To Study overseas

To study overseas is a major investment of the family. , Every parent hopes that by sending their children to study overseas they will receive the best education and do well in their career. However, for them to succeed, they need to be prepared MANY YEARS before leaving the family.

To many families, preparation means learning a foreign language. Some family sends their children to a special language school when they were young. But learning a foreign language is NOT enough as students must also learn HOW TO STUDY and be responsible for themselves. Finding the best way to study is a process that takes time and should be taught when students are young. Students who “Cram” a few days before the exam will never to do well in an education system where memorization is not necessary but Critical thinking is required.

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I have seen many students who learn by memorization often get panic and frustrated during the exam because it is not what they expected. As a professor, I receive many questions like: “Why don’t you ask about the definition? Or “Why your test is different?” Students often get a shock about their grade in the first test. For the top students in their school, getting a “C” or “D” grade in the first class can be traumatic. I often assure them: “The first test is not a judgment of your abilities. It only let you know how well you study and how much you know. If the way you study is not effective then change it. There will be more tests in this class.”

Most U.S. universities require students to read a lot. In many courses that use “Active Learning” method, students are required to read materials BEFORE going to class so they can participate in activities that promote deep learning. The problem is many students do not have a good Reading skill, they cannot complete these reading assignments or sometimes do not even read them at all. They avoid participating in class discussion and often hide behind other students and hope that they do not get called to answer questions. In a larger class, some escapes the attention, since their knowledge is shallow, many do not do well on tests. Without a strong foundation, they cannot go far and often having problems at later courses.

I often advise them: “If you do not have good reading skill when you were young, you must take the time to develop it now. Try to spend at least one hour each day to read a book to develop this habit.” Sometimes, I joke: “I mean reading a good book, not Facebook or Twitter.” For students who are planning to study overseas, besides learning a foreign language, it is very important to develop your reading skill as soon as possible. My advice is: You need reading skill, not necessary reading in a foreign language. If you can read a good book every week, you can develop a good habit in a few months.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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