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Aleem at his computerWhat is supposed to be a great moment in a student’s life became one of the worst times of my life! The day I was accepted into university was one of the best days of my life. I remember feeling as if this was the first step towards having more money, a prestigious job and being admired by everyone! I also felt like I was smart, capable and a real winner! I was looking forward to working hard and getting the top marks in university. I just couldn’t wait for my classes to start and make some great friendships and bonds along the way. This was the beginning of a new life that was going to change me forever.

However, when I began university, it was nothing like I expected!

I remember hardly understanding what my instructors were teaching in the majority of my classes. I just couldn’t “get” what they were trying to explain.

This left me feeling stupid and ashamed as if I couldn’t learn anything. I often felt like the least intelligent person at school. This insecure and self-doubting feeling made it very difficult to pay attention and remain focused as well. Simple classes became extremely demanding and seemed to be too complicated for me comprehend. I remember also falling asleep during my lectures because I just couldn’t generate any interest in my courses.

My time management at school was ineffective and I found myself procrastinating almost all the time.

I felt extremely overwhelmed by the intense workload that was piled on top of me and it seemed like I never had enough time to get everything done. As a result, I found myself putting off my school work and spending more time with my friends – it was just too painful to see how far behind I was and how much work I had to get done! This increased my stress levels drastically and felt crushed by what I had allowed to happen.

Taking notes in class was a big issue for me.

I had no idea how to do this correctly. There was so much that was being discussed in each lecture and I couldn’t determine what was important and worth writing down. What made things worse was, when I referred back to these notes a few weeks later, I had no idea what I had written or why! This created considerable stress and anxiety when I studied for exams and tests.

Reading and learning from my textbooks was extremely difficult.

I would read a few pages and then fall asleep, without understanding the concepts that were addressed. Remembering what I had read the next day was another concern for me. No matter how many times I re-read a section, I just couldn’t remember what I learned the day before.

When it came to doing homework and assignments, I did my best to focus and concentrate but this was almost impossible for me.

There were so many people to talk to, things to do and places to go. I hated the thought of being stuck in the library all alone while my friends were having fun and socializing. I would feel lonely and isolated when I did my homework by myself, so I tried to study with another person. Eventually, we would end up talking to each other and get nothing done. I would come home with so much work to do and would stay up till 2 or 3 am, which left me exhausted the next day.

When it came to studying for exams and tests, I felt extremely overwhelmed and intimidated.

It always seemed like there was too much to learn and never enough time to comprehend it all. These fearful and daunting feelings made it even more difficult to concentrate because it would push my stress levels through the roof! Sometimes it would take me an hour or two just to calm down and get myself together so I could begin studying.

After working extremely hard and spending hours and hours studying, there were many times when I would just blank out on an important exam that was worth 30, 40 or 50% of my final grade.

I would also put so much pressure on myself that I panicked when I saw a difficult question. I remember writing a Math final and not being able to remember a simple formula that I had practiced a few days ago because I was too frightened to think straight.

I began to feel more intimidated with every course I took and my confidence was dropping considerably because I had not experienced any success at university. I had become convinced that I was not as intelligent or as and smart as other students. Everyone around me seemed happy and never seemed to worry about their grades. They always had time to go out and have fun while I worried out about how I would get through the semester.

Then came the bombshell! After three years at university, I was placed on academic probation…

…with a GPA of 1.98 out of 4.0. I remember feeling very afraid and like a massive failure! Who would hire me if I didn’t get my degree? How would I pay back my hefty student loan? How could I face my family and friends as a university dropout?

I tried many things to get myself out of the situation I was in. I isolated myself from my friends and family because I felt that I needed to spend more time on my schoolwork and less time socializing. I also quit my part time job, stopped volunteering and completely quit playing sports.

I spoke to my intelligent friends and would ask them what they did to get such good marks. All of them gave me different answers.

Most of them would tell me that they had no idea what they did to get the marks they were getting. Some were a bit more helpful and told me that they just listened well in class or took very good notes. Others would just say that they just worked hard and concentrated. There were even a few who would show me how they cheated on their exams.

