Monthly Archives: April 2014

Want to be more alert, joyful and aware?

In the intial drafts of our book (On the Quad), Heidi and I knew we wanted to be sure to mention the importance and benefits of napping.  We did mention it (can you find where in the book?!).

More research has recently come out confirming earlier research that states how beneficial napping is. In fact, this article states that napping can be an essential resource in our tool kits  –  one we can control!

But, how long should you nap?  For students, an hour nap can be highly beneficial for learning and retaining information; here they say it is like re-booting your brain!

If you just need to recharge yourself, try a 20-minute “power nap.”

If you have been skimping on night time sleep and need a full sleep cycle, then go for a 90-minute nap.

This is especially helpful to keep in mind as finals’ weeks approach.  Do yourself a favor; take a nap to help your scores!




What do you use your smartphone for?!

I am coming to you from the OC (Orange County [California]) where I am attending the SouthWestern Anthropological Association (SWAA) annual conference.  I heard this panel today which discussed a study of how students at California State University Fresno use technology.  The researchers specifically wanted to compare how “at risk” students used technology compared to students who are not “at risk.”  “At risk” as a category is defined as students who have a GPA that is lower than 2.0; students who are on academic probation; and students who have been disqualified from the university in the past but have been re-admitted.

The (student) researchers found out (through interview and photo journals among other methods) that many students rely on their smart phones for a myriad of reasons:  checking email, using social media (facebook, instagram, etc.), personal health apps, calendar apps, checking online course portals (BlackBoard, WebCT, etc.), taking notes, and reading course materials (to name only a few).  Students reported that using a smartphone was  easier, quicker, and generally more convenient.  Laptop or computer use was viewed as too cumbersome, too heavy, and too inconvenient.

When these uses of the smartphone were categorized according to “at risk” versus not at risk students, the researchers found that “at risk” students were more likely to rely on their smartphone for everything — calendar, email, social media, and schoolwork.  Yet, they were “at risk.”  The students who were not at risk used their smartphones for personal health apps and checking in with friends and family; they did not use them for schoolwork.

Now, the researchers have not followed these students (“at risk”), to find out if they move out of their “at risk” categories due to their use of technology.  But the research suggests that using your cell phone to study may not give the best results.

In short, the effort required to take out the laptop, boot it up, and get to work suggests that this effort will be beneficial to your study habits and your success in school.  Make an effort.  Invest in the extra time it takes to sit down, at a computer or laptop and log into our student learning portal — research suggests it will pay off!

Finding a Mentor

Research shows that students who develop a mentoring relationship with a faculty member will do better in school — academically as well as socially. A mentor can help you brainstorm solutions to challenges; a mentor can provide insight into the hidden realities of college success; a mentor can provide a friendly face when obstacles seem too large; and a mentor can help provide support even beyond college when letters of reference may be needed.

However, recent research (read or listen to here) shows that students of color, in particular women of color, have a disproportionate difficulty in finding a mentor at university/college.  These findings are truly discouraging; but do not give up!

You may have to work harder to find a mentor, but it is worth it.  It will help develop a strong support system for you while you traverse college life and all it entails.  Make an appointment with each of your instructors; get to know her/him outside of the classroom.  Decide if they would be a suitable mentor for you.  Then, you take the steps to help create the mentoring relationship.

You can do it!

To Korea with Love

Our hearts go out to the families, friends and the Republic of Korea as nearly 300 high school students are missing as a result of yesterday’s capsized ferry tragedy (4/16/14). As a three year resident of Korea, I know all Korean citizens are in a state of shock and collective mourning. My (Heidi) heart is heavy and there will them too.

During my time in Korea, I had the pleasure of working with three high school girls for almost two years. These young ladies took their academics very seriously and had great ambitions for college. Yeri dreamed of coming to the US and attending MIT! She studied both English and French and loved participating in social clubs, but academics always came first. Mi-joung carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and was often stressed about her academics. When she didn’t place in the top 100 of the national (yes, NATIONAL) academic ranking her heart sank and tears constantly filled her eyes. She was desperate to get into one of the SKY universities. Saeran was a dreamer! She gave her best, but not at the sake of an emotional toll, chatting about the latest trends, music, and online activities was much more her style.

Although these three are now out of college, there were 100’s of them on board the ferry to Jeju-do. The text messages and tweets which are now making worldwide news, tell a story of how a high school student in Korea, is very similar to a high school student in America, and the pain and loss of students with motivation, ambition, and purpose is a loss for us all. “Dae-han-min-guk.”

The First Year

First year college student, how will you remember your first year of college? What was your favorite moment of your fall term? Is it academic? Social? Personal? Why is it your favorite? What special memories have your created during Spring term thus far?

