Monthly Archives: November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving – Finals are almost here!

Happy Thanksgiving, it is a time to be thankful! Cindi and I hope this holiday season finds you happy, healthy, safe, warm and loved. However, before going into full break mode, it is also time to prepare for finals!

Over the past two weeks, in my advising sessions with students, I have told all my advisees, “Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy the day, because this is not a break.” Finals are right around the corner so enjoy Thanksgiving Day, and maybe some downtime on Friday, but the rest of the holiday weekend is academic preparation time.

Have you thought about how you are preparing for finals? Do you have a strategy to study for the 14 chapter, cumulative insert course subject name here… exam? What is your approach to tackling the 12 page English essay that you have been putting off? And, how about that group project; are you pulling your weight with the task(s) you have been assigned, are you being a cooperative and supportive group member? Remember – it is a group grade!

The above examples are real topics that have been discussed with numerous students. SMART goal setting was used to outline realistic study plans for each course. A SMART goal is = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Having a strategy to get through study tasks often makes the study time less daunting since you know what you want to accomplish. Here is an example.

Goal: To earn a ‘B+’ or better grade on the Calculus final.

Action Steps for studying for the 12 chapter cumulative exam, the week before the final:

  1. On Saturday, for two hours, review the textbook, lecture notes and practice problems for Chapters 1-6 (approximately 20 minutes for each chapter). From this review, make a list of ‘things I know well’ and a list of ‘things that need deeper review.’
  2. On Sunday, before 2pm, for two hours, review the textbook, lecture notes and practice problems for Chapters 7-12 (approximately 20 minutes for each chapter). From this review, add additional items to the list of ‘things I know well’ and a list of ‘things that need deeper review.’
  3. On Sunday evening, before 9pm, spend 1.5 hour, reviewing the Chapter 1-6 items “that need deeper review.”
  4. On Monday, before 5pm, spend 1.5 hour, reviewing the Chapter 7-12 items “that need deeper review.”
  5. On Tuesday, meet my study group and spend two hours doing practice problems from Chapters 10-12, since they are new concepts which have not been part of a previous test.
  6. On Wednesday, before 2pm, spend one hour, doing more practice problems from Chapters 10-12.
  7. On Wednesday, before 9pm, spend up to two hours, doing difficult practice problems from Chapters 1-9.
  8. On Thursday, review textbook and lecture notes, for at least one hour.
  9. On Saturday, meet my study group, to discuss and do practice problems from all the Chapters, for at least two hours.
  10. On Sunday, do a few more practice problems of the ones that have been particularly challenging, for no more than two hours, before 5pm. Sleep peacefully for the 8am exam on Monday.

Now, take some time to outline YOUR study goals for your upcoming exams, essays and projects. Allow the timeline established in the goals to help you manage your time and effort in the upcoming week(s). Deeply learning and understanding your course materials is the reason you are in college – be proud of what you have learned, and let your knowledge shine by earning great grades!

Good luck with finals preparation!

Real Experience

When we wrote On the Quad, we had many students in mind including first generation students  (students who are first in their families to go to college).  We did this for many reasons, but chief among them was that Heidi and I had many experiences advising real students from all kinds of backgrounds; we noticed that some students “understood the system” due to family lore, sibling’s tales, or other legacy ways.  Consequently, our book starts at the beginning, thinking about what kinds of institutions of higher education exist and then discussing how to consider which one might be a good fit for you (the reader).

It is hard for any one of us to know the experiences of others.  But, sometimes we do get to hear their stories.  In this story here from NPR’s “Been There:  Lessons from a Shared Experience,” we hear two first generation college students — one who has recently graduated from his university and the other who has just transferred from a community college to a 4-year university — talk about negotiating college life.

They don’t necessarily discuss the ins-and-outs of what college is, how to fill out a FAFSA, or how to study.  What they do talk about include how to fit in with other students who are different from them — often the differences manifest in economic ways (What if you can’t afford to go hang out with friends at a club because the cover charge is just too high?).

It’s a great chance for anyone — first generation or not — to gain a peek into what the person next to you in your math class might be struggling with.  Take a minute and listen.