I never had to study, so I never had to learn how.
Apparently, my seventh grade teacher taught all of his homeroom classes how to study except for mine. I remember seeing different study methods, stapled to one of those metal-framed cork boards that teachers would cover in brightly colored tissue paper and put graphics on relating to the subject of the class, and thinking that studying would be something fun to learn how to do.
It never happened to me. I remember him teaching us to indent our paragraphs—I already was doing that. I remember him telling us that we had to read books once a week, at least—I was already doing that. I remember him lecturing us about doing our homework, but never once mentioning the fact that we would have to study outside of that, too.
This story always seems to go the same way—a gifted and talented child in middle school with excelling grades suddenly plateaus or even falls off a cliff when high school hits. I remember being in absolute despair at the end of every quarter, and I mean every quarter, trying to make sure I didn't fail a class so I could go to Florida with the show choir. I felt like I was overwhelmed my freshman year, but everybody around me told me that "it was just the transition, I'd get used to it soon, next month/quarter/year will be better." It was the same every single year.
When I entered my pre-collegiate program, the ton of bricks that hit me freshman year and again sophomore year at least doubled. I was paying for these classes, paying to learn, paying for the credits that would some day help me get a step ahead in the future college of my choice, and I didn't know how to keep up. The other kids in the program made fun of me because I never did my homework. They made fun of me because I excelled on standardized tests, but I couldn't apply a physics concept to save my life. Of course, adults still told me it was the transition.
This program was built to help with the transition to college, and yet here I am, beginning my second semester of college, and still not knowing quite how to study. This may sound like a long, drabbling backstory to you, but if you're someone like me, you get it.
I scraped by in high school. Lots of make up work and friendly teachers, who felt for me and knew I had the intelligence, saved me each and every quarter. They made sure that my sinking boat never fully capsized.
I failed the first test I took in college. I thought being in lectures and typing notes was enough. If I can teach you anything, it's not usually enough. It's embarrassing to me to say "I failed a test." It's mortifying to say "I don't know how to study." People never get it when I say I never had to. It's the truth.
I'm in my second semester of college, and I'm reteaching myself how to learn. I'm teaching myself to use the words that appear in my head when I hear and think to my advantage and apply them so that I understand what I'm being taught.
I think teachers will often overlook students who do well and decide they don't need to be taught certain things because hey, they're doing well already, right? I think that this is a fatal flaw in my early education. Students like me didn't need it then, but we will in the future. If teachers had taught people like me how to study, even though we didn't need it, we might not have so much plateauing or cliff diving in high school. We might not have peaked in 8th grade. We might not have stumbled our first semester of college.
I am not the only one telling this story. I know many of my peers around me are struggling with the transition to the harsh reality of college—you're on your own, and the professors aren't here to save you, they're here to teach you.
If those who had been there to teach us before had taught us this, maybe we wouldn't need saving.