Category: Higher Education

Things to Consider Before Dropping a Class

It happens. You take a class that stinks or that you’re not prepared for academically. Your professor is awful or you just can’t make yourself get up for an 8 o’clock class. There are a lot of reasons for wanting to call it quits. Consider these 5 things before dropping a class:

5 Things to Consider Before Dropping a Class

5 Things to Consider Before Dropping a Class

 

Have You Checked with Your Advisor?

You should always consult your academic advisor before pulling the trigger and hitting “drop”. Are you in a program that requires you to stay in the course for that specific semester? Is the icky class offered every semester or do you run the risk of dropping it to find out that you have to wait another calendar year before it’s scheduled again? Is the class a prerequisite or co-requisite course that has to be taken at a specific point in your degree plan? The answers may all be “No” but it’s best to hear that from someone that specializes in your field of study and knows the ins and outs of your college major requirements.

It’s better to check before so that you know you won’t be surprised later by having to take an extra semester to complete all of your requirements. That would really suck.

Have You Checked with Financial Aid?

You might think you’re ok to drop that Chem course because your roommate tells you it won’t affect your financial aid. The problem is your roommate (though filled with the best intentions) may be devastatingly wrong. These days, students are coming to college with more complex financial aid plans than ever before. There are usually grants, loans, scholarships, etc. that make up part or all of your financial package. It can get really confusing trying to keep up what the restrictions and requirements are for each.

Before dropping that course, go to your financial aid office and have someone pull up your personalized account package. Make sure that dropping the course won’t negatively impact your ability to continue receiving all of your financial aid. Nobody likes going to the Financial Aid office! Sure, the line is long and you’re going to have to wait a while. It’s better to wait in line a while then to find out you’ve dropped below the minimum hours and can kiss your 20K in expected scholarship money goodbye.

Can I Save This Train Wreck?

There are times when you have to cut bait. Make sure this is one of those times. Before freaking out that you can’t make a decent grade and dropping the class altogether, seriously consider how much time is left in the semester and how many available points are left to be earned.  While you might feel awful and panicked because you flunked YOUR FIRST TEST EVER, if it’s only worth 20 % of your grade, you might not be in as bad a shape as you think.

Professors are people. Even the mean ones. Go to your professor and talk with them if you are having trouble in a class. They might be able to offer you a way to improve your grade or have ideas on how to get extra help and pull through. It’s not a wise idea to pay for classes that you don’t get any credit for. That’s exactly what you are doing if you drop past the date to receive a reimbursement. It’s like taking a Lit course that costs $700 worth 0 hours! No one would do that. Make sure there is no way to salvage the grade before throwing in the towel.

Consider the Money, Time & Energy

Speaking of wasting time and money…exactly how much have you devoted to the class you are wanting to drop? You might hate dragging yourself to class every other day, but you have already devoted a lot of time and energy into the course. Think about your total effort before dropping a class.

Do you just not like the material or the instructor? Is it really so bad that you are willing to overlook how much you have invested? If you’re only a few weeks from the end of these semester, it might be more beneficial to suck it up and stay in rather then to drop it late and receive no credit. Sometimes students get overwhelmed with the amount of work left to complete and turn in. You should also consider how much you have already been able to accomplish in the class.

If it is a required course for your degree, ask yourself it is worth taking the same boring material again. The only thing worse than sitting through Physics might be sitting through it for a semester and a half when you could just push through the last few weeks and be done with it once and for all.

What About Off Schedule?

You’ve carefully considered and still believe that dropping is in your best interest?  There are some things you can do to maintain your academic status for financial aid and completion reasons. Many colleges today offer off-schedule courses that only meet for a portion of the regular semester. Many times they are classes offered during the first half or second half of a regular semester.

If you must maintain 15 hours but you just can’t stand World Civ for one more minute, check to make sure you can’t drop World Civ and pick up another half semester/off schedule course. This will keep your academic course load at 15 hours. You’ll still end up paying for the extra class. However, it might be worth it to preserve your GPA and keep from losing your federal financial aid package or scholarship.

