PAWs - Promoting Awareness and Wellness

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.

August 2010

Master Student Month
Dave Ellis, author of “Becoming a Master Student” (2009), defines a master student as “a person who has attained a level of skill that goes beyond technique.” For the master student, methods and procedures become automatic responses and the familiarity with which the student addresses each task makes the work seem effortless. Because the master student does not have to focus on the details of the process, he or she is able to bring more to his or her work.

Ellis further contends that mastery can lead to extraordinary results—a beautiful painting, an insightful short story, an unbelievable shot at the buzzer that secures the winning point, or a moving musical performance. These results, Ellis explains, accompany “a sense of profound satisfaction. Work seems self-propelled. The master student […] allows the creative process to take over.”
Likewise, the master student produces extraordinary results by combining creativity and passion with his or her familiarity with the task of learning. Unfortunately, “mastery” is not something that can be concretely defined or taught. While skills may be teachable, true mastery is something that only comes from experience.

Consequently, the master student could be anyone, regardless of education, age, gender, race, or ethnicity. Consider the following list, which indicates some characteristics of master students. As you peruse the list, consider the diverse range of individuals who may fit these descriptions. And consider yourself – you may find that you are already a master student.
Some traits shared by master students:

  • Inquisitive 
  • Focused 
  • Adaptable 
  • Organized 
  • Competent 
  • Joyful 
  • Unbiased 
  • Self-aware 
  • Responsible 
  • Adventurous 
  • Motivated 
  • Open-minded 
  • Courageous 
  • Self-directed 
  • Spontaneous 
  • Passionate 
  • Hard-working 
  • Caring 
  • Energetic 
  • Intuitive 
  • Creative 
  • Durable 
  • Accepting 
  • Upbeat

Discovering the Master Student In You
Ellis argues that each individual has the potential to be a master student because “human beings are learning machines.” Ellis explains that our ability to learn and our potential for growth and improvement enables each of us to be a master student, and calls into question why this capability is not always maximized. At the end of the day, Ellis says, it all comes down to time. “You do have enough time for the things you want to do. All it takes is thinking about the possibilities and making conscious choices.”

What choices will you make? To achieve your potential as a master student, the first step is to stop procrastinating. Ellis offers this advice: “Giving up procrastination is actually a simple choice, and people just try to make it complicated. Test the idea for yourself. Think of something that you've been putting off. Choose a small, specific task—one that you can complete in five minutes or less. Do it today. Tomorrow, choose another task and do it. Repeat this strategy each day for one week. Notice what happens to your habit of procrastination.”

Observing your procrastination habit will enable you to understand your procrastination style and discover the costs of procrastination. Once your awareness is raised, Ellis explains, you should be able to:

  • Trick yourself into getting started 
  • Let feelings follow action 
  • Choose to work under pressure 
  • Think ahead 
  • Create goals that draw you forward

Dave Ellis' 25 Ways to get the most out of now

When to study 

  • Study difficult (or "boring") subjects first 
  • Be aware of your best time of day 
  • Use waiting time (i.e., at a doctor’s office) to study 
  • Study two hours for every hour in class 

Where to Study

  • Use a regular study area 
  • Use a library 

Ways to handle the rest of the world

  • Pay attention to your attention 
  • Agree with living mates about study time 
  • Get off the phone 
  • Learn to say no 
  • Hang a "do not disturb" sign on your door 
  • Get ready the night before 
  • Call ahead 
  • Avoid noise distractions 
  • Manage interruptions  

Things to ask yourself if you get stuck

  • What is one task I can accomplish toward achieving my goal? 
  • Am I being too hard on myself? 
  • Is this a priority? 
  • Would I pay myself for what I'm doing right now? 
  • Can I do just one more thing? 
  • Am I making time for things that are important but not urgent? 
  • Can I delegate this? 
  • How did I just waste time?
  • Could I find the time if I really wanted to?
  • Am I willing to promise it?

All information is credited from
Ellis, D. Becoming a master student (2009). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.


August 2010