Learn How To Learn

Learn how to learn

Learning how to learn is one of the most important skills you acquire in high school after socialization. And itís the same in college.

Yes, a lot of the material both in high school and college you likely wonít use in your everyday life. If youíve been paying attention, this isnít a surprise.

Why Should You Learn How To Learn?

In most occupations in life, youíll have to gain new skills. This is true even in hobbies and other activities.

While the skills youíll use in your daily life may differ considerably from the content youíve learned in school and their application, most skills are learned in similar ways.

Typically, there are many ways to gain knowledge and many ways to demonstrate your knowledge. But, in most real-life applications, youíre not going to be expected to regurgitate information. Instead, itís usually applying a skill. 

Hey, Jenny, please write up this report. It would help if you give an Excel graph to show earnings volatility.

Hey, Marcus, could you make sure the client feels comfortable in this meeting? Theyíre coming in from out of town and have never been to California.

Hey, Jerry, check the vitals on this patient. See if their high blood pressure could be a result of dehydration.

Hey, Momo, please check the numbers on this. Something seems funny with the accounting. 

Learning How To Learn

There is a subtle difference between the content of what youíre learning and the process of learning. Yes, many of us get caught up thinking, ďDo I really need to know the first person subjunctive of the verb to be?Ē No, you donít. Knowing how to use the language proficiently helps, especially if youíll be writing anything in your future.

But, the point is that you are learning. Sometimes you are doing this listening to a lecture from your instructor. Sometimes youíre sharing with your peers. Other times youíre Googling an explanation of some process or checking a Wikipedia entry for the context of an event or discovery.

The upshot is that the learning you are doing is not learning so much the material presented in books in school, but becoming familiar with how to learn. Often, itís more interesting to learn about something from a variety of resources or in informal methods. The upshot is that you want to learn how you learn best.

Itís The Process, Itís Your Process

There is a discipline you can make into a habit.

And, the more variety of topics you can learn about, the more comfortable you will be with acquiring different skills. And learning different ways. Learning to cook is quite different from learning a new language. But, they share some of the same basics: both help if you have a knowledgeable mentor; experience helps; exposure to different types of cooking/speaking help you to adapt to different methods of cooking or speaking different dialects.

Itís just that the more you can learn, generally, the more valuable you become in the workforce. 

Just know that what you learn isnít always futile. Youíre learning how to learn.

Parting Notes

Just keep in mind a formal education isnít the only type of education you can receive. You will be learning your whole life if you’re open to it.

Keep learning! And enjoy your learning journey!


This is such an important skill, there is a course on it.


By Martin

Martin McSweeney is a National Merit Finalist, Pomona College Graduate, and member of MENSA. He has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (Loyola Marymount University campus); Upward Bound (Harvey Mudd campus); various test prep companies; and Whittier High School. Now, Martin helps students of all abilities improve their relationship with math.