Have you ever dropped a college course and then regretted it? I did, only to find out that it was only offered in the Fall semesters so I had to wait the calendar year to take it again? Tell me your story…inquiring chicken minds want to know!

 

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Online Courses: A Convenient Alternative…But are they for everyone?

Should you take an online course?

With technology invading every aspect of our lives, it seems like a slam dunk to meet part of your course requirements by taking a few online classes (sometimes referred to as Web-based courses) while in college. I mean… who doesn’t want to go to class in their pajamas? Just because you CAN doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD!

What am I Getting Myself Into with an Online Course?

First and foremost, be aware of what most online professors and instructors expect. They expect you will be knowledgeable with their online Learning Management System before you ever even sign up for class.  While they will try to make things as easy to access as possible, there will likely be no tutorial on how to actually maneuver within the system or how to upload homework or participate in online activities. This is crucial because most online courses NEVER MEET FACE TO FACE and sometimes the instructor doesn’t even keep office hours on your campus! It’s up to you to know how to do this from day one. Be Ready!

What Kind of Student Succeeds in an Online Course?

Online course taking requires a slightly different set of skills than a traditional lecture based class. Before embarking on this new pajama wearing journey, ask yourself three questions to determine if online classes are right for your personality:

Are you good at finding/using help?

When you are in an online(web based) course, it is likely that you won’t know or even meet anyone else in your course during the semester. Sometimes, the instructor can only be reached by email. If you run into problems, it is up to you to solve them. Are you good with software and hardware issues? Do you know how to google your way out of an incompatibility error? Finding resources and using them to problem solve are crucial when taking an online course. You have to be willing to go the extra mile.

Are you annoyingly persistent?

Speaking of the extra mile? As mentioned before, you likely won’t be seeing your instructor face to face during the entire semester. If an assignment seems unclear or you have a question about a reading example, it is up to you to pursue an answer with your instructor or reach out to another online classmate for help. It takes a lot more effort to search someone out on the web then it does to lean over to the guy or girl sitting next to you in a traditional class and ask a question. Again, you have to be willing to go the extra effort to find the answers you are seeking.

Are you a time management ninja?

Most online courses require the same amount of time and energy as traditional lecture classes. Some require even more. Often, these classes are more fluid in their scheduled readings and assignments. Since there won’t be anyone to remind you of due dates, it’s up to you to plan! You must be able to make sure you complete everything on time. I have seen many good students bomb online courses because they simply “forget” to keep up with their online classes or to check their accounts regularly for added assignments. Don’t let the convenience of an online course tank your GPA!

Have you had a lot of success with online courses? What skills do you think are crucial to online course success?

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10 Things Freshmen Need to Know from Day One

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You feel like a stranger in a strange place and it’s everything you can do to remember to bring your ID card everywhere and go to the right building and class at the RIGHT time. Settling into college life takes a while. Here are 10 Things Freshmen Need to Know from Day One to make your transition from rockin’ senior to newbie freshmen a little easier to bear.

