willing to do to help you.  It could be that they promise not to pester you for more time or to refrain from pushing into giving up your study night to go out and party.  It could be that they offer to take on some of your chores or other commitments to give you more time for your study.  If you just start taking time from friends or family, without it being clear to them why, then you risk them becoming resentful.  By making them a part of the process of planning your study strategy, they will feel more a part of your road to success . . . a feeling that will bring you all closer together.

  • Make sure you have time just for family and friends.  Although you need to set aside significant time for your studies, you also need time for the rest of your life.  So as steadfast as you are about protecting your study time, be just as steadfast protecting your friend and family time.  When your loved ones know that they're important and will have their time with you, too, they won't feel so bad about losing you to your studies.

  • Stay organized.  Different folks have different styles of organizing themselves and their tasks.  But you have to do something to organize your studies of A&P . . . there's just so much to do and to keep track of and to keep up with.  Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can just "wing it."  Perhaps you did that in high school or in other college courses.  But only the very rare person can do that in A&P successfully.  So even if you never done it before, get a calendar and plan out what you need to be doing and when.  Regularly assess your progress and adjust your schedule accordingly.

  • Know why you're doing this.  One of my most successful students reminded me recently after a help session, "Those were great tips, Kevin, but all you really need is a 'can do' attitude."   That's absolutely right.  If you start with a winning attitude, and stay focused on the reason why you need to know the structure and function of the body so thoroughly, it makes all the time and effort enjoyable.  You'll learn more useful information and skills in your A&P course than any other college course.  Really.  Even stuff that will help you in "real life."  So why not make the most of it? 

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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bofh/ / CC BY 2.0