Whether you want to become a new Alain Finkelkraut or you just want to be someone who has things to say, know that cultivating yourself is easier than you think! With hard work and determination, you will learn many things that will allow you to live a fuller, more intense life.
Part 1 of 5: getting the mindset of the scholar
Step 1. Analyze everything
- True intellectuals always scrutinize their knowledge of what they hear or what they read. They don't take everything at face value. Whenever they are confronted with something new, they verify that it is right or probable. Rabelais already said in the 16th century: "Science without conscience is nothing but the ruin of the soul. "
- If something sounds wrong to you, it might be because it is. Even things that appear to be true can be wrong. Be careful !
Step 2. Be curious
- Scholars are naturally curious people. They want to know everything.
- Intellectual curiosity is desirable, is an asset. Ask yourself why and how things are what they are. This curiosity is not limited to the one area that you are fond of, it must be as broad as possible.
Step 3. Love to learn
- Scholars love to learn everything.
- They like the act of learning in itself, not to be smarter or to know a lot.
- This is not a joke: it is what they love, to learn in themselves.
Step 4. Form strong opinions
- When faced with a new argument, consider it from all angles, without preconceptions, and with the help of additional information, form a provisional idea of the problem.
- Forge your own opinions rather than borrowing them from others. It is the mark of intellectuals.
Step 5. Change your mindset
- Scholars are always ready to change their point of view, to question themselves, when new information seems to them to correspond better to reality. This is one of the main qualities and skills of a scholar.
- Be very open-minded and accept to be wrong, to be wrong, if you ever want to be right.
Step 6. Avoid prejudices
- Be rigorous, do not let your feelings, your impressions take precedence over your critical thinking.
- Just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean that something is necessarily wrong!
- Take your new information for what it is, without prejudicing it negatively or positively.
Part 2 of 5: Learn without necessarily going through the education system
Step 1. Read, read, read a lot
- When you want to learn outside the education system, you have to read a lot. Read everything, all the time. Just that, in and of itself, can make you a scholar, since an intellectual is always hungry to learn.
- You can either buy these books or borrow them from a library, which is inexpensive. Thanks to the Internet, you will be able to read books directly, order others and reserve books in libraries, all from your home.
- There are thousands of books available for free, as they have fallen into the public domain. There is, for many, a digital version that you will be able to download. The most famous of these digitizing programs is Project Gutenberg, but there are some in the Amazon Kindle catalog as well.
Step 2. Take classes
- Did you know that you can register for courses without having the objective of taking exams? Know that there are courses on anything and everything. Many associations, cultural centers or universities set up free annual courses (or with little participation).
- Get in touch with the nearest university to you and see what they have to offer as a course for free listeners (i.e. you attend classes, but you don't have any work to do in the classroom. house and you do not pass any exam).
- You can also speak directly to a teacher and if the power is on, you can always set up a common project.
Step 3. Try Online School Courses
- There are more online establishments that offer free courses. There are large universities that offer courses that can, at the end of the day, also be validated by certificates of competence.
- You can initiate yourself or deepen your knowledge in all fields, from history to computer science and geology.
- In the United States, for example, there are sites like Coursera, creativeLive, OpenCulture or the Mental Floss episodes on YouTube (with John Green himself).
- On the Net, you can also learn languages for free. Also in the United States, we can cite the sites LiveMocha, Duolingo and the many online resources of the “Foreign Service Institute”.
Step 4. Learn for yourself
- Indeed, one can very well learn new knowledge or know-how alone. Men have learned and are still learning by doing things, so go for it!
- You can learn on your own from books or elsewhere, but you can also learn by doing things. Be careful not to hurt yourself.
- It takes a lot of determination and patience. Never get discouraged.
Step 5. Learn from others too
- We learn a lot from those who know or know how to do it. We are here in the context of learning.
- Try to find people who will be willing to teach you, to show you, whether it is for free or for a fee. Speak directly to experts, specialists.
- Learning is more suitable in the acquisition of concrete, manual knowledge, but even then it is possible to learn from books or by any other means, although practice is essential.
Part 3 of 5: Entering a good school
Step 1. Get good grades and good reviews
- This is very important especially during the two or three years before higher education. Indeed, admission to higher education is often a function of the results you obtained at the end of high school.
- You will pass your exams by studying, paying attention in class, and doing the assigned work.
- Ask your teachers for help and be in constant contact with them if you want to improve your level.
