Category: Study Tips

Make a Plan to Study

By , February 3, 2015 11:23 am

study groupsSo, it’s the start of the third week of classes–how are you doing?  By now, you probably have your routine settled, you know what to expect in each class, and you’re still caught up on all the assignments, right?  Let’s keep it that way!

Take a quick moment to review how each class is going:  now is the time to evaluate whether you have scheduled yourself enough time to study for each class.  You should also consider attending any Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions that may be connected with the class.  Studying in groups is extremely helpful–not only does it create a specific time for you to study, it also gets you active in your learning by giving you opportunities to discuss the course concepts with your classmates.  Even if your class doesn’t have an SI session, get together with your classmates over coffee at the Union or the Library to go over notes, make sure you didn’t miss anything, ask questions about material you didn’t understand, and help each other work through problems and difficult concepts.

Not only should you evaluate if you have enough time allotted to study, but also consider HOW you are studying.  Try rewriting your notes to make sure you really understand why you included what you did in your lecture notes.  Make an outline of the important concepts covered in the textbook.  Double-check your syllabus to stay on track of what you should be reading before class to prepare and after class to review; make note of what you also may need to do in Blackboard to participate in class discussions.  Also make a note of what distracts you while you’re studying–and then minimize those distractions!

Starting good study habits now–at the start of the semester–will reinforce a positive routine and keep you on track and allow you some time to make adjustments in your schedule now.  Got any study tips to share?  Use the comments below to share your success plan!

Planning for later…success starts now

By , January 20, 2015 11:22 am

study groupsA little planning now at the start of the semester will help you stay on track for success!  There are two crucial tools that can help you keep up with your coursework and commitments:  the class syllabus and a daily planner.

When you get your syllabus, read through it carefully.  This is essentially your contract for the course.  It contains important details about each class—including your professor’s office hours and contact information, required and suggested readings, classroom expectations, grading policies, Supplemental Instruction information (if offered with your class), and what happens if you miss an exam or a class session.  Not to mention all those assignment due dates and when the exams are scheduled!

A daily planner (whether in Outlook, on your iPad, an app on your smartphone, or even just a spiral notebook) is your next most important tool–it will help you visually and physically keep track of all your commitments.  First, mark all your class periods each week.  Note all the important dates from each syllabus—homework assignments, readings, and exams.

Fill in time to study—a good guideline is two hours studying for every hour you spend in class.  This time can be used to read the materials and review your notes or meet with a group to discuss concepts from the lectures.  If your class has Supplemental Instruction, mark those times in your planner and then GO to the sessions!  Your planner can also help you stay on track for major projects by creating a personalized timeline—break each project into smaller steps and assign a due-date to each part.

Next, be sure to set aside mealtimes and breaks, such as time to workout or just relax (it sounds silly—but you can’t forget to take care of yourself!).  Keep an eye out for flyers around campus advertising student organizations or events that may interest you—and put those in your planner, too.

Using these tools—the syllabus and a planner—can help you be more prepared and less stressed as you approach the end of the semester.  Making a plan for your time—and following it!—will pay off when you are ready for the final exam and you have your final project completed on time.


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.


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