Category: Study Tips

Guest Blog: Getting ahead early can be the key to your semester

By , September 9, 2014 10:36 am

Matt Owens[This tip provided by Matt Owens, junior Secondary Education/History major]

For many of us students most of our semesters will start off at a nice and manageable pace, only to hit us like a freight train during the last few weeks of class.  Why does this seem to happen every semester and what can we do, both to alleviate the stress of those final few weeks and to help our grades?  First, let’s be clear—no matter how fantastic a student is at getting ahead and fighting the temptation to procrastinate, the last few weeks are going to be hectic.  The difference, experienced by the overt procrastinator, is felt in the severity of the stress level and often in anxiety over the uncertainty of coming grades.

Let’s forget that “I work better under pressure” mantra we have all heard before.  Study after study shows us that this is little more than wishful thinking used to justify regrettable actions after it is too late to change course.  In particular, one Ohio State study investigated the relationship between GPA and degree of procrastination and established that the grades of students who moderately to severely procrastinate are routinely lower than those who are proactive about getting their work done in a timely manner.  The study also recorded that many of those who were deemed “severe procrastinators” claimed that they worked better under pressure, even though the results showed their grades were significantly lower than their non-procrastinating peers.  Bruce Tuckman, OSU professor and author of this study, says that what they have seen is that students who make this claim consistently prove that they “don’t have any idea how well they might do if they didn’t procrastinate.”  What we do know, from this study and countless others, is that overall those who routinely make this claim and procrastinate just so happen to receive lower grades than their peers.

How can we connect these facts with your semester?  Well, now that we are well into the semester we are certainly all busy.  Those of us who have at least a few college semesters under our belts know that it gets worse toward midterms and the end of the semester, much worse.  For you freshmen or transfer students who have yet to experience this… take our word for it.  The only way to make midterms and finals more manageable (increasing our chances at getting the grades we want) is to go ahead and get started on that research or term paper right now.  All those dates in your syllabus that highlight deadlines and checkpoints that seem so far away should not be put off.  Getting ahead on your long-term assignments now can truly be the key to a successful semester.  These assignments are often worth a huge percentage of your semester grade and are often due towards the end of the semester when you will be needing to focus on those other annoying little things that are worth quite a bit of your grade as well… final exams.  So look ahead and work ahead to make sure you increase your chances of getting the grades you want later by working hard now.  Remember, starting on long-term projects and papers early gives you that much more time to pick your teachers’ brains, use the writing studio, meet with a tutor and explore all of the other resources at your disposal that will assist you in achieving the grade you want and the success you are capable of this semester.

So get started, and good luck!

Guest Blog: keeping track of your classes

By , September 2, 2014 5:17 pm

Matt Owens[This tip provided by Matt Owens, junior Secondary Education/History major]

As the first week of class gets underway, developing strategies to keep yourself organized for your course work is essential for a successful semester.  Some of you are returning students and will have developed your own personalized systems during your time here at UMKC, while others may be new to university life.  Regardless of where you are in your Roo experience it is always a good idea to remember to practice your organizational strategies early on in the semester and get off to a good start.

With that being said, here is one of the most basic organizational techniques that can help you look ahead to the semester to come, while also keeping you on track in the here and now:

Merge your syllabi.  Well hold on, don’t reassemble them just yet!  Keep whole copies of each class syllabus with the notebooks, binder and text of its corresponding course.  In addition to your professor’s contact info and office hours, there’s important information in there that explains each course’s grading rubric, assignments, learning objectives and class schedule.  It’s that last part that can be very helpful in keeping track of your school work each week.

Photo copy (or copy and paste into a word document if they’re on Blackboard) the semester schedules from each course’s syllabus and put them together into one big, new document.  It will be your master schedule for your semester and will allow you to quickly reference what is going on in all of your classes during a given week, and to look ahead to future assignments as well.  It can be hard to juggle all of your work as a full time college student and having a quick and easy reference guide that contains dates for assignments, projects, readings, tests, quizzes and exams can help you to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks in your busy life.

To be sure, each schedule provided will vary in how specific it is, and this technique in no way should substitute for keeping a planner or writing in a calendar.  During the course of the semester things happen (Snow Days! …for example) and schedules can change as teachers and students adapt to unforeseen circumstances.  Creating this “master” schedule from your syllabi is just one quick and simple way to compile the important dates and assignments given to you at the beginning of the semester.  It can help you figure out what weeks will be your busiest and help you plan accordingly.  It can be kept in your backpack or in a desk, ready for you any time you need a quick reminder of what is happening in each one of your classes.  Overall, it’s a good way to be cognizant of your course load as a whole and to stay on top of it.

