Tag Archives: Academic Success & Achievement

Stay Organized, Wildcats!

28 Aug

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time! There are so many events to attend, new people to meet, clubs to join, and a full schedule of classes to adjust to. As college students, we get to decide how we want to use our time. It can be overwhelming to keep track of everything, but having an organizational system helps make it easier to manage. Ultimately you will have to find out what works best for you. Here are my top 5 tips to stay organized in college.

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Arriving on campus is so exciting!

1. Get a planner- and use it!
It may seem obvious, but having a planner is essential to getting by in college. There are so many types of physical planners to choose from, and lots of templates if you want to create your own customized one. If you’re going to use a paper planner, it is helpful to have one that shows the whole month and then has space for each day to write down homework assignments, meal plans, things that you need to remember to bring, work shifts, etc.

Paper planner isn’t your thing? That’s okay! There are a lot of online options to help you stay on top of assignments. Google calendar is available through your Catmail account to help you keep track of time commitments and you can set reminders. Google keep is also a free service that allows you to keep to-do lists and also has a reminder function. If you decide to stick to a strictly digital planning system, try to stick to one or two that work really well for you so that assignments don’t fall through the cracks.

2. Your syllabus is your best friend


Everything is better with support!

Once you get your syllabi, look for the section with your assignments and exams and put them into your planner. With longer projects and papers, it can be helpful to work backwards from the due date and give yourself deadlines to finish certain tasks since your professors won’t be checking in to keep you on track. Remember to keep looking back for instructions on how to complete assignments. I like to cross assignments off each week, and it helps me stay motivated.

3. Keep workspaces simple
Keep your desk surface as clear as possible so that you have room to spread out books and notebooks while you’re doing homework. It’s much more difficult to focus on the task at hand when there’s too much going on at your desk. Consolidate your school supplies to one place that is easy to reach from your desk. I like having a pencil cup on my desk with pencils, pens, and a pair of scissors and keep extra paper and index cards in a drawer nearby. Putting everything away after you’re done working helps keep your workspace feel peaceful.

4. Avoid the mountain of papers


Don’t forget to file your paperwork.

As the semester goes on, you will be receiving lots of papers from your professors and getting assignments handed back. It is very easy for those papers to become unmanageable and end up all over your desk, in the inner hidden corners of your backpack that you never knew existed, behind your bed, or under the couch. Some of those pieces of paper could be really important- you could need those tests and papers in case something isn’t put into D2L correctly and get back the points you earned. Even if there isn’t a grading mistake, your TAs do leave useful feedback on your assignments to help you improve the next time around! Set aside a day of the week to sort papers into their appropriate folders, and if you need to take action on something (for example a change of schedule form), keep it easily accessible in your backpack so that you don’t risk missing a deadline.

5. Keep classes separate
In high school, it was easy to use one binder for all of my classes. When I got to college I realized that each class takes up a lot of space and the one-binder-fits-all method was not going to work anymore. Some people are more visual and like to color code, so if that helps you out use it! I like to have a different color notebook with a matching folder for each class so that it is easy to grab the materials for the different classes each day when I’m in a rush!

Getting organized can be a fun process and it’s a great time to try out new things and see what fits your needs the best. Once you have something that works, you will realize that you save a lot of time and can focus on what we’re all here for- to get that degree! Best of luck with the new year, Wildcats!


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!)


#MiddlingMarch: Chrissy Gets Her Groove Back

29 Mar

Of all the breaks and days off we have, Spring Break is the worst. It is just long enough that we delude ourselves that we can put off doing school work for a few days, but not long enough for that to actually be the case. Please, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Spring Break, I cherish the fact that I don’t have to be at school at 7:30 in the morning everyday, but coming back from break is always the hardest thing to do.

Personally, to avoid the awkward phase of getting back into the swing of school, I do school-type things over the break. This break, I visited the University of Washington to check out their graduate program. I was able to talk to the Professors I could potentially be working with to get my PhD. Doing this helped me refocus my vision. Throughout your school years, you might forget why you came to college in the first place, and it is a good idea to remind yourself. If graduate school is not in the books for you, spend some time talking to people in your field. Sometimes you have to focus on the end goals a bit to stay motivated.


Of course, I did not visit Seattle without visiting the sites! I was there for three days, and while one was spent at the University, the other two were spent touring around Seattle. I visited the Chihuly Glass Museum, the Seattle Aquarium, Pike-Market Place (where we saw them throw fish at customers) and of course the Space Needle. It was the right amount of school and relaxing.

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It’s not always easy to flit off to schools you’re interested in, but looking up programs is a great way to focus your mind on the future and to remind yourself what you are working toward. It is never too early to start planning your future!


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’s Declassified Midterm Survival Guide

21 Oct

It’s that time of the semester: when all-nighters are a must, the libraries are packed, and anyone hoping to survive can be found with notes in their hands. That’s right, it’s midterms!

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For those just starting out, midterms can be a frightening thing, but with these tips you should be able to get through them without too much trouble.


