Archive for October, 2015

The Five Step FormulaOne simple thing that students can do to improve their grades, is to read their textbooks and read them at the right times! I am going to give you a 5-step formula that is very simple, but will make a HUGE difference in your understanding of new material and in your grades. This formula should be used every time you are tackling new material for your class:

Step 1: Consult your syllabus the day before each class, and see what is going to be covered in your next lecture. Then, read the corresponding textbook material during the 24 hours before the next class. Take notes using the Cornell method, and leave spaces between each topic, so you can add to them during the lecture, if needed.

Step 2: Go to class, and during the lecture, add to your notes any time you see things you missed, or if you need to clarify things.

Step 3: Review your notes (including the material covered in class) within 20 minutes after the lecture. (If you go to another class right after that one, review while you are waiting for the next class to start.) Edit, or add to your notes, as needed.

Step 4: Conduct another review of this material within 24 hours, and write study questions for the material.

Step 5: Review again in a week and any time you have a chance, go over your study questions. (See this post on portable flash cards.)

Keep track of these reviews in your planner, or each time you finish a review, write the day you should conduct the next review at the top of the page. After you have completed these five steps, you have established pretty solid bank of memories you can draw from during your next exam. If you will be having a comprehensive final exam, continue to skim/review the material every 3-4 weeks to keep it active in your memory throughout the semester.

This process is tight. You will learn and retain information better than ever, and will be far less stressed that you would be if you were cramming for every exam.

Good luck!



Posted: October 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


No one can deny that text messaging is extremely popular among today’s college students. It is a quick and easy way to communicate with friends and family far and wide. You can even send and receive emails from your phone. How convenient is that? Some students take it even further, and try to do absolutely everything on their phones. Last fall, I worked with a student who wrote 10-page papers on his iPhone! While I did not condone it (and was a bit horrified), I have to say, a small part of me was impressed that he had the perseverance to type something that long on a 2 ½” X 5” inch screen.

While email is a convenient and quick way to reach out to professors, if it is done from an phone, it can be full of pitfalls. First of all, many students make the mistake of using texting shortcuts in emails. These shortcuts never belong in email. Another problem is that many students do not use capitalization, or pay attention to proper spelling and grammar when they email from their phones. While your friends may not care, any professional will care, especially in an academic environment. In addition, college is really a professional training ground. It is preparing you for a career, and skillful communication skills are fundamental and necessary in any job today. If these error-laden, grammatically-wrecked emails become habits that carry over to professional life, you will have a problem!

Whenever you write an email, whether it is created on your computer or your cell phone, never use texting shortcuts. I supervise about 10-15 employees every semester, and am often shocked by some of the texting-shortcut laden emails I receive.

Some are from students, but some are not. And, I hear this same message from professionals all over. It really appears that our society is dumbing-down communication. But, if there is one place where we should hold to a higher standard, it is in education.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Use your college/university email address when corresponding with your instructors. Or if you want to use something like Yahoo or Gmail, that is fine. Just don’t use a cutesy user name like “CatLover5” or “JoJosGirl.” Remember, professional is the key word.
  • Be specific with your subject line. I would suggest putting the name of the class in the subject line. (And use the type of capitalization you would use for a title.)
  • Never write an email without capitalization in the body of the message.
  • Always use proper punctuation.
  • Never use texting short cuts (such as “lol”).
  • Use proper spelling (again, no short cuts)

Begin practicing these habits now, on a daily basis. Not only will you make a better impression on your professors and acquaintances today, you are also polishing habits that will lead to a more successful career in your future.