One thing true about independent study that is also true for many goals is the natural inclination to ask ourselves if we can really do something. To set a goal, we have to evaluate our ability, our motivation, and our attitude. For me, one important thing about studying in the University of London International Programmes is how responsibility for outcomes is my own. I guess that can be true of other study models, but for me it is magnified in this one. It is one reason why I enjoy the program so much.
Now, I can assure you that setting out on a graduate course of legal study with no background in law is a bold move. I can also assure you that it is very rewarding and well worth the effort. But how do we take the leaps required to thrive in an environment that is new to us and by any estimation a challenging one? For me it means paying attention to how my abilities, motivation and attitude work together.
We can break it down this way: ability is what we are capable of, motivation represents what we do to achieve our goals, and attitude is shown in how well we execute our plan. When looked at like this it becomes a bit easier to get our arms around distance learning and taking on new challenges. Keeping this in mind helps me make the most of my study time. It also helps me connect the dots between my studies and the reasons for pursuing my degree. Most importantly, it helps me enjoy the study process and the wide variety of materials and approaches to the topics.
Another very helpful point highlighted by evaluating ability, motivation, and attitude is forming a realistic assessment of my skills and deficits. It is like a mini SWOT analysis that helps me accept how deficits can influence outcomes and my study process negatively or positively. In my case, I knew coming in to the program that I would need to work hard on improving verbal skills, analysis, and reasoning; it is one reason I chose the PG Laws credential. It is not easy taking on habits and work processes ingrained through the years, but fully developing those skills is important to me and I am willing to do what is necessary to acquire them. During my English studies degree I learned how much I enjoy and value particular skill sets, and that I have aptitude for verbal analysis. You see – ability, motivation, attitude.
If I do not work to understand these three components and really think about how they affect my study experience I might be struggling and feel a bit unhappy about the process. Knowing what my biggest study challenges might be at any given moment helps me stay motivated and keep a positive, determined attitude.
What’s the point of all of this? I think when we are deciding if we will take one of these
life changing leaps it helps to have a good understanding of where we are because the road ahead is something we cannot know. We do not yet have the experience of it. And we will not fully see the road until we can look back on the journey. Understanding ability, motivation, and attitude helps me enjoy the trip and get the most for my effort. That is very comforting in the moments when you look around and realize how great the opportunity you have actually is.
Caowrites is enrolled in the Postgraduate Laws Programme. She previously earned a BA English degree and blogged regularly about her experience. She studies by distance learning in the United States.