Procrastination (#79)

It’s not just students who procrastinate. Why do instructors preach deadlines, planning, and “just do it” when they don’t always perform to the same standard?

I think it’s disrespectful for students to ignore deadlines and then ask for special consideration or extra credit work to make up for any penalties they receive for late work. Most assignments are created to teach specific concepts or skills, and extra credit work only adds more work – for both the student and instructor. There is no corresponding extra learning.

It adds more work for the instructor to give special consideration as well, whether that means grading student work individually at a later time instead of as a batch at the deadline. Late assignments also have to be tracked separately, and often extra help must be given when the students either forget or never heard the full explanation.

Instructors are not exempt from being disrespectful through procrastination either. If students are expected to get their work in on time, then instructors should have it graded and ready to return within a reasonable time as well.

Students need feedback to learn whether they did an assignment well, and what should be improved. Their next assignment could depend on it. They need specific guidance to learn the right way – or a better way – to meet expectations. More on that specific guidance in a later post, but let’s make sure that instructors avoid the procrastination habit too.


Student Success Strategy #67: Doodles

What do your handwritten notes look like?  Are there squiggles, stars, or other non-text doodles in the margins?  Why not make them fun AND useful?

Instead of random doodling, draw a quick picture of something that would remind you of the main points in your notes?  Sure, it’s easy if you need to label parts of a cell, but be creative.  Is there a quick picture you could draw next to the main points you need to remember.

How many times have you “looked” inside your brain and seen the page where information appears, and you know exactly where on that page the information you need is written?  Adding a small picture will make it more easily spotted in your brain.

Even a star, an underline, or a colored highlighter will help, but if you can add a picture with meaning, your brain will make a stronger association and will be more likely to recall the information when you are under the stress of a test.

Try it!  You know you are doodling anyway.

Student Success Strategy #67:  Make doodling a study strategy to remember important material more easily.

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 #49: What is education?

Here are four quotes on learning, education, and college.  How do these quotes compare to your idea of a college education?  And how does that impact what you do while you are in college?

Think about it.

If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library. ~ Frank Zappa

I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.  ~Ray Bradbury

The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.  ~William James

In college, you learn how to learn. Four years is not too much time to spend at that.   ~Mary Oliver

What do you think?  Are you in college to get an education?  Could you be educated without college?  Are you taking advantage of the opportunities you have?  How do you make a college education worth your effort, time, and money?  What should a college education teach you?

Student Success Strategy #49:  What is  education?  Are you taking advantage of all your opportunities to get educated?

Student Success Strategy #45: Time Management Part IV: Location Lists

You have three dozen things to do, classes to attend, errands to run, library research to conduct, reading to complete, laundry to wash, and three phone calls to make.

A to-do list is great, but there are ways to organize it that may be more efficient than a simple list.

Index cards or electronic note cards are great for organizing based on location.  What?  How do you organize your tasks, and more important, why?

If you organize by location, and you have some waiting time, you can go to the card that corresponds to where you are to see what can be done.

Stuck on campus with two hours between classes?  Pull out the card that says “campus” and find that you can make your phone calls, visit the library rather than doing everything online, or complete your reading.  Visit a campus office for information, or simply make an appointment with your advisor.

Are you on the way home and your roommate tells  you to stay away for another hour?  Do you have groceries to buy, phone calls to make, or notes to rewrite?

What if you are at home and your next class has been canceled?  Get that laundry done while you make phone calls or rewrite notes.

If you are not always settled into one place, organizing your to-do list by location that tasks may be completed is one way to help use those moments of free time between your scheduled events.

Student Success Strategy #45:  Location lists can be useful for filling in time you “find” during the day.

Strategy for Success #44: Wait! Wait!

Waiting for a professor to show up?  It happens that occasionally a professor misses a class.  Usually, there is some form of notification, especially with all of the electronic means of communication available.  There may also be a note left on the door or in the classroom.

Those situations are easy.  If you know ahead of time, don’t go.  If there’s a note at the class, you have two options.  Leave as soon as you see it, celebrate your free time (not too enthusiastically, please), or use the time to meet with your fellow students to plan ahead for group projects, get questions answered, or even to study together.

If there is no note, how long do you wait for the professor to arrive before leaving?  One tradition is that a teaching assistant rates 5 minutes, an assistant professor or lecturer 10 minutes, an associate professor 15 minutes, and a full professor 20 minutes.

The rumor is that as a professor’s rank in academia increases, so should the courtesy shown to him or her.   Have you done your research to know your professor’s rank?  Some colleges don’t even use rank, only the term “professor.”

Does your college have a tradition for this?  Is it written, unwritten but understood, or just a rumor?  Why not ask the professor before any possible misunderstanding?  Ask with extreme restraint and respect, to avoid creating an impression of hoping for canceled classes.

Try THIS:  “Professor, what should we do if you are delayed getting to class and have no way of notifying us that you are on your way?”

NOT this:  “Professor, how long do we have to wait for you if you are late?”

Student Success Strategy #44:  Wait!  But plan ahead for this possibility so your time isn’t wasted.

Student Success Strategy #33: Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research opportunities are usually unpaid, but are a chance to learn first hand about your major and the trends within it.  It’s a great way to expand your knowledge.  It’s a great way to learn research techniques for a thesis or dissertation.  It could even lead to a job through networking or with your professor as a paid assistant.

It is also very impressive to future employers and graduate schools when found on applications and resumes.  It’s a chance to highlight what you have accomplished.  “I assisted with research in chemical catalysts that are being tested for use in medical intervention for addictions.”  “I wrote the draft of our results of statistical variance of children’s test scores.”  You may even get your name included as one of the authors of a published article.

How do you get an opportunity like this?  Your college may have an office of undergraduate research.  You can also talk with your professors about current research they are conducting, and express an interest in their work.  If they are not doing research, ask for names of others who are.  Then ask if you can use your professor’s name to introduce yourself to those others (networking is the way to find those opportunities).  If you have already impressed your professors, they may even recommend you.

Don’t wait until you have learned “everything” about your major.  Learn by doing, and you’ll learn more and better.  Then when a future employer asks what kind of experience you have, you can answer with pride.

Student Success Strategy #33:  Look for undergraduate research opportunities to expand your knowledge, your network, and your future.