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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

 

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#StudiousSeptember: Study Tips for the Chronic Procrastinator

20 Sep

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If you’re like me, you procrastinate everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s studying for a giant exam that’s worth 25% of your grade or the smallest assignment that should ideally take you 10 minutes to complete.  Admittedly, pushing everything back to the last minute in college isn’t necessarily a good or easy thing to do. While this may have worked in high school, it can easily come back to bite you if you aren’t careful about planning and time management. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few things about how to effectively get things done and limit procrastination.

  1. Write down EVERYTHING! Not only will you be able to see what days or weeks your schedule is busier, but if you write it down the chances of you forgetting to do it are slim to none. Even if you’re sure you’ll remember to do that last minute homework assignment, chances are you’re eventually going to forget to do something. But if you write it down, you’re much less likely to forget and resort to writing a five-page paper in the hour before class.Bruce Almighty.gif
  2.  Overestimate how much time it’ll take to do things. So many times I’ve thought “That assignment will only take 30 minutes” and then end up spending 2 hours on it. If you overestimate time, you won’t get stuck being unable to finish because you didn’t allocate enough time. Plus if you plan for something to take you 3 hours and it only takes 1, you just made an extra two free hours in your schedule!
  3. Plan specific times to do tasks. If you look at what you have to do and just say “Oh I’ll just do that later”, chances are “later” will just keep getting pushed back. But if you say “I’m going to do that at 2:00” then you’ll be more likely to do it because you gave a specific time.later
  4. Be very explicit about what you need to accomplish. Similar to doing something “later”, if you plan to “read your textbook” or “study”, you’ll crack open a book, pull out your notes, and call it a day. But if you specify to “read and highlight chapter 4” or “work through 5 practice problems”, not only will studying be easier because you know exactly what you want to do, but you’ll also see yourself making a lot more progress.
  5. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS! It’s way too easy to get roped into Netflix, your phone, video games, etc., and end up wasting hours without accomplishing anything. If you don’t have the self-control to stay away from distractions (because, let’s be real, binge-watching Friends is way better than reading a biology textbook), use an app or other site to block distracting sites for a specific amount of time, or get a trusted friend to hold your phone while you study.Distraction.gif
  6. Find the best place for you to focus. If you can’t get anything done in your dorm or home, go to the library. If you don’t like the big space of the library, try a study room. If you hate studying indoors, go outside for a while. It’s better to move than be unproductive where you are.
  7. Lastly, JUST DO IT! It’s so easy to put things off until you absolutely have to do them. But trust me when I say it’ll feel so much better just to get things done early. Not only will you not be continuously stressing about them, but you’ll also find yourself with so much more free time that you’ll definitely appreciate.

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I hope these study tips could help you some! Procrastination is a dangerous habit to get trapped in. But with a bit of motivation, discipline, and planning, you can beat the addiction and find success in studying!

-Jessica

#StudiousSeptember: Satisfying Study Sessions

19 Sep

Now that the semester is underway and the homework is rolling in, it’s time to study! While we usually meet this challenge without much enthusiasm, it is possible to make it an event to look forward to.

Spoil Thyself!

Have a well-deserved treat when you put your study time in! Small rewards like this will give you a little boost in your day.

Having a little caffeine can help your brain along. Try curling up in a café to do your assigned readings in caffeinated comfort. Even taking yourself out for a long lunch can make a thankless homework task into the highlight of your day.

Make Peace, Not Grief

Find a spot that evokes a sense of peace so you can study longer without struggling to sit still. The summer is almost over and the lawns are cool and green. There are tons of hidden benches and shady trees to give you a seat with sitting in, they’re the perfect places to have a meditative study session.

Having a regular study space set up at home can really help. Once you’ve established a spot that puts you in study mode, your brain will automatically know what you’re up to when you sit down. Since the hardest part is getting started, this will make things much easier in the long run.

If you find yourself getting distracted, try putting your headphones on and listening to some music. This is almost like putting the blinders on a horse so that he focuses on the road ahead.

That being said, limit your access to text messages, Netflix, and social media while you work. Maybe make a post letting your friends know that you’re getting ready to bear down for an hour or two. They’ll totally understand.

Organize to Limit Suffering

Have you ever looked at all of your papers, folders, books and handouts in a pile and felt like your head was going to explode? Getting overwhelmed is a good thing to avoid and a simple problem to solve.

If you know what’s on your syllabus, you can break things into steps and prioritize. Is it more important to study for a quiz that’s worth 15% or and exam that’s worth 40%? Making lists, writing your syllabus dates and deadlines on a calendar, or using the library’s assignment scheduler can help you. Not only will you know what to do with your study session, but you’ll be able to look ahead. Check out Think Tank’s “Semester on a Page” for a cool organizational tool.

