How to finish your academic year strong

Second semester started at UCT this week.  Do you want to turn your academic performance around?  Maybe you need to change things to avoid adding another year to your degree?  Maybe your average is slipping below what you want?

Wherever you are, there is a new semester lying ahead of you, and you can take things to the next level.  If you plan to keep your academic results the same, keep doing what you have been doing.  If you want the outcome to change however, you will need to change some things.  What should you change?

This model was developed by Enterprise Group Limited and I first spotted it in Creative Schools by Ken Robinson.  Let’s take a look at the ingredients of successful change.

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Successful Change

All of these various elements are required to take the second semester to the next level.  What do each of them mean?  Let’s look at what happens when one of them is missing.

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Confusion

Are you clear about what you what to achieve?  Sometimes when you are struggling in your studies it is because you have lost vision.  I remember, especially during my final year of studies, doubting whether or not CA(SA) was for me.  I was having all of these deep thoughts, that made it hard for me to study, when really I should have been clear on my vision.  Why do you want to be a CA(SA)?  What difference do you want to make in the world?  Even if this is not clear at the moment, don’t let confusion prevent you from working hard and then making an informed decision at the end of the year from a position of strength.

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Anxiety

If you aren’t sure that you have the necessary skills to pass your exams, you will be anxious.  The bottom line is that there are no shortcuts to becoming a CA(SA) and you need to develop your skills throughout your lifetime.  What subject makes you the most anxious?  Start working on it first.  Talk to successful students from the previous year, visit the hotseat, talk to your tutor and engage with your lecturer.  Developing skills is a major reason why you are at University so don’t be shy about making them a priority.

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Resistance

Why do you want to take your academic performance to the next level?  What reward are you anticipating?  I’ll keep this brief as I’ve written about the importance of why already.

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Frustration

What resources do you require to be successful?  Hotseat, textbook, tutor, a previous student who can act as a mentor, lecturers, friends in class, student wellness, quiet place to study and sleep.  What resource has been lacking, or was unused, in the first semester?  How are you going to access it from now onwards?

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Treadmill

All of the best intentions in the world lie dormant until an action plan has been decided.  What next steps are you going to take to take the second semester by storm?  Given your vision, what needs to happen every day?  What does your ideal week look like?  Sleep, exercise, work, play – all of these elements need to be considered and included in an action plan.  All the key deliverable and test dates for the year need to be put into diary in the first week and busy times identified.  Take control back with your action plan.

Can you identify the missing ingredients in your year so far?  Fill those gaps and take things to the next level!

Paul Maughan

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