College is hard: The Center for Academic Success & Advising can help

December 7, 2015

Transitioning to college-level coursework is demanding. The Center for Academic Success & Advising (CASA) is here to help. With three of NNU’s faculty and over 20 students trained to tutor their peers, CASA’s mission is supporting students through their coursework. We asked Professors Heidi Tracht, Barbara Howard and Kathy Burns for their advice for making college a little more manageable and the free services CASA offers that can help. Here are six tip and free services that you need to take advantage of.

1. Time Management

Whether on paper or electronic, a calendar is vital to meet deadlines. College is hard because your professors will expect you to manage multiple due dates with no reminders. Plus, many college professors do not accept late submissions. Use a calendar that allows you to see due dates for several weeks at a time. Then, break down larger assignments into smaller chunks and schedule when you plan to complete each chunk. Schedule when you plan to begin studying for tests. Set weekly goals and daily “to do” lists based on your priorities. Finish your list every day, or intentionally move tasks to another day. Build in extra time to allow for the unexpected. Stick to the plan to minimize procrastination. Ensure that your calendar is always available to you in class for immediate updates.

2. Academic Organization

Maintain a 3-ring binder for each course, or a section of a larger 3-ring binder for each course. A 3-ring binder allows you to add and remove papers throughout the semester. Keep your syllabus, lecture notes, study notes, and active work for each course in the binder(s). Keep the binder(s) clutter-free. When your professors provide additional details for assignments, or make changes in the schedule, immediately update your notes and calendar.

3. Tutoring

Some students seek tutoring because of a challenging course; other students seek tutoring to maintain a high GPA for retaining a scholarship. No matter what motivates you to use a tutor, tutoring can give you an extra edge in a course. Individualized tutoring may help you grasp the material to fill in content gaps. It may help you learn how a professor approaches tests from one who has already taken the class. Tutoring may also help you gain specific study skills needed to be successful in the course.

4. Writing Consultations

There are many benefits in using a writing consultant. First, writing consultants may help you simply begin the writing process. Starting is often the most challenging step! Secondly, when you are struggling, learning how to ask for help is crucial. Writing consultants are students just like you! You have an opportunity to form a bond with the writing consultants allowing you to feel more confident in seeking help again. Finally, when you seek writing help, you may not only improve your grade, but you may also gain important skills for the rest of your college courses and for life.

5. Critical Thinking

If students think well, they will learn well, and therefore, perform well in class. How to think well or to think critically is a learned skill that you can acquire. The levels of thinking are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. How you think is crucial to understanding and learning. Your CASA tutors are trained to help you think well, learn well and perform well.

6. Test Taking

Many students come to NNU with a test taking fear. You can alleviate test fear by building study skills and test taking skills to gain confidence and consequently perform better. Preparation is likely one of the most useful skills in test-taking. There are also test taking strategies based on the test type (i.e., multiple choice, short answer, and essay). Post-test analysis is crucial in building your study skills, your test taking skills, and your confidence. These areas and many others are common topics addressed in the Center for Academic Success & Advising.

Photo caption: Professor Kathy Burns talks to students in the Leah Peterson Learning Commons.