10 Things Freshmen Need to Know Day One

10 Things Freshmen Need to Know from Day One

    1. Your syllabus is your lifeline! PRINT THEM OUT or carry an electronic copy with you at all times….ALL TIMES! Almost everything you need to know is found in a good syllabus and schedule. Pay attention to your instructor office hours and contact information. Also make note of the number of assignments you will have and their due dates. Keep a copy with you in class in case your instructor makes changes to the due dates or cancels/adds assignments. Here’s a blog on the wealth of information that is your syllabus.
    2. Find and get to know your Academic Advisor- Don’t wait until it’s time to plan for next semester. Your Academic Advisor is a wealth of knowledge about everything on campus. You need to go to them with questions about dropping/adding classes, finding resources, and degree considerations.
    3. You are paying a lot of people a LOT of money to work on campus to answer you questions. They can help you out of any jam…as long as you seek assistance BEFORE it is too late! USE YOUR RESOURCES- You’ve already bought them! Don’t hesitate to visit campus offices to ask questions or voice concerns. Know where these offices are just in case you are in need of assistance. Student service offices are usually located in close proximity to each other on a campus. The only stupid question is the question you didn’t ask.
    4. You are more likely to be respected as an adult if you act like one and treat your professors/instructors with respect. If you want them to pay attention to your concerns, pay attention to them when they are speaking. Don’t cruise your phones for interesting pins or the latest basketball stats while they’re trying to lecture on what you need to know to pass your Biology exam. Take responsibility for your education and you’ll find professors more willing to mentor you with help and advice.
    5. You don’t have to “like” your instructors/professors. You only need to listen to them and figure out how to make your learning style mesh with their class style. Yes, your Philosophy instructor might be boring and rude but that isn’t why you aren’t doing well in their class. You have failed to use what you know about their teaching style and incorporate it with what you know about how you learn best. Don’t know how you learn best? Penn State has a great online survey to help you determine your primary learning style.
    6. Do NOT argue your assignments with your teachers! Enough said. This might have worked in high school. Don’t try it in college. You’ve been warned.
    7. Do NOT believe everything you read on RATEMYPROFESSOR.COM. You can find many helpful, honest reviews of instructors on this website. However, students often go to these sites to vent their frustrations when their own bad habits have resulted in poor grades or stressful semesters. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt. If you’ve never heard of RateMyProfessor, it’s a website organized by college and instructor with anonymous reviews from previous students. It’s much better to ask a friend with first hand experience that you can trust.
    8. Embrace the concept of the “Master Calendar”. A lot of student will eventually figure out that if you don’t keep an academic planner, you might as well drop out of college. I have written an entire blog about what I think is the #1 college hack every student should use! Most students fail to take it to the next level. Keep your academic AND social tasks on the SAME calendar so that you know when you heaviest social/academic times are and can plan accordingly.
    9. You need to get used to technology. You will be required to use technology and many of your assignments, etc. will contain an electronic element. You are going to be required to use more technology in college then you did in high school. Some campuses require incoming students to have specific computers/tablets and almost all use a Learning Management System to conduct assignment and grade submission. Don’t fight it. If the idea of using so much technology overwhelms you, get with a new friend that seems to be a Jedi-Technology-Master and have them share their skills.
    10. Have high expectations for yourself. Yes, your parents and other loved ones want you to do well while in college. It is ultimately up to you to find the internal motivation to succeed in college. Are you driven by getting a job in a competitive career field? Do you want to learn how to help others or become a community organizer to effect positive change? Whatever reason you have for attending, make sure it means something. It has to be personally rewarding to you so when you don’t feel like waking up for that 8 am class or staying up late to finish that Lit paper you somehow pull out the motivation to do it anyway.

Bonus Tip: EVERYONE is nervous! Starting a new semester is just like the first few weeks of a new school year. Hang in there! By week three things will usually seem a lot more smooth.

Do you have your own 10 Things You Think All Freshmen Need to Know? Comment below and share!

It’s true. You’ll find thousands of blogs and articles telling you everything you need to know to be successful as a college freshman.  But here’s my NUMBER ONE COLLEGE TIP…

#1collegetip

THE ONE THING that can make the difference between you successfully sailing through your freshmen year or ending up a shattered mess, sobbing into your mother’s sofa and eating a pint of ice cream while you reminisce about that scholarship you USED to have- it’s this:

YOUR PLANNER+YOUR SYLLABI WILL SAVE YOUR SORRY STUDENT BUTT!

(If you don’t know what a syllabus is check out my post: Embrace the Syllabus)

What do I do with this Number One College Tip?

It’s simple really. Collect all of the syllabi that you’re given on the first day of all of your classes. If they came with a class schedule…sit down WITH A PENCIL and put all the dates for all of your assignments, tests, projects, etc. that are due for the entire semester into one planner. It should take you about the same amount of time that you spend nursing a frappuchino from Starbucks and it’s virtually painless. Some of you techie students might prefer using an electronic organizer instead and that’s great! Just make sure that you get all of your assignments written down with their tentative due dates. Right away, you can see which weeks are going to be blissful and which are going to be challenging. You know this THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASS! It’s like having your own little crystal ball!

