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Academic Weapon VS. Academic Victim

Students studying at a table with open books.
Credit: Shutterstock/Ground Picture

We are now well into the second semester and assignments are steadily building up faster than we can keep track of.

With deadlines fast approaching, some will say that organization and planning are key while others will be focused on actually getting the assignments started.

What I think everyone will agree on is the desire to be an ‘Academic Weapon’, successfully completing all assignments and readings early and still getting good grades.

Expectations

These high expectations can end up leading us down the path of an ‘Academic Victim’. We can become disappointed if we don’t reach the standards we set for ourselves, even if the standards are unrealistic.

I have been steadily working through my first year of college and found that the biggest change I’ve had to make was to my mindset surrounding my grades and work ethic. In secondary school, I would have done quite well for myself, working hard and getting decent grades. However, upon starting, college administrators during Fresher’s Week told us to kiss those grades goodbye.

I immediately knew that that needed to be taken on board. When it came to my very first college essay I worked hard but did my best to have no expectations. I did not tell myself that I would be an ‘Academic Weapon,’ but I also did not allow myself to enter the ‘Academic Victim’ mindset.

Trying to define yourself by terminology created by the internet is rarely a good idea. If you want to check out the effects of internet trends on productivity and studying then check out this article!

Graduation cap on top of a stack of books.
Credit: Shutterstock/Frannyanne

In speaking to my friends and family I’ve been able to manage my expectations. When I started college I was completely unaware as to what a ‘good grade’ was. In all honesty, I’m still not entirely sure! What is important though is to be proud of yourself for completing assignments to the best of your ability. Sometimes it’s all about your mindset and the importance of growth, check out this article by the August Archives!

Academic weapon

A plus written in red ink with a gold star and the phrase 'Great Work.' This is, of course, the symbol of an academic weapon.
Credit: Shutterstock/Matt Benoit

The term itself was first coined on TikTok, however the true origins seem to be uncertain. In short, an ‘Academic Weapon’ is a student who is perceived as particularly successful in academics as a whole. Over the past few months, there’s been a growing trend of people sharing study tips for college students so that they too can become ‘Academic Weapons’.

While all of this information can be overwhelming, it can also be extremely positive if you know how to filter through it accordingly.

Tips and tricks

The tips and tricks circulating the internet range from the most obvious advice to more niche study methods. Everyone has their own way of working, studying, and organizing themselves. What’s important is finding the way that suits you best. The tips you see online are what works best for the content creator, some elements may work fantastically for you and others may not.

Studyclix is widely used in Ireland, with all of the past exam papers, videos, and study tips! Sometimes they release blogs with anything from tips for studying to looking after yourself. This article here has some tips on last-minute studying.

Keeping track

Keeping track of what you have to do seems like some very basic advice! However, I find that organization is key. When I sit down to do some college work it helps to know exactly what I have to do. If I don’t, I can end up spending the time that I put aside to work on figuring out what I’m going to work on.

Person writing in an open notebook. whether you're an academic weapon or academic victim, studying is key for getting through school.
Credit: Shutterstock/Mimagephotography

One platform that I find useful for keeping track of reading lists is Notion. Notion is a very flexible platform so by messing around with the templates you can find what best works for you!

If you’re more of a paper and pen person then a notebook may be best. In my planner, I have every week laid out and along the side of the page, I have my to-do list. Sometimes having a visual of what you have to do, rather than a hypothetical mental list, helps immensely in keeping track of your tasks.

What’s most important about making a list is actually doing what’s on the list! I know it sounds silly to say but trust me! It is very easy to become trapped in making list after list after list.

Academic victim

While ‘Academic Weapon’ was the first phrase to be thrown around, ‘Academic Victim’ was soon to follow. If we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, we will surely fall short. ‘Academic Victim’ is a humorous way of combating potential disappointment.

Fail being written on a test with a fountain pen. Even if you're planning on being an academic weapon, you may fall victim to a failing grade every once in awhile.
Credit: Shutterstock/Chase4connect

If a grade is disappointing, that is 100% okay, even if you worked hard on the assignment. What is key is finding a way to manage that disappointment. Looking at the feedback you were given is extremely useful and I know that goes without saying. I find it particularly helpful to look at it side by side with the assignment. Looking at the feedback on its own can turn it into an abstract thing.

Finding what works for you

To reiterate, it’s all about what works for you. When watching a video online of someone’s study tips, there’s no point in completely copying their study routine. Trial and error is unavoidable! Some things will work fantastically and some won’t. I remember one of my friends repeating quotes out loud to learn them for an exam, but I preferred to write them out repeatedly. There is no right or wrong way to study.

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