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Dated: Mar. 04, 2012

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L.M. Lyon

In school, our teachers told us that putting off studying and cramming for a test was useless to everyone because, in their own words, "You're only hurting yourself." But who actually listened to them? I know I didn't. I skated through high school and came out of it nearly as empty-headed as when I came in. The public school system doesn't really care how much you learn, so long as you improve their test scores and don't cause much trouble. These low standards mean even average students quickly develop an inflated sense of self-worth. I felt like the king of the world as I accepted my diploma, fully confident that I could handle anything life threw at me. Of course, I wasn't the first naive kid to learn how wrong I was.

It took me until my second semester of college to realize that my old methods of studying weren't working. After earning mediocre grades during my first semester, I found myself struggling to keep up with the ever more difficult coursework. High schools may walk students through everything, but in the real world the only thing that matters is if you can do something. As such, tests take on a whole new importance. More than half of my grades came from exams, and each night before a test I found myself trying to learn a month's worth of knowledge in a few hours. With my scores slipping, I finally stopped to wonder if maybe it was my own attitude that was failing me. What's the point of learning something, only to forget it two days later? Higher education isn't mandatory; you choose to be there, and you choose to pay for a chance at a brighter future. If you can't work up the enthusiasm to commit the material to memory, why bother going into that field?

Your Awesomeness is UnlimitedI began to study a little bit for each course every day, slowly digesting the information instead of attempting to gulp it down all at once. The hours before a testing day were no longer panicked study sessions. I just reviewed my notes, did a few practice problems and got a good night’s sleep. At the end of the semester I was at or near the top of all of my classes, I was less stressed than I’d been in months and I took real pride in my achievements. I graduated college with good prospects and got an entry-level job as a programmer. Of course, being in a field like IT means tests don’t stop once you’re out of school. I wanted to get ahead and distinguish myself, so I began taking certification exams. But coming home after a long day at work, faced with the prospects of studying, I soon fell back into my old habits. I even failed my CCNA test the first time I took it. Again, I forced myself to sit down and evaluate my priorities. I started studying during my lunch hour, knowing the effort would pay off.

I’m happy to report that, in the end, it did. My resume was impressive but, more importantly, so were my job interviews. Passing a test only tells employers that you memorized something at one point in time. I had passed many tests since my days in high school, but I had also learned everything on them. There’s no faking familiarity with a subject, and my interviewers seemed to pick up on that right away. A good employee is passionate about what he or she does. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia to get hired, but showing that you’ve gone through years of training for more than just the money is the best strategy for anyone looking to get into IT.

No matter what your age or stage of career, it’s never too late to start learning. If you’re still in school and considering computer studies, there are times when the material will be boring. This is inevitable, but you are in control of how you choose to deal with it. Should you swallow your distaste and master the subject, you may find it’s more interesting and complex than you had ever imagined. If you ignore it or procrastinate, on the other hand, you may miss something vital, hurt your grades and fall behind later coursework. I learned the hard way, twice, that there’s no substitute for proper learning. Look at the big picture and treat your education as preparation for the job market, not a series of hurdles to reach a certain grade point average. I can guarantee you'll be happier, wiser and far more employable as a result.

Now that you've gotten free know-how on this topic, try to grow your skills even faster with online video training. Then finally, put these skills to the test and make a name for yourself by offering these skills to others by becoming a freelancer. There are literally 2000+ new projects that are posted every single freakin' day, no lie!

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