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Prioritizing Your Study Time

September 10, 2013

Prioritizing Your Study Time

by Veronica Gonzalez

Exams lurk in college classrooms and quizzes have been known to (literally) pop out of nowhere! The question is: Will you be ready for them? Professors know that every student has time to study no matter what and as a college student, list-making, planner-investing and avoiding distractions has helped me improved my study skills when exams and quizzes draw near. Need help prioritizing your study time? Take note!

Homework will come at you like angry bees before you know it so take the time to determine what you need to work on, which papers are due when and what needs to be turned in. If you like going digital, make a list on your phone and/or tablet.

To-do lists are essential but what would make them easier to remember and complete is a planner. Planners aren’t hard to find – most retail stores sell them for between $3 and $20 depending on the brand and style – but if you want to save money, consider the fact that some mobile devices like tablets and cell phones have planners just by using the calendar feature.

Although we’re in the digital age, digital mobile devices can be both allies and adversaries. Try to limit the use of cell phones, social media and other distractions while catching up on homework or when studying for a test. If you cut out the distractions during study time, you’re more likely to focus more on the course content.

The main focus in college is supposed to be academics. By taking extra steps in prioritizing your study habits, you’ll be on the right path to success.

Veronica Gonzalez is a junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.


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Majoring in a Foreign Language Yields Lifelong Benefits

by Mike Sheffey

As my bio states, I am a Spanish major...and I love it! If you’re considering majoring in a foreign language, here are some helpful tips:

  • It’s time intensive. Foreign languages are about memorizing and practice, practice, practice. If you aren’t willing to put in time – and a lot of it – this may not be the path for you. Also, professors like to assign many small tasks with intermittent bigger ones so if you’re one to only focus on the big pictures, you’ll be challenged with what you might think is ‘busy work’. (It’s not, though...it’s crazy useful.)
  • You should study abroad. I highly recommend a language-intensive study abroad for anyone majoring in a foreign language. (Side note: Wofford’s Foreign Language Department is now called Modern Languages because “Foreign” was too alienating and encouraged a cultural divide. Just some food for thought...) I loved studying in Chile for a semester and knowing Spanish definitely helped. Also, studying abroad is essentially required to major in another language at many colleges and universities: I know Wofford’s program helped me tremendously and it also wound up being cheaper than a semester on campus!
  • It’s incredibly helpful in life. I know that because I’m bilingual, I’ll be more desired in the job market (some jobs more than others), but it also helps with learning other languages. Similar to computer languages, once you know one, the others become easier to learn.
  • It’s a one-stop shop. Language courses cover history, humanities, public speaking, writing, team-based work as well as the actual language you are learning. Hate talking in front of crowds? Work on that but also present in another language. Not the best in research? Now work on writing a huge thesis in Spanish (at least I did when in Chile). Overall, the language aspect is the bare minimum of what you learn or accomplish. Being a foreign language major makes you into a well-rounded, practiced individual with skills that many graduates won’t get from other majors.
  • It broadens your world view. As a foreign language major, you learn very quickly that the United States isn’t everything and that the world needs its diversity and cultural mix to work and function. Foreign language majors have wider scopes than most people and a leg up on the competition in all aspects of life because they can view problems with more open minds and approach challenges from different angles.

So I urge you to consider a major (or even a minor) in another language. You won’t regret it: They’re easy to double major with and you’ll emerge a better person!

Mike Sheffey is a senior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He also works with several friends to promote concerts and shows in Greensboro, NC. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Research Papers? You Got This! Part 2

by Mary Steffenhagen

Last week, I wrote about research techniques and tips that I've found useful for preliminary research for a paper. Now it's time to start writing!

You have sources and a direction in which to head but you won’t go anywhere without a strong thesis. A strong thesis states your idea concisely and directly. It should be very specific but also something that is not beyond argument – your paper will be proving a point and disproving others – so starting off with “I argue” is a good way to state your thesis confidently.

