Lay the Smackdown on Your Next Paper!

Thriving Tiger blog, The UndertakerYou have The Undertaker of all papers, a formidable foe to challenge your intellectual pro-wrestling (erm, or pro-writing) skills–what do you do? How do you take on such an opponent? Check out this handy guide we put together to help you clothesline your next writing assignment—informed, of course, by The Rock.

The Rock says this: “You Will Go One-on-One with the Great One!”
(Academic translation: know your audience and understand your assignment)

Before The Rock even steps into the ring, he learns his opponent’s moves inside and out. In order to take down your next paper, you’ll have to find out exactly what you’re up against: What is the purpose of the assignment? What are the requirements? Think about the skills your professor wants you to demonstrate through the assignment. For instance, some want to examine your ability to form your own argument; others want you to synthesize current research. Don’t forget to consider your audience – The Rock didn’t become popular by ignoring what the crowd wanted! And, if you don’t understand something, ask!

The Rock says this: “Can You smell what the Rock is cookin’!?”
(Academic translation: narrow your topic)

Even in the Royal Rumble, The Rock can’t fight everyone at once; he has to fight one opponent at a time. Likewise, in the writing arena, you can’t tackle multiple large topics in one paper. Writing about mental health for your term paper is excellent—but how can you write about all aspects of the subject in 10 pages? Entire books are written about specific mental disorders! A more manageable research paper would focus on, for example, how marijuana affects the development of bipolar disorder in 18-22 year olds with predispositions to the ailment. Asking questions–like who, what, when, where, and why–can help you start to wrangle your topic.

the rock v the undertaker

The Rock says this: “The Rock will take you down Know-Your-Role Boulevard and Check you Directly into the Smackdown Hotel!”
(Academic Translation: research your topic)

One of the reasons The Rock can lay the verbal smackdown is that he has the muscles to back it up. As a writer, you need to bulk up: in other words, get your research on. Whether your paper requires formal research or informal methods like self-reflection or interviews, be knowledgeable about the topic you’ve selected. If your assignment requires you to use scholarly sources, take advantage of the great resources available through Cook Library. Keep in mind that the first sources you come across may not always be the best for your paper; be thorough and take your time.

The Rock says this: “Just Bring It!”
(Academic translation: organize, organize, organize)

The Rock never goes into the ring without a plan. Pre-planning can help you formulate a strategy to take down any intimidating writing assignment.Think about your most important points and examples and organize your paper accordingly. Quickly outlining your ideas before you start and reverse outlining after you finish writing are effective methods of making sure you’re staying focused. It’s okay–and even encouraged–to revise and reorganize your paper as you write and learn more about your topic.

Thriving Tiger Blog, the rock picture

The Rock says this: “Layeth the Smacketh Down”
(Academic translation: Get it down on paper!)

Well, you’ve set the foundation for your paper by researching and organizing. Time to write! An important thing to remember is that your first draft is going to be less than perfect; it’ll look like The Rock when he wore fanny packs. The good thing? Your first draft always has the potential to turn into The Rock as he is now! Trust the process and the hard work you’ve put into your paper so far and just write. Have faith–the cream will always rise to the top.

Take your draft
The Rock says this: “I am the People’s Champ!”
(Academic Translation: you are the Writing Champ!)

Before The Rock can claim his victory belt, he has to execute his signature finishing move, The People’s Elbow, and pin his opponent. You’re now in a similar position. You’ve done the prep work. You’ve written your first draft. You’ve endured countless wrestling metaphors. Now it’s time to finish off The Undertaker and become a WWE champion! So, how do you do this?

Check your organization, make sure you have evidence to support your ideas, look for grammatical and spelling mistakes, and take your draft to the Writing Center! Doing these things can transform your paper from a roody poo draft into a polished piece of academic magnificence. Oh–and don’t forget to collect your championship belt after pinning The Undertaker.

