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.
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?