Monthly Archives: September 2014

Study Habits: Retooling them

Study is a verb.  Verbs, as we all know, are most easily associated with action.  Study, is an action.  Study is work.  In order to retool study habits, it will require work and action.  The first step, as discussed in the previous blog, is to recognize current habits.  Then, figure out which parts need to be reconsidered and possibly changed.

We encourage you to think of study time as equivalent to a job.  It is just as important as a job (in fact, studying is the very work that you, as a student, must engage in to be successful and graduate).  You must learn to feel a sense of obligation to the act of studying so that you will fulfill your commitment to being a student, by studying.

To that end, consider these tips:
1.  Designate the days and times you will study on a weekly schedule (remember, for each 1 unit of course work, 2 hours of study is recommended; so 15 units = 30 hours of study, per week).

2.  Designate a location where you will do your studying.  It should not be your bed or your couch; it should not be a space where you are easily distracted or where others are engaging in play while you are studying.

3.  Set your alarm on your phone to alert you 10 minutes before the study time is to start.  Just like a job.  Remind yourself:  it is time to “get to work!” (aka study time).

Once you train your body (physical body) and your mind to think of studying as equivalent to a job, then you will have formed a very important part of the study habit.

Go set up your weekly schedule today!

Study Habits: Recognizing them

It is the time of semester where the excitement of things being new is wearing off and the drudgery of the “work” is setting in.  While our posts have reminded you to experience learning outside of the classroom (club activities, organizations, volunteers opportunities, etc), you also need to be able to successfully complete courses and move on to the next one.

To that end, I (Cindi) will be taking some time to think about study habits.  Study habits, like any habits, do not magically happen.  But, they do happen over time in such a way that in hindsight you may think that you magically “got” them.  But, before we get to creating them, let’s reflect on current habits.

Sit down by yourself somewhere and think about how you study.  Make a list of how you think you currently engage in the action of studying.

1.  class attendance (note taking, ppt accumulation, etc)

2.  reading through notes and ppt slides

3.  reading course materials

Next, consider what your body is doing in each of these moments (above).

Then, consider what your mind/brain is doing in each of these moments (above).

If, upon reflection, you realize that you aren’t “all there” when engaging in the 3 steps above, then it is time to set a new study habit course.  I will write about setting this new course later in the week.  Stay Tuned!  (In the meantime, think about what makes up your list of how you actualize studying!).

Essay Inspiration

Earlier this week, I said, writing a good college application essay takes practice. Knowing you’re a great student, I’m sure you’ve been practicing the past three days, right? Of course you have! Or, maybe not, because you need a little inspiration. Look no further!

I recently read a blog about Sean Means, from Memphis, TN. He is now a first year student at Stanford University, and a recipient of a Ron Brown Scholarship. He wrote some heartfelt application essays. His essays inspired me; I believe they can do the same for you. Read this and this. (Read them!)

After reading those, are you ready to give your application essays your best? Put your fingers on your key board and let your words flow from your heart. You’re going to edit those words, again, and again, and again, so, for now, just let them flow!

Finally, remember this advice from Kim Lifton -

The application essay is not an English paper; it is an opportunity to show admissions officers who you are, that you will fit in, and that you can write well enough to succeed at their school. The admissions team that is responsible for making recommendations for next year’s class reads a lot of applications. So be careful: You don’t want to bore them or submit a piece that is simply uninspiring.

Forget about rubrics and grades. Ditch the five-paragraph essay format. Just write something genuine that is reflective, will make the person reading your essay smile and want to know more about you. 

Believe in yourself, give your best, and don’t make excuses! Get to writing, and good luck!

College Application Essay… Help!

HS senior, have you been practicing writing your college application essays? If your response is ‘no.’ then it is time to get with it! And yes, you need to practice!

Writing a great essay is not a 30-60 minute process, it’s a:

  • Write
  • Re-write
  • Re-write
  • Give to someone to edit
  • Edit
  • Realize you want to re-write
  • Re-write
  • Give to a different person for edits
  • Edit
  • A little more re-writing

and then FINALLY have your finished product! That’s a 10-step process.

