Student Success Strategy #53: Dictionary? Textbook?

Once upon a time, freshmen entering college were advised to purchase and bring a college-level dictionary to school.  It was a hardback book, hundreds of pages long, with tiny printing.  Students often used it more for a door stop than an educational resource, but it became important while reading textbooks before tests.  All those terms that you could skip while skimming suddenly became important to understand.

Today, textbooks almost always have glossaries either in the back of the book, or within each chapter.

Success in college comes from understanding the materials you are using.  This means more than skimming, and it should mean that you can use and define the terms in each discipline or field.

Just like the word “strike” is bad for a baseball player at bat but good for a bowler, you may find that each subject has it’s own set of terms that may mean different things within that class.

A dictionary might help you with this, but the glossary in your textbooks will be most useful.  If you are taking notes on your text or in lectures, it’s a good idea to define these terms prominently.

The Cornell method of note taking is especially good for this, as there is a space at the bottom for extra comments, translations, or summaries.  Flashcards are also great for learning unfamiliar terms.

Student Success Strategy #53:  Dictionary?  Textbook?  Learn the correct terms as they apply to the specific class.  


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