Home Education & Learning Self-Education in University: How to Organise It Correctly

Self-Education in University: How to Organise It Correctly

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It is naive to think that studying at university alone is enough to master a profession. If you didn’t go to university just for the crust, self-study is an inevitability.

Self-education is not so easy. It’s one thing to read and learn under the pressure of teachers and deadlines, and quite another to be responsible for your education yourself. Without outside supervision, it’s hard to force yourself to learn new information. Most students end up bogging down in self-study. To make sure you are not one of them, we will give you some tips for self-study in higher education.

7 tips for self-study

Choose one thing

The main mistake beginners make is to learn everything and more. First, determine what area of knowledge and skills you want to pump up. If you want to learn how to program, do not rush to all programming languages at once, choose one. This will determine the sources of information you will need. When I was on the same situation some days ago, I start looking for someone to do my programming homework. It was quite helpful because I received an explanation of some issues. 

An important criterion for choosing a field of study is interesting. The subject must be something you like and enjoy. Forcing yourself to study something you don’t want to is torture. That’s why many people give up and quit halfway through. Independent work in college should be for love.

Make a plan

Studying on your own in college should resemble studying at university. So make a schedule for yourself and set aside a certain amount of time to study. Your independent study should not last less than an hour. Mark in your schedule what topics you will cover during the day, what you need to read or listen to. Keeping a schedule is important for quick results.

Even if you are a non-pedagogical student, it is clear that without a plan it is almost impossible to build the learning process correctly. You need a syllabus to work independently. This word combination is only scary at first glance. It is enough to make a list of sources: books, websites, blogs, podcasts, which you will study.

Use different sources

Even at the university in the first class of the semester, teachers recommend additional textbooks. In self-study, use reputable sources, Wikipedia, and posts on Instagram will not do.

You will find appropriate sources under articles on the topic you are interested in. Experts often share scientific literature on their websites or video blogs. Write down the names of books and authors for the future.

Take advantage of all the charms of technology: read articles in online publications, watch video lectures, listen to podcasts and webinars. The combination of different formats will benefit and diversify your self-study. You’ll get to know opposing viewpoints, compare them, and draw your conclusions.

Take notes

You can’t do anything without taking notes. Taking notes not only keeps information in one place but also helps you remember it. Just “copy-paste” text into a file on your computer doesn’t work as well. You will remember more information if you had to do some mechanical action to do it.


Information without practice is dead weight. What’s the point of accumulating something in your head if you don’t use it? You can find a part-time job that will help you hone your skills.

If you can’t find a job, you can practice on your own. You don’t need to take on a huge project, just take small steps. If you are learning to draw, no one expects you to produce reproductions of Aivazovsky paintings, start with small sketches. Over time, set yourself more difficult tasks.

Follow the experts, many of them hold author’s workshops – short intensive courses. At them, you will see how professionals work and learn something new.

Train others to train yourself

The best way to understand and absorb new information is to teach others. Accountability to your students and fear of appearing incompetent will force your brain to break things down and make sense of the topic. You’ll consolidate the knowledge you already have and see gaps and questions you don’t know the answer to yet.

You don’t have to recruit your students. You can ask friends or parents to listen to your explanation of the topic. Explain to them every point you don’t understand.

Motivate yourself

Motivate yourself by understanding why you need independent study in the university in the first place. Make a list of what your new knowledge will allow you to do in the future.

Set goals so you have something to strive for. Your goal should make you want to achieve it. Do not set global goals, start with small goals. Achieving them will make you more and more eager to study and reach new goals.

How not to abandon independent work at university

Finishing what you start is not a superhuman ability. With the right attitude at the beginning of self-study, you too can make it to the end.

Prepare for the challenges

Take off the rose-coloured glasses before you begin your self-study. Not everything is going to work out for you, and some things may not go according to plan. Live with it. For effective self-education, it is necessary to get used to discomfort and prepare for failure.

Don’t berate yourself. How many times have you fallen while learning to walk? Each slip-up should be seen as a new experience. Look for new ways to deal with it and draw conclusions.

Remain optimistic

After frequent failures, it’s hard to believe in your best and your abilities, but it’s essential for self-learning. It is important to notice every success, even the smallest one. Believe in yourself, so you don’t give up at the beginning of your journey.

Forget about inspiration

For some reason, many people are still convinced that any activity requires inspiration. However, this is the same as waiting by the sea of weather. It’s a sure way to abandon everything you’ve started. Self-education is daily work. You have to be proactive and create an environment for yourself to work independently.

Prepare a plan B

Make a list of the things that can get in your way. For each item on the list, think of a solution and spell out your actions. This plan will help you pull yourself together in a crisis and adapt to the new environment.

Find like-minded people

It’s always hard to do it alone. Find communities on social networks, chat rooms, and forums where you can share your problems and successes. Support from like-minded people will encourage you and will not allow you to quit what you started.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.

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