5 Student Success Myths – Debunked

Midterms! Finals! Drop everything and study until you drop! Don’t think about anything else. Don’t do anything else… and feel guilty if you dare take a break!

Whether the above seems perfectly reasonable to you, sends shivers down your spine, or both, we’d like to share some  productivity and success myths with you, and the accompanying facts that will help you get the success you want, and find your footing on your road to happiness.

Please visit our Student Wellness page for free online self tests and to learn more about the privileges your status as a Studentcare Health Plan member entitles you to.

1. Work more, accomplish more : FICTION

It’s 9 am. Go-cup in hand, you’re ready to study. You crack open your textbook, glance at your syllabus and realize you still have 5 chapters to cover for your upcoming test. You take a sip of your coffee and get started. The goal ? Get all your reading done today. The solution ? Power through, no breaks or interruptions. But one hour in, you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and want to call it quits.

FACT : Taking breaks is essential for sustained concentration, and for retaining information. While mathematically you will have studied less time, at the end of the day you’ll have learned and retained more. Let\’s say you\’ve only got two hours to study, and you want to squeeze as much out of this time as possible. Think studying for the full 120 minutes is the way to go? Wrong! Many scientific studies on human performance say that to be more productive, and learn MORE, you need to study LESS! Specifically, study 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break. Repeat. Total studying time: 100 minutes. Total break time: 20 minutes. Result: maximum productivity and learning! Much more than if you would have studied the full 120 minutes.

Our tip : These restful breaks will keep you motivated and productive. Try a 50 minutes on 10 minutes off study-break ratio. It has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to study. Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself!

2. The three most important things are grades, grades, and grades : FICTION

Success is too often only defined by good grades.  But University is so much more than that.  It’s making friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s learning about yourself and finding direction. But when we expect it least, it can get the best of us. Exams, papers and grades can sometimes become all-encompassing and overwhelming.

FACT : In the fast-paced world we live in, emphasis is placed on the finish line (outcome) not the journey (process) that gets you there. The same applies in school. Focusing on grades can easily heighten stress and performance anxiety, which paradoxically can lead to a decrease in performance. Focusing on University as an experience and a process however helps us learn and grow as individuals. Grades are indicators of how well we prepared or how we perform under stress or how difficult a class or exam is. Grades are not indicators of intelligence – what you’ve learned, whether it be in a book or from a friend, is.

Our tip : Look at the big picture. Doing your very best is all you can do. Remember that each professor has their own teaching style and requirements. Re-frame what it all means. Think about the importance of this test over the span of a lifetime. Keep in mind that a letter or number will never define you. But most of all, remember that if you give it your all, everything else will fall into place.

3. You can’t have fun and have good grades too : FICTION

Everyone knows that partying more than studying is a recipe for bad grades. But does that mean you should scratch out all the  “me time”’ from your agenda and replace it with “study time”? We’re here to tell you it’s not the best idea.

FACT : It\’s difficult to get excellent grades without working hard at it. But like all things in life, it’s about moderation. Sometimes, too much school work, at the expense of most other activities, can have a paradoxical effect on your grades. This is especially true when your head\’s in the books 24/7. So what’s the solution? Of course continue to study hard, but also plan time for other activities.  For example, meet up with friends and family, see a movie, eat well balanced meals, get a good night\’s sleep… in general, don’t forget to partake in recreational activities that make you happy.

Our tip : In preparation for the busy month up ahead, make some time for yourself. It’s been proven over and over again taking “me time” during studying can increase retention rate, energy level and concentration. To increase follow-through, schedule specific activities at specific times throughout your studying. For example, instead of writing “break” from 7-9 next Tuesday, pencil in “movie night”. Think about it, it’s a win-win : you’ll  learn more and feel better !

4. Physical activity will make you more tired : FICTION

You just finished class and you’re heading to the library to study. You’ve skipped the gym or passed on yoga the whole week because you’re spending every waking hour studying.

FACT : Despite your best intentions, skipping workouts causes more harm than good. In fact, science says that 30 minutes of cardio will have you feeling energized and reinvigorated. Regular exercise has been proven to increase energy levels, reduce tiredness and increase mental alertness. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 30 minutes, 5 days a week (total of 150 minutes) of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Moderate intensity physical activities include brisk walking, and bike riding, and vigorous intensity activities include jogging, running and cross-country skiing. If you feel you don’t have the time, remember that some is better than nothing.

Our tip : When you’re feeling tired, avoid sweets and sleep. Instead, sweat then study. You’ll thank us later!

5. Asking for help is a sign of weakness or incompetence : FICTION

When it all becomes a little too much to handle, you may have a tendency to shut everyone out, afraid of burdening others with your fears and worries.

But let’s reverse the roles for a minute. Think of a best friend or close family member. Imagine you find out they have been feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or depressed and did not want to share their burdens.

FACT :  We are mirrors. We set borders and open doors based on our experience with others. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It is the road less traveled. It is the difficult choice to make, the one that takes courage. It demands that we step out of our comfort zone. It requires us admitting that we are not okay and demands courage to want to work towards changing that.

Our tip : Talking it out with family, friends, or someone you trust can help you get through it. Standing alone requires strength but asking for help when you need it requires courage.  You don’t have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Please visit our Student Wellness page for free online self tests and to learn more about the privileges your status as a Studentcare Health Plan member entitles you to.