Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

Taking Control of My Education | October 26, 2009

A lot of my friends back at home have been asking me how classes are going out here, and how it compares to education back in the States. I’ve already talked about the specifics of the Danish system (100% finals, non-compulsory lectures, etc.). But I wanted to expand a little bit on how that system is affecting my study habits and interests here in Denmark vis-a-vis my experiences at NC State.

In all honesty, I spent the first several weeks here not really doing a whole lot. My finals were far in the future, the classes were kind of all over the place, and there wasn’t any real structure to follow. I wasn’t really doing a great job of adjusting to my new environment, and as a result, I began feeling really unsatisfied with my academic experience here. Where was the structure? Where were the assignments? At the end of the day, I just wasn’t really sure how much I was learning, and that became increasingly frustrating to me.

After going through a period 0f self-reflection and talking to friends and family back home, I realized I needed to adjust my approach. In the United States, I was going to learn whether I wanted to or not. The courses demanded it. Here, I needed to take much more control over my educational experience. If I didn’t want to learn, I wasn’t going to learn (and my grades would almost certainly suffer as a result). So over the last several days and weeks, I’ve begun to refocus myself.

Now, I set aside time each day to go to the library and teach myself the material I find interesting. Instead of relying on teachers and syllabuses to tell me what to study each day, I set my own schedule and pick the topics that are grabbing my interest. For example, there’s a reason I chose finance as a supplementary concentration to supply chain. Oddly enough, I like finance. And now I set aside several hours each day to pore over valuation problems, options analysis, and risk management techniques.

The same is true for my other courses here. I’ve spent less time studying for my Logistics class, but that’s because a lot of that material has been covered in other courses and experiences I’ve had in the States. Rather than bog myself down in reviewing material I already know, I’m trying to learn new material that will add to my skill set.

Unsurprisingly, this process has been very rewarding for me. I wake up and I find that I’m excited to head off to school because I know I’ll be learning what I want to learn, and writing about topics that truly interest me. It has taken some time to find my academic groove here, but now that I have, I’m not sure if I would trade it for the more structured American approach. Much like everything else here, it’s a cultural trade-off, and one that I’m learning to appreciate as we move closer to our final exams.

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