Tyler New, Michele Calderon, Miranda Rennie, and Jessica Reyes
Towson Writing Center
LA 5330

Leadership Beyond York Road: Towson Students Abroad

The spring semester is back in full (cold) swing and you’re looking at the calendar wondering a) when it will get warm again and b) how does the time go so quickly? It’s easy to get caught up in the daily university routine and before you know it, it’s time to trade Groundhog Day for Memorial Day and snow boots for flip flops. Kelley-Johnson_Peru46

One of the tough things to do with a busy schedule is find time to search for activities that will help you develop as a leader, and an individual. It’s important to know that leadership opportunities come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can get involved with a Greek organization, an intramural sport, a student club or a volunteer group.

Towson recently committed to a nationwide project called Generation Study Abroad. How does it affect you? It means Towson and the Study Abroad Office are working hard to increase access to study abroad opportunities and leadership experiences for you all over the world.

What does study abroad have to do with leadership? Well, it’s not just about problem solving in a different language; here are eight great examples*:

Intercultural/communication skills

  1. Greater capacity to accept differences in others and to tolerate other people’s actions and ideas that may be vastly different from your own.
  2. Improved ability to communicate with people in a second language.
  3. Understanding that there are many ways to accomplish the same task and that those approaches are only “different,” not necessarily better or worse.


  1. Ability to see situations and issues from more than one perspective.
  2. Ability to value human diversity and respect others from a variety of backgrounds different from your own.

Personal capabilities

  1. Increased confidence when facing new situations.
  2. Improved time management.
  3. Ability to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of your own culture and society more objectively (i.e., from the perspective of an outsider).

Melissa-Stoker-China-So study abroad makes sense for an emerging leader, but how does it translate to your resume as a transferrable skill? Statistics show that employers are taking a closer look at the experiences students have while abroad. Are you studying? Interning? Volunteering? More importantly: can you articulate what you learned and why it would make you a valuable employee? Recently on CNN, First Lady Michelle Obama noted that study abroad can make you more marketable in the United States as “[m]ore and more companies are realizing that they need people with experience around the world.”**

The good news for TU students is that the Career Center is already thinking ahead to how they can help students not only articulate these goinglobal-logoexperiences, but find them. Both domestic and international students can log on to Hire@TU and access Going Global to review 600,000 worldwide job/internship postings, 35 country career guides, a searchable H1B Plus database and more.

Our advice? Do your research. Studying abroad can be more accessible than you think!

If you have questions about studying abroad, contact the Study Abroad Office or attend an information session Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. in Psychology 408.

If your resume needs tweaking or if you have questions about Going Global, contact the Career Center or walk-in during Express Hours Monday through Thursday from 1-4 p.m. at 7800 York Road, Suite 206.

*Source: Adapted from The AFS Student Study Guide published by the AFS International/Intercultural Programs (Washington, D. D., 1979), reprinted in: Clyde N. Austin, ed., Cross-Cultural Reentry: A Book of Readings (Abilene: Abilene Christian University Press, 1986), pgs. 273-27.


Kelly Holland, M.Ed.
Study Abroad Office

Keith Jones, M.S.
Career Center

How Well Are You Living?

How Well Are You Living?

Frequently, when people think “wellness” they think of things like going to the gym, eating well, and staying fit. While those are certainly important components of wellness, the Wellness Peer Educators want you to know that there is so much more to being a healthy Tiger. The group consists of undergrads on campus who strive to raise awareness about a holistic approach to wellness that includes emotional, physical, spiritual, and environmental wellness. We asked them to share some of their thoughts about wellness on campus and here’s what they said!

Life Improvement

When you take a moment to consider wellness, think of it from a big picture perspective. It’s not just about maintenance, it’s about finding areas of your life where you have a growth opportunity.

  • Rebecca Ellison, Junior, noted the importance of creating dialogues and reaching a wider audience as an important step to “developing communication skills” and “helping Towson become a healthier campus.”
  • Meghan Anderson, Sophomore, highlights the intense demands on a college student’s schedule, “Between class, work, friends, relationships, and being involved on campus, things can get hectic and stressful. Wellness is such an important part of life, especially for college students.”

Physical and Mental Health

Science is finally catching up to philosophers when it comes to understanding and attending to the mind-body connection. When you think about wellness, it’s important to think about the interaction of your brain, mind, and body.

