Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fight to the Finish!

Believe it or not, your first semester in college is almost over.  This or next week is most likely your last week of classes.  As you prepare for finals, step back and evaluate it from all aspects.  Think about the academic and social habits you established this semester . . . and whether they are they habits that contribute to your college success or ones that need to be fine tuned.

Now that you've reflected on your habits, let's talk about how you can efficiently prepare for final exams.  Some courses/professor provide study guides -- particularly if there is a common final.  Begin studying as soon as you get it.  Set aside a little bit of time every night to complete a section of the guide.  If you aren't given a study guide, you can make one.  Here's how:

  1. Begin by using each syllabus topic as a heading.  
  2. For each topic, identify concepts, formulas, and main ideas you should know.  If you're not sure, then look at the sections in the text that correspond to the syllabus topic.
  3. Compare your study guide with a friend's.  By now you ideally have 1-2 people in each class that you can contact.  If not, make a new friend FAST.  You know who's been asking the good questions.  
Last but not least, begin reviewing now so that you don't cram later.Biting off a piece at a time gives you time to process and ask questions of your professor, TA, or friends when you're confused.  Wait until the last minute and you're up all night trying to understand by yourself.  Study all along and you don't have to study long the night before!

Good luck and finish strong!  

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Talking Turkey

Thanksgiving break is a wonderful opportunity to get away, take a deep breath, and get some much-needed sleep and laundry done :)  The extended weekend is also a great time to regroup and rejuvenate to prepare for the final stretch.  Here's a suggestion: think about the classes where your grades are good versus those where you  may have to focus your efforts more.  Prioritize how you will prepare for final papers and exams.  Make a plan, write it down, and execute it.  Yes, rest . . . but not on your laurels.  Stay ahead of the curve and finish strong!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In the Swing of Things

Well, it's November and you're almost three-quarters into your first semester of college.  By now most of you have established academic and personal habits around being a student.  (Remember, it takes 21 days for our bodies to develop a habit.)  At the institution where I'm currently employed, the University sends out academic progress reports at 11 weeks to give students an idea of where they stand.  If your school doesn't send anything out -- or the last update was at mid-terms -- then it's possible for you determine where you stand yourself.

Every class should provide a syllabus that outlines the grading process and weights for different types of assessments (i.e. there is a certain percentage/points assigned to homework  quizzes, exams, etc.).  If you didn't get a paper copy, it's probably online in a classroom management system like Blackboard.  You can also use a study habits inventory to assess or quantify some of your behaviors.  Based on your class performance and overall personal well-being (physical, mental, and emotional health), make adjustments.  Some of the adjustments may be effective as you go into finals, others may better assist you next term.  Either way, take note of what is working well, where you need to maintain, where you need to improve, and what actions are necessary for both.

You've made it this far and simply need to put in a strong effort for the next four to five weeks.  If you're doing well, keep it up.  If you know you have areas that need improvement, make a plan for what YOU will do.  Being successful will require a real commitment on your part.  Be honest with yourself about how much effort you are willing to put in to achieve the GPA you want.  And just go for it!

Get out and vote!  Be part of the process . . own your future.  Don't let someone else do it by default.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mid-Term Check-In

Congratulations!  You survived through the first 8 weeks or so of your first semester in college.  How did you fare?  Did you hit the ground running and take charge of your courses and activities?  Did you find a way to make it happen, but know you could do better?  Do you feel like college is a run away train and you are holding on for dear life?

Regardless of how your semester started, there are ways to finish strong!  There are some very simple strategies that will help.  Here goes . . .

  • Go to class.  Be there physically and mentally.
  • Prepare for class ahead of time by completing all assigned reading.
  • Ask questions for clarification.  (If you have a question, so does someone else.)
  • Take notes.  If your instructor is writing, you should be writing as well.  Put comments in the margins if you need to.
  • Review your notes after class.
  • Begin each assignment when it's given, regardless of the due date.
  • Ask more questions (of your instructor/TA/tutor/friends) when you don't understand.
Now, some of you are saying "I do all that and I'm still not making the grade."  What I suggest for you is a more in-depth session with your academic or program adviser.  There are people on every campus who specialize in easing the freshman transition to college.  Find this person on your campus and make regular appointments.  Do what they advise you to do until you notice a change.  Then, keep doing it.

The semester is at least half way over.  You can make it through the other half.  I promise.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Different World . . . That You Can Navigate

So you've been in college at 4-5 weeks, depending on your institution.  If you're a new college freshman/fist-year student then you're navigating new territory.  Perhaps you have classes that feel familiar, perhaps not.  Either way, there are methods and strategies for success.

If you're not enrolled in a freshman seminar that requires this, take an assessment to determine your strengths and weaknesses.  Know when you study best, how you learn best, and the strategies that work for you.  Prepare for class, arrive on time -- if not early, take notes, ask good questions, review your notes, and start assignments in advance of the night before.  If you can, get a good night's rest.  It's imperative to being alert in class and keeping your immune system strong.

Stay tuned and keep me posted.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Major? It's . . .

A couple of attendees at this evening's workshop were undeclared students.  One is beginning college in the fall and the other is a rising high school senior, but they are both in the same boat.  They are clear about the need for higher education, but don't know which major they should choose.

Take it from someone whose major was essentially chosen for her, find and follow your passion.  When you are working on/toward something you love it is easier to stay focused when it gets tough.  If you don't know exactly what you love or what you're good at there are resources to help you.  Every campus has counseling services (or the high school guidance counselor) who can administer what's called a career assessment.  This "test" asks a series of questions to find out where your personality and interests meet your strengths and talents.

So if you're not sure what college major to choose, don't worry.  There are people who can help you if you know where they are.  And now you know.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Know You Don't Know Me, But . . .

A student attending this evening's workshop wanted to know how to interact with professors, particularly when you need references.  As a college freshman, you may find you need a reference or recommendation letter from a faculty member.  Before you ask for a reference, ask yourself  "What will this person have to say about me?"  You may not know it, but you are on an interview every day . . . in class . . . in practices . . . walking across campus.  Instructors and administrators notice you when don't know they're looking.  You want someone on your campus to be able to speak well of you . . . several someones, in fact.

You don't just want a reference, you want a good, strong reference.  This means the instructor must know who you are.  Make yourself stand out in a good way.  Be the student who asks questions and puts in more effort.  If you're not talkative, you're just not and instructors understand that.  However, you can stand out in other ways.  Be the person who works well in groups and positively adds to the overall atmosphere of the class.  Don't fade into the background.  If your instructor doesn't know your name, how can they provide a good reference?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Congratulations, Graduate!

Congratulations to each and every student who graduated from high school!  This is the time of year when you can relish in your accomplishments and the fact that you survived.  Some of you did it with ease and for others it was a challenge . . . doesn't matter how you did it, you graduated.  That deserves recognition.

Along with high school graduation comes taking the next step, going to the next level.  Community college, traditional college, trade school, military . . . whatever it is, it's part of your plan for the future.  If you're interested in school, I want to help you.  I'll do just that . . . in a few weeks.  For now, enjoy what you've accomplished, Graduate!