Step 2. On the job side, do more than the bare minimum "union"
- Working the minimum is not a good posture for the future, you have to get to work seriously and regularly. Nothing comes without effort. Learning is glorifying, but at the end of the study only… It is ungrateful!
- When you're still in high school, go see what's going on at the college you're dreaming of entering. Eventually, if possible, attend classes as a free auditor, for example. You can also work outside of school, taking a student job, paid or not.
- If this extra work also takes place in the field you are targeting, you are putting all the assets on your side for the future.
Step 3. Learn multiple languages if you can
- Learning a foreign language is not only useful in itself, it is sometimes necessary for the pursuit of studies, knowing that today research is globalized. Scientists publish in English, Spanish, German, French… Sometimes, if not always, getting a job requires mastering one or more foreign languages.
- Where do you learn a language? You can do it at home (not easy, especially oral). You can also learn in high school, at university, in private lessons, in institutes (e.g. German at the Goethe's Institut or French at the Alliance Française). Today you can also learn via the Internet: attention there is everything, good and less good. We recommend, for example, the Berlitz or LiveMocha school or even DuoLingo.
- Choose a useful language. All languages are great to learn, but there are some that take priority in life. Some languages are more useful than others if you plan to work with a particular region of the world. Likewise, in some areas there are languages that are more useful than others, for example English in computer science.
Step 4. Pass your tests, your evaluations
- Depending on the country, the name changes, but the result is often the same: have a good SAT in the United States, a good mention in the baccalaureate in France. These are “sesames” which open the doors of the best establishments of the Superior. With great results you will go to great schools!
- When it comes to getting good results, you have to go ahead and practice over and over again.
- Sometimes you have to redouble if you want to integrate your vows.
- If at the end of Secondary you get an average result it may not stop you from doing what you want, it may just be a little more difficult. You can always enter a first school and later enter the establishment of your dreams.
Step 5. Pass the entrance exams
- Many schools are accessible following a competition. It all depends on the school, of course, but you have to have a good secondary background to pass. However, it happens that even with average results, but with motivation, one can be successful.
- Find out in advance what is required in these contests and work towards it.
- During the competition itself, depending on what is required, either be original (if that's what the school asks), or be very scholarly, very academic. Each competition is different, hence the interest of knowing, in advance, what type of competition you are entering.
Part 4 of 5: Succeed in Higher
Step 1. Set goals for yourself from the start
- Knowing from the start the level you are aiming for is a great help. This allows you to focus on your goal and avoids hesitation and possible backtracking. You will be able, if so, to choose the courses that will serve your goals and you will drop the courses that get you nowhere. It takes a lot of lucidity.
- Of course, you can change direction, but it's better to know quickly what you want to do in the higher.
- This is the reason why in high school, you have to take the time to learn well about what you are going to do the following year and beyond, on what you are going to do for a living. This is why, if you have in mind an area in which you would like to evolve, it is good, not only to know this environment, but if it is possible, to do, for example, internships. This way, you will quickly know if this is what you want.
Step 2. Studying takes a lot of time, really a lot
It is even a priority if we want to succeed.
- Study as much as possible, but also intelligently. Be efficient. You need to get the best grades possible.
- Pay attention in class and take serious notes to reread, these are two qualities required for success.
- You can work alone or in a group. It's up to you to see what benefits you the most. Together, you will be able to benefit from their notes, if you are absent or if you have not been able to take everything.
- Ask for help. You can do it with your classmates, with a tutor if you have one, or of course with teachers.
Step 3. Choose the right courses
- In the Superior, we are free, it is up to you to take charge of yourself. This is why, when you pass a diploma, you have to know exactly the courses you have to take (and validate) to obtain the coveted title. Also check the duration in time of these courses (if it is an annual course, semester, etc.).
- It may happen that a course has dual use, for example if you are following a dual course. These courses are very interesting because they allow you not to waste too much time.
- Only take the courses that lead you to the degree you are aiming for or that will serve you in your future career! Thus, you will not be dispersed and you will put more chances on your side.
Step 4. Write good papers
- Writing articles will allow you to land your place to the next level. Likewise, when you go to apply in the Superior, you will certainly be asked what you have posted. This is an important element of appreciation for your recruiters. If one of your articles has hit the headlines in a good way, that will be a decisive asset.
- When writing an article or a communication for the first time, it is good to draw inspiration from what others have done in this area. You will learn a lot there, how to structure, to argue …
- Of course, it's not always easy, but try to post something new, even if it's unfinished. This is how we will spot you.
- Plan your work. Indeed, if you spare yourself enough time when writing your paper, you will be able to submit it to your research director who will indicate to you the improvements to be made.