  • Breea Gordon, Senior, said that “physical and mental wellness has always been a pressing matter for me, coming from a family of alcoholics and diabetics. I want to be able to make a significant change in the mental health community because the mind affects the body and vice versa, which is often overlooked.”
  • Lauren Dominick, Senior, said that wellness is about “nutrition, fitness, and overall mind and body wellness” and that it’s about focusing on “changing lives for the better.”

Social Interconnectivity

Truly Thriving Tigers know that it’s difficult to maintain individual wellness without having a healthy social network. When you’re struggling, having a strong social support group to lean on can help make individual stressors more manageable, especially when those stressors seem overwhelming.

  • Spending time developing (and maintaining!) relationships, as well as building new connections – particularly with people who have different life experiences, is an important part of social wellness. Randall Phillips, Junior, highlights that, “having a team and being a part of something special is a great feeling. That alone is also a great way of developing social wellness.”
  • Nick Mercer, Junior, discussed a suicide prevention program presented by the Wellness Peer Educators. He was struck by “over 250 participants in the walk who were all there united under the same goal of bringing awareness to mental health and suicide prevention. The moment was a powerful one, to see so many different kinds of people all come together for the same cause. The opportunity to be involved in a group that makes a difference in a very tangible way is invaluable.”

Personal Benefits of Peer Education:

Peer Educators agreed that finding a something on campus that you are passionate and pushing yourself to get actively involved with that activity has been an important component of their own wellness:

  • “The opportunity to become a wellness peer educator through the campus counseling center served as a perfect forum to put my interests into practical action.” – Josh Kashkett, Junior
  • “Being a peer educator has made me realize that many small yet key health details are often forgotten, and recalling the importance of overall wellness can really impact the lives of TU students.” – Megan Lackay, Senior

The Wellness Peer Educators are here to help our campus continuing growing and thriving. Presentation and workshops are available for student groups, classes, organizations, and much more! See all we have to offer at and feel free to request a program from us!

Nathan Sharer and the Wellness Peer Educators
The Counseling Center

The Balancing Act: Achieving Good Grades and Maintaining Your Sanity

Take Care of Yourself

balanceIf you are reading this, I am willing to bet you take your studies very seriously. You have big plans for the future and you know doing well in school will get you there. You are a student who wants to succeed inside and outside academia. Being a student requires studying. Time management. Organization. A strong work ethic. The list goes on. But here’s the thing, before being a student, you are a person. And people need things. Like sleep. Social support. Good food. Exercise. Did I mention sleep?

You may have heard the classic line, “good grades, a social life, and sleep – in college, you can only pick two.” The truth is, you CAN have all three! The key to personal and academic success in college is balance! Of course, doing well in your classes is the main goal in college, but taking some time for yourself is just as important. Try to look at your studies as a full-time job. If you focus on your academics during your work week, you will have plenty of time left over to enjoy all the fun activities and events that college has to offer. Remember, it is ok to say no to your friends when you have a big test coming up. It is also ok to take breaks from studying to watch your favorite show with your roommates. If you are struggling to find a healthy balance, the trick is to rotate between your academic demands and your personal life. You can have both, but not always at the same time. Keep a healthy balance, and try not to let either side overwhelm you.

College is a very stressful time, there is no denying that. And in a couple weeks, it will be midterm time and you’ll be tempted to pull all-nighters while binge drinking a combination of coffee, energy drinks, and Mountain Dew. Do not do this. Not only will your grades suffer in the long run, but your body and mind will as well.

The first step in integrating self-care into your schedule is knowing what you like to do. For some people, that means going to the gym or going on a run. For other people, that may mean doing an art project. Or going to a church group meeting. Or going out to dinner with a group of friends. Or sleeping for an extra two hours on Sunday morning. Whatever your self-care is, know it, own it, and do it. You are a person. You know what you need to keep your mind healthy. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from being a student and taking some time for yourself.

Schedule Everything

Yes, everything. Get your planner, your calendar, or your favorite time management app and enter in all your due dates from all your course syllabi. If you have reading assignments, enter those, too. Have an ultimate Frisbee tournament coming up? Mark that down. Going home for the weekend to celebrate your brother’s birthday? Yup, put that down, too. This might seem over the top, but if you know what your schedule is ahead of time, it can alleviate a lot of stress. If you have a work schedule, especially one that rotates, this is also good to enter on your favorite organization device.