After counseling many, many unsuccessful college students there is one truth that stands out above the rest…

If you plan to learn, then you must learn to plan.

I see a lot of really successful, smart, funny students wash out because they have very poor planning and time management skills. By using this one simple planner college hack, you’ve set yourself up to be able to navigate whatever choppy waters you encounter that first college year.

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This isn’t your high school teacher’s class syllabus!

embracethesyllabusWhat if I told you that on the first day of class most student’s are given the most important piece of paper they’ll ever see from their college professor all semester?It’s true. It’s your class syllabus. It’s time to EMBRACE the SYLLABUS and make it work for you.

Sure, everything on your syllabus is important.  There are several SUPER important things that your professor wants you to remember.  Pay particular attention to these areas so that the semester goes more smoothly for both concerned parties.

Print it out and keep a copy of your class syllabus with you all the times.

Seriously, physically print it and put it in whatever notebook you are schlepping back n forth to class. If you’re a hipster that only takes in a tablet…fine. Make sure you have a copy saved into a folder so you can view it. I store my syllabus is Noteability which is an AWESOME app for college freshmen to invest in. Instructors are constantly referring to it throughout the semester as tests/quizzes approach, assignments are changed, or projects are due.

Search your syllabus for your Instructor’s office hours.

Make note of your instructor’s office hours. Most faculty are not 8-5 university employees. They have limited set hours they can be seen during any given semester. If you realize on Thursday that you don’t understand an assignment but wait until Friday to go see your professor that doesn’t hold office hours on Friday- that’s on YOU…not THEM. No matter how much you complain.

Search your syllabus for your Instructor’s email address.

Don’t try to find us on twitter or facebook or anywhere else in cyberspace where the cool kids hang out these days. Most universities have rules dictating how faculty and staff can communicate with students. Usually it’s through their official university provided email account. Because smart phones, you are more likely to get a faster response from a well worded email than trying to reach that instructor on their office phone.

Your class syllabus will have a list of every assignment for the semester.

You will be given a syllabus by most of your instructors.  Many will include a list of assignments that they expect to be completed during the course of the semester. Pay attention to the number of assignments (particularly the large assignments, i.e. papers) and the number of tests/quizzes. That way you can gauge how rigorous the course will be from day one.

Pay attention to the point weight of each assignment on your syllabus.

Next to the assignment list you will normally see the point distribution for each of the assignments as well as the overall points that will be awarded throughout the semester. This will give you a really good clue as to which assignments, tests, etc. you absolutely do not want to miss or fail to turn in. If they are worth a bigger percentage of your total points, it is good to know that from the beginning.

Your class syllabus will probably have a course calendar with due dates for every assignment.

If your instructor has given you this with your syllabus you should realize that they have just done you a huge solid. Your course calendar shows you a detailed look at each week in your class and when assignments are actually given and when assignments are due. Your quizzes, readings, tests, etc. will all be there on one page so that the whole semester is laid out. A smart chick takes these from each class, sits down with a PENCIL and starts putting all of their assignments for all of their college courses into a planner right at the beginning of the semester. After all of your assignments are in, it makes it easy to see at a glance what are your busy weeks and which are more open for social activities.

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freshmanregistrationYou’re on the downhill roll of your last senior semester. Teachers are relaxing and you’ve sent all the graduation announcements out. In fact, the only exciting thing on the horizon is Senior Skip Day. Don’t worry, if you’re like the majority of the incoming collegiate class of 2016 you still have FRESHMAN REGISTRATION to look forward to!

In the following, I (Brainy Chicken) am going to attempt to help you navigate the deep and unknown waters that are FRESHMAN REGISTRATION so that when you get to campus you don’t sound like a totally clueless…well, freshman.

