Guest post written by Lilly Mirviss ’12
1. Embrace Your Learning Style
I am a senior geology-biology concentrator, but I’ve never considered myself to be someone who does science. Don’t get me wrong, I love science. Geeking out about the ferrous wheel in limnology is one of my favorite pastimes. But I find details excruciating. I can never remember the carbon cycle. Or the nitrogen cycle. Or any cycle. I would much rather write a paper than take a test. Problem sets are not my friends. And to top it all off, I hate research.
This final realization led me away from science and instead towards the world of energy policy. While interning at the California Energy Commission last summer, I fell in love with the world of beautiful battery charger standards and sexy solar siting cases, and I saw a clear niche where I could apply my interest in science on a larger scale than a fume hood and soil samples. By understanding both the science and policy perspectives, I could function as a translator between policy makers and engineers, bridging the gap between two worlds that excited, motivated, and challenged me.
By taking all of my classes pass/fail, I have been able to apply my science-policy intersection brain to my hard science classes, embracing my learning strengths no matter how much they differ from the traditional science learning style. Pass/fail encourages me to learn how I learn best.
2. Discover What Motivates You
Though I wish I could take credit, the 100% Pass/Fail idea was actually my parents’.
When I first arrived at Brown, I joined the crowd of passionate students who continued intellectual debates even after class was over. Coming to Brown was about expanding my academic horizons as I endlessly explored new subjects like modern culture and media. My love of learning pushed me to do well, overcoming my focus on percentages. However, as exams and papers took over my semesters, I began learning material solely for the purpose of doing well on the test.
Of course I thought my parents were crazy. Sure, I go to Brown, but come on. My parents pointed out how I had lost track of my ideals since I first arrived here, how my love of learning had been replaced by stress and frustration, and how I had lost touch with my main reason for choosing Brown in the first place: to learn for the sake of learning.
It was my junior year at Brown, and with that, I decided to take the rest of my classes in college pass/fail. [Read more →]