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Work Smarter, Not Harder

15 Jan

super_strength-512Spending Time on Strengths

Everyone is their own worst critic and we often have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. While we challenge those expectations in college, it’s important to keep it real and use our time in school wisely.

It’s hard for us to see a weakness in ourselves and accept it as is. This makes it very tempting to work harder on our room for improvement instead of maximizing our strengths.

To work smarter, not harder in college, we have to identify our strengths and focus our energy on developing them even further. Weaknesses will fill in and follow suit over time while you evolve as an individual.

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Finding your Strengths

We all want to succeed, that’s why we came to the U of A. We hear a lot about “following our passions” and “doing what we’re best at”, but how do we discover these things? How do we know when our passion has been ignited, or when we’ve found our niche?

It sounds like we should just stumble upon these hidden strengths and know them when we see them, but it’s not always so easy to pinpoint. One way of finding out about this is by looking at a challenge and your skills to meet it.

When a challenge presents itself, our response to that challenge tells us about our skills in that area. For me, just a few minutes of algebra problems are enough to remind me that math is a weakness of mine. On the other hand, ask me to draw you a picture and I’ll handle the task with a smile on my face. You might be a person who is very comfortable with math, but stressed out by creative demands. Stress is just an indicator of how we evaluate a challenge, and how we think our resources can meet it.

When it comes to school we can identify areas of strength and weakness in ourselves by monitoring the challenge level and the skill level we experience from different subjects.

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Getting in the “Flow”

According to the “Flow” model presented by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the ideal scenario is a high level of challenge met with a high skill level. According to this model, a person can perform at their best and achieve their highest under these conditions while experiencing fulfillment from the task. He adds that you must have clear goals, visible progress, frequent feedback, and confidence in your abilities.

Keeping track of your grades can help with setting clear goals and watching visible progress. Visit office hours for frequent feedback, and keep up the hard work for more confidence in your abilities!

-Amanda

 

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7 Changes for Spring

31 Dec

Every student goes through trial-and-error phases at the beginning of their college education. I have tried a lot of new ideas this fall and the successes they brought have shown me some areas where I’ve been doing things the hard way. Here are a few of the changes I’m bringing to my Spring semester to make my life easier. Try them out to save yourself the trouble and avoid unnecessary struggle!

1. Wait to see if I need the book for a class before buying it
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In previous semesters, I have always felt pressured to buy all of the required textbooks for my courses. I end up spending hundreds of dollars for all of my classes together and some, I hardly use and end up returning them. I have decided to wait until the professor clarifies if we need a book or if I could buy a different edition of the book. This way, I won’t spend unnecessary money if I am able to buy the cheaper version or if I do not have to buy the book at all.

2. Do not pull all-nighters
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There was a few time this semester that I lacked on sleep. It was mostly caused by procrastinating and it ended up with me getting a lower grade on the assignment. I have realized from this semester that I need to start my assignments earlier or work on them a little each day in order to prevent pulling an all nighter. This semester I am going to set a deadlines. If my assignment is due at 11:59pm, I am going to have it done before 8pm (at the absolute latest) to make sure that I get an ample amount of sleep.

3. Talk to my advisor moreadvisor

As it becomes closer to my graduation, I have realized that my advisor is the best person to talk to if I have questions. This semester, she has really helped me get into classes that I have need in order to graduate. She also informed me about internships and independent studies. I want to continue to have this close relationship with her because she has told me about classes and options that I didn’t know before as well as help me stay on track with graduation.

4. Go to office hours
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Since I have been at the university, everyone has told me to visit my professor during office hours. Honestly, I had never visited them until this semester. This semester I made an appointment because I was worried about a grade and I was really glad I did. My instructor let me know that one bad grade is not the end of the world and I would still finish the semester with a good grade. After the way that this went, I realized that it was not as scary or as intimidating that I made myself believe it would be. She really cared about my performance in her class and she had great feedback of how I can improve. Next semester, I plan to utilize office hours of my professors to get to know them and to ask questions if I am struggling on a project or in the class.

