Archive for the ‘college schedule’ Category

The College Class Syllabus….

Every college student gets them. But, what happens after that?

Do they end up at the bottom of a backpack, as a crumbled mess, or in a desk drawer?

After all, the instructor will remind me of everything throughout the semester anyway, right?


Dead wrong.

Most instructors will assume you are an adult and will act as a responsible one. Therefore, as soon as you get your syllabus, you have a hot date that night. Syllabus+Planner+YOU.

I’d also suggest grabbing some highlighters, colored pens, stickers… and whatever else you might want to help you recognize at a glance, what you need to be doing. The Syllabus MUST Meet Planner

Now it’s time to hack your syllabus… break it into bits and prepare a plan that will help you manage your college life.

First things first: Begin by writing EVERY test, project deadline, research paper deadline, or anything else that has a due date in your planner.  If you are the kind of person who likes things to be a fancy-pants, use stickers, highlighters or colored pens to color-code everything. For example, everything related to biology is written in green, everything related to English Comp is written in blue, etc. Highlight all tests with a yellow highlighter, and paper due dates with a orange highlighter.

Next: Do some back planning. For every deadline, count back an appropriate number of days and set a “start date” for starting to begin test prep or writing a paper. For example, you should allow 5 good study days for every exam, at minimum.

So, if you have an exam on October 25, count back 5 days in your planner and write, “Prepare study materials for Psychology test #3. On day 2,  you might write, “Study for Psychology test #3.” Continue with the notations over the next 3 days. For a large research paper, you might want to count back 2 weeks and write “Begin research for British Literature paper.” The next day you might write “continue British Lit research.” Depending on the size and depth of your paper, you may want to begin writing it 1 week prior to the due date, so you would note this in  your planner, as well.

Keep in mind: If there are days you have things going on and cannot study for your test or work on your paper, then you need to add an additional day when you set your start date for studying or preparing for a project. college-planner

NOW…. if you do this with ALL of your syllabi,  it will take a while, but it is well worth the investment of your time. Having a detailed planner goes a long way towards college success.


Summer is here and whether you are taking summer classes or not, you may have found that your fitness level declined a little during the academic year. In my years as a student, and as an instructor, I have seen many students pack on some extra poundage during the semester. Students are often busy and less physically active. But, they also may tend to snack while studying and carry around a lot of stress which can lead to weight gain.  Image

Nevertheless, one of your biggest challenges might be squeezing physical activity into your packed days. I am the queen of multi-tasking, and I often combine my fitness routines with other things. I mentioned in a previous post that I like to secure my flash cards with a ring, or purchase the  and then carried in your purse for quick study opportunities. They can also be carried around while taking a brisk walk, or while using a stationery bike or treadmill. You can also combine some quick exercise with some of your daily routines. For example, when you are blow drying your hair or brushing your teeth, do squats! Pay attention to your form, making sure you are keeping your back straight, and bending your legs deeply enough to feel the burn. This is a great way to sneak a little extra exercise into your day without sacrificing any of your precious study time! Try it and share your experience in the comments!



ipodWhile I was in college full-time, I was working about 30 hours a week, and I was also a single mother.  It was busy, but I tried to work out every day to stay fit and to relieve stress! Last week, I ran across a list of ideas on the web for combining exercise with studying, and I thought I’d share the gist of each idea from the list and agument it with my own experiences.
1) Be prepared: Always have a notebook, textbook, or flashcards with you. I just take my school bag with me everywhere I go, so that I’m prepared to study when I have time. Many different types of exercise equipment have a book stand, so you can read or study while feeling the burn!
2) Become a multi-tasker: Audio books can be a painless way to do this. My degree is in English, and there was a semester when I had to read about 3 novels a week. I didn’t want to give up my exercise routine, so I started to download audio books to my iPod, and then listen while driving, walking, jogging, or working out. I did have to monitor myself carefully, because I would occasionally tune out. I fixed that by rewinding periodically. I also found it helpful to read a summary of the chapter before I started listening, which made it easier me to follow the audio.
3) Team Up: Do you have a study partner you can take to the gym? If so, quiz each other while working out, and let there be consequences for wrong answers. (Really? 20 Crunches for not knowing the definition of hypothalamus?)
4) Sound Off! You might also be able to memorize material while running, using the cadence of your steps to help you memorize. I can testify that this works well. When I was taking Spanish class, I probably memorized 90% of my vocabulary and verb conjugation charts this way. I used the myndology flash cards so that I didn’t have to worry about losing or dropping the cards. This of course, can also be done while working out on a treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationery bike.myndology pink
5) Suffer the Consequences: Quiz yourself while on a stationary bike or treadmill and every time you get something wrong, do a 30-second sprint.
Exercise improves your fitness and well-being; college can be stressful, and exercise has some powerful stress-busting benefits, and the suggestions above are incredibly healthy for you both mentally and physically.
If you have any experience with combining exercise and study, please comment below. I’d love to hear what you have tried and how it worked for you.

