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Understanding College Syllabi

by Veronica Gonzalez

It’s the first day of school. Your instructor walks in and he or she hands out or displays a syllabus on the board. Syllabi will be your best academic friends in college: They will be dispensed to students in each class and will serve as roadmaps for the duration of the semester. If you’re wondering what they’re all about, here’s a crash course:

Syllabi often start out with introductions, followed by explanations and outlines, and end with ground rules. The introduction part of the syllabus is basically the instructor introducing themselves to the class and explaining what the course is about. They then acknowledge the disability and academic integrity statements of the syllabus to ensure that there’s equality in the class environment.

Next comes the explanation. This is where you’ll to get to know what books and materials you will need (if you don’t have them yet) or clarify what you won’t need. Also, every instructor grades differently so your professor will give you a heads up on what to expect from them when they evaluate your papers, quizzes, tests and even class participation. Afterward is the course outline, which lists the activities that will occur in and out of class throughout the semester (homework, assigned readings, group projects, etc.).

After the explanation, the professor will set ground rules. It’s best that you be aware of the policy statements listed on the syllabus such as the statement on plagiarism, the rule on cell phones, the nature of deadlines, etc. Finally, the syllabus will provide the office hours and contact information of the instructor and teaching assistants in case you have any questions or concerns.

Syllabi may change at any given time over the course of the semester; this really depends on the instructor so be sure yours remains up to date by attending lectures, discussions and office hours. Do you have any tips on understanding college syllabi?

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising 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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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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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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The Dos and Don’ts of the College Classroom

by Veronica Gonzalez

It’s very crucial that every college student studies but one thing to study in college is the physicality and the expectations of the college classroom. Every classroom varies so get to know how things are done in each and every one of them.

When walking into a classroom, the first thing that must be done is to observe the set up. Are the chairs/desks lecture style, chevron style, etc.? Also, know where the doors, emergency exits and windows are in case of a fire or other dangerous situations. Observing these things is both helpful and safe.

Next, paying attention in class is extremely important. Try sitting near or in the front row so that you don’t miss anything when note-taking. If the front row is full, however, find a seat near the lectern. If that fails, don’t be afraid to talk to your professor. (Remember: Professors are there to help you learn in any way possible!) Never sit in the back of the classroom because that gives the impression that you think the subject matter of their class is a waste of time.

Besides observation and listening, having the right materials in class is important. Always bring textbooks, pens/pencils, plenty of paper, laptops (or tablets, if applicable) and homework assignments. This lets professors know that you’re willing to participate in class; however, little distractions keep you from learning so avoid texting, social networking or Internet browsing in class, unless your professor gives the okay.

Finally, know your priorities and responsibilities as a student. Your main priority is to learn and interact with the professors and with fellow classmates. Also, study the syllabi so that you’ll know what to expect in the courses.

Knowing the dos and don’ts of the college classroom will help you in more ways than one – you’ll thank yourself later!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising 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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Managing New Experiences in College

by Veronica Gonzalez

Attending college can be both fun and challenging. As a student, you’ll definitely have lot of new experiences but it’s best to know about the good and bad.

The good things about college experiences are that they constantly revolve around activities. In college, it wouldn’t hurt to get involved with a club or organization that interests you – this way, you can make new friends and give yourself a sense of school pride. Also, doing community service with your school can impact you socially because you’re reaching out to your own community and getting to know more people. Plus, joining an honor society or a club that associates with your favorite subject will sweeten your college experience by bringing out your smart and talented edge.

Even though new experiences can be exciting, it’s just as important to be very careful when having them. In college, there are many parties and socials and if one over-parties, their academic performance can easily suffer. Also, peer pressure is always present: People may try to lure you into dangerous addictions like smoking, drinking, etc. – this can also lead to academic failure so watch out.

Now knowing the pros and cons of college experiences, you can rest assured that there are ways to have a great time in school. First, academics always come first so make much of your time “study time” as to not lose sight of your academic goals. Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with going to socials but it’s best to do it in moderation. Finally, listen to yourself: Know what’s best for you and understand that what you do while attending college will stick with you...especially thanks to the Internet. Enjoy your time in college but remember not to lose sight of your goals!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising 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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The Importance of Student Email

by Veronica Gonzalez

In today’s age, professors and students are communicating with each other more than ever thanks to student email. Now, you may think that it’s pointless to have a school email if you already have a personal email; however, there will be some points that you must use this account, no matter how boring or extra it may seem.

As a college student, some of your priorities are to have a student email and to be up-to-date with that account. Teachers will expect you to communicate with them via student email throughout your time in college. (For example, a teacher will most likely have you email the homework to them via school email.)

Furthermore, remember the phrase “Don’t be a square”? The same rules apply to your student email because it keeps you in the loop of what’s going on at your school. It’s highly likely that student mentors and/or faculty members may contact you about certain events that are happening so if there’s a social, a spectacular celebration or pep rally for homecoming coming up, you’ll know about it via email. Plus, students/teachers may also contact you about stuff that needs public attention (ex. emergencies, deadlines, etc.). In a sense, knowing about important alerts can help you stay safe physically and academically.

So if your professor or school adviser introduces you to your student email, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Your email from school can help you in many ways, as it could be your greatest asset when it comes to communication and schoolwork in the ever-evolving world of college.

