It takes a lot of responsibility, motivation and determination for people to “find themselves.” Some people go their entire lives not ever figuring out how to study, manage their time wisely or become effective note takers. In this paper, I will not only discuss in detail what I have learned about my learning style and myself. I will also share with you, new found insights I have discovered that will allow me to become a much well rounded person and better paralegal student.
For years, I have thought of myself to be a visual learner but after completing my first two courses at Kaplan University, I soon discovered that I am a kinesthetic learner, which means that I need to perform something to believe it. For example, I was given spelling tests every week in grammar school to help develop my vocabulary and comprehension skills. I can still remember myself having to write the words down to find if they felt right, Even if I knew that my answer were correct, I would almost always second guess myself. Take the word conceive, for instance, my eight grade English teacher gave me the perfect rule to apply to this word in order to remember how to spell it. She told me to always use the ‘ i ‘ before ‘ e ‘, except after ‘ c ‘ rule and I would never misspell the word again. Even now, reciting this rule to myself before spelling the word conceive doesn’t help a bit. Instead, I must still take a scrap sheet of paper out and write the word down to see if it feels right before I write it down as my final answer. Typically, a person who might be having a problem with programming a universal remote to a television set, would call the 800 number that is provided with the instructions and speak with a live person to navigate them through the installation process, Not I, I will keep trying to program the remote on the television or try it on another television until I get it. These and many other reasons have prevented me for returning to college and completing my degree. Honestly, I think that being a kinesthetic learner is ideal for my high strung, aggressive personality because having to over analyze things through my learning style is allowing me to take that aggression out on an assignment, which in turn allows me to always do my very best.
When I decided to return to college, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. I thought I had waited to long to go back to college. I didn’t know how well I would do since I had been out of college for over 12 years and didn’t know if I would be able to compete with the younger generation and didn’t think I had what it took to finally do well in college. There are necessary skills that I believe a person should develop to excel in college and it took me until recently to understand those skills. Being able to manage your stress is very important as to how well one would do in college. There are many reasons and/or situations in our lives that may occur that can cause us to stress. One of my biggest reasons or stressors for me was adjusting to having a new baby in the house. Even though she was not my first born, the load of stress that I dealt with after her arrival was unbelievable. I couldn’t function half of the time and couldn’t focus the other half. Another stressor for me was deciding to attend school in an online environment versus a live classroom environment. The entire thought of attending classes online stressed me out because it was a frightening new experience for me; I hadn’t been in college since 1991 and was afraid of the challenges that would hinder me from completing my degree. If I was going to succeed in college this time around, I knew that I couldn’t let my stressors take over my life. In order to maintain the level of stress in my life, I had to learn the difference between important obligations and insignificant activities. Managing my day so that my most important tasks were completed first was one way. I had to realize that my mind and body both work together to fight off stress. Basically, my mind and body had to work on their very best levels to deal with the challenges that I was going to face by returning to school. And, finally having the ability to be able to relax when I felt stress coming on was the key to dealing with stress. Because my life is so busy, I almost never have time to relax; taking at least 45 minutes out of my busy schedule is mandatory and will improve on my physical being as well. Having good writing skills are essential if I want to excel in college.
Not only should I be able to deal, tackle and manage my stress level in order to succeed in college and being able to write well will assist me in achieving that goal. Writing is a way that I can communicate to my professors and classmates in written form. And, by my being in the paralegal program at Kaplan University, it is extremely necessary for me to be able to create well-written emails, letters and papers. By doing so, I am making strong decisions about what to write and expressing my thoughts and ideas more clearly, which will allow me to become an outstanding student and receive better grades. The foundation to a writer’s ability to perform well are simple as being able to make decisions about what to say, which is the content, how to say it, which is the language and how a thought will flow from one to the next, which is the structure of a paper and if a student doesn’t learn anything else about writing a good paper but making sure it has good content, language and structure, he/she has learned a very important lesson for setting the foundation of writing a good paper, each and every time they have a writing assignment.
