A Disciplined Approach to Learning

There is not much that can beat taking a disciplined approach to the learning process when obtaining an education in the subject you intend to excel in. The way in which a person tackles their particular topic of study certainly has a big influence on how well they will do when it comes to getting grades.

If this strategy is so powerful and successful then, why is it that so few students actually adopt that style of self discipline in their own studies? I think a big part of the problem lies in the failure of the education system to place a great enough emphasis on discipline, especially since it is seen by many as outdated, overly restrictive or even unnecessary.

Where Did Discipline Go?

Back in the mid 20th century, a big movement rose up and pushed itself away from the establishment and the “old ways” of educating people. People demanded more freedom and fewer limitations placed on their time.

A whole generation caused big changes to occur, believing they were right and the established and traditional teaching methods were too restrictive, stifling creativity and even ambition. That way of thinking continued to drive subsequent generations to the point where even healthy competition was viewed as contrary to the freedom movement’s beliefs.

With all these changes went the traditional teacher enforced disciplines and schools became freer and less restrictive, which was seen by many as a good thing. Unfortunately, self discipline, which is the most important kind, began to die out with it.

Self Sacrifice

Fortunately, there is a contra-flow of thinking that believes personal self sacrifice and self discipline are the true ways to personal success and when you stop and consider it, you’ll see it is the only viable way. It all boils down to how the true meaning of the terms sacrifice and discipline are interpreted.

Many feel that to make a sacrifice means giving up something they like to do. That’s something most people do not want to do. But in truth sacrifice really means giving up something of a lower nature to gain something of a higher nature, in some way like sacrificing a low ranking chess piece to gain a better strategic position to win the game.

Self sacrifice and disciplined thinking (see: disciplinedthinking.com) and action can bring incredible results when applied to study and learning. It doesn’t mean giving up anything other than trivialities that would stand in the way of success.

But it does mean focusing on the things that matter to the exclusion of the things that do not matter in order to achieve the kind of success that is only possible through this approach. In the end, it really depends on how much success means to the individual.

US College Funding Gap Grows

In the UK, the stories of debt and huge overdrafts for students is something we’ve come to expect. Of course, these have grown since tuition fees have been introduced so how do students in the US cope, after all they’ve always had tuition fees to pay.  Well it turns out the story is relatively similar, and although Americans are saving more than ever for their further education it isn’t nearly enough.

eyes-34619_640

 

Most Americans save into something called the ‘529’ plan, so named because of the tax code it is associated with.   Although this isn’t the only way to fund a college degree, it is one of the most popular routes.  In a recent survey it was discovered that the average value of this fund was approximately $20,000 a sizable amount and up considerably over the last few years.  The problem is that in the US this isn’t nearly enough to fund a college education in the vast majority of states.

The rise is of course good news, and is largely due to some increase in tax benefits – the fund is tax free if it’s used for tuition fees.  The improvement in the economy has also helped with values of stocks and shares linked to these funds starting to grow more significantly over the recovery.  These increases have softened the blow slightly but it still represents a huge shortfall in the real cost of college.

The costs for a college education of course vary significantly depending on where you go and where you study.  However even the cheapest costs, tuition fees charged to in-state students, combined with room and board come to $18,000 nearly enough to wipe out the whole fund in less than a year.  If you choose an out of state private school then this figure is even higher and a figure double that cost is required.

Most experts consider the costs to be worth the future employment benefits and the fact that funds are rising is good news.  Any amount that can be saved reduces the overall costs and means that interest will not be payable on any further debt.  It still represents a huge financial risk for students and their parents though which many are having second thoughts about.  The problem is that students need to think carefully about their future employment prospects before moving into study.  Many courses and skills don’t offer the increased reward that graduates expect.

Lots of people are also starting to consider distance learning, where a degree can still be taken in large reputable universities all over the world.   For many you don’t need to change your IP address like this or sign up from specific locations anymore, the courses are truly global.  The main advantage is that of cost, they are normally much cheaper for students and they can be taken from home saving on boarding and accommodation costs.  There are drawbacks of course, the ‘social element’ is reduced somewhat but many of these courses offer weekends throughout the term when students can get together.

James Hallows

The NInja Surfer