Quotations from your sources, especially your primary source, are the excellent additions to strengthen your arguments. Don’t let them overpower your own voice, though; if you’re quoting every other sentence, back off a bit. You can still include that information if it’s necessary but try paraphrasing it (with attribution, of course) and injecting your own viewpoint. Use quotations to point back to the thesis and, like the thesis, make sure they are strong and not just in there to bump up the word count (although quotes are great for that if you really need it).

Assuming you have the bulk of the paper down, write your conclusion and intro. The intro is incredibly obvious once you have the body of the paper done – after all, your ideas are concise and flow together in a real format. It goes without saying that the intro is crucial: It has to seize and hold your reader’s attention and present your thesis. Your conclusion is equally important and you shouldn’t just summarize what you’ve already said. Think of these sections as your answer to “So what?” Make your reader see why your argument (and all the work you’ve done) is worthwhile.

Next come the dreaded citations. Whether it’s APA, MLA or Turabian, I’ve never known anyone to enjoy citations but they are crucial to correctly attributing your sources. (Remember, inadvertent plagiarism is still plagiarism.) The Purdue Online Writing Lab is an excellent resource when you are unsure of how to cite something and I often use Calvin College’s Knight Cite to format the source information for me.

It should come as no surprise that your next step should be proofread, proofread, proofread. Get a friend to read your paper over, too, as new eyes catch mistakes better than eyes that are used to seeing them.

Lastly, print it off, smell the fresh ink and breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe there’s even time tonight for a few hours of sleep! I hope what I have learned from writing a plethora of research papers will make your process less daunting and more worthwhile.

Mary Steffenhagen is a junior at Concordia University of Wisconsin who is majoring in English with a minor in business. She hopes to break into the publishing field after graduation, writing and editing to promote the spread of reliable information and quality literature; she is driven to use her skills to make a positive impact wherever she is placed. Mary spends much of her time making and drinking coffee, biking and reading dusty old books. In an alternate universe, she would be a glassblower.


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What Do You Mean I Can’t Live Off Ramen Noodles and Netflix?

Maintaining Your Physical and Mental Health in College

October 3, 2013

What Do You Mean I Can’t Live Off Ramen Noodles and Netflix?

by Abby Egan

College is a time of stimulating classes, new friendships and terrible eating habits. Many students gain weight when they enter college but what no one tells you is that if you don’t change your eating and exercising habits, that weight gain doesn’t end freshman year – it’s up to you to make sure you’re remaining healthy, physically and mentally. Here are some tips on how:

  • In the cafeteria: You may be sick of the cafeteria food but I promise there are ways to mix it up and remain healthy. As a rule of thumb, make sure your plate has an array of colors and try something new at every meal if you can. Fill up one plate with everything you want instead of using multiple plates – your eyes will see more food in one place and your stomach will feel full on less – and drink plenty of water with your meals because cafeteria food contains lots of sodium.
  • In the gym: Access to campus fitness facilities is often included in your fees so take advantage of the gym. Start out slow by doing some simple walking on the treadmill or track and work yourself up to more difficult workouts. Sweating can help you avoid germs, relieve stress and boost your energy. Most schools have clubs that involve exercising as well such as yoga, Zumba or swimming. Sometimes they even offered exercise classes for credits!
  • In your head: Getting enough sleep can improve your mood, your attention span and the quality of your work so listen to your body and always take time for yourself. Hang out with friends, create long lasting memories and make sure you’re having fun but don’t be afraid to close your door, put in your headphones and enjoy some alone time every once in a while. Make to-do lists and feel accomplished when you cross everything off...or just take a nap. Go somewhere new. Challenge yourself. And always, remember to ask for help when you need it.

What are your tips for maintaining physical and mental health in college?

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.


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Making Time for Reading Assignments

by Veronica Gonzalez

Stuck on a textbook or novel on your syllabus? Want to make your reading assignments much easier? Here’s an idea: JUST READ! This may sound too obvious or pointless but it just might be crazy enough to work – all you have to do is prioritize, don’t think of it as a chore and go for it.

