To begin, an introduction is definitely in order. Hello, readers. My name is Lydiane Rakawai and I am twenty-two years old. I concede that I am definitely old enough to know things, but not everything. I was once like you, perhaps more ordinarily so. I was a Diploma in Information Management student of December 2007 – April 2008 intake, and is now studying in UiTM Shah Alam, taking BSc. Information Studies (Hons.) Library and Information Management.
Well, here are the tips (I'm afraid some are common – things you've read before but trust me, they are worth repeating; nevertheless, forgive me):
1. On curiosity
You must understand that we have a perpetually starving universe in each one of us. When you want to know something, even the smallest spark of curiosity, fill in the gap. Do not wait, look it up. Google is your best friend in this case. Do not simply guess, know things. Be sure of things. By the end of your first semester, you are now aware of the beasts that go by names Information Explosion and Information Overload. Learn to distinguish them from other relevant information. Enquiring the lecturers is a good way to start but later you must follow-up by looking it up on the Internet ... in other printed and non-printed materials you can find. Never stop wondering. Note: Knowing things is different than doing things. Please be careful with whatever information you manage to obtain. Use them wisely.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist.
2. On reading and comprehension
I read all kinds of work, to be honest. From textbooks to poetry to scandalous fictions that shouldn’t be called by their names. Reading is never overrated. In reading whatever reading academia materials given and/or suggested by the faculty, it is important to understand everything you read. Read, understand and put whatever you have read and understood into your own words. It is better that way. It shows that you are making an effort on your part and no one takes an effort lightly.
“The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet.
3. On creating a good rapport with the lecturers
Are you aware of the saying “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer?” Well, keep your lecturers even closer than your friends and enemies both. Listen carefully to everything they are saying while in lecture rooms/halls. Pay attention. Approach them with respect and courtesy both. When you are in doubt, they are your first priority but be sure of what to ask, otherwise the lecturers cannot help you because your vague questions. This applies greatly weeks before your final exams. Be honest. If you do not know, raise your hand and ask. If you are afraid or shy, work up the nerve and approach your lecturer before the class truly ends.
“It’s true the people we meet shape us.” – Simon Van Booy, British author.
4. On memorising notes
When the push comes to shove, memorise. You do not have to remember it all: Memorise the key concepts. Key words. The first letters ... anything that helps you remember. Your memory is like a train. Once you see the first “carriage”, the others will sure to follow. While memorising, read aloud to yourself and try to memorise not just the words but have the images imprinted in your brain.
“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” – Aldous Huxley, English writer
5. On hard work versus intelligence
People often mistake hard work with intelligence – they are as different as night and day. Complete all given assignments. I know some assignments can be absolutely a pain in the neck but every assigned project is a one-time thing. Ongoing progress marks (or “carry marks”) are important. Score as high as you can through assignments, quizzes and mid-term tests. Never take these lightly. I admit I am not the very best example in this area, however, but this is how I know, why I say this is important.
“That was no way to live. If you want to do it right, he thought, you have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl inch by inch across the earth, stopping occasionally to touch your cheek to the ground.” – Joshua Ferris, American author.
6. On faith and stoicism
You have heard this before: Keep God close to your heart, let Him live between your ribcages and under your sleeves. Remember that while everything is in God’s will, we must make everything the best we can. Reap whatever good, stone-stepping opportunity that is laid on your feet, turn your cheek away at the ugliness that the world may offer you and shake the dusts off your feet once it is done.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and ideological leader.
Other little tips:
+ IMPORTANT: Do all the past-year papers.
+ The Internet is an huge, endless archive: Dig it up. Do an Indiana Jones.
+ Listen to music while cramming for your final exams. One of the reasons is that music will help you not to fall face down onto your desk out of drowsiness after five minutes or so.
+ Never mind making your own schedule to discipline yourself – the least you can do is to make an outline of what is coming next week and the weeks after that. This helps you to become aware of what is coming ... it's like being a psychic, only half the magic.
+ Never underestimate the power of anxiety and pressure. However, do not wait until the very last minute to complete the assignments given ... else you'll end up in tears and sleepless nights.
If you have managed to read this sentence, congratulations! I hope that was not an absolute bore – I tend to get a little ahead of myself when it comes to writing, so forgive me. As parting words, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all lecturers for making this possible for me. You are all starlights, all of you. To you, keep faith, chin up and good luck!
LYDIANE C. RAKAWAI
Limbang & Kuching, Sarawak