The map to success: How mind-mapping helped me become a curious and self-directed learner

The activity

This is my story of when everything clicked. One day, a lecturer was explaining a concept in criminology, using sociology. At that moment, I became aware of all the existing connections between the subjects I was studying. From that point on, I started creating mind-maps to visually represent the connections of everything I had learnt in a particular week. Explaining an unknown concept using information from other subjects became second nature. Creating my mind-maps also enabled me to analyse the application of the concepts I was learning to other fields. This enhanced my curiosity and my academic performance.

Mind-mapping, though it can be daunting at first, is relatively easy to do. First, identify your core notion—this is the concept that ties everything else together—and place it in the middle. From then on, it is all about finding similarities and drawing arrows. Using different colours for different types of information or subjects makes boundaries easier to see and facilitates the learning process. Mind-maps can be created using pen and paper or, for those who prefer their notes digitised, it can also be done on a computer. 

Mind-maps are great to have when revising because everything is organised and in one place. You may find that creating mind-maps can be time consuming, but doing them in the first place could save you a lot of time later on. Also, perhaps the most important aspect of this rather old but very underrated method is that it does not feel like studying. To me, creating mind-maps is like an investigation, and because the mind is constantly working to find connections and analyse everything, the information settles quicker. Mind-mapping is a small change that brings large boosts to engagement, creativity and academic performance.

Impact on me

First of all, mind-mapping helped me to organise my learning, which made it more attractive to study. When all the information is in one place, nicely written and colour co-ordinated, it is much easier to concentrate and find everything. Mind-mapping can turn what might otherwise be a boring study session into a fun, dynamic experience. Secondly, mind-mapping allowed me to develop my creativity and use my curiosity in an active way. By requiring me to direct my attention towards the interconnectedness of different concepts, mind-mapping helped me broaden my horizons and engage with other fields, which has sparked new passions and improved my academic performance. Last but not least, mind-mapping keeps me engaged because it requires an active approach to learning and understanding. I am no longer simply reading an article or listening to a lecturer; I am directing my own learning, and ‘teaching’ myself!

Advice for other students

An eager student who actively tries to learn while also contributing to society as much as possible. Alongside my academic work, I have been involved in many volunteering activities that helped shape me into the person I am today.