  • Prioritizing: It’s imperative that you make time during your studying and school time to read what’s being assigned to you by your professors. If you have free time in your class schedule, dedicate it as reading time.
  • Don’t Think of Reading as a Chore: Most college students cringe at reading long chapters in a textbook, with most turning to SparkNotes or other related websites to get an understanding of the chapters that they’re supposed to read for class. However, the websites only give you summaries, which may be missing important information that would be mentioned in class by your professors. Summaries are great if you are in a pinch but if you truly want to understand the assignment and be prepared for class discussion, actually reading the text is the way to go.
  • Go for It: Here are few tips on reading chapters from your textbooks. First, take a deep breath before you start to read. Next, read slowly to better understand the subject matter. And lastly, make sure to take notes on what you’ve read so far in the chapter so that you can refer back to what you learned and review any trouble spots.

What are your tips for tackling reading assignments?

Veronica Gonzalez is a junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.


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Choosing a Minor That Majorly Helps

by Chelsea Slaughter

A problem that many incoming freshmen face is trying to choose a major but they also need to realize the importance of relating that major to a minor that supports it and gain skills in two fields that complement each other. Give yourself a professional edge by making sure your minor will enhance your skills for you major profession.

Regardless of career plans, it is highly recommended that you take classes to build extra skills. College is place to explore new things in a safe environment – this is the time where you can try something like art or accounting and realize if you are good at it or not. You can find out what you like to do, what does not interest you and how to use these new interests to further your academics and career.

Have you ever thought of minoring in a foreign language? If you are vocational major (i.e., business, management, etc.), this is something that will give you a greater edge in the job market. With the United States being the melting pot that it is, fluency in a second (or even third) language is something that helps you stand out to potential employers. If you are a liberal arts major, think about minoring in something like technology or marketing. Once you start really do the research on what extra skills you may need to be successful post-college.

Another option is thinking about a double minor or double major. While pursuing multiple degrees is not for everyone, it sure does show you are not afraid of a challenge! You will always have a chance to take general electives for classes you may not need but are interested in to some extent. Just make sure your majors and minors relate to one another to give you the best chance to succeed in your field of choice.

Chelsea Slaughter is a senior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications major (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, serves as treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Alabama School District to Pay Students for High ACT Scores

by Suada Kolovic

In a perfect world, every student would have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an insatiable passion for learning. Reality check: We don't live in a perfect world and motivating underachieving students to perform well in school and on standardized tests is a serious challenge. What should educators do? The school board in Huntsville, Alabama has decided to try an approach many exasperated parents have considered: cold, hard cash for high ACT scores.

To encourage students to apply themselves while ensuring the district maintains an academic edge in the state, the school board unanimously agreed to pay students for achieving benchmark scores on the ACT. Here’s the breakdown: Benchmark scores will be set and for every component of the test a student reaches a benchmark score, $50 will be earned. If a student gets an overall score of 22 or higher, they’ll get an extra $100 and students will have the opportunity to earn $300 total! "The ACT is important," said Superintendent Casey Wardynski. "It's important for our kids but they may not all realize it because they're taking it junior year, or some may not think they're going to college or want to have that test under their belt for when they do choose to go to college," she added.

With another round of standardized test dates just around the corner, students are praising the initiative while concerned parents are questioning where the funds will come from and if it's a form of bribery. So, future ACT test takers, where do you stand? Do you think providing a financial incentive is right way to motivate students or not? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


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by Paulina Mis

Who wants to waste their senior year analyzing the deeper message behind The Scarlet Letter, differentiating between cations and anions (cations are “paw”sitive), or charting calculus equations? Obviously, few of us want to make high school more difficult than it already is. That being said, the advantages of enrolling oneself—when possible—in challenging Advanced Placement (AP) courses can extend beyond the twelfth grade. Below are just a few reasons why you should consider college-level classes.

