Student Success Strategy #59: Dropping Classes

You may have already missed the deadline for adding a class, or swapping out one class for another, but it is not too late to drop a class you don’t need.   The deadline to drop a class is usually in the middle of the semester, although any refunds of tuition and fees for the class may be prorated beginning after the first week.

Before you drop any class, though, consider all the consequences.

1.  Is it too late to add a class in place of the one you are dropping?

2.  Will your semester hours be too low to maintain full-time status, if your scholarships or other student financial aid programs require you to be a full-time student?

3.  Is the class you are dropping a requirement for graduation?  A requirement for your major?

4.  If the class is a requirement, does it make sense to take it later rather than now?  Will the timing make it difficult to get any specific class sequences scheduled?  Could this result in a delayed graduation?

5.   Will dropping the class give you an opportunity to work during the semester, participate in school activities, or maintain a better grade point average among your difficult classes?

6.  SEE YOUR ADVISOR for answers to the above questions.  SEE YOUR ADVISOR even if you know the answers.  Your advisor can help you plan your future semesters to be more efficient and effective, and may be able to work around a few of the unwanted consequences.

Student Success Strategy #59:  Dropping Classes:  Is it a good move?  A bad move?  See your advisor to make it work for you.   


Student Success Strategy #58: It’s Raining!

As I write this, Tropical Storm Isaac is moving away from Florida and headed for New Orleans.  Florida is getting rain, a little wind, and there is a threat of tornado formation.  Students are not thrilled to be walking around campus in this kind of weather, and some will decide to skip classes.

Don’t.  Just don’t.  Your professors will be in class, and they will not be pleased that you didn’t make the effort to be there too.  Oh, they will remember skipping classes when they were undergraduates, but they won’t be sympathetic to your desire to stay dry.

For those of you in areas where rain is common, put a large plastic bag inside your backpack and just leave it there.  Someday you can use it to protect your books so even if your backpack gets wet, your books won’t.  Wear it as a poncho if you need to.  There will be others looking just as dorky as you, wearing garbage bags to stay dry.  If you can’t bring yourself to do that, keep an umbrella in your backpack, but we warned that if it has a metal shaft, it becomes a lightning rod and is not safe to use in electrical storms.  The wind may also turn it inside out.

Do you really think anyone is looking at you hurrying into a building in the rain?  They are trying to get inside themselves, and are only looking up enough to avoid running into you.  Once inside, you can remove your garbage bag poncho and be comfortable, while they will be waterlogged and miserable.

Most important, though, is that you made it to class.  Not only do you not miss important information, you have made a good impression on your professor.  Take this opportunity to ask a question, make a comment, or do something to let the professor know you are still focused on learning, even if your shoes have an inch of water inside and your toes are turning into wrinkled prunes.  Turn in your assignments, take notes, and congratulate yourself on braving the elements to maintain progress toward your goals.

Every impression on your professor makes a difference in how they see you.  Do you need a letter of recommendation for a student government position?  They will remember your dedication and effort to do what it takes to complete your obligations.  Do you need just a few extra points to raise your grade?  Knowing that you care about your education may be enough for the bump to the next grade.

Student Success Strategy #58:  It’s raining!  Be prepared for inconveniences.  Go to class anyway.

Student Success Strategy #57: Drop/Swap/Add

Help!  I hate the class I just attended.  I don’t want to take it, but I need something to fill in the hours to keep my scholarship.

Yes, you can drop classes.  If you find you are in a class you either don’t need or don’t want, you can replace it with one that’s better for you – at least in the first few days.  Schools have specific mechanisms for swapping out classes, or dropping and adding classes, but there are hard deadlines on adding to your schedule so you don’t miss too much of the semester.

When you add a class after the first class period, be sure you go to the next class early or plan to stay late to discuss the class syllabus with the professor.  The professor should have a copy for you, and should briefly go over the major points.

This is a wonderful opportunity to let the professor know that you are looking forward to the semester with her, and intend to be a great student.  It’s never too early (or too late) to make a good impression, and staying after class to be sure you have all the information you need gives you the excuse to plan your introduction for creating your recognition from among all the students.

Of course, you can do this even if you started the class on the first day.  Ask to go over the syllabus again after the second class, and have a question or two ready.  This plan gives you the chance to present yourself as a serious student and keeps you in the professor’s thoughts.

Student Success Strategy #57:  Drop/Swap/Add.  Remember that adding classes can only occur in the first few days.  Don’t miss deadlines!

