College is mental gymnastics at its finest. University campuses are alive with ideas, some scientifically provable, others entirely arguable. When you exist in this sphere of swirling minds you can’t help but feel energized by the exchanges you encounter. People all around you have something to say. Positions and postures come in all sorts of varieties. Questions are answered by questions that prompt more questions.
In this intense minefield of knowledge and half-knowledge, you need to have your wits about you. You need to be confident in your critical thinking abilities, and you have to be passionately willing and able to improve them.
Here are five ways to exercise your brain and stay academically athletic.
1. Discuss ideas outside of the classroom with intelligent people who enjoy a good debate.
College is a place for spirited arguments. When else are you going to have the opportunity to drink and discuss philosophy, economics, metaphysics, religion, politics and history on a nightly basis. Molten minds are forming all around you, and as the cerebral rocks cool, everyone wants to share. Get in on the debate, put in your two cents, no, better yet say a nickel’s worth. College is an open forum for any an all topics. Take advantage of it while you can.
2. Take classes that intrigue you.
Nothing spurs analysis like interest. If you want to trick your brain into thinking that it’s in hobby mode, not study mode, then you better be passionate about your subject matter. There must be something that you find fascinating. Whatever it is, enable that curiosity. Tap into genuine interest, and school work will start to feel instantly rewarding. By following your personal preferences, you’ll be able to delve more deeply into the material you study.
3. Take notes like your life depended on it.
Seriously. When you try to create a written historical record of your lecture, in real-time, the results are amazing. You focus more one what’s going on in the moment. You associate the information you process with audio and visual imprints. You have a concise record of everything you were exposed to, and you can review this material quickly and completely. Don’t forget to take notes as you read, and write all over your books!
Do your homework like you’re supposed to and come to class prepared. Subject-specific critical thinking is all about recalling information. The more ways you imprint, the more you retain. Make sure you like your classes, because you’re going to be asked to digest mass quantities of whatever material you’ve signed up to absorb. Talk about what you’ve learned with friends and classmates, but don’t get in fights over the periodic table. Respect everyone else’s opinion, but express your own. Realize that no matter what, there’s always more to learn.
Review more industry related articles by Chris Stout at CareersandEducation.com Chris Stout is a feature writer and often covers topics related to Campus degree programs and Career Advice .