5. Make my lunch the night before I go to classlunch

When hunger strikes between classes you have no choice but to stop and feed your brain. But what you feed your brain makes a big difference! Instead of grabbing a greasy burger or tasty wrap that will add up to more than my food budget, I’ve learned that packing my lunch is worth its weight in financial aid. Taking a few minutes to pack it before bed lets me grab and go in the morning.

6. Use checklists more often
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In the past I’ve tried keeping mental notes on homework and assignments each day with plans of getting things done as soon as I get home. I think we all know how that works out. Even if you do remember that day, Netflix and a nap on the couch come calling and all the details fade into a cloud of “I’ll do it later.” Instead of letting my memory turn into a hot mess this semester, I began to use checklists in my planner to organize ideas. Not only does it keep things in order, but it’s satisfying to cross things off as you accomplish them.

7. Utilize Writing Workshops
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I am not the strongest writer. I have improved over the years, but the time it takes me to write a paper is ridiculous. It’s hard for me to organize my thoughts and get a good solid idea that goes along with the prompt. By using the Writing Skills Improvement Program workshops, I was able to improve my writing skills free of charge.

Overall, changing a few things here and there make a big difference in the amount of time, money and effort it takes to meet your goals each semester. Try out a few of these tips and tricks to simplify your academic life so you can focus on the things that matter.

Good Luck in Spring Semester!
Courtney

Start Strong this Spring!

31 Dec

Going back to school isn’t easy after a long winter of sleeping in, movie marathons, and enjoying the cool weather, but now it’s time to start the ball rolling on a bright new semester. With a little push at the end of your break, you can make the transition easier.

Here are a list of tips to help you get back to Bear Down mode!

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Start a Sleep Schedule

Instead of cracking the whip over your head with an alarm clock on the first day of class, give your body a break and prepare it for the new schedule you’ll be operating on once school starts. By setting your alarm a little earlier each day, you can work your way up to that 8am wake-up you’ve been snoozing through this winter.

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Pre-Spring Cleaning

Set up your study space before you need to use it and you’ll have less in your way when it comes time to cracking open those new textbooks. Getting the extra clutter out will help you clear your mind and get back to that razor sharp focus school requires.

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Do a Campus Walk with your Schedule

Nobody likes to walk into the wrong classroom on the first day of class. Try taking your class schedule on a campus walk before school starts to eliminate the kinks when it comes to finding your new classes.

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Review for the New

If you’re taking classes in new subjects, try doing a little research to get ahead. Buy a phrasebook before your first class in a second language, or review your notes if you’ve studied the topic before. Not only will your professor know you’re super smart, but you’ll be the best study buddy in your class.

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Start Making Meals in Advance

Start preparing lunches for the week now and you’ll have a healthy habit by the time school starts. Not only will this save money, but it will save you from a diet of fast food and vending machine snacks. Sometimes picking a day on the weekend to prepare meals for the week is the best way to streamline your schedule.

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Get Your Supplies Early

Getting those school supplies lined up before the semester starts will ensure your preparedness. If you’re like me, this will also kick start your enthusiasm with shiny new pens and notebooks you just can’t wait to use.

This also goes for your wardrobe! Instead of buying random items and trying to mix and match, lay out some outfits and see what you need to up your game fashionably.

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Start making a list of your expenses and create a budget for yourself. This will help you when financial aid comes in and begins burning a hole in your pocket. It’s better to plan wisely and stick to your limits than to end up starving during finals! If your funding looks a little weak, then you’ll know in advance if you need a student job or a loan from a family member.

Try out a few of these ideas and Bear Down for Spring!

Happy 2017!

-Amanda

 

The Gen Ed that Won Our Hearts

13 Nov

It was 5:45 AM as I turned off my alarm clock and greeted registration day with bleary eyes. I had been waking up at 4 AM to do my homework all semester, but this particular day, I had a case of the dreaded Mondays. My laptop had died at my bedside during the night, my roommate had taken the last Frappuccino and my favorite sweater was nowhere to be found. Things weren’t going my way, but I accepted my fate, plugged in my laptop and logged on to UAccess.