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising 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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Getting to Know Your College Library

by Veronica Gonzalez

College libraries are often misunderstood and get very little spotlight in the student world. Many students miss the fact that the college library isn't just a place to study – it's also a place to learn. Here’s how to get to know your school’s library.

You’ll never be a stranger to computers, copiers and printers in college but it’s important to know how to use the technology in public spaces like the library accordingly. For instance, if you have homework to print out, do so to your discretion because it’s likely other students will be waiting to complete the same task on the same equipment.

Next, there are the reference areas. They normally house dictionaries, encyclopedias and academic journals that require special consideration and care because of their age and value. Depending on your school’s library policies, it’s likely that reference books can NEVER leave the building so if you know you are going to need one for an essay or project, plan accordingly.

Knowing where different books are at can speed up the research process when completing homework and writing papers. Most libraries have maps that highlight certain sections but if yours doesn’t, there should be a chart containing call numbers for different subjects. Still unsure where something is? Ask a librarian – they’re there to help!

Finally, the most important thing to do at your school library is to pick up a book and read. Fiction, non-fiction or whatever interests you...just read, Read, READ! Though you may regularly read in your dorm room, doing so in a comfy chair in the library is a nice change of pace. Take the opportunity to visit your school library and check it out for yourself!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising 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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Getting to Know Your Professors

by Veronica Gonzalez

In college, you will never be a stranger to professors. In fact, professors can be your greatest allies if you get to know them academically, professionally and socially. All professors are different so it’s best to get to know them as individuals and as educators.

The first step? Introduce yourself on the first day of class. Acknowledge them fully so that they’ll know that you’re willing to learn what they have to offer and always be courteous towards your teachers; if you respect them, they’ll give you respect in return – it’s a win-win.

All professors differ when it comes to academics because they have different grading techniques. Pay close attention to how your professor(s) grade assignments and exams; it’s very likely that they’ll explain their grading process to you early on in the semester so be sure to grab a pen and paper and take notes!

In a professional aspect, your professors will always provide the class with a syllabus. Reading and studying a syllabus will help you familiarize yourself with the rules and expectations for the class. If you forget a rule or expectation, then feel free to look back on the syllabus at any time.

Socially, professors will definitely expect communication and feedback from their students so don’t be afraid to talk to them, ask them questions if you’re struggling to understand something, attend office hours and keep in touch with them via email/phone in case of emergencies. And if you see them outside of class, be sure to say hello!

Veronica Gonzalez is a rising 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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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Veronica Gonzalez

by Veronica Gonzalez

My name is Veronica Yvette Gonzalez. I’m 20 years old and I’m entering my third year at the University of the Incarnate Word this fall. At UIW, I major in English. I’m also a committed member and fellow officer of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society at UIW. In ALD, I was vice president from 2012 to 2013; this fall I will be a returning officer but this time as a junior delegate.

The main reason why I chose to attend UIW was because I found it possible to pursue a career in writing there. The English Department offered all kinds of classes and recommendations to help me pursue my dream career. Another reason why I chose UIW was because of its friendliness and hospitality. When I researched the school, it was totally different from other universities: UIW wasn’t going to hook me up with so many classes and tell me “Good luck” – they stepped up and helped me get through the first day of school. They were very helpful and brilliant at answering every question I had.

Majoring in English was an automatic choice: Ever since I was a kid, I read lots of books and I envisioned writing my own books and signing them for my fans. At UIW, I was placed in special classes where the professors were hands-on and gave every student feedback on their essays and stories. Having an advanced start to a writing career in college is heaven! Although I am quite busy with school, I also make time to read, write, draw, paint and brainstorm ideas on what to write about.

When I heard Scholarships.com was calling for virtual interns, I immediately rose to the challenge. As a writer, I know that I shouldn’t be afraid to put my writing to the test. This internship won’t just look good on my resume – it will advance my dream career because I will gain so much experience as a writer!


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Making Time Your Friend Instead of Your Enemy in College

by Mary Steffenhagen

Some days in college feel like a battle against the clock: We students are constantly at the beck and call of our class schedule, homework and the professors who assign it. Add a job on top of that or perhaps an internship, sprinkle a few friends in here and there, squeeze in a few meals and the day is already gone! Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be that way no matter how busy you may find yourself: It all depends on the way you organize and prioritize, and you’ll often find that it’s the little things that count most.

I’ve found that doing things the night before (and I don’t mean homework!) can save loads of time and worry. Try setting out your clothes, packing your meals (if you commute) or putting together your necessary class materials before you go to bed rather than in the morning before class. If you end up running late, you’ll still shave off crucial minutes; plus, it’s easier to make sure you won’t forget anything if you check it over twice.

Draw out your general weekly schedule and stick it somewhere obvious. I have found that being able to actually see where your time is being spent is incredibly helpful as opposed to just going day by day in a planner. Block off the times you know you’ll be in class, take advantage of the empty spaces and you’ll soon get into a groove that allows you control over your time.

I multitask...a lot. Say you’ve got a lot of reading to do – try finding it in an audio format and listen to it while you work out, do laundry or drive. All those obnoxious little activities that must be done can do double-duty if you need them to.

If you still feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to make time for yourself. Skip a class if you must, put aside the obligations and homework and just take some time to relax. All the planning in the world is no use if you’re simply too overworked. It’s OK to throw the schedule out the window every once in a while and do what makes you happy. Time is a precious thing – even more so in college, it can seem – so make the clock your friend rather than your enemy!

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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