Once you have your to-do list made, it’s time to knock it out. If you’re taking your studies out for a night on the town, be sure to pack your chargers, writing utensils, scratch paper and all of your materials for the classes you’re working on. The last thing you want to do is to get settled in only to find that you’ve brought the wrong book.

If you know you’ll be struggling with the material from a class as you study it, go where the help is! Getting stuck or stumped can be an important part of the learning process, but you want to connect to the resources around you before you get frustrated. Study near your professor’s office during their office hours, bring your work to Think Tank, or make a study group to give yourself a support network.

By spoiling yourself, seeking out your study oasis and breaking big tasks into small steps, you’ll set yourself up for success this semester.

Keep calm and study happily!

-Amanda

 

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

Chrissy’s Summer Reading List

10 Jun

Summertime,  the most relaxing word a college student can hear, say, or think. Summertime opens up a plethora of opportunities that are not available during the school year: sleeping until 1pm, going on random road trips, and of course reading fun books. I don’t know about y’all, but I find that during the school year I am way too busy reading the various assigned readings to  actually get any fun reading done! So, I made a list during the school year of all the books I would like to read during them summer and I am now steadily working my way through them! Here are my top 10 books that I would like to have read by the end of the summer. I included short summaries of the books that I found on the publishers’ websites.

Please note that most of these contain adult themes and violence. Please read at your own discretion. 

10. Ella Enchanted: Gail Carson Levine

How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!

But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.

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9. Dracula: Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

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8. The Blood of Flowers: Anita Amirrezvani

Both a sweeping love story and a luminous portrait of a city, The Blood of Flowers is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life. Illuminated with glorious detail of Persian rug-making, and brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan, The Blood of Flowers has captured readers’ imaginations everywhere as a timeless tale of one woman’s struggle to live a life of her choosing.

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7. The Iliad: Homer

Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace

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6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.
By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.
Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in.
Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

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5. 13 Reasons Why: Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

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3. Brave New World: Aldous Huxley

The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley’s vision of the future- of a world utterly transformed. Through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, people are genetically designed to be passive and therefore consistently useful to the ruling class. This powerful work of speculative fiction sheds a blazing critical light on the present and is considered to be Huxley’s most enduring masterpieces.

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2. The Other Boleyn Girl: Philipa Gregory

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

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1. Poison Study: Maria V. Snyder

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dusté and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear—.

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#JumpStartJanuary: Organizational Tools Galore

29 Jan

There are a lot of different ways people organize their life. As a college student, finding the way that works best for you can be quite challenging, but it is essential to college success. I am going to go over a few different kinds of organizational tools and how they could potentially be used.

The Planner

  • This is one of the most commonly used organizational tools in college. Students go through and write down assignments that are due each day. Ideally, the student will carry it with them everyday and add to it as more assignments get added. This tool is great for students that are on the go; it allows them to double check assignment due dates on the drop of a hat.

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The Post-It Notes

  • These tools are less common. Many times students will use these to make lists. This is more of a short term tool, meaning most students will use them for day to day lists, but they will not have their entire semester planned out on one. This tool is useful for a student trying to stay focused. Having a to-do list right on their desk often helps students remember what they need to do immediately.

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The White Board/ Mirror

  • Much like the Post-It Note, the white board is often used for lists, but on a much bigger scale. Obviously, there is a lot more room on a white board or mirror compared to that of a Post-It. Often times students will utilize this tool when they have large projects, or many assignments in various classes. This helps organize assignments into a bigger picture.

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The Teacher’s Calendar

  • Personally, I find this tool to be the most useful. I have used a teacher’s calendar every year I have been at school and it has helped me tremendously. The teacher’s calendar or desk calendar as some refer to it is a larger than normal calendar that one can hang up on the wall or put on their desk. Many times, students will go through their syllabus and write down important dates (such as exams), assignments (including but not limited to readings and essays) and note important dates for the class. Using this tool can be helpful because it allows students to see upcoming assignments well in advance and can aid in planning for projects.

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The Carrier

  • While this might sound like a contagious disease, the carrier is actually just a name for a person who carries (get it?) around their syllabus to their classes. While most people don’t use this tool, those that do have an added benefit of always having access to assignments. Most people do not carry physical copies of their syllabus to class, instead they have them saved on their phone or other electronic devices.

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Now, of course these are only a few of the many many many different kinds of tools that students use to become more organized. While I strongly promote the use of a calendar, that might not be the best tool for you, but it is important to find what does work and to utilize it; there is no point in having a planner if it sits at home collecting dust. So go out there and get organized!