The wifi was crawling along like molasses, leaving me with nothing to see but a bright white page that made my eyes water. Refreshing the page, I looked over the handwritten list of classes my advisor had given me, my academic security blanket. The classes had been in my shopping cart for weeks, but my advisor warned me to be prepared for anything.

Sure enough, my student center looked like text-salad nightmare and the wifi crashed completely. By the time I logged in again 20 minutes later, a disheveled heap of stress at the café, all of my classes were full. Admittedly, I freaked right out.

If you find yourself in these shoes, it may seem like your academic sky is falling, but don’t panic! Make the schedule you can make with the course options you have left and talk to your academic advisor about it. There are still a few ways to get you on track and into the schedule you hoped for:

1. Get on the wait list, when available

Two of my classes gave me the option of being put on the waiting list. This may seem like a bleak land of limbo, but it’s not. So many students change, swap and drop their classes before registration ends. With the wait list, you’re already in line to take those spaces as they open.

2. Check on the class religiously

If there’s no wait list, keep checking on the class and accomplish the same thing manually. Keep your fingers crossed for the green circle to take the place of the angry blue square next to your class in the class search. As long as registration is still open, there’s still hope for an open seat.

3. Beg your way in

Showing up to your desired class on the first day with a Change of Schedule form is not a bad idea. Some classes are more rigorous than others about attendance, so you may even get lucky on your first day. In one class I wanted, anyone who didn’t show up for the first day was dropped from the roster so the wait-listed students could take their places.

4. Talk to your academic advisor

At the U of A, your advisors are the music makers and dreamers of dreams. They know what’s possible and they can help you see the glimmer of hope in any academic disaster. Ask them for ideas if you get stuck. They’ve seen degrees completed in the most unconventional of ways and can always help you navigate your obstacles to gain that academic success you so deserve.

My registration nightmare ended with a less-than-perfect schedule, but it resulted in the best set of classes I could have hoped for. It threw me off my 4-year plan a little bit, but overall, I still got all of my requirements knocked out without any extra semesters added onto my academic career.

If you find yourself in this position, keep calm, bear down and hang in there! That which doesn’t bend can break under pressure, so take it as an exercise in adaptability, jump the hurdles that are thrown at you and keep on keepin’ on. The commitment you’ve made to your education is a commitment to yourself, and that makes it worth the struggle. Use the resources all around you and don’t be discouraged. You may be forced to take a gen ed at an awkward time, it might shift a prerequisite over to a different semester, but overall, you’ve got this!

-Amanda

 

The Big Switch

9 Sep

“What’s your major?” It’s basically the first question that you get asked when you meet someone on a college campus. When I graduated high school I was so sure of the major I’d selected when I applied and my career path after graduation. But when I got to orientation, something didn’t feel quite right. I had absolutely no passion for the major I’d chosen. Looking at the 4-year curriculum ahead of me just wasn’t thrilling. For me, that wasn’t what I came to college for. So I changed my major for the first time about a week later. Over the summer I added a second degree focused on my favorite subject in high school.

Throughout the course of my freshman year, I was really unsure of what I wanted to do with myself. I knew the sciences were a strong fit for me, but I couldn’t find anything that sparked something in me. I’ve always believed that you can truly see when someone has found the perfect thing for them because they will absolutely light up when they talk about it. I wanted that feeling more than anything. Instead, I was dragging myself from class to class to clubs every day. Truthfully I was so busy that I didn’t have much time to feel bored.

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Life is all about growing and changing

I started out as a pre-med student, but I wanted to be sure that I was choosing the right career path because pre-rec classes are different for different professional schools. So I signed up for a 1 unit health careers exploration colloquium, and it was one of the best decisions I made that year. I knew one of my club advisors was a graduate student in public health, but I never thought to ask her more about the field itself. Early on in the colloquium, we had a group of panelists from a variety of career paths including a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and public health professional. I was immediately drawn to public health because of its big-picture perspective on health. From there I talked to my advisor about what she was studying and then it clicked. I’d finally found that spark. That summer I changed my major for the fifth and final time.

