Strategies for Academic Success<br />If you are a new student, I want to congratulate you on your decision to pursue a college education. Whether the choice is individual or a collaborative choice, involving your parents…it’s a wise choice. Your role as a college student defines the best years of your life. However, college can be very stressful. In fact, stress can be an uphill battle for part-time and full-time college students. For example, some students may feel pressure to perform well to qualify for a good job or graduate school. Affordability is a stressor that affects most students, because college tuition is continually rising. Trying to juggle a work schedule with course work is a major challenge that is common to all college students. Furthermore, if you are an adult student who may have children, you may experience stress from trying to find a balance between family and coursework. These are only a few challenges that may confront college students but there are many more. Surveys and studies taken at colleges and universities show that stress level are extremely high and that stressors are similar. The following is a list of the most common stressors:<br /><ul><li>Test pressures.
Changes that cause disruption and unpleasant results.</li></ul>In order for you to succeed in obtaining your educational goals, you must prepare yourselves mentally and physically to confront the challenges that await you. To this end, I am providing some strategies that are designed to assist students (new and continuing) in succeeding academically. I recommend that you take these strategies seriously and think of them as a stepping stone to reaching your educational goal.<br />Regards,<br />Traleta Bradford, Instructor<br />Healthcare Programs<br /> <br />Strategies for Success:<br /><ul><li>Managing Stress
Evaluating Internet Resources, etc</li></ul> <br />Managing Stress:<br />First, recognize your stress signals and then find positive coping mechanisms to diffuse your stress. It is not uncommon for an individual to resort to a negative defense mechanism to alleviate anxiety and conflict. The problem with doing so can lead to maladaptive behaviors such as rationalizing overeating. For example, they justify overeating by explaining that they need the extra calories to cope with the extra stress. However, the use of coping mechanisms is the appropriate and healthier response. Coping mechanisms alleviates unpleasant emotions. The most common coping mechanisms are:<br />Sublimation, the redirection of any drives considered unacceptable into socially acceptable channels. For example, someone who is furious with a friend or relative may go for a long run to sublimate anger.<br />Religiosity, in which one comes to terms with a painful experience, such as a child’s death, by experiencing it as being in accord with God’s will.<br />Humor counters stress by focusing on comic aspects. Medical students, for instance, often make jokes in anatomy lab as a way of dealing with their anxieties about working with cadavers.<br />Altruism takes a negative experience and turns it into a positive one. For example, an HIV-positive individual may talk to teenagers about AIDS prevention.<br />Time Management:<br />As a college student, you will make numerous decisions and choices that will have a direct impact on your stress level. For example, you may have a big test on Monday and a term paper due on Tuesday--so might plan to study all weekend. Your intentions are good but you still accept an invitation to attend a party Saturday night. Even though you set the alarm for 7:00 A.M. Sunday morning, you don’t find the energy to pull yourself out of bed until noon. This scenario is enough to stress you out because you are compromising your plans to study. By the time you get around to actually studying, it’s 4:00 P.M. and anxiety is building inside you.<br />How can you tell if you’ve lost control of your time? The following are telltale symptoms of poor time management: <br /><ul><li>Rushing
Chronic inability to make choices or decisions
Not enough time for rest or personal relationships
A sense of being overwhelmed by demands and details and having to do what you don’t want to do most of the time</li></ul>One of the hard lessons of growing up is that your choices and actions may render unpleasant consequences such as stress. Therefore, it is essential that you plan ahead, be realistic about your workload, and stick to your plan. These strategies will help you gain control over your time and your stress levels. <br />Concentration:<br />In order to achieve academic success, you must be able to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. Whether you are studying for an exam or trying to learn a new concept, your body and mind must be fully relaxed and free of stress. I recommend that you practice some form of relaxation to help you maintain control. The most effective relaxation techniques are progressive relaxation, visualization, meditation, mindfulness, and biofeedback. I’m sure that all of these techniques work well but I personally like meditation.<br />There are many forms of meditation ranging from yogic techniques of the Far East to the Quaker silence of more modern times. Medication is a highly desirable technique because it helps a person reach a state of relaxation, but with the goal of achieving inner peace and harmony. There is no one right way to meditate and many people have discovered how to mediate, and many people have discovered how to meditate on their own without even knowing what it is they are doing. Among college students, meditation has proven especially effective in increasing relaxation. Most forms of meditation have common elements: sitting quietly for 15 to 20 minutes once or twice a day, concentrating on a word or image, and breathing slowly and rhythmically. If you wish to try meditation, if often helps to have someone guide you through your first sessions. Or try tape recording your own voice (with or without favorite music in the background) and playing it back to yourself, freeing yourself to concentrate on the goal of turning the attention within.<br />Motivation<br />Life is full of swift transitions of which we often have no mean of control. Take it all in stride and do not allow these changes to deter you from reaching your goal. Remember, we fall down but we get up! Rely on the following tips to help you through the rough times.<br /><ul><li>Admit that there is no perfection. But in each category of achievement something is tops; be satisfied to strive for that.