Sooner of later, you will have to take them. Unpleasant core subject requirements won’t go away when you get to college. Sure, more classes will be relevant to your major, but some headaches will still exist. Instead of taking the standard versions now and the advanced versions later, knock out two birds with one stone.

Save money. On average, college prices are rising at rates that outpace inflation. If you want to save money, don’t stay in school longer than you have to. Within reason, challenge yourself by completing extra credits, and finish school on time.

Make your college years a bit easier. Many students are taken aback by the increased expectations of college instructors. According to the St. Petersburg Times, about a quarter of first-year college students do not return the following year. By taking AP classes, students can become acquainted with the increasingly difficult college curriculum and nip workload problems before they arise.

Impress College Admissions Officials. Most of us are aware of the advantages, both social and financial, of college graduates. But before you reach for that diploma, you must first be accepted. Advanced Placement classes will show admissions officials that you are taking initiative and working hard. In other words, you are the kind of candidates who deserves the chance (and possibly the scholarship) needed to attend their school.

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Tags: Advanced Placement , Study Skills

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by Emily

Here's something for new college freshmen and college-bound high school seniors to keep in mind: college students and professors often have very different expectations when it comes to grades.  An article appearing earlier this week in The New York Times highlights just how vast this difference can be, citing testimony from students, faculty, and one recent study.  According to the study, one third of students feel they deserve a B or better just for attending class, and 40 percent feel they should earn at least a B by doing the reading for a class.  The faculty members cited in the article disagree with these assumptions, emphasizing merit over effort in awarding final grades.

While many students believe that hard work should result in high grades, many faculty members believe that grades should be based on the finished product, not the effort it took to arrive there.  While a student may pour hours of studying or research into a college exam or paper that only earns a C, the outcome can be perplexing and discouraging.  Often, this experience is vastly different from the experience students have in high school, especially since many undergraduate students are used to being high achievers.  Students perceive grading as unfair and instructors perceive students as having too great a sense of entitlement.

There is another factor the article doesn't address, which may become a concern for readers of our site--sometimes, students don't just feel they deserve a good grade, but they might actually need one to pay for school.  Many scholarship awards have minimum GPA requirements, and nearly all financial aid programs require students to maintain satisfactory academic progress, which includes maintaining a certain GPA.  So while a student's freshmen year of college can be a learning experience and a period of adjustment to a new grading system, it can potentially be a period of fear and worry about the security of their student financial aid.

If you're struggling to maintain the grades to keep your aid, don't be discouraged by your professors' attitudes towards grading.  Talk to your instructor if you're struggling with a class and explain your concerns.  Many will be more than willing to sit down with you and offer some help, or at least point you in the right direction.  Join a study group and consider signing up for tutoring.  If writing is your problem, look up the university's writing center--they usually offer free consultations and can help you with the problem that's standing between you and the grade you want or need.  All of this is part of the increased time management and overall responsibility that comes with attending college, so prepare yourself accordingly and don't be caught off guard.


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by Emily

More material continues to be added to the debate over whether sites like Facebook help or hurt undergraduate students.  Last month, preliminary research by a graduate student at Ohio State University caused a stir by suggesting that the use of social networking websites was somehow connected to lower college grades. Now, a new study published by researchers at Northwestern University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania suggests that if anything, Facebook users have higher grades than students who do not use social networking sites.

While both studies are very preliminary, their findings have sparked a great deal of discussion and debate.  Many professors and some students regard sites like Facebook as distractions from coursework and assaults on students' attention spans.  Others see no harm and a great deal of benefit from being able to connect with peers and share ideas and information more easily online.  Some instructors have even incorporated social networking into their curricula and have encouraged students to friend them online.

Social networking sites are becoming an increasingly large part of the lifestyle associated with attending college, and are increasingly being used as tools in college admissions, as well.  Do you use any of these websites?  Have you seen any connection between your internet habits and your grades?


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