Have you learned the hard way that you can’t remember things if you haven’t dispersed your studying over several days? Students are often surprised to learn that 10 hours of studying the day before an exam is not equal to 10 hours of studying over 5 days! The formula I am regularly giving students is TIME + REPETITION = SUCCESS. Time is a vital part of the equation!

The Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting shows us that people forget things at a shocking pace if they don’t review the information at regular intervals. You may recall that Ebbinghaus discovered in his experiment on memory and retention, that a huge portion forgotten material is lost in the first 20 minutes! Even more shocking, without any review, the person has forgotten nearly half of what was originally learned after just one hour. 24 hours later, a whopping 2/3 of the learned information has been lost! You can combat this rapid memory decline by using your Cornell Notes in a very purposeful way. If you follow my suggestions for review, you will find that when it is time for a test, you will have already made tremendous progress towards being prepared. Just implement the 5-day study plan a week before the test to seal the deal!

In order to use Cornell notes to combat the forgetting curve, you will want to begin by setting your note taking paper up in the form of Cornell Notes by drawing a line about 1/3 of the way over from the left, and another line a couple of inches from the bottom. Then work your way through steps 1-5, as described in the graphic below. It is just that simple!

Use Cornell Notes to Change the Forgetting Curve!

Using the Cornell note taking method in this strategic way combats the dramatic drop in memory pinpointed in the Ebbinghaus curve. Since we know that most of the forgetting occurs in the first 20 minutes after a lecture, you will want to review your notes in those first 20 minutes. (However, this is not just glancing over your notes, this reading through them and processing them in a meaningful way.) According to the Curve of Forgetting data, that brief review bumps the curve to nearly an incredible 100% again. Your second review should occur within the first 24 hours, the third within the first week, and the fourth by 30 days. Periodic review during that 30 day time period is also recommended. Look at the graphic below to see an illustration of this concept. Each time review is conducted, the curve is boosted. You might also notice that the drop in the curve is less dramatic after each review, because the brain is beginning to move information to the long-term memory.

retention and review 

The regular reviews help make those new neuro-pathways smooth and easier to navigate. This means you have quicker and easier access to the memory, which also helps to combat test anxiety, blank mind syndrome, and other stress-related memory blocks.

Try it! It is an extremely effective way of studying and keeps you from having to use those grueling, stressful, and ineffective all-nighters before an exam.

What I’m going to say may go against the advice you receive from your college adviser.  Most of us are guided to put together a class schedule similar to the way we would put together a puzzle. “Let’s see… I need a class that will fit in this time frame, and I also need something that meets this requirement…. Hey, this one works!” And, so….you’re in!

Can I recommend a different strategy? Long before the enrollment period begins, ask your classmates a lot of questions about the classes they are taking. And I’m not taking about asking “Do you like Dr. Doright?” That is a purely subjective question that will tell you nothing.  Instead ask, “What is it you do or don’t like about his classes?”  This will help you evaluate better whether the instructor will be a good fit for you and your learning style. Find out if the instructor requires a lot of writing, or if the tests are multiple choice, essay, or whatever.  Ask about the types of assignments, the structure of lectures, whether a teaching assistant grades tests, or whatever is important to you, as a student. The more you learn about the professors and the experiences other students are having with them, the more likely you will find the best professors on campus.

Don’t you want to get the biggest “bang” for your educational bucks? Believe it or not, the few years you spend in college will be over before you know it, and you want to be donning the cap and gown knowing that it truly represents what you came there to receive. You should be ending your college career knowing that you have gained usable knowledge and developed necessary skills for your chosen field. If you don’t end up with that, you have wasted a lot of time and money.

I always perform a Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator assessment when a struggling student comes to the Academic Success Center. Through my research, I’ve found that personality types are generally connected to the way a person learns and how they adapt to the academic environment. We call these academic differences “learning dispositions” and there is one disposition we’ve labeled “self-expressive” (SE). SE learners generally benefit from implementing creative methods into their academic activities.

I happen to be a Self-Expressive (SE) learner, so I can identify with these students. When I sit down with an SE to talk about time management, their eyes always light up when they see me with a handful of highlighters, colorful stickers and a planner. Integrating some element of creativity can take the drudgery of time management and make it more effective for them too! In a nutsell, these types of learners flourish when allowed to express themselves in unique and creative ways.

If the idea of stickers and highlighters perk your interest, you just might be a “Self-Expressive” too. I’ll show photos of the inside of my planner in a later post.