Every campus is different in how they run freshman registration days. Sometimes you make a one-on-one appointment with an advisor, sometimes you report to the department that you want a degree from (Nursing) on your campus and register as a small group, sometimes they call you all in together like a ginormous casting call for American Idol, and if you are really lucky-  they offer a weekend that you can come up, stay in the dorms, use the workout equipment and cafeteria and register for your upcoming classes. So, instead of getting specific, I have come up with a general list of things all college bound chicks should research and consider before getting to registration.

KNOW YOUR MOST RECENT ACT/SAT/AP EXAM SCORES: In a perfect world called Happy Town, your most current information from standardized testing centers and your highschool is patiently sitting in the college/university system awaiting your arrival for registration. We do not live in a perfect world. “But”, you say “I am already accepted so why do I care?” You care because sometimes those scores determine what entry level general education classes you are going to need to take. It might make the difference between taking College Algebra and Calculus I. You would be bummed if you sit through Composition I freshman year just to find out that you clepped it with the AP test but the scores weren’t in the system and you forgot to tell someone.

GENERAL EDUCATION: What the heck is general education? I’m glad you asked. If you are attending a liberal arts school (high probability if you’re headed to an American college or university) then there are a set group of subjects that every student must take coursework in. These count towards your “general education” and won’t be used to meet your “major/minor” requirements. Think Humanities, Science, History, Writing, Mathematics, and Fine Arts. Don’t be bummed. These are usually the classes that make you an interesting adult worth talking to at Starbucks. It’s important that you expect this during registration because these classes will make up the majority of your coursework your first three semesters or so and you aren’t going to be able to go all crazy and enroll in 5 business courses from the starting gate.

CONCURRENT CREDIT: Along the same lines as knowing your scores…know what concurrent credits you should be bringing in as a freshman. Don’t know what I am talking about? Skip to the next point. Your credits should already be in the system, but they aren’t always there and sometimes you are in classes your senior year that we haven’t gotten notice of…make sure you speak up and tell your college registration helper if you feel you have already taken a concurrent credit course and don’t need to take it again. This will help you avoid having to make schedule changes during the first week of classes which is advising crunch week.

NOT EVERYONE WILL KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO MAJOR IN: Do not be dismayed if you are not like little Sally that has known she wanted to be a nurse since the first day of Kindergarten. Not everyone is Sally. Not only that, a lot of the “Sally’s” will change their minds and move on to something else before they leave with a college diploma. So don’t freak out and be intimidated. Because of general education, you don’t really have to know right away any way. You’re probably a super cool chick (meaning little chicken, of course) that is interested in too many things instead of not being interested in any one thing. Try taking an entry level class in a department that interests you. If it works out,  take another, but if it doesn’t- chalk it up to experience and move on.

LOOK OVER THE COLLEGE AND THEIR DEPARTMENTS AND DEGREES OFFERED: Even if you are undecided or are pretty sure you want to major in X, take a few minutes to look over the college as a whole and see the different degree programs that are available. I suggest this because sometimes during registration day you are taken on a tour of TWO departments of your choice. If you are undecided, this will give you some idea of what you might be interested in seeing on the tour and if you are already decided, it might help you to know what facilities a particular minor uses. Long story short…know a little about your college and what it offers degree wise BEFORE registration.

MOM AND DAD TAKE A BACK SEAT: This fact is becoming more and more true on campuses. Did you expect Mom to be there to remember that you just sat for the ACT again and blew Math out of the water with a 33? Nope. She is likely in a totally different area from you in a parent session while you are actually picking out your first college classes. Be prepared for this. I have personally seen students fall apart over this one fact and you can recognize them by the helpless ‘doe in the headlight’ look. If you need parental input on where to start, have this conversation BEFORE you get to registration as they are very unlikely to let you pause to fetch Mom and Dad for advice.

TAKE THE TOUR, EAT THE LUNCH, GO TO THE GAME, etc.: A lot of times families skip out on this part of registration day. If it is offered- do it. Why? Because this might possibly be the only free meal or free game you ever see on campus and it is difficult to schedule a personal campus tour the closer it gets to fall semester.

