Be a Student

If you’re going to invest a sizeable chunk of money in your education, you’ll want to see a good return on your investment. Here, then, are our simple tips for being a great student…

Read around the subject

Read everything and anything, about your subject. Small but vital facts can dramatically change the way you look at things. For instance, art scholars only found out about the extent of painter, Vincent van Gogh’s self-inflicted ear injury a few years ago when a letter, including a sketch, to an author (Irving Stone), from van Gogh’s doctor (Dr Felix Rey) surfaced, relating to the book that became 1956 film, Lust For Life, starring Kirk Douglas.

Variety of sources

Sources aren’t just found in traditional libraries. Use contemporary sources and artefacts or secondary accounts that might be recorded on film or audio tape. Look out for primary sources – that is from people that have an actual ‘eye witness’ point of view and contrast them with secondary accounts to understand how different the raw and interpreted views can be.

Connect with people

Communicating and connecting with a wide variety of relevant people is easier today than it’s ever been. It’s vital to gauge and debate the opinions of your fellow students as well as to tap the brains of your tutors and lecturers. Furthermore, through social media, it’s even possible to reach out to genuine experts in the field.

Socratic Method

Wise old Wikipedia tells us that: “The Socratic method, also known as maieutics, method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate, is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions”. In other words, just like the Greek philosopher, Socrates, teach yourself to challenge what you think you know. (It can really help to clarify your thoughts.)

Stay current

Study the news alongside your subject. If you are able to find parallels and patterns, the work you produce will be all the richer for it. A little known fact about Winston Churchill’s biography of his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, published in the 1930’s was thought to parallel the dangers of the rise of German fascism so accurately, that some historians believe that it helped persuade President Roosevelt to take the USA into the Second World War.


Studying at college or university is an enriching, holistic experience. With any luck, you’ll have picked a subject that you’re interested in, which always helps.

Away from the academic element however, there is a definite social side that shouldn’t be ignored.

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