Dr. Ginny’s 10 Secrets to Academic Success
- Rule Number One: keep yourself in fighting trim. Eat three healthy meals daily, exercise, and get enough sleep. See the Health Center or Counseling Center if you need help in taking care of yourself.
- Treat college like a job. Schedule yourself a 40 hour work week, minimum. And don’t count lunch breaks, visiting with friends, or other non-productive activities. Use the most modern technology available: a computer, not a pencil. Draft papers on the computer to save editing and copying time.
- Keep a calendar, and note assignments on it, along with meetings, opportunities for extra-curricular learning through events, lectures, and performances.
- Break down complex assignments into steps (look up references, take notes, outline, draft, edit, revise, edit). Schedule the steps on your calendar.
- Stay on task. If it’s a scheduled work time, work. If you’re too tired, anguished, or whatever, to think straight, do clerical work. Type a paper, look up references to read later, organize your note cards. Learn to do two things at once: put in a load of laundry, study while it washes.
- Turn in something for every assignment, on time. Show a good faith effort.
- Don’t let your desire to do well become an excuse for doing little. Perfection isn’t nearly as important as consistently completing and turning in assignments.
- Make your reading active. Write in your books! Skim assigned reading, then return to read leisurely. Underline main points and number sub-points. Write summaries at the tops of each page or make notes as you read. Ask yourself whether the new material is similar to previous material, or different. Note your responses.
- Make lecture learning active. Take notes! Include notes of questions to ask after the lecture, ideas for papers. Review notes after each class. Expand abbreviations, fill in gaps, and use active reading techniques: underline main points, number sub-points, note comparisons and contrasts to earlier material.
- Take advantage of available help: your class professor, your teaching assistant, classmates, your advisor, the Writing Center (private tutorials, on your schedule, free!), the Sena Center (learning skills and other workshops).
How to Succeed on Exams
THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR STUDYING, SO DO THAT FIRST. BE SURE TO OVER LEARN,
SO YOU CAN REMEMBER EVEN UNDER PRESSURE. THEN APPLY THE GINNY FRANCISCO EXAM
- Read through all the questions before you begin working, so the back of your mind can work on the questions you are not consciously working on at present.
- Underline or circle key words and specific directions: compare, give 2 examples, choose 6 of the following, answer each of the following, include examples, list all the factors.
- Read an essay question especially carefully and be sure your answer is responsive to the question. Spend some time in thought and make a short list of the main points you wish to make before you start writing each answer. Unless you are directed otherwise, put the list right on your exam paper.
- Be specific and clear.
- Make sure you have answered all the parts of the question. Check them off right on the exam paper.
- Watch your time carefully. If exam sections contain a suggested time limit, be guided by it. If it doesn’t, or if each question has equal value, set time limits for each section or page of questions for yourself. Write the time you intend to start each section in the exam margin.
- Make a careful time check when only one-half hour remains in the exam period. If you find yourself short of time, answer remaining questions in outline of list form. That may not be what the faculty member requested, but it’s likely to be better than omitting whole questions. If time remains, you can expand your brief answers.
- Avoid the temptation to tell all you know. Avoid wordy padding. Use the value points of each question as a guide to how extensive your answer needs to be.
- Write clearly or print. Number answers to correspond with question numbers.
- Give ‘em heck! That was Fletch Collins’ good luck wish, which has become traditional in MBC theatre. It’s my wish to you.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT ALL EXAMINATIONS AT MARY BALDWIN COLLEGE ARE CONDUCTED
UNDER THE HONOR SYSTEM. Make a point of not creating the appearance that
your are violating the honor system! Don’t take anything except blank paper
and writing tools into a closed book exam room. Take open-book exams only
in designated rooms. Don’t discuss exams with anyone. Take closed-book take
out exams in a public place: the library, a classroom with the door open.
Doctor Ginny’s Five Point Plan for Academic Improvement
TAKE THESE STEPS TODAY:
- Be sure you understand fully why your grade is unsatisfactory now. If you aren’t sure you know why your grade is unsatisfactory, consult your professor (see below).
- Be sure you understand what problems have caused your unsatisfactory grade. Exactly what’s the trouble? Irregular attendance? Lack of time spent on the work? Lack of preparation for class? Work not turned in? Work poorly prepared? Reading undone? Reading not well understood? If you’re not sure you know what your problems is (I’m concentrating six hours or more on this work a week and I still don’t get it"), consult your professor.
- Consider the resources you can bring to your problem and other resources available on campus. The Writing Center, the Sena Center, the Library, the Counseling Center, and various departments of the Dean of Students Office provide highly-trained assistance to students who are having trouble with writing, time management, study skills, health, personal problems–just about anything.
- Make and keep an appointment with the professor in the course. Take all your course papers, tests and class notes with you. Let your professor know what you want is to succeed in the course and explain the steps you are taking to improve. Get a reality check: Is your appraisal of the problem accurate? Can the professor make any additional suggestions for improvement? Will late work or extra-credit work be accepted? What deadlines apply?
When you’ve done these four things, you’re well on your way to solving your
problem. But please come to see me and tell me what conclusions you’ve come
to, what steps you’ve taken, and what I can do to help. I’m proud to help
students like you who want to solve their problems.