Don’t be afraid to ask ‘dumb’ questions
There are two areas where students can need help with their schoolwork: help with specific subjects and help with study skills. The learning center at your school has resources for both.
Community College of Philadelphia, for instance, has tutoring available on all its campuses. Dr. Megan Fuller, an assistant professor in the Learning Labs explains, “We have full-time faculty, non-student tutors who have either associate’s or bachelor’s degrees and peer tutors who have successfully taken the class they’re tutoring.”
These staffers provide both one-on-one tutoring and group sessions that meet once a week or more. Students are welcome to check out both to see what works from them.
“If you aren’t getting what you need from a tutor, don’t just give up, ask to see someone else,” Fuller says.
The college also offers workshops in study skills like time management, note-taking and exam anxiety.
“Time management is crucial for everyone,” emphasizes Dr. Nancy Mott, director of Learning Support Services at Villanova University, “but especially for nontraditional students, who have job and family obligations as well.”
She recommends using whatever planner you’re most comfortable with, whether that’s an electronic gadget or an old-fashioned paper calendar. Make sure you’ve always got your planner with you, enter all of your assignments and obligations as soon as you know them and keep track of the big picture.
“Contact your school to see what services and resources are available,” Mott says.
“Don’t wait until the last minute,” Fuller agrees. “If you’re having problems, come in and let us help you find the solution that works for you.”
What the experts say
Megan Fuller, Community College of Philadelphia
1. Engulf yourself in the college experience. A lot of people just show up for class then go home, and they’re missing out on great resources. There’s a whole community here that includes not only other students, but your teachers and the staff, who want to help you succeed.
2. Be an advocate for yourself. Find the people who can listen to you and help you, not just process your paperwork and tell you what line to stand in next. Be polite, but voice your needs.
3. Set specific goals, and work out a time line for achieving those goals. It’s great to say you want to be a nurse, but what’s the path you need to take to get there? What benchmarks do you need to achieve, and when will you hit them?
Nancy Mott, Villanova University
1. The most important thing is to make time management a priority. As soon as you get each syllabus, enter the dates and deadlines into a master calendar. If you know in advance when you’ll have a week with two exams, a paper and a presentation, you can prepare for that week without freaking out.
2. Pick a course you’re really excited about for your first semester. If you’re nervous about taking math or a foreign language, put it off! Get used to being back in school before you start tackling the more challenging courses.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It isn’t a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of intelligence and strength. Find out early what’s available in Learning Support, and get to know your professors, as well.