The first year of college is generally filled with amazing firsts! The people you’ve met, the crazy events in the residence hall, the first big exam, the fall term grades, each has a lasting impact on where you go from this moment.

How do you plan to conclude this first year? Are you striving for academic achievements? Are you hosting a special event for a club or organization? Are you applying for a summer internship/job which may lead you to the “perfect” major and down a career path? Are you taking advantage of an academic program that allows you to see the world by going abroad or across the nation?

Make each first something you are proud of! Finish the term strong, give your best to your professors, the learning, your classmates and most importantly, yourself! Stay motivated to return for a great second!

How to share the college experience: students and parents

Have you heard the term ‘Student Lifecycle Management (SLM)?’ SLM refers to the phases and stages students and parents go through within educational systems. A few months ago, Chris McNamee, wrote this article for Hobsons on managing SLM.

In relationship to higher education, SLM can get really confusing really fast, for both students and parents. For parents, higher education has changed significantly both financially and academically from when they went to college, and for students, the K-12 years of education were planned, where as in college, personal choice and freedom reign.

Mr. McNamee provides a good frame of reference for what SLM should look like on the college level:

  • Advising/academic planning,
  • University services/resources,
  • Engaging campus life.

These are just a few things students and parents should keep in mind while researching institutions and deciding where to apply.

Our campus tour worksheet provides an extensive list of resources campus’ may provide which will help you manage your SLM – take advantage of everything the college has to offer, especially if you believe the K-12 system you went through hasn’t not thoroughly prepared you for higher education.

College Ready! English and math ready?

High school student, are you college ready? My guess is your response is yes! Or even something along the lines of “heck yeah!” So I am going to rephrase the question, are your English and math skills, and specifically state exam scores, college ready? Do you qualify for college level math and English classes or will you be placed in a remedial level class? I hate bringing the mood down, but, if your skills or scores are not college level, it’s time to do some research.

Check your scores, more than likely the numbers mean different placements at each school you’re accepted to. What is college level/ready at one institution does not mean college level at another – even for schools in the same system. If your score is not college level for the college you plan to enroll at, what are your options?
* If you’re allowed to retake the state exams, do it. Retaking the test will cost a lot less than paying college tuition for a high school level class.
* If you cannot retake the exam(s), is there a summer course you can take which will cover the remediation requirements? If so – take it and pass!
* If you are enrolling at a “four-year” college, can you take a college level class at a community college during the summer, and then transfer that class (grade and GPA) to the bachelor granting institution, and therefore bypass the remedial requirement?

Do your research! With the rising costs of higher education, you want to spend your time and money wisely!

Trying to understand the “offer letter”? You’re not alone

Getting an acceptance letter from a college you applied to is really fun!  Waiting for the financial aid offer letter is less fun; reading the letter and decoding it might be no fun at all.  In fact, it may be downright confusing.

While colleges were encouraged to use the “college shopping sheet“, fewer than 50% of them did.  There is a list (here) of ten important things to pay attention to when reading your college offer letter.

Chapter 2 in our book is also a great resource for estimating what your expenses at college will be as well as lots of insightful financial aid information including a breakdown of what kinds of loans are available, examples of real college financial aid award letters, and step by step explanations of what each ‘award’ is (free money, loans, or employment opportunities).  Check it out today!

Going to College with Hidden Disabilities

We posted recently on going to college with disabilities in general; this post is about going to school with hidden disabilities.

As we said in our blog post last month, your best resource on campus will be the office which provides services to students with disabilities.  This word “disabilities” covers all kinds of disabilities — some more visible than others.  All US institutions of higher education (public and private) are required to provide accommodations to students with disabilities of any and all kinds.  If your particular circumstances are such that some conditions aren’t visible, a school may ask for documentation.  So, whatever documentation you have on hand (from high school or other institutional experiences), take it with you to college!  See here for a list of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) FAQs and their answers.

You may be on Autism Spectrum or have been diagnosed with ADHD; there are resources for you.  Be sure to find and talk to the people in the office on campus that is a support/resource for students with disabilities.  You may need more time to transition between classes, to take exams, or to study in general.  Be sure to access the academic advising resources including counseling, tutoring, and workshops that teach students time saving skills like speed reading.  Be ready to talk to professors in their office hours about needing extra time to do in class assignments or exams; but also be ready to produce documentation should someone ask.

Finally, be sure to consider what it will mean to live independently, if you are going “away” to college.  Consider the time it takes to eat nutritiously, do your own laundry, and keep your living space tidy.  All students must consider this, but this is the time for you to be very in tune with your own needs.  Begin to practice self awareness of routine before you go to college; this will make the transition to college easier, as you will be able to plan for potential changes.

You can read here about one college student’s own experience about being in school and being on the autism spectrum.