Student Success Strategy #21: Time Management Part III

Reverse scheduling is a time management tool for assignments, tests, and any task that will take more than a few days to complete.

Begin by using a calendar or planner, and putting in the final due date.

Then think very critically about the tasks needed to get the job done.  Put them in order and determine how long each one will take.  Be generous in planning the time.  If you think it will take two days, give yourself three.  Unexpected snags should actually be expected, as ironic as that seems.

Then, beginning from the next to the final task, put the due date for completing that into your calendar.  Back up more and put the third final task in with its due date.  Mark your calendar backwards to show when each part of this project should be completed, and you’ll see exactly how much you need to complete and when.

If you follow this reverse scheduling, you will be able to check off each part of the project as you do it, have enough time to ask for help if you need it, and possibly even finish early!

Student Success Strategy #21:  Reverse scheduling works to keep you on track for your future assignments.


Student Success Strategy #20: Honor Societies Part I

Beyond honors you can earn each semester for academic achievement, there are academic honor societies that can provide many benefits to students, including scholarships and networking opportunities.  Here are just a few to watch for as you begin your academic journey.

Freshman Honor Societies:  

On campuses with an active chapter of Phi Eta Sigma, all freshmen who have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale at the end of any full-time curricular period are automatically eligible for membership, provided they have carried a normal academic load acceptable toward a bachelor’s degree and rank in the upper 20 percent of their class.

Life-time membership is conferred upon induction, and maintaining the grade-point average is not required.

Community College Honor Societies:

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is found at regionally accredited institutions offering associate degree programs.  You must have completed at least 12 hours of coursework that may be applied to an associate degree (part-time students may be eligible).  You must generally have a grade point average of 3.5.

Most honor societies extend invitations to superior students, although there is still a fee involved joining them.  There are scams masquerading as honor societies, so you should do your research on legitimate honor societies before joining.  A future post will discuss how to determine which honor societies are the ones you should consider joining.

Student Success Strategy #20:  Honor Societies can help you focus on academics and impress future employers.

Student Success Strategy #19: Time Management Part II: 20-20-20

Need to study, but you don’t want to devote your life to it?  Do you have one hour?

Use a timed study program.  My favorite is called 20-20-20.

Before you begin studying, gather what you need, including at least two things you need to study or work on.  Use two different classes with different types of thinking – maybe math and history.  Or use a single class where you need to study the textbook but also need to create a poster or visual aid.

Set a timer for 20 minutes.

Try to use a simple kitchen timer or an alarm clock.  Do NOT use your phone.  In fact, turn it to silent and put it in another room, or turn it off.  Is there something so urgent that you can’t be away from it for 20 minutes?

If so, take care of that first, but remember that urgency does not always equal importance.  Keep your goal in mind – success in college – and let your actions reflect that.

For the next 20 minutes, focus ONLY on what you decided to study.  Tune out everything else, and if you find your mind wandering, get it back on task.

Can’t focus for 20 minutes?  With our fast-paced lives, when television has breaks no more than 8 minutes apart, you may find that 20 minutes seems too long, but you need this much time to help your brain absorb information.

If  you have repeatedly tried 20 minutes and can’t do it, start with 10.  Build up to 20 as soon as you can.

Then focus, focus, focus.

When the timer dings, no matter what you are doing, put down that task, reset your timer, and begin the second task.

Ding.  Put down your studying.  Do something completely different.  Eat a snack.  Go for a walk.  Call a friend.  This is your reward for good work.

Your brain will continue processing what you have done.

But keep that timer on 20 minutes, and when it dings, repeat the process.

Student Success Strategy #19:  Use the 20-20-20 time management technique to get your studying done.

Student Success Strategy #18: But I worked so hard!

You’ve just put in weeks days hours on a big assignment, and you feel exhausted, but you got it done and on time.  You turn it in and expect to see that A when it’s returned to you.

After a week, you get it back.  B.  There’s a big red B on your paper!  How unfair, after all that work you put into it.

What do you do?

“Professor, I don’t understand why I got a B on this paper.  I worked so hard!”

Option A:  Get angry and frustrated and demand to know what in the world that professor was thinking, giving you a grade like that.

Option B:  Ask to meet with your professor to go over her thoughts on your paper, and to ask for her help in future assignments.

Option C:  Do nothing and accept the B.  Don’t risk making the professor angry or defensive.

The best answer is B.  Professors have something in mind when they create assignments, and you need to know what they are looking for.  Did the assignment call for something you forgot?  Were you supposed to add citations, or a closing argument, or follow a strict format?  Did you need a thesis statement and three supporting examples, or did you forget to proofread?  Did you read the syllabus for hints?