Reading comprehension and writing work hand in hand to create a strong foundation and enhancement of writing, thinking, comprehension and communication skills. I must be able to read better, in order to write better because reading is primary. One cannot write without being able to read first and vice versa. And, I must be able to write before I can understand how the language works, in order to communicate my thoughts. As I read my lessons for this course, I began to understand the fundaments of being able to read and write well and how to improve my reading comprehension. The 3 three aspects that will allow me to develop or enhance my reading comprehension skills are my motivation to learn by reading newspaper articles, becoming more interested in events that are happening in my career; my concentration skills by discussing ideas and concerns that I maybe having with my family, friends or classmates; and the utilizing a efficient reading method, such as the Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review (SQ3R), which I will discuss in more detail throughout this paper.
Take the entire note taking structure. Taking good notes is the key to becoming an outstanding student, doing well on exams and quizzes and being able to retain important information that you have read or need to learn for school assignments and on the job tasks. I have always thought that taking notes was mainly reading over a text, newspaper article or magazine and jotting down the statements that pop out to you as being important. It took me until recently to discover that my entire note taking structure or system needed much improvement. In fact, a good note taking method can give a student extra time to study for a test, instead of trying to figure out the notes that might have been unclear or incomplete. Taking good notes would allow a student to become a better listener, a better thinker, do well on tests and to become a much more detailed-oriented and organized student. There are 5 note-taking methods that a student can use while taking notes. With almost other system, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider before choosing a method. The Cornell Method is a format for combining and organizing notes without re-writing everything down. After writing notes in the main section of the paper, use the left margin to identify each idea or detail with a key word. The advantages of the Cornell method is that it is helps a student to become organized while putting together the major ideas of an assignment, it’s simple and saves time. There are no disadvantages to the Cornell method and it can be applied to any assignment. The Outlining Method is another method that can be used with either the dash or indent to separate new ideas, this method can be used for any assignment except some science or math readings. With the outline method, the major points should be written in organized patterns based on the space indentions. The major points should be placed farthest to the left of the paper, while the more specific points are indented to the right. The distance away from the major points indicates the more important points. Unlike the Cornell method, there are some disadvantages with using the outlining method because it requires a lot of reading. It is suggested to use this method, only if the reading is presented in an organized manner. These two methods are by far the two of my choice. There are also the Mapping, Charting and the Sentence methods, which all speak for themselves. These last three methods are suggested to be used only if the content or reading material is extremely heavy.
The strengths with respect to my studying skills would be that I retain information very quickly. Especially if the topic that I am reading is very interested, I tend to soak up the information like a sponge. Being able to remember my reading materials is an attribute that I must continue to develop, if I plan to be a successful student and paralegal. The biggest challenge that individuals face is forgetting over 95% of what they have read, the minute the have finished reading it. My weaknesses with respect to my studying skills is that I am a perfectionist and an over achiever. It bothers me when I don’t score perfect on each and every assignment or test that I am responsible for completing and I sometimes let that get in the way of what I have already achieved or am striving to achieve. I understand that no one is perfect and we all have imperfections but striving to be perfect in everything that I do is what I aim for in my personal life, my academic experience and my career. Having great study habits is necessary if I want to graduate and succeed as a paralegal.
The paralegal field is not a very complex field but it requires an individual to do a lot of reading, writing, critical thinking, comprehending what you have read, wrote and thought and be able to communicate it by writing in the most understanding and logical manner possible. For example, one of a paralegal’s main functions is to interview clients and after the end of the interview, a statement of what the client has said, in legal terminology should be typed by the paralegal. If I am not able to write and communicate well, typing the statement out will be a huge waste of time because it won’t be clearly understood by the client, my supervising attorney or me. A paralegal’s main duty is to assist attorneys in all aspects of a case. Depending on the size of the firm, a paralegal’s job can change daily. In a small law firm, a paralegal task can convert from conducting client interviews, gathering any information from the client, that he/she might have witnessed or seen, to attending legal proceedings, which can be done for a real estate closing, administrative hearings and trials. Working as a paralegal can be rewarding if you develop the necessary skills in order to excel. Good communication, reading, speaking, listening, writing, computer and lastly organizational skills are crucial while working in the legal field. Because as a paralegal, I am not only representing the client, I am representing the entire legal field. Communication skills are essential because I must be able to communicate with clients, judges, witnesses and even the opposing attorneys and not having good communication skills can damage cases; harm the firm and the entire legal profession. Reading skills are very important because it goes deeper than just being able to interpret the meaning of legal terminology and letters, by being able to understand many different types of legal writings, such as statues and a judge’s decision.