After you schedule all the constant stuff (things that are less likely to change), plan time for studying, working on projects, and even relaxing. This can be done on a more flexible basis, like the beginning of each week. The worst that can happen if you plan ahead is that you’ll get all your work done and you’ll have free time at the end of the week. Free time? What’s that? Here’s what a weekly schedule might look like:


Remember to balance everything that you do. It is important not to overload one aspect of your life, whether that be school, work, or fun. It is easy to get too caught up in one area, but you will find that once you find a balance that works for you things will start to flow smoothly and you will enjoy success in all of those areas. If you need some help putting a schedule together, or just aren’t sure where to get started, consider requesting academic coaching from the Academic Achievement Center. One of our Learning Specialists can meet with you to get the organization ball rolling.

The Academic Achievement Center

Kristy Gustavson & Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistants

Allison Hutchison & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist


habitHave you ever tried quitting a bad habit? Maybe you wanted to stop biting your nails, quit smoking, or stop watching a ton of TV.  What about starting a new habit? We put together 6 of the top habits of successful students.  Set yourself up for a successful semester by developing these habits!

  • Have Style

Have style – learning style that is!  A learning style is how a student best takes in new information. In many instances, students have a primary and a secondary learning style.  Find out if you are a visual, kinesthetic, or auditory learner now to achieve your goals and get the grades you want.  Meet with an academic coach at TU to find your style or take a quick quiz here!

  • Establish your Ideal Place for Studying 

Don’t wait until right before finals to figure out the best place and time for studying, do it now!  What time of day are you most effective, is it the early morning, afternoon, or right before dinner?  Do you like to have complete silence when studying? You want to establish the best place possible for transferring information from short-term memory and into long-term.  Here are some additional tips for creating your idea study environment:

  • Ditch the Cell Phone: don’t even think about bringing your phone because it will only distract you.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: now is not the time to wear your tightest pants.  Be comfortable and remember to bring extra layers if you get cold easily.
  • Food & Drink: if you think you will get hungry, bring a snack.  Water is great for staying alert & energized for long periods of time.
  • Mix It Up: if your ideal study place is the library, sit in different areas every once in a while to help you retain information longer.

Get more study tips at one of the AAC Workshops!

  • Make it Meaningful 

While you may not find your formulas or required readings trending on Instagram or your Twitter feed, you need to find ways to relate it to things in your everyday life.  Doing so will help you stay motivated and study more efficiently. Connect what you are learning to your past experiences and current situation.  Learning about the periodic table?  What elements have you encountered in your life?  Taking a sociology course?  How do the theories relate to experiences you’ve had with people? Do everything you can to make the information meaningful and you will be on your way to a great semester.

  • Make Studying Fun (or at least tolerable)

Many people dread studying because they find it boring, tedious, etc.  As a student, you need to find a way to make it interactive and interesting.  Annotation, questioning, and note-taking styles are all just the foundation to the actual act of studying.

  • When you review your material, try looking for an app in the subject you are studying.   There are lots of educational apps out there, just find one that suits your needs.
  • Perform a dramatic monologue of the material you are reading.  Okay, it doesn’t have to be a dramatic reading, but just by reading the material out loud will help you retain the information.
  • Use a memory trick (i.e. mnemonic devices) or create games out of the material (i.e. vocab matching).
  • If you are a visual learner, draw a visual representation.  To help reinforce your material, try creating a Power Point of your notes.  This helps with memorization, because of the multiple times you have typed/written down the information.

By looking at different options, you can find a specific way or a combination of ways to help reinforce your study habits.

  • Find Study Buddies 

Study groups can be a great tool in helping you achieve academic success.  However, you want to make sure that you choose your study buddies wisely.  If you pick a group with all of your close friends who may or may not be in your classes you can get easily distracted by talking about weekend plans and such.  Forming a study group with your classmates in your actual classes is a lot more productive, this will help you meet new people and keep everything in your study group relevant to the course you are studying for.  Keep in mind that group size is also important, 3-6 people is the ideal amount, because if you have too many people it can get distracting.  Lastly have fun with it, give your study group a fun name, the more creative the better!