Student Success Strategy #56: New Beginnings of Success

For many colleges and universities, today is the first day of the fall semester.  What does that mean to you?

In college, it often means that you find your classrooms, meet your professors, pick up a copy of the syllabus for each class, and buy your books.  Then you go back to your dorm, or back to your apartment, or back to your home, and do nothing toward your goal of graduation.

This year, make it better.

Read through that syllabus for each class.  Mark all the due dates for assignments and all the quiz and test dates and put them on a single, highly visible calendar.  Immediately you can see whether there are pockets of time where you will need to clear your other activities, and openings where you’ll have some time to relax.

Don’t forget to write in final exam dates and times, as they may be at times different from when you actually attend classes.

Now, mark in other important dates – birthdays you will actually celebrate with an event, weekends away, concerts you’ll attend, homecoming activities, and any other major time commitments or minor but important events.

Are there any conflicts?

Sort out your priorities now, when you are not caught up in the excitement of a friend urging you to ignore your long term goals in favor of an unplanned distraction.

By planning ahead and following through with an organized study plan, you can say “yes” to friends for some of those unplanned events – just not all of them.  And by creating this new beginning for yourself, YOU are in charge of your goals.

Student Success Strategy #56:  New Beginnings.  Take advantage of the beginning of the semester to make it successful.

Student Success Strategy #55: Are You (Legally) Ready for College?

. . . when your child turns 18, he or she is legally independent.  With this legal independence comes a host of new rights for your child and the termination of certain rights you previously had as a parent. 

These rights include access to medical information, financial information, etc.  Does that open your eyes to the possibilities that your child is not ready to handle some of the rights and responsibilities of being an adult, or that you want to maintain some rights as a parent?

Please take a moment to check out Tiffany Waters’ post below:

Student Success Strategy #55:  Are you (legally) ready for college?  Discuss the options with a lawyer to be sure that legal issues are handled the way you want.

Student Success Strategy #54: Help comes in many forms

Having just returned last night from the biennial conference and convention of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, I am thrilled to say that this honor society, the country’s largest, oldest, and most selective to include all disciplines, is also the most generous.

Phi Kappa Phi has always promoted monetary awards for continued educational pursuits.  For the first time, the Society will award one million dollars per year to help deserving students and other lifelong learners.  Yes, that’s $1,000,000 – SIX ZEROES.  In one year.

In addition, along with the changes in bylaws and governance, the conference included educational sessions focusing on teaching strategies, personal branding, and other timely and pertinent topics for the participants.  These conferences provide opportunities for your professors, college deans and presidents, and other educators to learn from each other and bring the best of the ideas back to benefit their students.

I was honored to present one of the workshops, and those in attendance gave me outstanding ideas on ways to enhance and improve my concepts.  I am busy this week processing the notes I took, reviewing the video of the presentation for those items on which I couldn’t take detailed notes, and of course recovering from intense networking with more than 300 colleagues in higher education.  Whew!

Money, feedback, and friendship – all benefits from one organization.  I’m proud to be a member of an honor society that helps in so many ways.  Thank you, Phi Kappa Phi!

Student Success Strategy #54:  Help comes in many forms.  Take advantage of the opportunities from your associates, whether students, professors, or organizations.

Student Success Strategy #53: Dictionary? Textbook?

Once upon a time, freshmen entering college were advised to purchase and bring a college-level dictionary to school.  It was a hardback book, hundreds of pages long, with tiny printing.  Students often used it more for a door stop than an educational resource, but it became important while reading textbooks before tests.  All those terms that you could skip while skimming suddenly became important to understand.

Today, textbooks almost always have glossaries either in the back of the book, or within each chapter.

Success in college comes from understanding the materials you are using.  This means more than skimming, and it should mean that you can use and define the terms in each discipline or field.

Just like the word “strike” is bad for a baseball player at bat but good for a bowler, you may find that each subject has it’s own set of terms that may mean different things within that class.

A dictionary might help you with this, but the glossary in your textbooks will be most useful.  If you are taking notes on your text or in lectures, it’s a good idea to define these terms prominently.

The Cornell method of note taking is especially good for this, as there is a space at the bottom for extra comments, translations, or summaries.  Flashcards are also great for learning unfamiliar terms.

Student Success Strategy #53:  Dictionary?  Textbook?  Learn the correct terms as they apply to the specific class.