Needing to Improve Your Studying and Learning?
In case you haven’t been keeping track, midterm is less than three weeks away and only two weeks after you return from Winter Break! At this point are you feeling like you need to kick your academics into a higher gear? If so, you’re not alone: the new-semester honeymoon is over, and February’s dreary days can sap whatever motivation you may have had. We at the Academic Success Center (ASC) recommend two sets of strategies you can pursue: ways to help yourself and ways to get help from others. Here are a few of the best:
Ways to Help Yourself:
† Use this checklist of “Keys to Academic Success in College” to get more organized.
† Apply these “Nine Tips for Staying Motivated in College” to overcome your doldrums.
† Practice these “Seven Steps to Becoming a Better Note Taker” to engage and learn better.
† Fill out and follow the two “Fillable Schedules” titled “Saturday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 1 a.m.” and “Semester Planning” located here.
Ways to Get Help from Others:
† Attend any department- or ASC-sponsored group helps sessions related to a class.
† Apply for an ASC tutor NOW for a class that isn’t going very well.
† Apply for a peer academic coach to help you simply “do college.”
† Set up a one-on-one ASC appointment to learn how to improve specific study strategies.
As you know, college semesters fly by. So don’t put off doing the very do-able things available through the Academic Success Center in VanZoeren 261. Here’s our website where you can learn about all the various kinds of help we offer to all students, totally free of charge.
Come to a required half hour tutoring information session before you apply.
If you attend a session, you can apply on-line, no additional appointment needed!
Applications will not be accepted until
Wednesday January 17.
Information sessions will be held on:
Mon 1/15 4:00pm
Tue 1/16 11:00am
Thur 1/18 5:00pm
Fri 1/19 3:00pm
Tue 1/23 & 1/30 11:00am
Thur 1/25 & 2/1 4:30pm
All sessions are held in VanZoeren 240.
Questions? Email us at email@example.com
Contributed by Allison Johnson ’18:
It’s a rare moment when I tell someone that I am a test proctor for the Academic Success Center and they know exactly what I mean.
“So you mean you stand up in front of dozens of test-taking students and sternly peer over your horned-rimmed glasses as you glare and shush them, ensuring that cheating doesn’t occur and sucking all the joy from the room?”
Nope. Here’s the process:
- Student comes to take exam at ASC. Yay exams!
- After they put their belongings down in the ASC office, I take them to one of two rooms just down the hall reserved for ASC test takers and remind them that if they have any questions for their professor about the exam to come back to my desk and we can get in touch with the prof.
- I head back to my desk in the ASC office and file any papers that need to be filed or send any emails that need to be sent.
- When the student is done with their exam or time is up, they will return it to my desk in the ASC office and head out, relieved to not have to devote mental space to that exam any longer.
- I stick the exam in an envelope and carry on my merry way to deliver the exam to the professor.
See, no glaring, shushing, or horn-rimmed glasses involved. It’s actually a positive experience! (Well, for me at least. I’m not the one taking the exam.)
One of my favorite parts about going to work are the connections I will likely make that shift. When I start exams, I get to hear a little about life from students of all years, majors, and backgrounds who make up Hope’s student body. Delivering finished exams across campus affords me the opportunity to interact with professors and office managers from every academic department. I feel that I have a better grasp of who the humans are that come together to make Hope College what it is.
The work I have the opportunity to accomplish as a test proctor is beautifully diverse. I am able to satisfy my love of organization by filing papers, sending emails, transferring information to spreadsheets, and keeping track of when to start/end exams. My social side gets engaged as well, whether I am talking with fellow students, ASC staff, or faculty and staff members around campus. Delivering exams means I get paid to take walks and soak in the beauty of campus (or, depending on the season, walk as fast as I can in my puffy parka to avoid hypothermia, which is an equally lovely experience). I often find myself with time to do homework (though don’t ask me how productively I use that time) and work on my own to-do list.
This is my fourth semester working as a test proctor in the ASC, making it my longest-standing on-campus job. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with an office full of wonderful people whose dedication to students is so tangible.
All ASC services are free of charge.
Apply for Peer Partnership Learning (PPL) in General Biology and General Chemistry using the following links:
- Complete an application for tutoring, available on the ASC website or in 261 Van Zoeren, and turn it into the ASC with a printed copy of your schedule. Applications are being accepted starting Wednesday, September 6 and can be turned in until November 17.
- After your application is processed, you will meet with an ASC intern for your tutor match. You can schedule this follow-up appointment at least two days after you turn in the completed application.
- Contact and meet with your tutor, decide on a schedule for tutoring, and complete the Tutor/Tutee Agreement form, which you will return to the ASC.
- Complete a Request for Accommodations form.
- Meet with staff to discuss your accommodation request.
- Provide requested documentation that supports your request.
Request peer academic coaching:
- Complete an application for academic coaching, available on the ASC website or at the ASC, Van Zoeren 261, and turn it in at the ASC with a printed copy of your schedule.
- Schedule and attend an appointment with the coordinator for your coaching pair-up.
- Contact your coach to get started.
