Congratulations! It’s the end of April, and for most post-secondary students like yourself, you are finally done with the all-nighters, endless group meetings, emotional fits, coffee binges, arguments with your TAs, last-minute presentations…and the list goes on!
As much as I’d like for you (and me) to shut those books, shove those notes aside and mentally erase anything and everything associated from the past school year from our brains – I’m going to tell you to stop for a moment.
Reflecting on your academic year is a crucial tool for your future academic and self development. Our own smahemtecks wrote a great reflection piece on finishing her first year of Medical Laboratory Sciences. So before you settle into summer mode, grab a pen and notebook and take a few minutes to look back and reflect on your accomplishments, failures and everything in between. Once you’ve done this, combine it with some goal-setting to create an action plan for the next year ahead. Based on how far you’ve come and what you’ve learnt, what is that you’d like to do in the years ahead?
Here are a few questions you can use during your reflection:
1. What is one accomplishment you had this year and what made it so successful?
2. What type of learning style do you think worked best for you this year, and how can you take that one step further?
3. What were 3 of your most important mistakes or weaknesses and how are you going to aim to improve each of them?
4. What is one way you can improve your academic, personal and professional development?
5. What are 3 main goals you have for the coming year ahead and what type of short and long term goals are needed for you to succeed?
There are numerous other questions you can reflect on and it is even better to tailor each question to your personal experiences and situations. Reflections don’t need to necessarily be academic-related, they can be applied to any aspect of your life as noted here in a Zen Habits article. The point of a reflection is to take some time out of your busy life to understand who you are, what you are currently doing, what it is that is going well, and what you can improve on to become the best version of yourself. And don’t forget – a reflection without an action plan is like a bow without an arrow! The combination of the two will provide you with the direction in which your next set of efforts should be focused.
When you put your thoughts into writing, and when you force yourself to think critically about your situations, you can take a look at your journey through a wider lens. You start to see patterns, identify consistent behaviours that allow you to succeed and find missing gaps where more of your efforts are needed. When I reflect back on my own past year, I found that note-taking really helps me to absorb and understand lecture material in my own words and is what helped to achieve many of the high marks. From a personal development standpoint, I found that the main theme in my ability to overcome challenging situations was to push forward with a positive mindset – something I developed this past year and will apply to future challenges.
Identifying such instances helps you understand yourself, your growth and your potential. So before you put on those flip-flops and forget about school – take a moment to pen down what worked, what didn’t work, and what you plan to improve for the coming months ahead!