Another thing I did was to speak to my instructors. I asked them what they thought I was doing wrong and what I could do to become a better student. Their answers were also not very helpful. Some told me to stop putting so much pressure on myself, and that I was too high strung. Others offered to give me extra help but couldn’t really understand why my grades weren’t higher.

There were even some professors who told me that if I hadn’t figured this out by now, I would never make it through university.

My next step was to speak to my friends and family. My buddies told me that I wasn’t doing well because I wasn’t trying hard enough and I should work even harder. All I needed to do was put in more hours studying and things would get better. This was basically the same response that most of my family gave me as well. This was another dead end because I was already burnt out working 10-12 hours a day.

I finally got the courage to speak to a guidance counselor and asked her how I could become a better student. Her response was,…

“You are spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Why don’t you forget about getting a degree so you can get out of here.”

When I received this advice, I was devastated! I then realized that I could only count on myself and I was the only one who could get me out of the situation I was in. It was at this point that I had to do something different. Something that no-one had ever considered or contemplated!

Finally, I had a breakthrough!

The first thing I did was to make a commitment to myself to become a better student NO MATTER WHAT IT TOOK. I was so disappointed with myself and what my life had turned out to be that I felt a fire in my belly to solve this problem regardless of how much time it would take, what it would cost me, how difficult it would be or how far I needed to travel.

When I made this decision to myself, something interesting happened: I “accidentally” found a book my sister had on her bookshelf. It was called “Awaken the Giant Within” written by Anthony Robbins. As I read the pages in this book,…

…it felt like I had uncovered a deep dark secret that had been kept away from me for my entire life.

It talked about the mindsets we all have; the belief system we inherit that causes us to do the things we do in our daily life; and if we wanted to make a change in our outer world, we had to change our inner life first. The main concept here is that unless we changed the way we thought, we would keep getting the same results we always got.

This helped me realize that one of the reasons I was not doing well in school was because I had certain beliefs that were preventing me from getting the results I wanted. I understood that if I was going to change the results I was getting, I had to change what I was thinking first. After a few weeks of doing this, I began to increase my self-confidence, felt less stress and started being able to focus and concentrate more at school. I was happy to be at school once again because I was seeing some success.

I also noticed that I understood concepts much faster and easily recalled everything I learned even months later.

The next step was to adopt the same actions and behaviors as top students. So I paid careful attention to what they did in and out of school. I also read many books on becoming a better student. I realized that…

…top students not only think differently from other students but they also take different actions than other students.

In other words, they know how to use their minds better to stay more focused, remember more information, recall facts and figures quickly and when they need to. They also had a different strategy when studying and writing exams and tests. They knew how to study smart!

After applying what I had learned, I was able to remove myself from academic probation (whew!). At this point, I jumped for joy but I didn’t want to stop here. I then became obsessed with learning how to become a super student and how to use my mind to the best of its ability, so I kept applying the methods I learned and fine-tuned them every semester. Eventually, in my final semester as an undergraduate student,..

I received a 4.0. GPA…

and had completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Art degree. I also received recognition from the Chair of my faculty and a bursary for my excellent academic performance. A few years after this, I completed a Masters of Business Administration degree and graduated with an overall grade of 90%. My instructors were so impressed with my academic performance that they recommended my name to several top companies. When I graduated I was offered positions at two international management consulting firms and The Department of Justice at the Government of Canada. I decided to work with a company called Deloitte and signed a $10,000 signing bonus with them.

Today, I own my own business, am an author, a university instructor, I speak at various academic institutions across North America and I coach students from all over the world. Many of my clients are now top students who are eligible for scholarships, bursaries and receive amazing career opportunities.

I created a proven system that you can use now!

Based on the real-life success I have had myself, as well as seeing the impact my work has had on hundreds of other students, I have created this special website to help you inspire and motivate your child to become extremely successful at school. Remember, I’ve personally used all the material I will share with you, so you know that it will work! I have undertaken over twenty years of personal research, trial and error, extensive interviews with top students and educators and worked closely with various universities to bring the information on this site. I am committed to providing value here that you can use to support your child today. I welcome your feedback (email me at contactus@TheArtofBeingSmart.com).

Thank you for visiting The Art of Being Smart.

Warm Regards,

Aleem