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May 6, 2019

Jiaxi Ye
HSSB 1233, UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93107

Dear Mr. Ye:

I hope you are doing well. Hearing of your striving in university, I am writing to offer you some
advice for academic success. You have read a great number of psychology books before you
enter university, which placed you at a starting line that is in front of your classmates. Then, you
should fully give play to this advantage of yours. To get the most out of university, there are
several actions I would recommend you take. This letter targets at improvement in learning
efficiency, familiarization with modern psychology research, and infusion into the psychologist
community.

You must have noticed that learning efficiency is crucial to the amount of what you can acquire.
As learning is a life-long process, efficient learning habit will be beneficial for you throughout
your life. In addition to the common learning tricks, such as applying different reading styles for
different text, there are two higher-level strategies you are recommended to use.

First, summarize and reflect. At the end of each study period, such as each quarter, summarize
what you have learned and tried. This should be more than a knowledge revision, but a higher-
level reflection. Place what you have learned in this period in your roadmap of the whole
knowledge universe and think of its connection with other topics you have learned before. Then
ask yourself, what was your expectation at the start of this course, how well have you achieved
it, and what could be the reason. After that, consider how to improve in the next quarter and
make a study plan. Doing so helps you view your learning from a high perspective, so as to
improve learning efficiency in the future.

Second, improve your reading speed. You know, university study involves a lot of reading –
textbooks, papers, etc. – thus the reading speed is the bottleneck of learning speed. To read
faster, you can try forcing to raise your reading speed progressively. You should have a timer,
either a physical one or an imagined one, to roughly measure the speed you read. Then,
consciously read at a quicker pace; force your brain to process information faster. Meanwhile,
after finishing each paragraph, briefly think of its content and effect in the paper, so as to ensure
you still understand the text thoroughly. In her book Lab Girl, paleobiologist Hope Jahren quoted
a word from her mother, “that reading is a kind of work, and that every paragraph merits
exertion.” (Hope 16) She is talking about the value of books and the importance of in-depth
reading. So, do not skip any part at will when reading.

Summarization and fast reading are catalysts for efficient learning, but university study is more
than absorbing knowledge – application and exploration are also important. That is why you are
supposed to do lab research in addition to taking courses. In research, you are applying the
knowledge you have learned in class, consolidating and reinforcing them. You are starting with
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the truths that has already be studied and end up with something beyond human acquisition. You
are pushing forward the edge of human intelligence, contributing to the whole human race. This
will offer you many skills, such as problem solving, logical induction, experiment design,
persuasive writing, etc., that can hardly be acquired elsewhere. In addition, you should pay
attention to “modern” psychology. Indeed, you had read a lot of books before entering
university. However, many of the works you read are classical psychology. It differs from
modern psychology in their approaches to prove the theory. The former is based on empirical
hypothesis while the latter values scientific proof. Thus, you should especially pay attention to
the methodology in modern psychology research, as it is the major blank in your knowledge
map. Look into the process that modern researchers induce towards a theory: how they raise
hypothesis, how they design experiment, and how they analyze and conclude. Do not miss any of
the details, such as the searching of other scholar’s works, elimination of bias in experiment, etc.
After that, try conducting your own research. Start with a simple one and progress gradually; or
you can join a research lab on campus. When you begin to do research, you may find out that it
is different from other learning activities in that it requires knowledge of a certain amount and in
a specific field. Thus, you will have to do extra preparation to make sure the research proceeds
smoothly. Yet, research is absolutely rewarding and worth that extra work.

Finally, get yourself into the psychologist community. This letter is giving you the best advice,
but of course, it is not omniscience; there are always helpful opportunities that you have heard
of. Remember Rikka, your best friend in high school? She is the first person you get to know in
the psychology community. You talked to her, and so she guided you into the world of
psychology. It is the same in university. Go talk to the scholars, know their current affairs and
future plans, and ask them for advice on your decision. Listen to their stories and remember
them. The more people you talk with, the more likely you will find beneficial opportunity for
yourself. For efficient conversation, one thing you should keep in mind is to distinguish “story”
and “perspective” in his words. You shall know that “story” is the what occurred to him and you
can remember intact, while “perspective” is his personal idea that might be biased or wrong.
Thus, you should always think independently and make decisions on you own. Also, as ancient
Chinese philosopher Confucius said, one should never take it as a shame to ask someone who
seems inferior than you. Every person can be resource of useful information. So, be humble.

Above are the actions recommend for you to take. They are described in detail and possible
hampers are listed out. But as you know, no plan is perfect. So, think. Keep an open mind and
seek for the solution yourself.

Keep working and keep thinking. Hope to hear good news from you!

Sincerely,

Jiaxi Ye
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HSSB 1233, UC Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara, CA 93107
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Works Cited

Jahren, Hope. Lab Girl. Vintage Books, 2017.