Where You Go, There You Are: The Link Between Personal Experience and Learning

Published on April 26, 2017 by arothstein

As you explore the option of obtaining your college degree, and even as you pursue your college degree, there is little doubt that your focus is targeted on your future. You are looking forward to your job search and to your future career; you are not spending much time thinking about your past. However, in overlooking your past experiences, you may be missing a valuable tool to help you achieve your goals. The process of learning is one that is extremely personalized; no two people learn in the exact same way. When you take a close look at your past, you can gain insight into a virtual treasure trove of information about how you learn.


Your pre-college educational experiences helped to shape the type of college student you are. Think back to your high school learning experiences. Did you enjoy your elective courses like Theatre and Physical Education more than your core courses? Did you prefer to attend English class over Math class? Once you have identified a general profile of the types of classes you enjoyed, think about the types of learning you were asked to do in each. Were the assignments more project based or were they assessed more traditionally? Were the assignments reading heavy or writing heavy? Were the courses lecture-focused or experience-focused? Are there any standout similarities between the way the courses were organized or how the teachers engaged with you as a student?  By identifying the types of learning experiences you gravitated towards in high school, you will have a clear picture of the courses that you will enjoy in college and those that you may have to invest a bit more time and energy into.

By identifying in advance the amount of effort you can expect to expend on each course, you can prepare yourself, and your schedule, at the start of every quarter. This same logic will apply once you have the opportunity to review the syllabus for each course you are taking. Identify the assignments that appeal to you, and those that you know from your history those that will likely take a bit more of an energy investment. Be sure to schedule sufficient time to tackle those assignments, and instead of just taking every assignment as it comes, you can get out ahead of your to-do list. By empowering yourself, you will have a new outlook on your current quarter.


Every student has a different experience in dealing with teachers. Some students are naturally quiet and reserved. These so-called book learners tend to get along better and have better interactions with their teachers from early childhood into high school. Because of the positive experiences that they have had in their past, they are more likely to view their college professors as a resource that is available for their use. They are more open with their professors, are more willing to interact with them, and, in turn, effortlessly begin to form a bond with these professors from day one of the quarter.

Students who may had been more creative or had a more limited attention span may have experienced negative interactions with teachers during their early childhood years, and possibly into high school, too. These types of experiences stay with a person, and if you have negative associations with teachers from your previous learning experiences, you may be hesitant to reach out to your professors. Broadview University’s professors are extremely approachable and consistently express their eagerness to work with you, however, despite frequent encouragement to think of them as partners in your college experience, so students struggle to open up. Remember, in college, your professors are experts in the fields in which they offer instruction. They have elected to work with students just like you and to share their knowledge in molding the next generation of professionals in a variety of fields. Be willing to put yourself out there and interact with them as much as possible.


In high school, you may have been involved in three sports and maintained satisfactory grades with little to no effort. If you have spent time in the workforce, you may have continued to master your schedule. However, it is more than likely that at some point in your educational or work career, you have struggled to balance all of the things that are being asked of you. If you have experienced only sporadic success at balancing a full schedule, you may want to spend some time working with a mentor or even watching a planning video series on YouTube to help you learn some organizational and time management techniques. By cluing in to the fact that you need a bit of help to master a busy schedule, you can seek out resources to help you master your busy college schedule.


In high school, you may have been shy and hesitant to interact with students enrolled in your courses. There is a good chance you had a core group of friends and had minimal authentic interaction with individuals outside of that core group. One key part of the college experience is learning from the vastly diverse group of students that are taking courses with you. It may take some effort, but focus on coming out of your comfort zone to welcome and strike up conversations with your fellow students. In addition to forming your professional network, these interactions can help you as you work through the course material. When you feel like you are working with a team to master a course, you inherently tend to feel more positive about the entire experience. Learning from others is part of life, and college is a great place to master forming and growing these relationships.

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