- Before publishing an acceptable article, you will need to do several drafts.
Step 5. Forge special relationships with your teachers
- The goal is not to get good grades, you are old enough now to be past this stage. It is first of all a matter of affinities: you feel, although a disciple, a member of a new community, an intellectual one. Your mentor is the one who can put your "foot in the stirrup" to enter academia and disciple, you will become one of the peers of your research director.
- Make an appointment with them at times when they are not overworked. Their time is often tight. Come up with real questions that embarrass you, and listen carefully to what they have to say to you.
- You will get noticed by your teachers by participating in class. Instead, sit in the front of the room or auditorium, listen, ask questions, answer those asked, in short, participate actively and intelligently!
- If you are more reserved, you can, before or after class, call on them for advice. If your professor is motivated, he will be happy to help you progress by giving you advice drawn from his teaching experience and don't forget that a professor is also looking for elements to constitute his doctoral team! It's time to make yourself known.
Step 6. Obtain the necessary degrees
- For some university positions, a master's degree is sufficient, for others, a doctorate is required.
- If you have decided to spend your life doing research, of course the best place for that is the Superior. Some academics have more than 8 years of study after high school! Sometimes even more.
- Don't let that scare you. Going to graduate school is very different from taking college courses, you have moved into another world. If you got into it, you have the capabilities and you should be fine.
Step 7. Engage in other intellectual activities
- During your study time, do not hesitate to indulge in other activities that will both stimulate your mind and give you pleasure.
- You can read for the sole pleasure of reading (novels, thrillers, etc.) or explore other areas of interest that you may have.
- You can also participate in group activities, as the activity is often, not entirely, a solitary activity. Confrontation or the mere presence of others is always beneficial.
Part 5 of 5: Finding a Job After You Graduate
Step 1. Find yourself a job
- Once all the diplomas have been obtained, you must find either a teaching or research position in your field. Teaching at university is often the primary outlet for those with solid scholarship.
- There are often structures within the university itself that help you get a job.
- Try to land a good job with benefits and a good salary. Do not forget that you have, it is more and more true today, one or more student loans to repay.
- If you are a specialist, it is obvious that the ideal is to get a post in the Superior, at the university for example. Indeed, there, not only will the pay be better, but you will have all the resources at your fingertips to continue your research.
Step 2. Teach
An academic must teach.
- As a teacher, you will be asked to teach courses in your chosen field. Some positions will be right in your field, others will sometimes be staggered, especially when you are just starting to work. It gets better afterwards.
- Teaching means speaking in front of a larger or smaller audience, sometimes in front of a packed lecture hall. Especially if you are an undergraduate teaching.
- Don't be impressed though! We acquire practice over time, by confronting students, we learn our pedagogy. We can, but it depends on the country, have pedagogical training, to teach better. Know that those who are in front of you do not "lead off" either, remember that they are there to succeed and it is you who put the notes …
Step 3. Keep learning
- True scholars never stop learning. They spend their lives doing this. It is not because school stops that cultivating oneself stops!
- Read on in your spare time. Thus, it is necessary to read scholarly journals in which appear the latest discoveries concerning your field.
- Go study abroad. In many areas, you will have every interest in going abroad, to meet and interact with your counterparts or to have access to resources that do not leave the country.
- Take other degrees. Sometimes scholars challenge themselves and take other exams, often in old age. Often, it helps them advance in their career or they need a particular skill to overcome a difficulty they have encountered in their chosen field.
Step 4. Attend conferences
- A conference is an assembly of academics, doctoral students, all working, if not in the same branch, at least on the same subject. If they come together, it is to hear and present the latest findings in the field.
- At a conference, you can make a talk yourself, but you often go there to hear what your peers have discovered and then share with them.
- Conferences are certainly local or regional, but they can be, at a high level, international. Some cities (Paris, London, New York) have made a specialty of welcoming them.
- Believe us, lectures are a lot more fun than you think. Scientists, academics (not all) are merry men and women like (almost) everyone!
Step 5. Continue your research
- In general, at the university, the positions are teaching-researcher positions. As such, it varies depending on the country, you will be required to publish your research regularly either in the form of articles or in the form of more substantial books.
- There may be times when you can take a sabbatical for a year or better, continue to get paid so that you can continue or complete research work.
- You will write articles for journals, communications for seminars or conferences, but also books that will be published. The university will count on you so that you have a quality production which will increase the notoriety of your establishment, which will attract more students and more funds.