Birth Professionals

The bonus of semesters

I have less than a week remaining in my first year as a doctoral student. That means this is a busier than normal week, but a wonderful break is ahead.  It occurred to me this morning how helpful the semester system is, so I wanted to share a few thoughts with those of you whose learning doesn’t follow this structure.

Yes, semesters have their problems. They interfere with regularly scheduled life, I have to reorder things and I rarely feel as if I can relax or that I am “done.” When you live by semesters you are not finished until the semester is over.

But, think of these bonuses….

A semester forces me to make my learning a priority — something that doesn’t often happen when I don’t have the outside structure to motivate me.

A semester pushes me to expand further in a very short time, broadening my understanding of a subject and then letting me move on an apply that new understanding to the things I do.

Between semesters I get breaks, giving me a time to work hard and then a time to back off and let the new things I’ve learned change the way I think or act.

Semesters help me balance my life because the work gets done, and then I have a rest.  I’m a rather organized and self-motivated person, but it still is not the same when I try to “just learn something” as I go along.

The deadlines of a semester require that I move ahead, even when I wade into uncomfortable territory.

What about you?

For me, the concept of a semester works great.  I like it so much that I tend to plan other things in terms of a specific time period.  For example every year I give myself that one year to learn a new cooking technique – and I’m not allowed to give it up in that year even if it is hard. When I have  a “to do list” of the little things I want to do, but never seem to find time for, I can get them done by scheduling a few hours every week for a month or so. Even my exercise is partitioned into time categories – the next three months are all about being ready to run a 10K.

If you are learning midwifery through self-study without a semester structure, would creating a “semester” for yourself improve your learning?


Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)