How to retain information over the summer
Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 16:05
The summer is a period of time where students' academic careers either slow down or stop completely. This can pose as a major problem in terms of being able to remember useful information learned during the semester.
"[Retaining information] is important for any courses that would draw upon previous knowledge," said Parkland student Kristen Stiger. "Biology classes, especially if you take continuation courses like Anatomy and Physiology 101 and 102, usually draw upon things you learned the last semester. So it can be disorienting if you don't retain that information." So how do you do it?
The best way to keep particular information fresh in your mind is to apply it in real-life situations. One good exercise for retaining writing skills is to try creative writing when there is free time. It's a fun way to keep writing skills sharp throughout the summer lull. Or if a student wishes to apply concrete writing skills, setting up a blog would be a great resource. The student could practice maintaining a deadline while exercising writing skills.
A quick way of keeping material on the brain is by using little bits of it to impress friends. For example, astronomy students can trace out constellations in the sky while Psychology students can apply theories in an attempt to explain certain behavior. However, finding methods of using knowledge for certain subjects such as Biology or Calculus can be very difficult or nearly impossible.
In terms of these classes which rely heavily on rote memorization, many students admit that they return to a brand new semester without remembering much from their prerequisite course the previous semester. For a majority of students, information such as equations learned in Algebra serves no day-to-day purpose outside of the classroom. So what can students do to keep math knowledge fresh in the mind over the summer break?
"As much as students will hate to hear it, the best way to retain math information is to consistently study it. Even if you're not in a math class over the summer," offered Wayne Clark, a Mathematics instructor at Parkland. "Whether you kept your textbook or you go online, you need to actually practice it; even if it's just once a week so you have something to build off of once the fall semester starts. Retention comes from repetition."
In a situation where a student must refer back to old knowledge, one Parkland student offers great advice. "I keep a lot of my notes and tests just in case if I need to go back and look at a section that is important," said Toan Tang. "That usually comes in handy." Since there is old material readily available, it is easy for a student to reassess anything essential that may have been forgotten.
A big problem is that it is common for students to take the break as a complete departure from academics. While this may sound incredibly appealing as this stressful semester is nearing a close, it leads to a loss of information and skills. One tip to staying in an academic frame of mind is to read whatever may be appealing, whether it be novels, biographies, or academic journals. If reading seems too boring, watch credible documentaries on subjects of interest. If it helps, jot down notes along with the activity. It is possible that topic that was learned over the break may be useful in a new class next fall, so you will already be one step ahead.
Taking the time to keep up the academic mindset and review previous knowledge over the summer will ultimately lead to a better education. While the break can serve as a great opportunity to take a rest from class, it can also be a great amount of time to absorb everything you've just learned. Try not to study too hard this summer!