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Self Study experts, your assistance is needed.

  1. Oct 6, 2011 #1
    [1] When self studying, do you memorize vocabulary words and things like that? This isn't like taking a course where the teacher tells you what to memorize and what will be on the test. When self studying how do you separate the stuff? Or do you literally study the material "inside out" as in memorize and know EVERYTHING?

    [2] Suppose you're self studying at a time when school is in session and the subjects you're studying, you may not be taking that course in school. How do you juggle school and self study? It's really hard to do homework when you'll rather be reading philosophy or music theory.

    [3] How do you control yourself from being arrogant, a prick, and annoying everyone because of what and how much you know? I have heard stories of straight 4.0 students who knew the material inside out and would text in-front of the teacher and other stuff just because they knew that they could destroy any exam or question on the material being taught. Basically, how to humble yourself and not feel like you're above everybody else because you have learned so much through self study. "use your powers for good" :lol:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 6, 2011 #2
    It depends on what is your course.
    Your post implies it focus heavily in memorization so I'll just assume it is not math nor physics or the such.

    anyways I'm not even remotely a "self study expert" so I'm not sure how to help with [1] and [2].

    As for [3], It is pretty simple
    You just have to realize that you don't really NEED to show people how much you know.

    If you feel you REALLY NEED to, then you either
    a) have psychological issues.
    b) don't actually know much.
    c) all of above.

    If you feel you need to show the professor that you're knowledgeable and interested in whichever is the subject, then you can talk personally with him. I mean, you don't need to show it to everyone.

    you can "show to everyone how much you know" it in the day of the test. Its much more effective, kinda like "an action is worth more than words" or whatever the saying was.
  4. Oct 6, 2011 #3


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    What you ask is precise but not accurate. What do you want to self-study?
  5. Oct 7, 2011 #4
    (1) IF the vocabulary words are essential to the field I am more interested in, I try to understand them and apply them. In a sense it depends on how important they are, but ultimately understanding the material helps you memorize the words from my experience. Don't focus too heavily on memorizing a bunch of facts over conceptualizing the material.

    (II) Prioritize your time. Homework comes before self-study in my opinion.

    (III) Join a club that has like-interests if you feel the need to talk about your interest with other people.

    Who cares about what other students are doing? Focus on what you like and what you are doing, if they'd rather text than listen to a lecture, that is their problem. To me, even if I know the material, I like to try to find a new way to look at the material from the lecture. I also use the lecture time to jot down interesting notes about the subject we are currently studying and figure out different ways of applying it. So far, it's helped.
  6. Oct 7, 2011 #5


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    Hello Edin_Dzeko

    Just so you know I am an undergraduate (will be graduating soon enough though), and I do self-study myself in a few different areas of mathematics.

    As for point 1, just for myself, I do not expect the master the material that I am self-studying. At the moment I get a book on a particular area and I look for the specific stuff that I need in order to work on my research.

    I will not know how to prove all (or even a handful!) of the theorems, know all the terms, and any of that. The only thing that I should hopefully end up knowing, is how to apply that specific piece of mathematics to my research.

    If you have different goals, then I suggest you evaluate those goals in some context. If you want to master a specific area, then it might be useful for you to either take some coursework in that area, or do graduate study and then later work on that as part of your career if possible. If however you want to study something with a particular application in mind, then by all means go that route.

    You just have to put school first. I've had problems myself in the past of getting my priorities right and have suffered because of that.

    What you might want to do is find a faculty member who is either in the field or knows a little about the field you are interested in. They might end up suggesting a course that is on offer, or an invitation to do research, and this would be ideal for you since you are killing two birds with one stone: it is part of your coursework, and it's what you want to do!

    This is an easy question to answer: do research, or harder coursework.

    If you end up finding really really abstract high level coursework and research easy, then maybe you deserve to be arrogant (if you do I'm sure many experience members here will put you to the test).

    The best way to humble yourself is to face reality. You will find it gets hard, and that you struggle in some ways just like everyone else.

    Also with research this is common. I can't count the number of dead-ends I have had, all the stupid mistakes, all the idiotic times where I have tried the same thing over and over and over again (I believe they call this "insanity").

    If you get a 4.0 in your undergraduate, graduate, and qualifiers, solve all the millennium problems, and win the Fields medal by 25, I would say you deserve to be an arrogant prick telling everyone how easy this stuff is. [If you do, put in a good word for me, ;)]

    Also another way to humble yourself is to be with a diverse lot of people. You'll find that in some subjects these other people will be extremely wise in some aspect of human life that isn't mathematics or science.

    Find people who are diverse in their interests, and that are secure with themselves. If you want to become humble, you will want to try different things even when you know that you will probably screw up for the first time: you will value that experience, and you will never get enough of it.

    You are definitely in one of the better forums to learn in a wide range of areas, and many people here are definitely good role models to analyze and observe.
  7. Oct 7, 2011 #6
    Presently my self study topics are:

    [1] English / Writing composition
    My goal is to improve my grammar, write better, read 1 book (On The Origin of Species / Improvement of the Mind), and 1 scholarly article

    [2] Music theory/ Ear training
    Music minor considering double majoring

    [3] Biology
    I am a biology major so mastery of this is crucial for me. My struggles academically have been due to a lack of understanding in this area

    [4] Math
    I'm weak with the fundamentals so I have to go back and re-learn things

    [5] Philosophy
    Just doing this one for fun
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  8. Oct 7, 2011 #7
    I'm presently self studying a variety of subjects. But my main focus is in the sciences and math
    Bio, Chem, Orgo Chem, Physics, and Calc. Would really like to master concepts in these subjects.
  9. Oct 7, 2011 #8


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    Should one memorize things inside-out? Understanding is what you want, but there isn't enough time to understand everything. So some things you just have to memorize. But you must still use what time you have to understand as much as possible. If you are memorizing vocabulary, you probably don't understand what the words mean.

    And no one can really tell you how to SELF-study. It is something to discover for yourself.
  10. Oct 7, 2011 #9
    Thanks guys. I appreciate it
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