Believe in yourself

Facebook doesn’t equal worse grades.  It doesn’t equal better grades either, for that matter.  Facebook is a tool that you can make use of in any way you please.

It’s the way you choose to interact with a tool that helps shape your future.

Photo by Randy McKown

You’ll have noticed that I have spent some time away from TheUniversityBlog and my Twitter account (and other online services).  I could have worried about the decision and seen it in negative terms after having read about the dangers of getting off the Web2.0 rollercoaster.  I could have panicked about losing subscribers and followers, creating mountains out of molehills.

But I listened to myself, took responsibility for my actions, and made a decision that was best for me (selfish, but hopefully for the best).  While I missed working on the blog and keeping in touch with everyone online, I knew that I would be coming back both happy to communicate with you on all aspects HE and ready to re-engage with the tools that make it happen.  Thanks for sticking with me!

I wanted to write today simply to mention that you needn’t worry what others suggest when it comes to your own life.  You may have heard in the news about a study looking at Facebook usage and exam grades.  A lot of reports mentioned a clear link between heavy Facebook use and lower grades.  However, the academic study didn’t set it out that way. Turns out that Facebook usage doesn’t suddenly screw your life up and result in lower grades.  Unless, of course, you choose that destination…

Even if the study turned out to be exactly the way it was subsequently reported, you still shouldn’t care either way.  Why?  Because the real issues are for you to respond to and deal with.  It should be clear to you when using Facebook – or any other online tool – that it is taking away quality study time.  It won’t be a surprise to you if Facebook has become an excuse to procrastinate.  Neither would you be amazed if you found Facebook to be a wonderful communication tool that you used only when you had the free time spare and a gap in your busy schedule to do with as you pleased.

There is obsession and denial, but that’s moving into a slightly different realm.  I don’t think the majority of us are truly obsessed with using social networks, no matter how much time we now spend on these things!

photo by straymuse

For all the information and warnings out there, it’s easy to stop focusing on your own thoughts and feelings.  Suddenly, everything else is screaming out what’s best for you and how you can turn from the slob that you are into a productive machine of strength and wonder.  No matter how much you listen to everyone else’s advice, keep listening to yourself and stay strong to what you believe in.  Only then can you most effectively use the best advice given to you.

If you have a concern with your development or if you can see that a particular thing (such as Facebook) is causing you to lose focus on more important parts of your life, it’s your chance to seek advice and stock up on productivity tips.  However, if life is running quite smoothly, try not to second guess yourself when the alarmist reports start saying how bad you are at what you do.

Let’s take a recent study into account.  The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has published their 2009 report of “The Academic Experience of Students in English Universities”.  If you want to check the report itself, all the information is provided in 12 pages (PDF file).

But opinions in the media make different conclusions.  The Guardian, championing the hard working student, reports that students are studying for 2 hours and 12 minutes longer per week than they were two years ago.  They also report that this change is almost entirely due to students working longer on their own, while time in lectures and seminars are virtually unchanged.

The Telegraph takes a different approach.  They slam the universities that allow students to get a degree after working just 20 hours a week.  While some universities have students working 30 or more hours a week, there is a danger that the vastly different amounts of time students work will result in diluted standards and a drop in degree quality at some institutions.

So students are working both more hours and less hours.  You can’t win, can you?

If you are happy with your academic progress (and social progress, come to that), what’s there to worry?  If you want to improve in any way, highlight what you wish to enhance and make it your own goal to find all the help you can get in order to develop for yourself.

Second guessing isn’t pleasant.  We all make mistakes, but there’s no point in thinking every last move you make is the wrong one.  Take pride in what you do and be positive about it.  Then maybe check Facebook one more time…

photo by CraigPJ


  1. Excellent article. I’m impressed at your head on analysis of the facebook = lower grades article. It’s true, too often we just allow ourselves to become a statistic, when if we just took a no nonsense approach to life we’d find it easier to get what we hope to achieve.

    Thanks for this article. It was uplifting.

  2. Glad to hear it, thanks Ibrahim. I agree, it’s difficult for anyone to hear their own voice through all the noise, but it’s certainly worth listening out for.

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