  • Break Up

Not with significant others, but with long periods of studying!  The brain is an amazing thing, but it needs a break every now and then too.

  • Study in 30-50 minute chunks, taking 5-10 minute breaks in between.  This allows your brain time to absorb all the material that you are reviewing and helps keep you motivated and focused.
  • Switch up the topics/courses that you are studying.  You shouldn’t spend more than 2 hours at a time on one subject because you won’t retain as much as the information.
  • You need sleep!  You should be getting at least the recommended 7-9 hours on a regular basis, but if you can’t manage that with your schedule at least make sure that you get the recommended amount the night before a big exam.  If you stay up all night cramming and don’t get enough sleep you won’t remember about half of what you covered, so plan accordingly and allow yourself enough time to sleep.

Jennifer Wendt & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialists
Academic Achievement Center

Gina Sabo
Graduate Assistant
Academic Achievement Center

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…..Well, almost!

5d264783332d570e36d280666b9772c82f76a148bb3191c5d145cb93460e2ed1It is easy to get sidetracked this time of year when thoughts of Life After Finals enters our minds. Students, faculty, and staff are all guilty of allowing ourselves to peer too long into the light at the end of the tunnel, one hopefully filled with holiday cheer and important time reconnecting with family and friends. I am writing to offer perspective on how to successfully navigate the coming weeks, so that your Life After Finals is filled with time spent not thinking about finals.

Students have already accomplished so much this term, from academic achievements to building life-long relationships, that it may seem almost unfair to have one last hurdle (one with a draconian name, “finals”) standing between you and the finish line. While these assessments may seem like an exercise in stress management, rote memorization, and the ability to function without sleep, consider finals week to be one greater test; a test of character.   School, perhaps serving as a microcosm of life in general, will not always be easy, nor should it. The way in which we address challenges and adversity demonstrates who we really are; perhaps much more telling than a final letter grade in Marketing, Geography, Theatre, or Biology.

Building a stronger character is fundamental to a successful university experience. The best chance at academic, relationship, and career success comes when you develop strong character traits. We should not define ourselves by taking shortcuts, procrastinating (even if we are guilty at certain times), and blaming others for our problems. Being honest with yourself, working hard, and preparing for your challenges are signs of strong character. Practicing these qualities will allow you to take control of the closing minutes of the semester and prepare you for any outcome. Doing your best allows you to end the semester without stressing the “what ifs” or comparing your results character1with the accomplishments of others.

As you depart from campus in the coming weeks, forever or until late January, make the effort to know that you truly did everything you could to succeed. Knowing that you gave it your all, regardless of the outcome, enables growth. Growth and failure can go hand in hand, so as long as the personal failure generates the proper response and introspection. If so, then you will walk away knowing you’ve grown, and have shown the character by which you would like to be judged.

I hope you can now step back and view your finals through a broader lens.

Below are some helpful reminders for the final weeks of the semester:

This week

  • Map out your coming week. Where do you need to be, and when?   Do not arrive late! Parking issues at Towson are not new, and they tend to be magnified during Finals.
    • When/where will you study? Preferably not when you’re tired!
    • What is your current standing, and how much of an impact will the final assessment have? Reach out to your professors. Hopefully it isn’t an introduction at this point in the term!
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. Finals week may be the opportunity to reach or exceed your goals. Will you walk away successful, throw a Hail Mary pass, or fail to act?

Post- December 17th

  • The Big Exhale: give yourself some time to relax, reconnect with family and friends, and acknowledge your accomplishments. You’ve earned it. Students, professor, administrators, and just about everyone on campus, have just completed a 15-week marathon. We all need this time.
  • What went well? What could you have done better? Personal failure and shortcomings can lead to growth.
  • Think ahead. What will you do in the coming weeks to solidify your academic and/or post-academic career? Winter break is an excellent time to reassess your interests and goals, explore internships and careers, and solidify your degree plan. Check out TU’s Career Center and register a Hire@TU
  • Review your Academic Requirements Report and Degree Completion Plan. Are you on track to graduate? Contact your program advisor or the Academic Advising Center to review your progress.

Campus Resources

Towson University has an incredible staff that is here to help TU students in all areas of their academic lives.