Request study-strategies assistance:
- Call 616-395-7830 or stop in at the ASC, VanZoeren 261, to make an appointment.
- Meet with staff to discuss your needs.
So what’s the big deal? posts are intended to provide information regarding aspects of our body that affect daily life. The medical and educational world might label some of these things as disabilities. I prefer to think of them differently: it’s about understanding the way we are wired.
I want to provide a simple example of 1) recognizing a struggle and 2) compensating for it. Now, I’m not talking about struggles that result from societal barriers, which is another post altogether, but rather a struggle that you experience because of how you are wired. Ideally, compensating for these types of struggles will result in greater efficiency and effectiveness. Here’s mine:
My desk is littered with piles of random papers and sticky squares of neon paper with handwritten notes. I keep lists on my phone, in Word documents on my computer, and on a pad of paper next to my bed. I know that if I want to remember something, I must write it down. The information will not otherwise stay in my head long enough for me to do something with it. Even when I do write it down, I have to be intentional about looking at what I wrote. It’s just the way that I’m wired.
My struggle may be familiar to you. It has to do with my working memory, which directly correlates with IQ and attention 1. Working memory is the cognitive function responsible for keeping information in your mind long enough to manipulate and use it. It is how you juggle things you encounter and move them to the parts of your brain that can take action. You use your working memory constantly in daily life and most certainly in academics and social settings 2.
If you know you have below average working memory, the strategies below may help. Even if you have good working memory but are overwhelmed by the amount of information you are responsible for each day, you may still find these strategies useful:
- Break up or chunk information. Focus on one or two pieces of information before moving on to the next.
- Use checklists for tasks with multiple steps. Complete one step before moving on to the next.
- Develop rituals and routines, like putting your cell phone in the same place each day to be sure not to misplace it.
- Experiment with multiple ways of remembering information. Some students may remember things more easily if they make up a rhyme, song, or acronym. Others may use visualization to remember multiple pieces of information. Still others may study while walking around their dorm room or throwing a ball against a wall.
- Use technology: keep lists in your phone, use your phone calendar to keep track of events and create reminders, even try working memory apps.
If we were talking in person, at this point I’d ask you to share your thoughts:
- What sounds helpful?
- What doesn’t sound helpful?
- What has worked well for you in the past?
- What is one thing you might try in the next day or two?
Meet the staff of the Academic Success Center (ASC), in alphabetical order. We are located in VanZoeren 261 and all services offered are free to current students.
Carrie Dattels is the Coordinator of Disability Services. After thirteen years in various vocational rehabilitation roles she returned to Hope in 2016, having been a student and RA during her undergrad years. Carrie spends the majority of her time interacting with students to determine and implement accommodations across campus. She also collaborates with faculty and staff to ensure students’ access to academics, programs, and services; supports and educates faculty and staff on disability and the legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act; supports students’ self-advocacy; identifies necessary resources for their overall success; and assists with proctoring exams for students with disabilities.
Lisa Eding has been the Office Manager for the Academic Success Center and the Sociology and Social Work Department for seventeen years. Her responsibilities include hiring and training front-desk staff, setting up and processing student-staff payroll, and assisting with the various needs of two very busy departments.
David James is the Coordinator of Academic Coaching and Study Skills Tutoring and has worked 30 of his 32 years at Hope College in the ASC. He coordinates the peer academic coaching program, which involves hiring, training and pairing experienced, successful students with students seeking help on setting goals and mastering skills to improve their academic lives. He coaches, too, but also meets one-on-one with any Hope student seeking help on a specific academic skill, such as time management or test taking. He is also an academic advisor, both through his role as a professor in the First Year Seminar program every fall and as an advisor in the fall FOCUS and spring SOAR programs for students on or nearing academic probation. All this occupies around half of his time, while in the other half he is an adjunct associate professor of English, mainly teaching composition but also world literature.
Jeanne Lindell serves as Head of Disability Services and Assistant Director of the Academic Success Center. She has been employed at Hope for 26 years, first working sixteen years in Counseling and Psychological Services and then ten years as the ASC’s Coordinator of Academic Support Services for Students with Disabilities. She promotes equal access and inclusion for students with disabilities in all aspects of college life. Jeanne is also a First Year Seminar instructor and an academic adviser.
Janet Pinkham is the Director of the ASC, now in her 28th year with Hope, having previously served as the ASC’s Tutoring Coordinator and Hope’s Alumni Director. In her current role, Janet oversees the ASC, directs the Peer Partnership Learning (PPL) program, teaches First Year Seminar, is an academic advisor, and serves on multiple campus committees.
Suzette Staal has been the Coordinator of Tutoring Services and ASC help sessions for three years. Her responsibilities predominantly include hiring and training peer tutors and help-session leaders. She makes all tutoring matches for most 100- and 200-level courses, for which applications can be printed from the website but must be delivered in person. Suzette also oversees the daily operations of the ASC-sponsored help sessions for courses with highly requested tutoring, such as the Sunday-through-Thursday-evening Math Lab available for most Math courses. Suzette also is a First Year Seminar instructor and an academic adviser.