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Winning Essay

May Eve Meyers
Sullivan County Community College
Sheldrake, NY
(Instructor: Professor Rose Hanofee)

Becoming a Master Student

There are many differing definitions of the quintessential "master student." Some might say that certain students are just naturally intelligent and destined for success. Others insist that a dedication to learning is what makes a student successful. While a sharp mind and a studious nature are tremendous assets to any scholar, there are a number of other essential components. I believe that any individual can become a better student provided that he or she is willing to recognize and learn these other components.

One of the most important attributes of a would-be master student is the ability to be a good listener. This is not only crucial to understanding the material presented, but also a valuable tool in the process of gathering information. When an individual learns to listen without constantly interjecting his or her personal opinions, he or she becomes more conscious of the information being presented and thereby more receptive to learning. As simple as it may sound, I have personally found that the art of truly listening to others is a rare skill.

Achieving open-mindedness is another excellent skill for students. I think that learning to respect the opinions of professors and peers can open a door to new viewpoints in the learning process and a more balanced perspective on life in general. The true master student can appreciate differing viewpoints for the diversity that they provide, and respect everyone around him or her. When open-mindedness has truly been accomplished, a student can get something out of every class, every professor and every peer. I personally experienced this in an Eleventh Grade math class. Despite the fact that math had never been a subject I was partial to, I found the teacher exceptionally concerned with the success of his students, not to mention a very inspiring role model. I decided to stop fighting math and telling myself that I would never succeed in the class. Instead, I attempted to become more open-minded and accepting of it. Almost immediately I began to get something out of it; I started to understand it, even to excel in it. Eventually it became one of my favorite classes. From the experience, I realized that becoming open-minded is one of the most beneficial things that a student can do.

Many students follow assignments to the letter and do all the work required of them, but clearly lack enthusiasm. I think that this lack of enthusiasm can be detrimental to the learning mind. Students can makes assignments enjoyable by utilizing subjects that they are well acquainted with and like, or better yet by exploring new things that specifically interest them. The learning process is to each scholar what he or she makes it. By becoming inventive, questioning others' concepts, and sharing ideas with fellow students, each individual can learn to embrace studying in his or her own way.

The final and perhaps the most crucial component to becoming a master student is self-motivation. A student must be willing to apply his or herself in order to succeed. Self-motivation can be difficult, but without it no student will ever be self-reliant. I have personally found that self-motivation is much easier when I have a role model to look to for inspiration, and I have encouraged friends to use this technique. When I took violin lessons I closely followed the careers of several prominent modern violinists. I was intrigued by their styles and skills and inspired to develop my own. This is only one of many ways that a student can come up with to be self-motivated.

While personal learning techniques vary from one individual to another, one thing holds true: a person who can listen to others, be open-minded, find joy in the learning process, and be self-motivated is on his or her way to truly becoming a "master student."