Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

  1. Study at a DESK!You need to be comfortable, but you also need to be in a place that helps you stay alert and focused. Studying in a bed encourages sleep, not learning.
    2. Exercise helps.Studies have shown that mental function improves with exercise and results in better memory. Research also shows that listening to music while exercising boosts cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills.
    3. Your brain needs real food. Donuts and coffee don’t cut it. The neurotransmitters in your brain are made from amino acids, which are derived from the protein in your diet. So, you need to choose high-protein foods such as cheese, eggs, meats or nuts, rather than high-carbohydrate crackers, chips, cookies or juice.
    4. Drink lots of WATER! Did you know that dehydration can lead to fatigue and lack of ability to focus? Choose more water over coffee, and keep your water chilled for added alertness.
    5. Get to know your professors! Ask questions during, before or after class. Take advantage of office hours. Ask for clarification when you do not completely understand something. Ask for suggestion on supplemental materials. These things can make a difference between an “A” or a “B”!
    6. Buy the textbook. The textbook is not optional; I don’t care what anyone tells you. If you struggling with budget, see if an older addition of the text is available, or even a digital version. But, you MUST have a textbook in order to do what you need to do.
    7. Be realistic. If you know you will consistently sleep through an 8 am class, there is no reason to sign up for it. Make a schedule you can actually keep.
    8. Use all of the helps on campus. My campus has a writing lab, a walk-in math and science lab, peer tutoring, a speech lab, and many computer/printing centers throughout the campus. And, all of these services are FREE. Find out what your college offers and take advantage. A little bit of help can easily boost your grades.
    9. You must study if you want good grades. I know you may have cruised through high school, but college is different. Instructors expect you to do the majority of work outside of class, and classes move twice as fast. Multiply the number of credit hours you are taking by 1, 2 or 3, depending on the level of difficulty. That is how many hours you need to be studying a week for each class. No, I’m not kidding.
    10. Study Groups Help. One semester, I was in a particularly difficult medieval literature class, and I was pretty sure that class was going to jeopardize my 4.0 grade point average. I didn’t know anyone in the class, but I was able to form a study group by sending a group email to class members via Blackboard, and we ended up with 8-10 people in the group. I don’t think I would have made an “A” without that group. It is a great way to clarify your understanding, revise and add to your class notes, discuss topics is greater depth, and come closer to mastering the material.

my angry professor graphicI frequently work with struggling students at the college, and many of them are having difficulty in one or more classes. When I meet new students for the first time, we discuss their classes and try to identify the root of their academic struggles. This helps me to come up with a game plan to improve his or her grades.

During the discussion, one thing i have heard many times is, “My professor hates me!”

Could it be true? Could a professor really hate a student?

The truth is, we are all flawed human beings, and it would be disingenuous for me to say it was impossible for this to happen. There certainly may be personality conflicts or relationships that get off on the wrong foot, which can create a less-than-perfect scenerio for the professor/student relationship.

If you are in a situation where you feel the professor does not like you, here are some tips for survival:

1. Don’t gossip about your professor! Nothing good that can come from this! If you absolutely need to vent, keep it within the circle of your closest confidants.

2. Don’t lose your temper in class. I remember being in a class where a professor was being incredibly hard on a particular student’s written work during the class discussion. The student didn’t take it well and began a heated debate with the instructor. Other students in the class were uncomfortable, nothing about the conversation helped the situation, and in the end, the student was kicked out of the class. As difficult as it is, take the high road and bite your tongue.

3. Don’t purposely bug your professor. I know… it is kind of like you have an itch that you want to scratch… but, it is a path to self-destruction and escalation.

Instead, here is what you DO:

1. Do start with a little self-examination. Has your attitude been good? Do you arrive at class on time? Have you been doing your work? Are you cooperative and helpful class? Do you pay attention (or do you text or otherwise goof off in class)? If you are behaving in ways that are distracting or are disrespectful, then the first thing you need to do is change yourself and your own attitude. Admit where you are wrong and fix it.

2. Do look at the BIG picture… Look at the impact it will have on  your academic progress. Is it early enough in the semester to drop the class and take something else? Or, can you take the same class with a different instructor? What impact will dropping a class have on your financial aid, your timely degree completion and other things?

3. Do talk to your professor in his or her office. Avoid being confrontational, but tell the professor your perception and see what kind of reaction  you get. If the professor really does not like you and admits it, you might be better off just dropping the class. If your professor denies it, and especially if he or she is apologetic, you may want to hang on to the class. Trust your gut.

4. Do your best. If you have to stay in the class, keep your nose clean, make it a priority to keep up with the work, and you may want to keep your mouth shut as much as possible, especially if you can see that your participation just annoys the professor. Document everything by keeping assignment sheets, your returned work, and any written feedback you receive from your professor.

