Book: The Strategic Student

  • Read: July 2012
  • Rating: 8.0/10

The Strategic Student by David Cass is what I wish I had read before I went to college. It contains a lot of useful, applicable information that will help students of any age (high school or later, in my opinion). While the book is specifically written for students that are leaving high school and going to their undergrad college for the first time, a lot of the info given in the book is applicable for students going to any level of college. This is the book I wish I had read before I started my Master’s degrees. While I believe that the students themselves would be best off reading the book, it would also be useful for parents of said students that want to encourage their child as well as providing specific things they can do to help.

The book starts off discussing the Strategic Student’s mindset. This is generally different than what it was in high school (though some things would be better learned in high school). The book then transitions to specific skills that a student can use such as time management, classroom, studying, test-taking, and paper-writing skills. Finally, the bok discussing stress and technology.

Disclaimer: I met Dave during my MBA degree and subsequently read the book after I had finished. I’m not sure why he didn’t recommend it earlier in the program.

My Notes

The strategic student is a self-reliant student

Common theme among struggling students = no plan or system for managing resources (time management, study plans, campus support)

A self-reliant student initiates action without being prompted

You must be proactive- in college, if you wait for guidance to take action, you’re going to be too late

To manage your GPA:

  • Be a generalist
  • Don’t compete in individual classes
  • Focus on higher credit-hour classes
  • Train more in harder classes

The most powerful thing you can do to become an academic ace is to master time management

Be ineffective by:

  • Event-driven studying (e.g. when you have a test)
  • Sporadic studying
  • Studying until you feel good

The goal of a solid time-management strategy is to streamline your work so you spend less time studying

Strategic student time-management system:

  1. Estimate: determine weekly study time per class
  2. Execute: carry out and focus on quality study hours
  3. Track: calculate the actual study hours per class
  4. Repeat: adjust study plan as semester moves forward

Plot your course and track your progress

In class:

  • Show up (mentally)
  • Learn what you need to lean
  • Don’t sit in the back
  • Schedule classes strategically

When a professor asks a question, write it down

Find out who writes the exams:

  • The professor
  • The textbook company
  • The department

Knowing who writes the exams will tell you where to study the most

Tracking may sound like a chore, but tracking helps the student to resist procrastinating

On a test, if you don’t immediately know the answer, skip it and come back to it

For big papers, establish weekly and daily goals