The essay is a lot fewer steps than learning your concert (insert your instrument here) piece, or the 18 weeks of (insert sport here) practice, or memorizing 1,368 lines of (insert theatre production here) agony. Also, it’s great if your English teacher makes you do a ‘college application essay’ assignment, but that is just an assignment, it should not be what you’re actually turning in with your application(s).

Take a look at these interesting college application essay questions. Pick a few to work on, and get to practice!

Study vs. Learn

What do you do between classes, study or learn? What is the difference between these two words? Is there a difference? They seem different, right? Before you take a test, do you say… “I need to learn, or do you say, I need to study?” Take a moment to jot down your definition of these two words.

Which label, study or learn, would you put next to the following statements…

  • After class, I had coffee with a classmate and we discussed what our professor lectured about. ______
  • I’m headed to the library to read my textbook. ______
  • Tonight, I’m going to write flashcards to prepare for my exam. ______

Look at your responses. Now, look at the definitions you wrote. Could you say that when you study you’re learning? Or, when you learn, to really understand deeply, you need to study?

For those of you in college, embrace learning! You’re paying for your education, which, historically, means you WANT to learn. College shouldn’t be an experience of forced studying; college is a choice, and when making the choice to enroll, what your actions say to the world is “I choose to learn!” Make the most of your learning, and yes – it will include studying – enjoy it too!


The Real College Experience

Your semester/term has begun! Do you have EVERYTHING figured out? If it’s your first year or first term at a new institution, is it fair to say you may be feeling a little lost?

Many campus faculty, and staff, expect that once students attend orientation, they have everything figured out. We know this not to be true. Recently, I read this article, which is an excerpt from a report that was originally published in 2000. Below is a portion of the second point, taken directly from the report.

Because students cannot articulate their needs, they are unable to seek help to address these needs unless the institution intervenes. Contrary to popular belief, students don’t bring a map of their future to campus—they need help building a plan a step at a time. We need to recognize that even good students need this kind of help and guidance …. We have vastly overrated students’ abilities in these key areas:

  • Learning the norms of the campus culture
  • Finding a niche
  • Reaching out and then putting down roots
  • Transferring success behaviors from other settings
  • Putting on blinders/developing focus on the task at hand
  • Resisting peer pressures
  • Compartmentalizing family or work pressures
  • Exhibiting the classroom and study habits of successful students
  • Building relationships with teachers
  • Asking for help

Yes, students – the university, especially a large number of faculty, have overrated your abilities. As such, please do not hesitate to reach out. Utilize advising/counseling services,  full-time professors, and your librarians (available in the library, at the Reference Desk).

When reaching to faculty,  it is okay to politely ask her/him: how long have you been working here, and are you a full-time professor? An adjunct faculty member is a part-time instructor, and not all adjuncts are familiar with university policy, procedures and regulations. Seek guidance and advise from those who are most informed, and thank them for their assistance.

Be courageous, do your research, and seek advice and guidance; these three things empower you!

Smooth start!

Checking back in after our first week of classes.

I was so impressed that students who were confused, asked questions.

Students who were lost, asked for directions.

Students who were unhappy they couldn’t add a course, understood my rational (my Dean won’t let me).

Students who wanted a course but couldn’t register, crashed the first day to ask.

These are good signs for a great year to come.

If you just ended your first week or first few weeks . . .reflect on what went well and what didn’t.  Take notes!  Jot down your successes and your failures.  Trust me, it all happens again next Spring!

Here we go . . .

On our campus, classes started today.

To all of the students:  give your best!  Have fun!

To all of the faculty:  Give your best!  Have fun!  Even if it is the umpteenth time teaching this class, remember your audience is fresh, new, impressionable, and ready to learn.

I (Cindi) have been writing syllabi the past few days . . . imaging the students who will be in my classes.  I’ve written about learning objectives, course requirements, reading lists, and grade assignments.  I have packed a lot of information into my syllabus — I encourage all students to become very familiar with it as it will be a critical guide throughout the semester.  I consult my syllabus frequently to remind myself of what I’ve told the students I would be doing and how (and when!) I will be holding them accountable.

I’ll check in after tomorrow to recount some first day of classes stories!