I felt some pressure throughout the process of finding the right major to just stay the course for a year and see how it went. But deep down inside I knew that wasn’t going to help me enjoy my freshman year. I had already lost interest, so I didn’t want to waste my time. In the end, the process helped me to know myself better and ultimately led me to the perfect path.

-Gabriela

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What’s One More Language?

8 Jul

To the eyes of a child, summer is the epitome of freedom. There’s no school or homework, they can sleep in and not have a care in the world. Unfortunately, the older a person gets,the more they wish they would’ve done during those long glorious summers. I am not going to sit here and say that I have utilized my summer to the max and not wasted a single minute, because let’s face it, I have spent a good amount of time vegging out in front of my T.V., but I have also begun something I vowed to do three years ago: I am teaching myself German!

Some might ask why I don’t just take German as my second language in school, but as it stands I am already taking both Greek and Latin and adding anything else onto that would be too much (trust me, I tried it).

Why German you ask? Originally it was because I really liked the way it sounds. I also figured it might be easier to learn since English is based off of it, I was wrong in this aspect. It did not hurt that I was informed I would have to learn it in grad school, and so learning it now would provide me with a leg up!

Actually learning the language was interesting. I found a surprising amount of similarities between it and Greek and Latin, this was a relief since I know those languages. As with all languages, the hard part was the vocabulary. I am an audio learner, and so not having an instructor was hard. This was more of a problem because unlike my other two languages, this one is not dead! While I feel like I am starting to understand the language, there is quite a bit more I need to do before I am proficient, none the less, I am proud of the progress I have made and I think I will keep casually learning the language!

Auf Wiedersehen zur Zeit! (Goodbye for now!)

-Christine

New Year, New Me?

21 Feb

Starting Spring semester is always a wake up call for me. I am not sure why, but I am never as motivated in Spring as I am in the Fall. This Spring semester seems to be the worst one of all because I am taking a lot of units and I have my annual laziness epidemic going on. Personally, I think I, and students in general, have a harder time staying focused in Spring because the weather gets better, and everyone wants to be outside. Regardless of the causes, what I need to do this Spring is to get myself organized and set up personal goals.

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The most important aspect of a goal is that it is achievable, so while it is nice to think that I can take 21 units and work 20 hours a week, this is really not possible for me. So, my first goal is to work enough to keep me busy, but not so many as to overwhelm myself. I have actually already achieved this goal, I found that working 13 hours a week is best for my current schedule.

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My next goal for the semester is to study on the weekends. Often, I have the mindset that the weekend is my time to relax from school, and while I might not have to go to school, I can still do school work. Doing work on the weekend will make my daily work less stressful and help me stay more motivated.

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My last goal for the semester is to socialize a bit more. I am not sure how it has happened, but since I have come to college, I have become a recluse. It doesn’t matter if it is just hanging with friends at my apartment, having any kind of social interaction will help me not procrastinate as much.

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Look, I know motivation in the Spring semester is hard to come by, but if you make goals for yourself, we will find a way to get through it together!

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-Chrissy

Don’t Let Classes in the Summer Be a Bummer!

8 Jun

Summer Pre-Session is over, and Session I is now upon us. Though this session only lasts for 5 weeks, losing academic motivation, whether it’s during the summer or during a full semester, is very common. I myself took two online classes while I was visiting my mother in Oregon last year. This was my first time taking summer courses, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have any time to relax and truly enjoy my break off. But to my surprise, balancing school and fun was totally doable! I learned to manage my time, making sure I put enough aside to dedicate myself to my homework, and it worked out perfectly 🙂

Near the end of the Spring Semester, I asked each of my students whether or not they were planning on taking summer courses. And the ones who said they were voiced some concerns. The most common one I heard was being worried that taking a class that was condensed into 5 weeks would require them to do a lot more work in such a short period of time. I will admit, the course work is a bit more fast paced, but professors completely understand how potentially overwhelming that can be for students.

The University of Arizona knows that their students deserve much needed breaks throughout the year, especially during the summer. So professors tend to adjust their lesson plans accordingly. So rest assured, taking courses during the summer isn’t as painful as it may sound. But for the sake of making this experience even more painless, I would like to share some tips on staying motivated 🙂

1. Balance classes with fun. Though school is very important, don’t forget to relax and spend time with you friends and family. It is summer after all!

