As college graduation quickly approaches, I have been trying to figure out how to transition my approach on studying. This past spring I took a semester off from school and worked as an intern for a consulting firm. This experience gave me good insight on what studying around a work schedule really looks like.
At school, my schedule gives me a lot of freedom. I go to class from 2-6 and the rest of my day is “free.” At the same time, there are a whole lot more unexpected events that occur. For example, I may have a friend that needs some encouragement or a paper takes longer than expected to write. My schedule at school is very forgiving with occurrences like that. I can stay up later at night, wake up earlier the next day, or just find some spare time in between classes that I can work on practice problems using ADAPT. It often seems like college is about studying, so it’s “easy” to focus and spend time studying for exams because that’s what we’re supposed to do as students.
But what about when you enter the work world? Most professionals don’t have to spend their time studying. They go to work, come home, and relax. For actuarial students, this is all different. When working a full time position, there is a lot less flexibility. The time you are allowed to study is much tighter, and your schedule will be much less forgiving when you miss a study session, which makes sticking to a study plan all the more important. When I was interning, I found it very beneficial to get to work early and start learning material. It’s great to go to work early because when you come home after a day full of using your brain- you aren’t so refreshed. It’s also harder to exercise discipline on yourself. That’s why I found it convenient to study in the morning but always struggled to do so after work.
Here’s some great advice I received this semester to help alleviate this issue: do practice problems in the morning! That probably sounds like a silly thing to learn, but it makes sense. For the most part, when you take your exam, it’s going to be in the morning, or at least by noon-ish. So you will be studying in a more exam-like condition. Secondly, your mind is most refreshed in the morning, and for me, that’s when I have motivation. Thirdly, if you spend your time doing problems in the morning, you are bound to find a problem or technique you struggle with. This in turn will lead to you WANTING to go back to it after you get off and work on the problems some more or learn how to do so. This is why we are becoming actuaries after all, isn’t it? Because we enjoy the challenge. Of course, your mind can also subconsciously work on the problem during the day too, so you may be more successful coming back to it at a later time.
Combining these tips will make for an easier transition from studying at school to studying while working full time.