Monthly Archives: May 2014

Are you surprised by your final grade?

Have you checked your final grades yet?  If not, be on the look out.  You should always be aware of your grades — even if you aren’t surprised by them.

If you are surprised by your grades — especially in the case of being surprised by how low they are (being surprised by how high they are is less of an issue.  Celebrate!) — then consider taking the following steps:

1.  Look at the syllabus for the course; check to make sure you understand what each piece of the course was “worth.”  What was each assignment worth in terms of the entire course (10%? 20%? 25%?)?  What was each exam worth?

2.  Locate each of your assignments and the grade your received on each one of them.  Add them up and do the required math in order to understand the value of each assignment vis-a-vis the course total.

3.  If you think that you should have gotten a higher grade than what was posted as your final grade, consider sending your professor a note.  In the note you want to be sure your tone is one of inquiry not one of accusation.  You might consider something like:

Dear Professor,

Hi, this is (your first name and last name) from your Title of Course that met on Days and Times here.  I was wondering about my final grade.  I had tried to calculate my grade and when I did I thought I had earned XX total points out of ZZ possible.  But, when I checked my final grade, I see that I got a (your grade). Could you let me know how I did on the final exam so that I can understand how I received the grade that I did?

Thank you,
Your Name Here.

It is absolutely OK to ask a professor about your final grade.  It is not OK to state or be accusatory (blame your professor) until you have further information that helps you understand how the final grade was achieved.  The easiest thing to do is ask. But, ask politely.

Good luck!

(We cover this in our book, by the way!)

Take a rest

I know in the last post we recommended “breathing.”  Today, we say:  take a break.

For us on our campus, finals are over; graduation is done.  Summer school has not yet begun.  Even if your job is not on break, make your mind take a break from school for a few days (at least).

You have our permission:  Take a break from thinking about and worrying about school.  At least for a few days.  You need the break to recharge later on; plus, while your active brain is taking a break, other parts of your brain will continue to “work” on school-related “stuff.”  When you do start actively thinking about school again, you’ll do so from a more informed position — with different perspectives.

Give it a try.  Take a break.


Time to breathe (and reflect)

So, the first year is done.  Done.

Grades may not yet be posted, and maybe you have a few days until your summer job starts (or whatever is on your ‘summer plate’).  Here is something to consider as you ‘look forward’ in the midst of reflection:

Uncertain about your major?

Not sure what career you want?  Or, will be able to land?

But, you do know that you want the thing(s) that “makes you happy,” “earns you money,” and “is not boring.”

Consider this advice given to someone searching for a career.

As you can read there, looking for the “just right” job/major/friend/situation is not necessarily the best plan.  Try out new things; embrace new situations (including friends).  Give everything you’ve got to what you are doing now.  Be in this moment and breathe.  Enjoy “summer” even if it is crazy busy and not a vacation.  Enjoy reflecting on what you’ve accomplished this past academic year.  Look forward to next academic year.

But, in the meantime.  Look around and enjoy who and where you are right now.

Movin’ . . . back home?

As I drove onto campus this morning, I saw several U-Hauls and trucks being loaded with boxes, suitcases, and other dorm room items.  A student told me that her rented combo microwave/fridge had to be given back today . . . she has to last until Thursday without cooled refreshments!

An academic year (AY) has passed or is almost passed.  Some of you are moving (back) home with family, others find yourselves there already (didn’t move out, but have been living there all AY).  But, it is summer.  Routines must change and time management must be addressed.

If you are moving back home after spending the college year in the dorm or other campus housing, it is time to have a discussion with your family members about:

Curfew:  What time should you be home at night?

Meals:  Will you be eating with your family? Do you need to give notice if you are not going to be home for a meal?

Laundry:  Who will be doing your laundry (including towels and other general use items)?

Obligations:  What responsibilities will you have around the house?

If you have been living at home during school, you still need to discuss some of these issues — they need to be re-negotiated and established on a yearly basis.  You are getting older and more independent and therefore more responsible, most likely.  Have these adult discussions with your family; it is great training for future roomates and/or loved ones.



The SAT, ACT, and individual state exams, attempt to assess a high school student’s ability to perform, academically, in college. It is quite common these days, for students to find themselves needing to take a remedial, or college prep course, during the first year of college.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, talk with an Admission Counselor immediately! Don’t wait to research your options at orientation – it will more than likely be too late. It is imperative to find out your options to by-pass paying a premium to repeat a high school level class in college.

Critical Thinking

Today I read a few papers written by first year students; this is uncommon for me, since I am university staff, not faculty. I was doing this as an academic exercise with a few professors, to learn more about how students develop over the course of the first semester at college.

During our discussion of what we had observed in the essays, the questions “where is the critical thinking?” and “are students using critical thinking?” were asked more than once. Unfortunately, a recent academic publication (Academically Adrift) reports critical thinking is lacking in college students and in recent graduates.

Here is a simple info-graphic that simplifies the critical thinking process. Give it a try and let us know how it worked for you!

HS Final Year vs. College First Year

High School seniors! Your year is almost over,  you probably don’t have  much to worry about academically (since you’ve already been accepted into college), so you’re letting senioritis sink in and relaxing! Soak it up and enjoy, because here is what your college friends are experiencing…

First Year College student! What a difference a year makes, wouldn’t you say? You’re pushing yourself to make the Dean’s List, or get off Academic Probation, you’re frustrated with your roommate for ALL his/her annoying tendencies, and the group project you’re part of is so far off track you’re just praying for a passing grade. Ugh! When will it be over? Not soon enough, because finals are almost here!

Students! Enjoy which ever stage you’re in, because before you know it, these days will be in the past. Good luck with finals – to both of you!

Test Taking Anxiety?

Driving into work this morning, I heard on the radio that high school students will take upwards of 50 tests during their final years of high school.  Some of these include AP (Advanced Placement) tests which will count for college credit, some will be exams that help students gain admission into colleges — for example, the SAT and ACT.

But, do you know about the PSAT (the pre-SAT)?  It is a great test to take in order to get ready for the actual SAT later on.  The PSAT can help you understand the nature of the SAT, how well you will score in particular areas, and the context of the SAT.  It is a way to practice and test your abilities without the potentially high consequences the actual SAT holds.

You can check here for PSAT exam dates.

Also, while you are at it:  look at this page for your daily SAT practice question.

Good luck.