18343-Titanic-Jack-Rose-Spin2. Take plenty of breaks. If you just spent 2 hours reading material for an upcoming paper, reward yourself with an episode of your favorite television show (if you have a Netflix, may I suggest Friends?).

yeah_sure_friends3. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Speaking from personal experience, if you don’t understand the material try not to spend hours figuring it out all by yourself. It’ll create unnecessary stress for yourself, and cost precious relaxation time. So ask your professors and/or TA.

gif-bigbangtheory-penny-laptop-help4. Exercise. We all have those moments, when we sit down, determined to crank out an essay, but we can’t for the life of us form a coherent thought! The little wheel in your mind doesn’t want to turn, so give it a little push by going outside for a walk or even taking a dip in the pool (considering it may be too hot to do anything else).

2296YMX5. Stay organized. Invest in a planner (if you don’t already have one). Feeling overwhelmed is what procrastination feeds on. When we feel that we have too much on our plate, we want to avoid it all together. So compile a list of all the assignments you have due and split it up evenly throughout the week. Also getting to place a check mark next to each item is incredibly satisfying.

tumblr_n6cyv0QbeX1tr2c16o1_400I wish you all the best of luck during the next few months, you’ll do great! (You’re a Wildcat, so why wouldn’t you?)

Best,

Casey 🙂

Summer School Ain’t So Bad!

10 Apr

This summer I will be taking physics 2, which focuses on electromagnetism, at my local community college (Chandler-Gilbert Community College). Although I’m not thrilled to be in class four days a week, from 9-12 every day, I am looking forward to getting some credits out of the way! Since I am a physiology major, physics and math are definitely not my forte. Instead of struggling and taking many courses during the school year when I have a million other things going on, every summer I have taken one or two math-intensive courses at either Chandler-Gilbert Community College or Mesa Community College. Within the past three summers, I have gotten calculus 1 and 2 and physics 1 out of the way, which is a fantastic feeling!

Taking a summer course isn’t all that bad because you make friends in your classes instantly. You and your classmates bond quickly since you are stuck in the same place for 3 hours everyday! I have made many friends the past couple summers. And believe it or not, I still keep in touch with them.

During summer school, the pace is faster than during the normal academic year and while this may seem scary, it actually proves to be advantageous. First, you finish faster, which is always a plus. And since the class is going at a faster pace, you are forced to study and stay on task, as opposed to the normal college-student procrastination. As you can see, I am not all that bummed about having to take a summer course. See what options are available for you! Bear Down Wildcats and let’s get some A’s over the summer!!

-Erica S.

Change Your Course With A Summer Course!

6 Mar

Now I know taking summer classes doesn’t seem like the most glamorous way to spend one’s summer break, but hear me out!

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Summer courses at the U of A are scheduled in 2 sessions, each class lasting 5 weeks. Now this means that you’ll be learning the material at a much faster pace than you normally would during the Spring/Fall Semester, and they will most likely occur more than 2-3 times per week. But don’t let that intimidate you! Though this may sound a bit overwhelming, when you’re only taking 1 or 2 classes, it really isn’t all that bad.

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Last summer, I stayed in Oregon with my mother for about a month. And during that time period I really didn’t have much to do considering my mom was at work for most of the day. So I applied for financial aid (yes, there is such a thing for summer courses) and once I got the A-Okay, I enrolled in 2 online classes since I knew I would be out of the state. So even if you won’t be in Tucson for the summer, taking online courses is always a great way to keep you busy!

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Because I was taking 2 classes, versus 4 or 5, my workload was SO much lighter, and incredibly easy to handle while still having time to relax during my break. I got A’s in both class, which raised my GPA by almost .2 points! And we all know how beautiful that can be 🙂

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So try not to write off summer courses right away, because it’s a manageable and efficient way to “point” your GPA in the right direction and get ahead, while still having the time to enjoy your well deserved summer break.

Best of all, registration for summer courses is now available on  UAccess!

Cheers,

Casey