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-Chrissy Ellis

How to Successfully Study for Science Finals

8 May

As a physiology Senior, I have taken my fair share of science exams, especially finals! From my three years of experience, I have here a list of tips for you students on how to successfully prepare for your science exams!

(These apply to chemistry, biology, physiology, etc.)

-Go over all past exam questions. Typically professors put old exam questions on the final exam! If you go over old exam questions, these will be easy points for you!

-Look at past in-class quizzes, clicker questions, and online quiz questions. Similarly, professors re-use quiz and clicker questions as well!

-Understand all the key concepts in the course. During finals, I’ve noticed professors want to see you understand the key concepts rather than the minor details. Don’t get bogged down in details (unless the professor explicitly says so)!

-Go over all study guides that are posted.

-Attend preceptor and professor review sessions. During these sessions, preceptors and professors often give away some tips and hints!

-Form study groups and come prepared with questions to ask your group mates!

-Utilize the resources at the library, such as the private study rooms. Reserve a study room at rooms.library.arizona.edu.

-Erica Shroff

Calm, Cool, and Connected

1 May

I’ve been struggling a lot with staying sane during this stressful time in our lives. So I am going to be mostly writing the wise words of wisdom that have been bestowed upon me, oh so recently.

In case any of you are currently dealing with matters that are preventing you from making it to class or completing assignments on time, I am totally with you! These past two weeks have been the worst 2 weeks that I have experienced in this semester. Perfect timing, right? I have had two emergency room visits and one ambulance ride within the past 8 days. If you’re currently caught in a similar pickle, may I just remind you how wonderful doctor’s notes are?! They’ve been really saving my butt, and more often than not, your instructors will be very understanding 🙂

Also, the Dean of Students Office will lend you a helping hand concerning similar issues.

But as the semester really starts winding down, it seems like all of our classes suddenly become a make it or break it type situation (yeesh!). Trust me, you’re not alone, we are all here for you. And by “we” I mean, your instructors, your TA’s, your peer mentors, your friends…the list can go on! My point is, as long as we stick together and help each other out, we WILL survive! You should also give this list a read…

  1. BREATHE…inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale…
  2. Have you eaten anything yet? Grab a snack (after you’re done reading this of course) you deserve it!
  3. How many hours of sleep are you getting? If your exhausted, studying will be THAT much more laborious. And if changing your sleeping patterns is too much to ask, feel free to take a nap my friend.
  4. Write everything down, and I mean EVERYTHING. Write down what assignments you need to complete, the dates they’re due, when each of your finals will take place, and block out time for studying and time for relaxing 🙂
  5. Look to your friends, because they’re probably freaking out a little bit too. Vent to each other about it! Have study sessions, grab yummy food as a reward for all of your hard work. It’s never fun to suffer in silence.
  6. And try to remember, if you don’t get the grade that you wanted, it is NOT the end of the world. I know that it may not seem like that now, but trust me, you will be fine. There are plethora of opportunities to bring you back into the game.
  7. BREATHE…inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale…

Best,

Casey

Practicing healthy habits during finals!

1 May

Caution: Finals are closer than they appear!

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Finals week is a hectic moment in a student’s life when everyday habits such as eating, sleeping, and staying hydrated are forgotten because studying has now become the #1 priority. Someone once told me that in order to live a successful life, one must always be in balance. The key to doing well on finals and remaining healthy and sane is to balance out your schedule.

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Here are three easy steps:

1. Eat a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner each and every day!

– Pack snacks such as baby carrots, granola bars, trail mix, fruit, goldfish, the possibilities are endless! It’s important to eating because glucose (that is found in your food) is what gives the brain energy. If you stop eating, then your brain gets tired, and you can’t retain any of the information you’re studying.
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2. Set a schedule of how many hours per day you will study.

– It’s not beneficial to study for over 8 hours straight if you aren’t taking breaks in between. I like to tell students to set a max of 3 hours of study time, a 20-30 minute break, and then resume studying for another 3 hours.

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*Don’t be like Spongebob!

 

3. Sleep!

– I have heard of student’s who only sleep 3 hours before an exam or even worse don’t sleep at all before an exam! Don’t do this!

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In order for you to be mentally prepared for an exam you have to rest the night before. Our brain’s is one of the only 2 organs in our body that never stops operating. It is constantly operating all day and night for the rest of our lives! While we sleep, it is still operating but we are giving it the opportunity to rest. I like to think of it as a track runner; throughout the day it is sprinting to it’s fullest potential and at night it is jogging casually.

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If you follow these three easy steps, I can guarantee that you will come out of each final with flying colors!

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Good luck Wildcats!

-Becky

 

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