Successful students are disciplined when it comes to keeping their notes, assignments and schedules orderly and easily accessible.  So stay organized, enjoy yourself and achieve the success you know that you’re capable of.


Fall 2014 Seminars for your Success

By , August 26, 2014 3:10 pm

DestinationGraduationYour Destination:  Graduation!  Join us for a full-slate of seminars on success-topics throughout the semester.  Interested in tips to polish your writing skills?  need to know about all the resources UMKC provides?  how to manage stress and test anxiety?  smarter ways to study?  how to make your resume and cover letter stand out from the crowd?

Click here for the full schedule of success seminars.

These topics and more are covered during weekly seminars hosted in the Atterbury Student Success Center by Academic Support and Mentoring, Career Services, MindBody Connection, UMKC Central, UMKC Libraries, and the Writing Studio.

Stress Tips for the end of semester

By , April 22, 2014 8:43 am

calm[Guest post by Kathleen Ramo, Bachelor of Health Sciences student in the School of Nursing]

As the final weeks of the semester creep up on us and we start realizing the many homework assignments, quizzes, papers, and projects that are left to do we realize the deadlines are right around the corner and stress induces. One of the most important things to remember while facing a heavy load of work is to keep our stress to a minimum. I personally have a few things I like to do to reduce stress and clear my mind so I can get through my work with ease. My stress reducing techniques include:

  • Getting plenty of rest. Even though we sometimes find ourselves cramming until the wee hours of the night, studies show that a restful night’s sleep helps us perform better.
  • Take a power nap. If you find yourself dozing off while studying take a 20-30 minute nap to help recharge your batteries.
  • Go for a walk. Fresh air does more for us than we will ever know. Plus, getting some exercise helps stimulate your body.
  • Listen to music. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed I put in my headphones and enjoy. Sometimes music helps get your mind off of whatever you’re thinking about so whenever you take your headphones out you have a clear mind to get back into whatever work you have.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Find something that makes you laugh whether it be television, a movie, or calling up a hilarious friend.
  • One of the most effective things I do to keep my stress levels low is to prepare for exams, papers, and projects in advance. If you know you have assignments due the week before finals the time to start preparing is now!
  • Lastly, reward yourself. Set up something fun to do after you’ve finished your stressful week to unwind.

I hope these ideas helped, because I know we are all starting to feel the effects of stress as the semester comes to an end. Remember, there are three weeks until finals: the time to start preparing for those big projects and papers was yesterday. Stay relaxed and good luck!

Personalized Research Coaching with a UMKC Librarian

By , April 8, 2014 10:41 am

Search Consult Promo ULIBS ScreenSign up for a Free Research Coaching Sessions with a UMKC Librarian

We all need to use an Ask the Expert lifeline once in a while. Lucky for you, UMKC Librarians are expert researchers and are always happy to help.

Sign up for a free 15, 30, or 60-minute coaching session for your study group or just for yourself. During your session, you can expect the librarian to help you develop a search strategy, choose the best databases, locate both popular and scholarly/peer reviewed sources, and give you insider search tips.

Whether you have no idea how to start your research or you’re struggling to find relevant sources, a Research Coaching Session is just what you need to write a stress-free, A+ paper!

Plan Now to Enjoy Spring Break

By , March 11, 2014 9:44 am

maui01Spring break is in TWO WEEKS!  Going from mid-January to the end of March with no breaks is tough, but it’s tougher to take a week off with no plan for when you get back!

First things first–sit down with your calendar and class syllabi and make a list of all the assignments due for the rest of the semester.  This will help you put everything into perspective and give you set of short-term and long-term goals.  For each assignment, think about how long it will take you to complete it–you should now have an idea of your study habits and how long it takes to read class materials.  And by thinking about this now, nothing should sneak up on you after break!

So, right now you should also be thinking about those assignments due just after break.  Take some time now to work ahead and finish these assignments before you leave or make other plans for the week.  That way, if something does come up, you can go without feeling stressed about all the work you have left!

Spring Break is supposed to be relaxing, spending time with friends and family.  But if you do need to catch up on classwork, make sure you plan some time to take a break. One idea is to work on assignments in the morning and then take the rest of the day to relax and get outside.  It’s always best to do your work first–then you can reward yourself with an afternoon movie or dinner out with friends.

Careful planning can make Spring Break a true break, no matter where you go or stay.  Plan now and you can come back to school refreshed and energized!

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