How I Study…

This blog post is the first in a series where I chronicle my advancement through WGU’s Bachelor of Science, Business – Information Technology Management degree. It includes detailed reports on my study methods and strategies as well as occasional tips and tricks. To see all entries in this series, click the “WGU” link under “Categories” on the left sidebar (bottom of the page if viewing on mobile).

I started Western Governor’s University November 1st, 2017. Thus far I’ve moved pretty rapidly through my courses. This is primarily a function of knowing myself and understanding how I learn – what my strengths and weaknesses are, and setting up a study plan accordingly.

This post is meant to show the basics of how I study. I hope that this will be useful for others as well, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of guide. If you learn how I learn then I suspect this will be very helpful. If you don’t, then it will probably be less helpful – though I do hope that it will provide some benefit regardless.

My General Studying Technique:

I generally study by doing all, or a subset, of the following:

  • Create and study flashcards
  • Listen to cohorts/lectures via Overcast
  • Read the textbook
  • Take notes on the textbook reading

Apps/Programs I Use:

In preparation for doing the WGU program, I did a few things:

  • Removed Distractions
    • Removed social media apps from all devices
    • Removed games from all devices
    • Removed any other apps or programs that would help me procrastinate
  • Set a schedule:
    • Monday through Friday:
      • I got my boss to approve 2 hours a day for study since the degree is work-related
        • Those 2 hours, plus an hour for lunch, gave me 3 hours a day that I could study at work
      • I agreed with my wife that I could study every night from 8PM – 12AM (4 hours)
        • This way I was around for chores, dinner, and getting our 4 kids to bed.
        • I wake up for work at 6AM, and 6 hours of sleep generally seems to be okay for me.
      • That gave me 7 hours a day to study Mon-Fri.
    • Weekends:
      • On the weekends I generally wake up earlier than everyone else in the house. So on Saturday morning I’d usually get in 2 – 3 hours of school before the kids woke up.
      • I would continue my 8PM – 12AM study regime in the evenings.
      • I took Sunday off for religious reasons.
        • Even if you’re not religious, I highly suggest taking one day a week to NOT study. It really helps to get that break to relax and focus on other things. I suggest Sunday because it’s a nice way to break up the week.
    • My total study time for a week was about: 25 – 35  hours
    • UPDATE (04/02/2018):
      • Despite my above assertion, I very rarely used all my study time. Also I estimate my actual weekly study time (especially towards the end) to be closer to 10-hours.
        • Half-way through the program I changed jobs and lost that two-hours-a-day of free study time, and had to optimize my lunch time instead
        • Towards the end of the program the 8PM – 12AM study time became impractical. Sometimes I wanted to watch a movie with my wife, sometimes the kids got to bed later than planned, and sometimes I was just too tired to focus for 4 hours straight at the end of the day. By the end of the program the 8PM – 12AM study time had been eliminated

My Process for Making Flashcards:

  • Create an Excel file (one for each unit)
    • Column one: Front of Flashcard
    • Column two: Back of flashcard
    • Export as CSV
  • Anki Desktop
    • Imported CSV using a meaningful name
  • Anki iPhone App
    • Studied anytime I could.
    • If I had outstanding cards at the end of the day, I’d study in bed before going to sleep.
      • I should say though, that I never really got down to 0 in every deck, but I did put in honest effort.

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