This is honestly the most important thing a student can do. Not only does your brain get a chance to rest and sort all the information you are going over, it also keeps you healthy. While you sleep your body rejuvenates itself. Staying healthy during this time of year is difficult enough without adding this obstacle, and you need to be healthy for your midterms!

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2) Start studying in advance

This is one tip I have trouble with, but it really does work. You know at the beginning of the semester when your midterms will be, so be sure to start studying at least two weeks in advance. I know that you won’t have all the content of the class by then, but if you start refreshing yourself on the old content earlier, then it you will only have to refresh yourself on the new content closer to the exam!

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3) Drink lots of water

Water is very important especially in Arizona. Drinking lots of water will not only keep you hydrated, but it will also help with your attentiveness in class. Try replacing one of your coffees a day with a bottle of water, you’d be amazed by the difference.

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4) Don’t stress out

I know that this seems a bit hard, but honestly by stressing yourself out over midterms you are really psyching yourself out of doing well. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take midterms seriously, but stressing out will only take time away from studying. Be sure to take breaks and let yourself breathe.

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Good luck on all of your midterms!

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5 Tips to Beat College Misconceptions

4 Sep

When we first arrive at the university, we start out with a small part of the big picture and expand it one experience at a time. Here are a few tips I’ve learned that might help clear up some common misconceptions about college.

1. Grades

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One of the biggest differences between high school and college is that high school was a requirement, but college is a privilege. The effort that gets us A’s in high school might not be enough to get them in college, so plan on putting in some extra study time and don’t be afraid to ask a tutor or your instructor for help.

2. Hard Work: Meeting the Challenge, Beating Discomfort

fun animated GIF Working hard makes sure you learn the information. This can include making clear notes and testing yourself with them, reading carefully, and thinking critically. Meeting the challenge gives you what it takes to transform that information into your personal knowledge. Being able to Bear Down and beat your own discomfort when you find yourself under the pressure of stress gives you the tools for gaining true Wildcat wisdom.

3. Reaching Out

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Sometimes, from our high school perspectives, we see college as this harsh shark tank where we will either sink or swim. I know I was afraid that my professors were going to be unforgiving and impatient if I messed up or forgot an assignment. It’s true that the standards are higher and tolerance for slacking is lower, but we have a safety net as big as the UA campus. Let your professors know who you are, go to office hours, and get to know your friends at ThinkTank. Just remember that it’s your responsibility to get help when you need it. Teachers can facilitate learning, but our education is something we accomplish for ourselves. Everyone has a different learning style and we each have to figure out what works best for us.

4. Fails, Epic or Otherwise

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Nearly everyone has a healthy fear of failure, but no one is perfect and missing the mark on occasion can turn out to be the best mistake you ever make in your academic career. Learning how to embrace your failures as opportunities, getting up to brush it off and try again, and making new strategies can be some of the most valuable tools we’ll carry with us through graduation and into the real world.

5. Satisfying Requirements and Satisfying Your Life

watch animated GIF As a freshman, I thought that the college experience really just meant that I could just keep my head down and push through my requirements. I thought it was a good way to avoid the responsibilities I would have later in life and to focus on academic ones instead. It’s not about the requirements, it’s not really even about the degree itself. It’s about having a place to grow, develop skills, and find out who you are. Getting involved in clubs, organizations or interest groups, going out to see talks, events, and entertainment around campus, and getting to know your colleagues really helps make the college experience what it should be. Check out the calendars & events page to see important academic dates and schedules of cool events.


Looking Back: A Reflection on the Last Year

17 Aug

For some of you, being a part of ASA was an obligation you took on as part of a scholarship or a requirement for a class, for others, you did it because you wanted to learn more about campus. Either way, you got something out of it (at least we hope you did), but we, as your Peer Mentors, wanted to let you know what we enjoyed and got out of this experience.

One of the best parts about being a Peer Mentor for me was when one of my students asked me to write them a recommendation letter, and they actually got the job! This let me know that they trusted me and that they were using the things I taught them in workshop. Another great part of my job was the thanks students gave me after the semester. Knowing that I helped them in their pursuit to success really inspired me to continue being a Peer Mentor.

I got a great sense of joy from making the newsletter every week. I knew that not every student who received the letter had workshops and 1:1’s, so being able to help them just as much as I helped the students I met with in person was great. I hope that students were able to learn a lot about the campus and opportunities .

One of my favorite parts about being a Peer Mentor last year was seeing my students go out and use the tools we talked about in workshop or in the newsletters. Knowing that I actually helped them organize their lives gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Also, knowing that they felt comfortable enough to come to me with their problems was a very gratifying experience, and knowing that the advice or life experience I shared with them helped them solve their dilemma made the less exciting parts of my role worth it!

As you can see, you students made just as big an impact on our lives as we did on yours, just in different ways, and for that we want to thank you and wish you the best in all of your endeavors.

-Chrissy, Julian, and Casey

Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned

12 Aug

Despite your first year being over, there is always more to learn and to know. Here are a few last minute tips for you to make your second year at the U of A even better than your first.