WHAT WERE YOU GOOD/BAD AT IN HIGHSCHOOL: There is a good possibility someone is going to ask you this when you sit down to talk about registration. If you are strong in History, they may place you in a History course your freshman year but not College Algebra if you struggled in Math. Be honest. They only want to give you the best first semester freshman experience they can.

WHAT DID YOU ENJOY IN HIGHSCHOOL: Know the answer to this question.  It might mean that you take a Literature class for your general education instead of a Philosophy course. It might help the person assisting you to suggest coursework/majors that you might want to take time to explore later. It might just make your Fall schedule a little more pleasant!

NOTHING IS SET IN STONE:  Sometimes students look more like they are trying to figure out how to disarm a nuclear device than pick 5 classes for a semester that last roughly 16 weeks. Even if you sign up for Biology and then go home over the summer and decide it is too intimidating for your first try…just change your schedule! It isn’t set in stone. If you make a mistake or have a change of heart, it can be fixed. End of story.

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technologytosharewithyourhomeschooler

Teaching on a college campus and working in Higher Education for almost 15 years with students has given me a unique perspective on the skill set necessary for college/university students to perform well on campus. While technology is quickly becoming a staple in our public and private school systems from kindergarten, this wasn’t always the case. The moving trend on campuses is to use more innovative platforms to communicate ideas and even construct assignments. Having said that, if I were currently homeschooling college/university bound children, I would begin moving them towards two such products now so that they have a leg up: Prezi and Educational Apps.

Gone are the days when PowerPoint was an entertaining medium. Yes, it can support gifs that dance and you can make pictures appear and disappear, but a newer product is free for educational use and makes much more compelling presentations. Prezi is what PowerPoint dreams about becoming at night. While it takes a little time to get used to using it, it is well worth the effort. I encourage all of my students to construct their presentation in Prezi instead of PowerPoint and I use it for almost all of my lectures that have a visual component. The best thing about Prezi is that it is a web supported medium so you can access your presentation from any device with a web connection and you don’t have to worry about incompatibility problems like you do with PowerPoint and Keynote. Check it out:

https://prezi.com/

Although we all love to use our phones/pads for playing Angry Birds, my second suggestion is that you start having your students utilize some of the many educational apps that are available now if you haven’t already. Higher education is moving towards pads over computers and developers are scrambling to come up with innovative apps that assist college students with everything from taking notes to scheduling advising appointments. Your student’s transition to college will be a lot easier if they are already using these apps as their “go to” student and learning tools when they sit down for their first Biology 101 class. While there are many on the market, I have found the following to be really user friendly and useful:

Evernote– Evernote replaces scratchpaper, to do lists and lecture notes for most college students that I have seen using it. This is definitely a good idea considering I have never spotted a college student on any campus without their phone at all times but HAVE meet many with no paper or pen when you tell them to record something.

 StudyBlue– StudyBlue Flashcards allow students to develop digital flashcards (no more 4X6 white things on a metal ring) that they can look over any time their phone is in their hand. Imagine the 24hr a day studying opportunities!

If you’re a “i” family, then I suggest the following:

iMovie– Filming projects aren’t just for Digital Film students anymore. This newest generation (Generation Z) is adopting video communication at an unprecidented rate. It’s their “email”. This is an easy to use app that facilitates filming, editing and graphics all in one package.

Bloom’s ipadagogy features lots of apps that support different aspects of learning.

bloomsipadagogy

There are a thousand others I could suggest and really you can find an app for just about anything your student needs to tackle. The idea is just to get the ball rolling now and seek out those opportunities before they ever arrive on campus.

Best of Luck!

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5 Places on Campus Have you ever wondered what kind of help you can find in the many offices that grace your campus? If you’ve ever asked yourself “Where do I go for this?”, then Brainy Chicken has some hints to help you out.

learning lab round#1Your Academic Learning Center

Whether you can’t seem to get that elusive “A” on a paper or can’t keep your head above water in Algebra, most colleges and universities have a learning center available. They usually include tutoring services, a writing center for all of your composition/research paper needs, and support services for students struggling to meet their academic goals.

prof advisor round#2Your Advisor’s Office

This isn’t just somewhere to stop off when it’s time for a new schedule of classes. Your advisor can offer a lot of tips and hints for the academically challenged student. Struggling in a particular subject? Your advisor can help you evaluation your current or potential schedule to make sure you’re moving towards success and help you regroup.

