Why being ‘involved’ is so important to learning

How much do you care about your degree?

Seriously. When you’re given an assignment, how does it make you feel? Excited? Interested? Antsy to start reading up on things?

Or do you ignore it? Dread it? Groan at another piece of work hanging around your neck?

Your degree may be in a subject you love, but the work itself may not automatically grab you.

This post will explain why you need to get more involved and how to become more involved than the average punter without breaking into a sweat.

photo by *(xava du)
photo by *(xava du)

True involvement in what you’re doing gets you feeling positive about the work you’re set. You’ll know you’re involved, because you’ll want to look beyond the task and constantly challenge your own assumptions. Not only does it feel good, but the work won’t feel such a drag either.

Interested yet?

Good. So — other than the above reasons that are awesome anyway — here’s why being involved in what you are learning is crucial to getting a grip of everything, including your grade:

  • Sparks natural interest – You go from consuming information to engaging with it. You start to do ask more questions. Greater depth brings with it greater curiosity. Without this involvement, it’s easy to give up at the sheer amount of detail covered. Once you become involved, you look forward to what’s next.
  • Natural flow, as opposed to letting off a firehose – As your involvement grows deeper, so does the constant rhythm of your work. Think for a second about the last minute essay rush that we all know too well. Days, even weeks, of nothing suddenly turn into a mad dash to meet deadline in a day. Intense pressure!
    Luckily, all that becomes a thing of the past when involvement grows. Procrastination isn’t entirely banished, but the monster is less likely to call on you.
  • Desire to query things at face value – Not satisfied with a basic answer (or perhaps ANY answer), the involved scholar isn’t satisfied without more detail. This isn’t out of spite or to trip anyone up; it’s because your personal focus on the subject is growing deeper.
  • Desire to seek out and create answers – You won’t stop at questions. The more you become involved, the more you’ll become a natural researcher for the topic. Far from being overwhelmed by it all, increased involvement makes the work a breeze. Ish. 😉
  • Opportunities present themselves more freely – You’ll look out for new things, next steps, and the latest information. It’ll feel like everything is coming to you. But you create your own luck. You just won’t have noticed your own hard work.
  • Others notice your enthusiasm and want to take things further – Take involvement all the way and you’ll get seen. Perhaps stuff *will* start coming to you before you seek it out! There’s no limit to how involved you could become. So what if you’re only an undergraduate? Who cares if you’re a Fresher? These days, you’re encouraged to start everything early for your future prospects. So jump in. Get involved. Do it right away.

How do you build up the inclination to be involved to this extent?

First off, shape what you do to reflect what you want out of life. If you have no big and bold reason staring you in the face, you won’t see the point. When you see relationships between doing and achieving, you care more convincingly.

Don’t sell yourself short. Here’s how to get more involved in whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be your degree, but that’s as good a place as any to start. Especially on this blog!

  • Write down what you want from this – Armed with this information, you have a proper idea why you need to do it. It’s not good enough to have a vague idea about the future (though a bit a vagueness can help in other ways). Note down the deeper meaning behind the work. Even the most enviable lifestyle requires moments of boredom and annoyance. Keep your eyes focused on the bigger picture to cope with these moments.
  • Frame it as a time-saving exercise – Look again at all the reasons why greater involvement is so awesome. Time and again, it’s because involvement helps everything feel natural. Increased focus doesn’t automatically require more time in the long run. Dedicated initial effort brings huge time savings. The hardest part is sometimes simply starting off.
  • Think long-term – As with the previous point, good beginnings are slightly more intense, but pay off many times over as you carry on. A short-term view means a hard slog rather than a light load. Look ahead and let your involvement grow with ease.
  • A light load still equals heavyweight commitment – You have to want to be involved for things to work out. No matter how long-term you project, and regardless of how much time you think you’ll save, you still need to be totally behind what you’re doing. Without true dedication to the subject itself, the momentum simply won’t develop.

There is an element of training yourself into an attitude here. While that might sound a bit forced, it isn’t all that frustrating. Above everything, give due importance to what is being asked of you, and recognise that the most you can get out of your experience is only ever less than or equal to what you gave in the first place. Short of giving you the answers, no amount of academic hand holding can help you if you don’t put the effort in yourself.

I don’t expect you want your hand held too much anyway.

Getting from A to B, obstructions will always litter your path. That’s why you need solid reasons why you’re travelling to point B. If it’s only in order to reach point C, you won’t give point B time of day. And when you finally reach point B, you won’t be thinking about point C because you’ll be looking forward to point D.

Life is full of pathways, but the adventure starts from the moment you set off. The more involved you are in that adventure, the more you can achieve.