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2012 Archives

A new semester brings the opportunity for a fresh start

Tips from Ask Deanie, the Libraries and the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center

Study Tips and Resources

Student Studying
From A-LEC and the Libraries:

Students begin every term with the potential to earn a 4.0 grade point average, says Patricia Feldman, associate director of SMU’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (or A-LEC). “When we see students acting like 4.0 students, we see them reaching their academic goals,” she says.

She adds that one high-achieving senior recommends getting one assignment ahead of the syllabus. “That way, you will always know what’s coming up next in class, allowing you to take better notes, clarify confusing points and more easily master the material,” she says.

Here are more tips from Feldman for students as they begin the spring term:

• Go to every class. Arrive on time. Sit in front.
• Complete reading or homework assignments before class so you are fully prepared to learn.
• Go to each professor’s office hours to get acquainted and to ask for advice on how to excel in the course.
• After each class, edit and review your notes.
• Every week, review all reading and notes in your hardest course or two.

A-LEC offers workshops throughout the term to support students, including in February on textbook study reading, taking notes and preparing for the first round of tests and test anxiety. Find the workshop schedule here.

A-LEC also offers free drop-in tutoring Sundays through Fridays. In fall 2010, nearly 90 tutors covered more than 250 courses. Find the spring 2012 tutor schedule here.

Also at A-LEC, the Writing Center’s English faculty offer help with any paper in any course. Call 214-768-4253 for a half-hour appointment Mondays through Fridays.

Before students begin writing their papers, librarians at SMU’s Central University Libraries can help them refine their topics and efficiently find the best resources, allowing more time for refining papers, says Rebecca Graff, research librarian and instruction coordinator.

“When your students mention the words ‘research paper,’ tell them to ‘Ask a Librarian,’” she says. As part of the “Ask a Librarian” service, librarians are available through instant-messaging, phone, e-mail and at the libraries’ reference desks. Students also may schedule consultations for larger research projects.

“Our librarians also offer a range of resources organized by subject in our Research Guides,” Graff says.

In addition, Fondren Library Center is open 24 hours, five days a week; on Fridays and Saturdays, the library closes at 11:55 p.m. and re-opens at 9 a.m. the next morning. This provides students with a place to study, as well as computers and a range of electronic and print resources. SMU IDs are required at night. 

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January 17, 2012

Ask DeanieFrom Ask Deanie:

There is no better time than the start of a new year and new term for students to fully and honestly assess how the first semester went.

Were they satisfied or disappointed with their grades from the first semester? Are they willing to take responsibility for their successes and their failures or, in case of a less than satisfactory GPA, is everything someone else’s fault or do they hold themselves accountable?

The Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC) offers one-on-one counseling, one time or on a regular basis, for students looking to focus – or in some cases refocus – their efforts. First-semester “disasters” do not have to mean a disastrous college career. Call 214-768-3648 for an appointment.

Read tips for the new term (right) from SMU’s learning and library experts at the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center and Central University Libraries.

Regardless of students’ GPA, most everything said at the start of school in August still applies:

  1. Go to class.
  2. Get to know the professors for each class.
  3. Take advantage of the resources on campus (hint: the A-LEC has free tutoring, academic counseling and a writing lab).

Every GPA from the fall can be improved upon with some “sweat equity”:

  • Student StudyingNo cutting class.
  • More time studying.
  • Regular visits to the A-LEC.
  • Numerous meetings with an academic counselor.
  • Getting to know the faculty teaching a course.
  • Making appointments for the Writing Center.
  • More visits to one’s academic adviser.
  • Less shopping.
  • Less partying.
  • Fewer soap operas.
  • More studying ahead.
  • Reading all assignments.
  • New study habits.
  • Making new friends in class and forming study groups (if endorsed by the faculty).
  • Regular meetings with faculty during their office hours.
  • Changes in the company one keeps.
  • A strong determination to improve
  • A genuine commitment to change past behaviors that were barriers to success.
  • A willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful.

. . . Are all good places to start!

Involvement in the campus community is still important, but should enhance one’s academic pursuits, not detract from them. Student activities, club sports, Greek letter groups, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, intramurals, leadership and community involvement, religious organizations, academic clubs and honoraries all have openings in the spring term.

Also, it is not too early for a student to talk with the International Center and their academic adviser about SMU Abroad opportunities this summer or next fall and about summer and fall terms in Taos.

The long winter break gave parents family time to enjoy their students, but also time to assess their mental and physical health.

There are tremendous resources on campus should parents or students have any concerns. Do not hesitate to call me at 214-768-4797 for referral information or contact any campus resource directly for advice.

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