Starting the year off right

Sep 012005
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

Saying goodbye to the lazy days of summer and making the transition back into the school year may be a challenge for many students, however there are resources available to help you start the year off on the right foot.

Deana Waite, a sophomore technical journalism student, intends on keeping up with all of her schoolwork, focusing on classes and getting plenty of rest in order to stay on top of things.

"I really want to get straight A's this semester, so I am ready to keep up with the readings, go to all of my classes and study," she said.

Students like Waite have the right idea when it comes to starting the year off right, said Linda Stoddard, an academic advisor at the Center for Advising and Student Achievement (CASA).

"Students should begin the semester by attending every class, arriving on time, and sitting near the front of the room," she said. "I suggest that students introduce themselves to each instructor and review the syllabus for each class, marking due dates for exams and papers in their day-timer or palm pilot."

Stoddard said one of the reasons students may fall behind early in the semester is they don't begin reading their texts and reviewing their notes during the first few weeks.

"If a student waits until the week or day before an exam, they will have an unmanageable amount of reading to do," she said. "If a student waits until the week a paper is due to begin the research, they will most likely neglect other classes to focus on the paper and will then fall behind in the work required for the other classes. This becomes a cycle of cramming and catching up."

CSU offers centers and resources along with CASA to help students with almost every college-related issue imaginable, such as the Learning Assistance Center (LAC), the Writing Center, the University Counseling Center and the Academic Advancement Center.

"I think students come in early to the LAC because they have struggled in past semesters and want to get a head start on addressing academic concerns from the beginning of the semester. They know from experience that it's hard to make up a grade and get ahead, once they are in mid-semester," said Karen Baumann, study skills counselor at the LAC.

Baumann said one way to start the year off right is to establish good study habits early on.

"A key factor in study skills is time management. It is helpful to identify priorities and then conduct an audit of how the student spends their time," she said. "There are many activities that compete with studying and maintaining balance in their life which are important, but first the student must choose to say yes to studying, and then we can help them make their study time effective."

Although Baumann said there are several reasons why it might be difficult for students to jump back into the school year and get on the right track, this transition is only one of the factors that play a role in getting the semester off to a good start.

"My main advice for students to starting the year off right would be to remember that if you are a full-time student, school is your full-time job," she said. "Think about how many hours you would put into a job and do the same for school. It can be helpful to make a list of priorities and make sure that how you spend time matches your priorities."

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