5. Do try to stay positive (or fake that you are). A negative attitude, a scowl in class, or not completing work will only hurt yourself.

There is an old story that begins something like this:

A young man was traveling through the countryside on his way to a small town called Freeport. He pulled onto a gravel lot in front of a general store, and he saw an old man sitting on a bench. “Hello sir, I seem to be lost. Can you tell me how to get to Freeport?” The old man stroked his chin thoughtfully, “Well…. you can’t get there from here. If you were in Denich, you could get there, but you can’t get there from here.”

“How do I get to Denich?”

“Well now, that is the problem. You can’t get to Denich.”senior-man-sitting-park-bench-21777845

What is your reaction to this story? Do you laugh? Do you feel a sense of frustration? You might be thinking like I did: Is it really possible that there is no way to get from point A to point B? I don’t think so. There may be obstacles, or detours along the way. But, there will be some way to get there.

Are there things in your life you want to do, but have made no progress? If you answered yes to this question, is it because that thing only a “wish” and not a “goal”? Wishing does not make something happen. Setting a goal and pursuing that goal is what makes it a reality.

How many things in your life do you want but are not really moving towards? What is it that will get you from where you are to where you want to be?

If you are currently HERE, but want to be THERE, you need a strategy. This goes for everything in life and it’s the difference between making a wish and setting a goal. Whether your goal is related to your education, your health, weight, exercise, or something else…. Your goal can only be reached through a strategic plan.

Colleges often use the SMART goal formula for their students, and it can easily be applied to all areas of your life.

1) Is your goal Specific? – How will you know when you read your goal? Do you have a specific steps or grades in mind? Have you drawn your finish line?
2) Is your goal Measurable? – You can measure your progress through self-quizzing. If you are training to reach a physical goal, you can measure your progress by tracking your time and measuring improvements.
3) Is your goal Attainable? – Are there any real barriers to you achieving the goal? Can you make adjustments to overcome those barriers? Do you have the time to train/study/work, and is the “WANT” strong enough?
4) Is your goal Realistic? – Is the finishing time you are aiming for a realistic one? More importantly, do you have the tools to get you there? Have you made a study plan or made the training a priority and worked what you need to do into your schedule?
5) Is your goal Timely? – Have you allowed an appropriate period of time to prepare? Studying for tests takes time. I recommend at least 5 days of study for each exam. Are you running a 5K? How many weeks do you need to prepare your body? Will your preparations cut into time you need for other things and are you willing to make adjustments?

The beautiful thing about all this is that you can achieve just about anything you want in life by creating SMART strategies, and then following through with your plan. What is it you want to achieve? How will you get there? Share yours in the comments!


The Myndology flash cards are my favorite flash cards. I used them exclusively for my college classes. Why do I like them so much? They are especially great if you are frequently on the move, if you have to memorize a lot of facts or vocabulary words, and if you like to have an easy way to study during short breaks throughout the day.

  • The ring on each set, keeps the cards all together, which makes them extremely portable, even when you are truly on the move! I kept all of my current cards in my purse, which allowed me to pull them out and study whenever I found myself with a few spare minutes. When I was taking Spanish classes, I used them to help me memorize vocabulary and verb conjugation charts, and I took them with me when I took my daily walks. I also used them at the gym when walking on the treadmill or using the stationary bike. Because of the rings, I didn’t have to worry that I would drop the cards and have them blow away, jam up the treadmill or get mixed up.
  • The cards also lend themselves well to organizing by color or sections. The Muse card sets have both white and accent colors. The Ergo style cards are white and include two colored cards that you can use as dividers. The Neon card set has five different colors of cards in each set. When I was memorizing Spanish vocabulary, I used the colors to group together different types of words. When memorizing Historical Geology terms I color coded them with these cards, as well.
  • The cards can be secured with the cover. This keeps them from sprawling out in my backpack or purse, which prevents them from getting bent up, and also keeps my bag neater. When I am finished with a set of cards, I can write a description of the contents on the spine, and thenstore them neatly in a small storage box I keep on my desk. If I need the cards again for review or for a comprehensive exam, I have them handy and well-organized due to the neatly closed packaging these card sets provide.

These little cards worked so well for me, I earned “A’s” in my classes. They come in different sizes, so if I’m learning something that doesn’t take much space, like vocabulary words, I can use the 1″ X 3″ cards. If I need to put something larger on the cards, like verb conjugation charts, I can use one of the larger sizes.

Myndology Flash Cards

The new semester just started at the college where I work as the Study Skills Development Specialist. Things are busy and even though we have only been back to class for a week, many students are already requesting one-on-one tutoring sessions.

These students have done something that I wish more students would do. They ask for help and they ask for it early. On the other hand, we often have students who wait until the last few weeks of school, asking for a tutor, and then wanting to learn everything they were supposed to learn throughout the entire semester in just a few days.