Organization is your best friend.
This is almost a given in any scholastic setting, but keeping your life organized will help you so much. instead of searching for half an hour for those chem notes, you can spend that extra thirty minutes actually studying. It is amazing what a bit of organization can do.

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Sleep is more important than you think.
So many times students will put off sleep so that they can go out, or work on homework, or study, but sleep is a vital ingredient to success in college. You will be amazed what at least a solid six hours of sleep a night will do for you. You’ll be able to pay attention better, and you’ll feel a lot better.

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Keep your end goals in mind.
There will be points throughout your undergraduate life where you will put something off because “you still have two years left”, but those two years will creep up on you faster than you think. There might also be times when you doubt your ability to finish, but just remember you did this for a reason, remember why you wanted to get that degree. Maybe it was for a specific job, maybe you wanted to be the first in your family to graduate college, or maybe you are genuinely passionate about a subject and you wanted to know more about it. Whatever it is, there is a reason you came here and seeing it through to the end is important.

I don’t know how many times or in how many ways we can tell you this, but it really is important. For some professors, this is the only time they can get to know their students and help them with the harder points of the class. Too often, professors sit in their offices alone because no one comes in for help. Utilize the tools you are given.

Remember to have fun.
Yes, of course college is about academics and getting good grades, but it is also about becoming an adult, and learning who you are without the influence of family. Don’t get lost under the weight of classes and forget to have fun while you discover yourself.


#MightyMay: Summoning Summer

3 May

May is here.

May is finally here!

And do you know what that means?

The semester is coming to an end! (This can either be really exciting or depressing news.)

Now is the time for you, the student, to wrap up your semester, finish strong, and enjoy your last days of the Spring 2015 semester!

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Because isn’t that what summer is all about? Summer is meant to be a time of enjoyment! A time to appreciate all of the the water, sun, nature; all of the good times you had during the school year, all of the bad times you had during the school year.

Summer is a time to enjoy yourself. Summer is a time to celebrate. Summer is a time to be you.

So use this month of May to celebrate your future and all of the many awesome events that your summer will consist of!

Whether it be filled with looking for a job, summer classes, work, relaxation, or travel, make your summer one to remember.

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Because Summer time is smiling time.

I cannot tell you how many times throughout the school year, I’ve wished it were summer. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve let my mind wander off during a lecture (I don’t recommend this, by the way), and have let myself fantasize about summertime and a time when things seem somewhat easier. Summer is inevitable. We all look forward to it.

This May, I’ve decided to focus on successfully wrapping up my school year. I want to finish off strong and happy. It’s very difficult for us as students to look forward into our future and relish in what is to come. Many times we are consumed by the present, what we have to accomplish during the day or week; we forget why we are all here in the first place: for our future. Every single student currently roaming the UA campus has one same goal in mind: future success. Whether you focus on finding success in dancing, in biology, in engineering, or in politics; we all are looking forward to success. So be proud of the semester you’ve just finished. You’re almost there! You’re one step closer to your goal.

Use this summer break as a time of reflection, relaxation, reinvention.

Focus on becoming the student and person you want to be this next semester.

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Whether we can’t wait to have some time off, or can’t wait to start that new job, or can’t wait to travel; we all have something to look forward to for summer. Although it is currently May, and summer is not here yet, it is very good to start planning and acknowledging of the many mighty reasons to CELEBRATE this summer.

Don’t forget to Bear Down.


5 Ways to Eat Smarter During Finals

17 Apr

We’ve all been there. Finals are around the corner, and seeing as you can’t seem to find the time to eat, you grab a candy bar from the U-mart. You start to replace your daily water needs with coffee and sugary energy drinks–you’re a mess.

If you plan ahead and plan smart, there are ways to avoid the malnourished jitters many people get when finals come creeping around the corner. Here are five ways to eat smarter (and feel better!) during Finals Week:

1. Make breakfast your new study buddy.


No– not a donut and coffee. I mean real deal, protein, calcium and fiber-filled breakfast goodness. You need the nutrients to stay active and full longer. Try making a yogurt parfait with blueberries– they are a well known antioxidant. Bottom line: eat breakfast, you’ll thank me later.

2. Snack Smart! 


Cut out the potato chips and candy, and switch to wholesome snacks like a banana with peanut butter, almonds, or Greek yogurt with honey.

3. Eat Regularly.


Give yourself a break from the library and eat at appropriate intervals! Don’t skip meals for studying or sleep. A well balanced meal and a full tummy can ward off the junk food munchies.

4. Stock up on fruits and veggies. 


Got bananas? Strawberries? Carrots? Good. Now you’re ready to replenish your brain with some super food! Raw fruits and vegetables are high on your must-have list for a well balanced diet–plus they are known to be one of the best foods for optimum brain activity.

5. Stay well hydrated.

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I shouldn’t even need an explanation here. We live in the dang desert!

In the end, all you need is just a little discipline! Remember, your physical nourishment heavily affects your mental nourishment, and your body will thank you in the long run. Now go and kick butt during Finals Week!