#3Your Campus Library library round

Looking for help with a research paper or resources for a presentation? Or maybe your residence hall is a little noisy and you just need somewhere quiet to read and study? The library is just the place. Comfy chairs, quiet study rooms and more books than you can shake a stick at …sounds like heaven! Added bonus: Most of them are now equiped with a coffee shop.

advising center round #4Your Campus Advising Center

Maybe you need help finding resources or feel like you don’t have anywhere to turn. If so, this office is usually a good place to visit as they know a lot about the resources that are available to students on campus.

library round#5Your Instructor’s Office

Last but certainly not least- the INSTRUCTOR’S OFFICE! Are you having difficulty in a class? Don’t wait until all hope is lost- pull out that syllabus and look up the instructor’s office hours and then VISIT them in person to discuss how to turn your academic ship around. Instructors usually care about your success (at least instructors like Brainy Chicken do!) and are willing to help students that take responsibility for their education. Talk to them!

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midterm madness

Don’t Just Survive… THRIVE!

You’re half way through this Spring semester and the time has come again for you to prepare for the dreaded midterms. Thoughts of deadlines, papers, essay questions and projects keep you up at night with worry. Howl is here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Use the following tips to “stop the madness” and get yourself on track for a successful second half:

Make a plan. Are you enrolled in a lot of classes? A good study plan can make even the most hectic semester midterms easier. Sit down and look over everything you have due/need to study for during this hectic week. Categorize all of your tasks in order of importance or difficulty. Sit down with a calendar and schedule time to complete each task/study session so that you know when to work on what to meet your deadlines. Remember to give more time to those things that are critical or more difficult.

Brush up on your study/testing skills. Did you make it through high school without studying? It’s likely that your midterm assignments at college are going to be more difficult. Never fear because good study/test taking skills can be taught! There are a lot of systems in place that help with note taking: take a look at the Cornell method or learn to utilize mind maps. If you are struggling with a paper, head over to the A-State Learning Center and get some help dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s.  Is the problem the test itself? Check out these tips on how to prepare for test day:

www.infoplease.com/homework/studyskills4.html

Capitalize on your strengths. How can what you know about yourself and your strengths help you at midterms? What is your learning style? What time of day can you study the best? Carefully consider what works best for you and then design your study/project time and resources accordingly. For instance, if you are visual learner, take time to re-write your notes in a fun colored pen. Want to find out how you learn best? Follow this link:

www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

It’s about who you know and where you are. Are you talkative and outgoing or do you prefer to be in the background? Regardless of your socializing preference, now is the time to put those social skills to work. Take the initiative and form study groups for those classes that are the most difficult. Does your roommate drive you nuts by watching Netflix when you are trying to study? Find somewhere quiet that is more accommodating.  The library isn’t your only choice:

www.testprep.about.com/od/Study_Skills/tp/Places_To_Study.htm

Watch out for yourself. Sure. Spring break is coming and we want to look our best, but now is NOT the time to go on a crash diet! Make good eating habits during midterms so that you have plenty of energy to make it through the rough week. And while you are at it– GET SOME SLEEP! Burning the midnight oil might sound like a quick fix but a study from the University of Arizona showed that losing as little as one hour of sleep can affect memory retention. Instead, procrastinate on procrastination and study for several days ahead of the test instead of all in one night.

Don’t lose your cool. We know. Midterms demand a lot of attention and cause a lot of emotion. Don’t let it get the best of you. Start studying well ahead of time so that you can also schedule in some decompression time without feeling guilty. If you are feeling extremely overwhelmed, head over to the counseling center to discuss if you have test anxiety. If you must sweat the exams, sweat at the gym too. Not only does exercise boost brain power, it also helps you deal with excess stress. Find out more:

www.webmd.com/men/features/exercise-benefits

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