Sorry folks… but that would require an parting-of-the-red-sea type of miracle.

While I cannot hand you a miracle strategy, I can share a formula that equals success for students who apply it consistently. Here is it… the formula for success:

Time + Repetition = Success

There is no substitute for it! So, you have a choice to make. The easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to be actively engaged in the process of learning on a daily basis. The easy way consists of being prepared for class, being actively engaged in class, reviewing class notes and text material on a daily basis, and allowing at least five days to study for each exam.

Start this semester right and follow the formula for success. I will be back soon, but until then, please do one thing for me.

Before each and every class, PRE-READ the material your instructor will be covering in the lecture for that day. Even if you do not have time to read the entire thing, at least survey the chapter. Read the chapter headings, read the first paragraph of each section, skim the text, look at any charts or diagrams and read any end of chapter summary or questions. See if you can answer the questions in the summary. Now go to class with this minimal preparation, and see what a difference it makes in your comprehension of the lecture. By preparing your brain with a foundation, you give your instructor something to build on.

Try it and then please share your experiences with me! I also encourage questions!

About six weeks ago, I made a decision that may not seem very big to most people… but to me it was huge. I decided to run a 5K. It isn’t a long run by runners’ standards, but I’ve never been a distance runner, so it is pretty big to me! I’ve been using the Couch to 5K app to train and am now running almost 3 miles without stopping. There have been days I’ve struggled to keep going, but one thing I’ve learned is that I can’t allow myself to stop. At the beginning of my training, I gave up a couple of times, but I realized it made completing the run more difficult. Why? Because I had made stopping an option. So, I made a decision– no more stopping. I would keep going, even if it was a very slow jog. Surprisingly, when I did this, it was never as bad as I thought it was going to be– as a matter of fact, I learned that if I kept going, the quitters spirit went away and it got easier. Each time I finished a run, I increased my strength and determination for the next time. I developed a sense of pride and accomplishment, and because I didn’t allow myself to quit, it built my stamina, strengthened my muscles, and increased my confidence. All of this, just because I kept putting one foot in front of the other.dont stop

Are you doing something that doesn’t come easy to you? Are you entertaining the idea of giving up? Don’t let yourself believe any voice that says you can’t do something. Success is always the result of being very intentional and deliberate. I often see students who give up in a class, or even give up on pursuing their degree just because things got a little hard. The unfortunate thing is…. the point where a student begins to really struggle, is often the point where good things are about to happen. It is a moment when the student can quit, or make a decision that will build his or her stamina, strength and confidence.

When I first started my job at the community college, one of the first students I met with was taking a developmental math class for the fourth time. A few of the staff members thought he was a hopeless case…. he obviously wasn’t able to do it, or didn’t really want to do it, they said. But, I saw something different in him. When I talked with him, I learned that he had gone through some tough times and it negatively impacted his schooling. Yet, he had a tenacity most of the students I worked with did not possess. He told me that he was determined to pass the class and that he would do whatever it took to get through it. And he proved it to me by following through with the game plan I put in place for him, by attending math tutoring faithfully, and by not quitting! At the end of the semester, I got goosebumps when I heard the news…. He got an “A” in his math class! He understood that the only way that class would defeat him was if he quit trying.

So remember… don’t stop. Only volumes of hard work will close the gap between your outcome and your ambitions. It will take some time. And you may have to put up a big fight. That’s normal. You just have to keep going.

Don’t stop.

Are you struggling to do something that doesn’t come easy to you?

Last year, my husband died after a 15-month battle with brain cancer.  This year, when I heard that there was going to be a 5K fundraiser for brain tumor research, I knew immeidately that I wanted to do it. I could have signed up to participate as a walker, but I had a strong urge to sign up to RUN the 5K. To some of you, that may not seem like a big deal. However, the thing is…. I am not a runner. I am 47-years old and the last time I ran was in high school. Even at that, I was a sprinter and rarely ran more than a half mile. So, when I went on line and registered as a runner, it was probably kind of ridiculous. Still, I really wanted to do this in memory of my husband and honor his heroic battle with cancer. 

I am now in my 5th week of training and am getting closer and closer to being able to jog the three miles. I hope that by June 30, I can run the whole thing. Do you know what has got me this far?:

I want it. I want it bad.

I work with a lot of failing students whose main problem in college is a lack of motivation. They halfway do things, they give up before they’ve even really tried, and they have not made school a priority. I’ve started asking students, “How bad do you want it?” The answer is often very revealing, and one that can be indicative as to which students will do well and which students will continue to fail or drop out.

I think that question can be applied to a lot of things in life. What are you striving towards right now? How bad do you want it? Please…. Watch this video!!! It is inspiring!