A lot of students in university comment that they are simultaneously having the best and worst times of their lives. The first is attributable mainly to their social life and the second to their academic study. Many students fail to balance the two aspects, which leads to poor performance in one or both of them. For this reason, a course such as Orientation for Success in Higher Education (OSHE) is fundamental for all university students. OSHE teaches students useful skills to make university study more manageable. Examples of skills that will be discussed in this reflection include note-taking and time management, teamwork skills, and presentation skills. This commentary provides a general overview of the material covered in these three topics. It also discusses my overall performance in the course based on my opinion and the instructor’s feedback. The commentary also features my reflection on my strengths, weaknesses, and general opinion about this course. I think the knowledge, skills, and exposure I have obtained from OSHE class will be pivotal to my success at university.
Analysis of Gained Knowledge
Many skills are required to be successful in the university including note-taking and time management. Note-taking is an essential skill for a student because it saves time that would otherwise be spent reading through dense PowerPoint slides. It also makes it easier to remember useful information and understand concepts. Most students use the linear system of note-taking which involves the use of bullet points, numbers, and lists (Burns and Sinfield, 2016). A more efficient and flexible method is the pattern system. Experts recommend it because it incorporates memory triggers such as colors and drawings. A third style is the Cornell method, which divides a page into three sections: note-taking, cue, and summary columns. In the note-taking section located on the right of the page, the student summarizes the main points. The cue column found on the left-hand side is more concise and contains keywords, phrases, and questions that would jog the writer’s memory. Finally, the summary section is found at the bottom of the page, and it contains a two-sentence summary of the main ideas.
Efficient note-taking facilitates self-organization, which refers to striking a balance between social life and academic study. Without this balance, one of these two aspects is adversely impacted (Burns and Sinfield, 2016). To have proper self-organization, a student also must develop time management skills. One technique they can use to manage their time properly is the priority matrix. This involves categorizing activities in various mixes of urgent and important. Students should then prioritize responsibilities that fall in the first category of activities that are both urgent and important. Students capitalize on the resources available to them by managing their time intelligently.
Another important skill set required to do well in university is teamwork. Often, students are required to work in groups to complete an assignment. This necessitates the development of proper team skills. Working in groups also enhances social skills and helps people overcome issues such as poor listening, overconfidence, and shyness (Gallagher, 2016). Another reason why teamwork is fundamental in university is that it helps one develop as an individual within a group setting. For instance, a student could discover that they are a natural leader and work on improving their leadership qualities.
Small teams move through four stages known as the Tuckman developmental stages. The first stage is known as forming, and it happens when the team is assembled. It is characterized by uncertainty, anxiety, and curiosity as the members are unsure of their purpose and leader (Jones, 2019). The next stage is storming, and it may involve conflict among the members over the management approach, working style, and even the team’s mission. Due to differences in personalities and beliefs, people in a team tend to clash in this stage. Many teams fail in this phase due to failure to overcome their differences and resolve their issues. In the third stage, which is known as norming, the members resolve their differences and work well together (Jones, 2019). They leverage their strengths to achieve their goal and consequently reach the final stage referred to as performing.
All teams encounter challenges such as poor communication, difficulty starting on tasks, and nonparticipation by some members. For a team to be successful, the members have to overcome these hurdles (Jones, 2019). They must develop proper communication skills where information is shared among all members and not just cliques. Developing the skills to work well in a team can significantly improve the life of a university student.
Aside from note-taking, time management, and teamwork skills, students need presentation skills. Sometimes, instead of written submissions, students are required to present their work. To give a good presentation, a speaker should know the purpose of their presentation. For instance, it could be intended to inform, entertain, persuade, or educate the audience (Gallagher, 2016). The speaker must also be aware of the audience’s characteristics such as the level of their knowledge of the subject to be discussed.
There are three main elements of a presentation, namely, body language, words, and voice. First, a good speaker utilizes appropriate body language such as eye contact, posture, and hand gestures (Gallagher, 2016). The audience usually pays close attention to a speaker’s body movement. Second, they incorporate elements of voice such as tonal variation, volume, pauses, and intonations in their speech. The voice should be suitable for the particular audience, subject, and goal. Finally, the presenter must utilize the right words and signposts to make their message clear and easy to follow.
In addition to the skills required to deliver a quality presentation, students must also practice certain behavior to build confidence. Giving presentations can be nerve-wracking, and many people struggle to do it. To reduce anxiety associated with giving presentations, they can meditate, practice the delivery with friends and family, get enough rest, and eat a proper diet (Gallagher, 2016). It is essential to remember that being a good presenter requires practice, and it is something that can be learned.
Analysis of Performance
In my Orientation for Success in Higher Education class, we covered various topics over seventeen weeks. We discussed topics such as time management, networking, and personal branding that are relevant to any university student. I felt the course was well-structured, and its content is useful for anyone looking to pursue higher education. I think the weekly readings are informative, and I believe I have learned a lot from this class.
One of the areas that I performed well in is making weekly logs. I found that the learning log entries reinforced what I had learned during the week and was always enthusiastic to complete them. These assignments require one to revise and reflect on the weekly readings. Consequently, they gave me a chance to apply the weekly teachings practically. On the downside, I struggled with note-taking during this class. Although I did not receive any negative feedback on my note-taking skills, I recognize that I am not very good at it. After learning about the different methods of note-taking, I decided to switch from the linear system to the Cornell method. However, I found myself wasting a lot of taking thinking about whether I was doing it right rather than the actual note-taking.
I have learned that there are many skills required to be successful in university. I have developed some of these skills such as the ability to write a reflection based on a given exercise. I believe the skills will be useful to me as I pursue higher education. I will continue to work to improve my areas of weakness such as note-taking. For instance, I will practice more with the Cornell method until it comes naturally to me. Generally, I have discovered that most of the skills required to excel in higher education can be learned and refined through practice.
The Orientation for Success in Higher Education class teaches skills required to be successful in university. The skills are arranged in increasing order of complexity, and as the weeks went by, I utilized skills learned in previous weeks to complete current assignments. This was a testament to the usefulness of the course. The course gives practical guidelines for how to succeed in university. In particular, I found the readings on note-taking and time management, teamwork skills, and presentation skills useful. I think I can now deliver quality presentations despite my fear of public speaking. This is because, in addition to presentation skills, the course has taught me how to dispel the anxiety that accompanies the presentation. The course also highlighted my areas of weakness such as poor note-taking. With the knowledge gained, I will strive to be better prepared for higher education. Overall, the class has imparted me invaluable knowledge, and I believe I have performed well in it.
Burns, T. and Sinfield, S. (2016). Essential study skills: The complete guide to success at university. 4th edn. London: Sage.
Gallagher, K (2016). Essential study and employment skills for business and management students. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jones, D., (2019). ‘The Tuckman’s model implementation, effect, and analysis & the new development of Jones LSI model on a small group”, Journal of Management, 6(4), pp. 23-28. Web.