Think of it this way:  Would you be happy giving your car mechanic an A grade (and a big check) if they worked very hard, but didn’t fix what was wrong with your car?  No?  But they worked so hard!

Student Success Strategy #18:  But I worked so hard!  So what?   If you want to get a better grade, ask how to do it!

You’ll also impress your professor that you want to learn, not just get by.  And your next grade?  I’m guessing it will be better.

Student Success Strategy #17: Time Management Part I

The number one difficulty for most college students is learning how to manage their time.  Those coming from the rigidity of a high school schedule find that there is too much time in the day to waste.  They sleep in, skip classes, forget assignments, and procrastinate.

There are many techniques of time management that can help students.

One is simple:  The To-Do List.

1.  Write down everything you need to do.

2.  Break it up into months, weeks, or days, depending on how detailed you get.

3.  Schedule those things that must be done at specific times.

4.  Prioritize everything else.  Do not plan your easiest tasks first.  When you prioritize, consider what is most important.  Consider what needs blocks of time (and schedule them).  Then you will have periods of time that you can work with for those other tasks.

Which ones need your attention first?  What can you fit into those small periods of time between other scheduled events?

Everyone will plan and prioritize a bit differently, but keep in mind that you will probably not get everything done that is on your list.  What can slide until tomorrow?  What doesn’t need to be done at all?  What should you schedule for a future time?

Then use that list and check off those things you have completed.  Carry forward those things you didn’t do.  Either at the end of your day, or at the beginning of your next day, repeat the process.

I recommend keeping each list for at least a week, so you can see any patterns that emerge.  Are you procrastinating on specific types of tasks?  Are you wasting time on unimportant ones?

Ask for help if you need to improve how to use your list.  Start by asking your academic advisor for a referral to the best resource.

Put that on your list and go do it today!

Student Success Strategy #17:  Make a to-do list and work it!

Student Success Strategy #16: Earn Graduation Honors

Colleges and universities recognize those students at the top of the class at graduation.  There are three basic categories:

Cum Laude:  With Honor.

Magna Cum Laude:  With Great Honor.

Summa Cum Laude:  With Highest Honor.

The criteria for these titles may differ greatly among colleges and universities.  As an example, you may find something like this:

College A:

Cum Laude designates the top 10% of the graduating class

Magna Cum Laude designates the top 5% of the graduating class

Summa Cum Laude designates the top 2.5% of the graduating class

College B:

Cum Laude designates scores of 7-8 on a ten point scale

Magna Cum Laude designates the score of 9 on a ten point scale

Summa Cum Laude designates the score of 10 on a ten point scale

College C:

Cum Laude designates a grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 to 3.69

Magna Cum Laude designates a GPA of 3.70 to 3.89

Summa Cum Laude designates a GPA of 3.90 and above

Some institutions also require a thesis or special project to qualify for these honors, a more rigorous course of study, or other additional indications of academic quality.

These three designations are recognized in the academic world and in business as a standard of sustained excellence.

Other things being equal, whom would you want to hire?   The student who graduated, or the student who graduated with honors?

Even disregarding future employment, these are targets you can aim for to keep you on track throughout your education.

Start early and keep these goals in mind.  You’ll need every semester to be a testament to your dedication to an outstanding academic performance.

Student Success Strategy #16:  Earn Graduation Honors.  Excellence is the best reward.

Student Success Strategy #15: Stay Healthy. Eat Well.

You are away from home and you can eat whatever you put on the table.

Is your food fueling your body and brain, or are you just eating empty calories with no value?

Think of a luxury car you’d like to own.  It has the power to take you to the places you want to go, and the stamina to go far, but only if you give it the right fuel.  Would you put cheap gas into this car?

Even with cheap gas, the car will run.  Not as well as it could, not as well as it was designed, not as far as it could go, and there may be breakdowns, but it will run.  For a while.

Now substitute your amazing body in place of that luxury car.  Your body has to do much more work, both physically and mentally.  You need the fuel that will fill its needs nutritionally.

Vitamin and mineral rich food is usually more expensive, but it will support the functions and health of your body much better than junk food.  Yes, your body can run on fat, sugar, salt, and carbs, like the luxury car can run on the lowest octane gas.

For a while.

When it isn’t stressed by speed, endurance, or uphill climbs.

But why not think of keeping your body, like your car, in the best possible shape?  Put an apple or a banana into your backpack for a mid-afternoon snack.  Keep a handful of nuts in your purse.  Give your body and your brain what they need, and they will help you perform at your best.

Then enjoy those chips or fries for special occasions.

Do you need more ideas on your health and wellness?  Click over to the  following blog, where there are many ideas for great eating and staying healthy!

Student Health and Wellness:

Student Success Strategy #15:  Stay Healthy.  Eat Well.