One of the more influential holiday classics, in my book, is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Through the course of a night Ebenezer is forced to visit the ghosts of his past, present, and future life. It is a great lesson for everyone, and timely when you consider that the New Year is seven days later. Focus on your field of study in the same way Ebenezer was forced to look at his life. This is not a time for reflection, but a time for perspective and understanding.
Studying the Past
Research the historical aspects of the field. Look for the founders of certain theories, breakthroughs, and revolutionaries. Even if you didn’t like history in school, you should know where things started. This can provide a solid foundation for your current studies, and explain why some things are in practice and why others’ methods failed to survive the test of time.
Expanding on the Present
Where is your field today? Check current headlines. Whether you’re a business student, English major, or in engineering you should subscribe to current feeds. Include foreign and domestic publications, and make it a routine to try and read a relevant article daily. Google alerts will be your best friend here, so set up a stream with keywords you’ve used in class or from your reading.
Look Into the Future
Predicting the future involves a lot of research, and a great deal of understanding for your subject matter. Instead of pretending you have a crystal ball, map out areas of study you see as trending, and where you want to take your research. Roll some of these ideas into your resolution for the year as well.
The time you spend in your program should be time well spent, so don’t be lazy because that can come back to haunt you. Dig through the history of your field to find some great nuggets, and then use that information to grow new ideas.
By J. Mason
Online Learning Tips Editor