How to become an independent learner

Starting university is a very exciting learning experience for any student. The key to get most out of your experience at the University is to become an independent learner.

I am an international post-graduate research student at the College of Engineering & Technology. Research can be a lonely journey and as an international student the transition of coming to a new country and starting new level of academic study is difficult. Sometimes it requires parent-like support and relationships with your tutors and academic supervisors. I am very grateful to say that I have an amazing team of supervisors who helped me in understanding the importance of my own learning and development by becoming an independent learner.

The first lesson

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” – William Butler Yeats

I learned to be a persistent student who do not wait for the opportunities but rather create his own. We should be privileged to be born in a generation where we can access the entire ocean of knowledge within few seconds just by using our smart phone or computer. We have many online forums where experts from various fields could provide you answers for you questions. This approach did not only help me in my academic studies, but it helped me in creating good relationships with my industry partners.

Along with my research studies, I became the Postgraduate Research (PGR) student representative for all Engineering and Technology students, as well as the PGR Officer. The responsibilities increased, and my to do list started getting lengthier. I started attending the College Research Committee (CRC) and University Research Committee (URC) meetings and closely observed how efficiently faculty members divide their entire day and complete various tasks, using time-management techniques. It was this moment when I learned my second lesson.

The second lesson

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler

I learned to prioritise my tasks and arranged my working hours effectively. I got more organised and avoided procrastination.

The third lesson

The third lesson I learned at the university could be explained by a saying of Helen Hayes:

“The expert at anything was once a beginner”

The university provided me opportunity to attend various conferences and seminars. Throughout each academic year, there are various activities organised by the university, which includes, workshops, research talks, presentations and conferences. I highly recommend all to attend and participate in these events as they assist you in improving your skills and increase the chance to expand your network.

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