Jon Lesh
Academic Advising Center

Fa la la la la Finals Frenzy

Twas the night before finals and all through the dorms, all the students were studying, worried about how they’d perform….The holidays can be a great source of joy and excitement, but they can also be a time of high stress. In college, there is still the usual merriment of gift giving and other traditions, with added pressures of doing well on finals and moving out of the dorms. With effective time management skills, you can navigate the 12 days of finals successfully and still be wearing a festive grin come December 17th!


There are many different sources of stress this time of year from finals to moving out, everyone is extremely busy. The biggest source of stress right now is probably getting ready for one of the most important exams in all of your classes: your final. Preparing for your finals can be very stressful whether this is your first time taking college finals or even it is your last semester of school. Another source of stress this time of year is preparing to head home for the holidays. If you live in a dorm, you have to pack up your clothes and head home until January and this can be stressful whether you’re going across the country or just around the beltway. Effective ways to combat both of these stressors is to utilize time management techniques and to reward yourself for achieving your goals.

Time Management

Final exams are right around the corner. Learning how to manage your time will help you succeed when preparing for your exams. To help you along your way, here’s a quick list of hits for staying on track as you start your studying.

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it. It’s hard to plan every minute of your day around final exams. Do your best to create a realistic schedule and try to stick to it.
  2. Think about the courses you are taking. Some courses are more difficult, and therefore you may need to study longer for these courses, while others you don’t need to spend as much time on them studying for your exam.
  3. Set deadlines. When you set deadlines for yourself, it will keep you on track for long-term goals. If your final paper isn’t due for two weeks, start doing a little bit of research each day, and set a date to start writing.
  4. It’s okay to say no. When studying for final exams, it is okay to tell your friends you cannot hang out with them.

Holiday Rewards

Looking for a way to unwind after all the stress of finals, moving, and out-of-town relatives? Make sure to reward yourself after accomplishing specific goals you set for yourself. For instance, after finishing your studying for finals, you may want to go out to catch an early dinner with friends before settling in for a short winter’s nap; remember, you’re going to need a good night’s sleep before each exam! Well-rested students whose stomachs aren’t growling tend to perform better on tests and exams. Here are a couple ideas for holiday rewards near Towson and the Baltimore area:

  1. Ice Rink at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor: For $9, you can skate away in McKeldin Plaza, even on holidays! After your nose turns frosty, you can use your ice skating wristband for discounts at nearby restaurants and businesses.
  2. $1 Entertainment: This coming weekend, December 6 and 7, you can enter the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium, Top of the World (the World Trade Center), and The Christmas Village. Even if you stay for 30 minutes or so before returning to studying, $1 is well worth it!
  3. Federal Hill Moonlight Madness: On Friday, December 12, shops and galleries will stay open until midnight. Enjoy free gift wrapping, caroling, and light refreshments.
  4. The Walters Museum: This free museum—yes, that’s right, FREE—has an awesome permanent collection and is offering The Christmas Story in Art Walk-In Tour this Sunday from 1-2 PM. Take advantage of the free Collegetown Shuttle to get into town; it runs until midnight on Fridays.
  5. Miracle on 34th Street: Drive through hip Hampden and catch the lights on 34th street! For the past 67 years, neighbors on this street decorate their houses and generously encourage visitors to drive by and admire the twinkling lights, hon. Stop by Holy Frijoles, Golden West, or Frazier’s for a bite to eat afterward.

Finals Activities Offered by the AAC:

  1. Last-Minute Q&A Sessions

Worried about your final exams? Come by the Academic Achievement Center in Cook Library anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 PM on Monday, December 8 or Tuesday, December 9. We’ll have tutors on hand for subjects including FIN 331, ACCT 201 and 202, BIOL 190, MATH 111, and more. Snacks and beverages will be on hand to keep you going! Look for more information in T3 soon.

  1. Finals Workshops

Get ready-to-use tools and strategies for studying and planning for finals. Three workshop times are available for your convenience:

  • Monday, December 1 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM in CK 513
  • Wednesday, December 3 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM in CK 513
  • Thursday, December 4 from 6:00 to 7:00 PM ONLINE


Gina Sabo & Monica Padgett
Graduate Students

Allison Hutchison & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist


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