Tag Archives: studytips

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:

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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

6 HABITS EVERY STUDENT NEEDS!

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

Study Groups Empower Students to Learn

stStudy groups have been proven to be very successful in helping students perform better in their courses. Effective group learning can increase motivation and confidence, as well as strengthen connections among your peers. The ability to work as part of a team is also a highly desirable trait in the workforce. Being part of a study group experience can be rewarding, but requires effort on your part.

Some of rewarding benefits of joining a study group are:

  • Improve your understanding of course material
  • Share resources with current students about course content
  • Experience new ways of thinking and new ideas about course content

Possible complications within a study group are:

  • An unmotivated participant can turn a study session into one long gossip session
  • An underprepared participant can turn a study session into a “teaching” rather than a sharing of ideas
  • Lack of commitment of each participant to attend sessions could ruin the pace and motivation for all participants

Size Matters

When forming a study group, it is important to consider not only how many people should be in the group, but also who should be in the group. For best results, limit the size of your study group to three to six students. Too many voices in one group can cause chaos, confusion, and distraction. Furthermore, the more people you have in your group, the more difficult it can be to schedule a time. If there is a larger group of students interested in forming a study group, simply divide the group in half and mix up the members from time to time. When organizing a study group, don’t feel limited to only inviting your friends. Choose your study group members wisely – people who have similar academic goals and have a desire to participate, share, listen, and learn. A good start is talking to your classmates sitting around you to gauge interest in forming a study group. It is very likely that there are other students in the class also looking for study partners!

Preparation

Another important aspect of study groups is the preparation each group member must complete before the group meets. Study groups should be a secondary means of studying; each member should be studying on their own before the group meets. The group time should be spent clarifying topics that each member doesn’t understand or as a time for practicing exams or tests.

Group Goals

Study groups are formed for many different reasons. It’s important to determine the specific goals for your group. Are you looking for test preparation? Your group might develop possible test questions to review and provide practice before exams. Are you looking for a group to meet weekly? Your group might compare notes from class sessions to fill in gaps and clarify topics, share study strategies, check for understanding of readings, or develop study aids like charts or notecards.

Once you have your group together, the Academic Achievement Center can provide guidance on how to structure the group for success using the “AAC Study Group Toolkit.” To get started, visit our website at http://www.towson.edu/aac/studyGroups.asp and fill out the request form.

Additional Resources:

http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills-articles/study-groups.asp

http://classroom.synonym.com/advantages-disadvantages-study-group-4192.html

https://students.case.edu/education/resources/studygroups/formagroup.html

http://homeworktips.about.com/od/studymethods/a/studygroup.htm

 

Academic Achievement Center

Elizabeth Scarbrough
Director

Kimberly Graham
Placement Testing Coordinator

Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistant

Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist

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