Do not underestimate the delight of real simplicity.
Whatever situation you meet in life, consider first whether it is really worth fighting for.
Try to keep your mind on pleasant aspects of life and on actions that improve your situation. Nothing paralyzes your efficiency more than frustration; nothing helps it more than success.
Even after the greatest defeats, combat the depressing thought of being a failure by taking stock of all your past achievements, which no one can deny you.
When faced with a task that is very painful yet indispensable to achieve your aim, don’t procrastinate.
Finally, do not forget that there is no ready-made success formula that would suit everybody.</li></ul>Setting Realistic Goals<br />This is the framework for setting realistic goals and objectives—the preliminary step for making changes:<br /><ul><li>Determine your goal or objective. Define it in words and on paper. Then test your definition against your own value system. Can you attain your goal and still be the person you want to be?
Think in terms of evolution, not revolution. Revolutionary changes only inspire counterrevolutions. If you want to change the way you eat, start by changing just one meal a week.
Identify your resources. Do you have the knowledge, skills, finances, and time--whatever it takes? Find out from others who know. Be sure you’re ready for the next step.
Systematically analyze barriers. How can you acquire missing resources? Identify and select alternative plans. List solutions for any obstacles you foresee.
Choose a plan. Think it through, step by step trying to anticipate what might go wrong and why.
Unlike most print resources such as magazines, journals, and books that go through a filtering process (e.g. editing,
peer review, library selection), information on the Internet is mostly unfiltered. So using and citing information
found over the Internet is a little like swimming without a lifeguard. The following guide provides a starting point
for evaluating the World Wide Web sites and other Internet information.</li></ul>Research Paper Hints:<br /><ul><li>Any job worth doing is worth doing right, especially a writing job that showcases your skills.
The first paragraph is often the most difficult to write. If you have trouble, just get it down with the intention of re-writing it later, even after you have finished with the rest. But remember this first entry draws your audience into your topic, your
perspective, and its importance to continue with the rest.</li></ul> Development<br /><ul><li>Establish flow from paragraph to paragraph—transition sentences, clauses, or words at the beginning of paragraph
Connect one idea to the next topic sentences in each paragraph. (See a examples of transitional words and phrases on
page 7.) Also near the beginning, define their place in the overall scheme. Avoid one and two sentence paragraphs which may reflect lack of development of your point.
Refer back (once again) to the first paragraph(s) as well as the development.
Do the last paragraphs briefly restate the main ideas?
Reflect the succession and importance of the arguments.
Edit/rewrite the first paragraph to better set your development and conclusion.
Take a day or two off!</li></ul> Re-read your paper with a fresh mind and a sharp pencil.<br /> Re-read aloud, as if you want to communicate with a trusted friend or family member. The person/people can be real or imaginary. You will be surprised what you will find to change!<br /> Edit, correct, and re-write as necessary<br />Turn in the paper<br />Celebrate a job well done, with the confidence that you have done your best.<br />Adapted from the web site created by Joe Landsberger, Academic Web Site Developer, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota<br /><ul><li>Evaluating Internet Resources: a checklist</li></ul>Authority<br /><ul><li>Who is the author of the piece? Is the author the original creator of the information?
Does the author list his or her occupation, years of experience, position, education, or other credentials?