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Learning Strategies Workshops



For dates and times, see our WORKSHOP SCHEDULE


Start Your System Now

If you have problems with procrastination, don't have enough time for study, or feel stressed or over-committed, try this session. You'll learn to use the major components of an effective time management system: a semester calendar, a weekly schedule, a prioritized daily to-do list, and an assignment record for major projects and papers.

"I was behind in all my classes and really stressed out. Setting up a personalized time management system has helped me to do well academically and still have time for my friends and extracurricular activities."

Do you have problems deciding which assignments you should do first and when you should start them? Have you ever focused all of your attention on an exam in one of your difficult courses, only to realize that you forgot about an exam in another course? Have you ever gone to class and heard the instructor say, "tomorrow's midterm will cover chapters 1-10," and you haven't started to study for it? If any of these situations has happened to you, this time management seminar is exactly what you need. During this workshop you will learn how to use a semester calendar, weekly schedule, daily to-do list, and an assignment tracker to eliminate unwanted academic surprises.

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If you constantly lose your keys, your ID, and important papers, learn how to take control of your life by setting up a simple organizational system.

"I'm not a naturally organized person. At first my room was a disaster and I could never find a syllabus or handout when I needed it. Setting up an organizational system took only an hour and one cubic foot of my room, but it saved my sanity."

Have you ever gone to your biology class only to realize that you brought the notebook for your math class? Have you ever gone to class to turn in an assignment and could not find it in your notebook? Have you ever been reminded by a friend, the next day, that you missed an important meeting? These situations are often embarrassing and can be costly. They are all signs of organizational problems. This workshop is designed to help you develop an effective organizational system and take control of your life.

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Read to Remember

Do you dread long reading assignments? If you have trouble concentrating on, comprehending, or recalling detailed reading assignments, this workshop is for you. You will be introduced to SQ4R, a six-step method for studying -- not just reading -- a textbook chapter. Bring along a challenging textbook so you can practice and experience the benefits.

"I would spend hours reading a chapter and then have to re-read the whole thing before a test because I'd forgotten so much. When I use SQ4R, I don't just read; I think, understand, and remember the information. I've learned to study, not just read."

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Do you have a professor whose lectures are rapid, detailed, and the main source of test questions? Then you need to know how to take excellent notes and how to study effectively from them. You'll assess your current notes and examine two different note taking methods: the Cornell System, including weekly reviews; and Concept Mapping, a free-form method of highlighting relationships among concepts.

"I used to tape my lecture classes so I could fill in my sketchy notes afterwards. Now that I'm using the Cornell system, my notes are complete and organized in much less time. And my regular five-minute reviews make learning almost painless. No more taping and listening twice!"

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Your Transition to SMU

To help you quickly feel at home at SMU, ready to meet challenges and take full advantage of the opportunities, we'll share the secrets of success at SMU. Escape transfer shock by learning about "shock absorbers" -- professors, advisors, Career and Counseling Centers, tutors, the Writing Center, and learning strategy workshops to upgrade your skills. Come with questions, problems, and concerns; we'll find answers to smooth your transition and help you make the most of your SMU experience.

"A month into my first semester here, I got back my first test grades -- the lowest of my life. In a panic, afraid I'd lose my transfer scholarship, I considered quitting school; at that point, I hated SMU. But once I learned about the help available here, I sought it out and turned things around. Unlike my first school, where few needed or sought support, I learned that 75 to 90% of SMU students work with the A-LEC to deal with academic challenges. A year later, I want to tell every transfer student to expect those low points and to immediately seek help. I love SMU for the support that is such an integral part of campus culture, helping all of us to do our best."

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If you often feel unsure of what to do to be ready for a test, or you feel you put in lots of study time with little result, this workshop can help. You'll evaluate the way you prepared for your last exam. Then you'll choose from a full menu of varied strategies to improve your preparation for the next test.

"I thought I was ready for a test because I had read the chapters and looked over my notes. NOT! Now I use quick daily and weekly reviews plus a five-day study plan to review before the test. Even with three tests in a week, I now know how to study in depth and get the grades I want."

Have you ever looked at your calendar and realized that you have a major exam next week, but you have no idea how you are going to prepare for it? Have you ever developed a study plan that only resulted in your cramming for the exam the night before? If you can identify with any of these situations, this workshop is perfect for you. We will help you develop a Five Day Study Plan for all of your exams. Remember: proper preparation prevents poor performance.

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If you never do as well on essay exams, attend this session. You'll learn how to prepare differently for your next essay exam and how to organize and present your knowledge for maximum credit.

"My essay answers now earn up to twice the points I used to get. What made the difference? I don't study more, but I plan how and what to study. During the test, I organize and present my information much more effectively."

Have you ever lost points on an essay question and not understood why? Do you sometimes have difficulty understanding what your instructor is looking for in an essay question? The secret to being successful on essay exams is to know how to prepare for them. This workshop will teach you an effective method for preparing for essay exams.

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Do you hate multiple choice and true/false questions? They require detailed study and careful, critical reading of each question. Come to a workshop to assess your preparation for a recent test, select improved study methods for your next one, and learn procedures for handling objective test items effectively.

"I've always hated multiple choice tests, but learning different techniques to prepare for them and to work through them has changed my attitude -- and my grades. I went up two letter grades from my first to second Marketing exam!"

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If your test grades seem to be determined more by your high level of anxiety than by your understanding of the material, you can profit by reducing your anxiety. In a three-step process, you learn to improve test preparation and test taking skills, to substitute positive self-talk for the negative thinking that often occurs during tests, and to train yourself in deep muscle relaxation to deal with the physical component of anxiety.

"After practicing anxiety control techniques for two weeks, I calmly scored 20 points higher on my second Economics exam. I don't dread tests anymore, knowing I am in control and can really demonstrate what I have learned."

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Does your mind wander as soon as the lecture starts or the minute you sit down to read? Attend this workshop to discover what distractions most affect you and what study methods can help you compensate.

"I would spend more time fighting to stay awake and pay attention than actually learning. Understanding how to set the stage for concentration and how to deal actively with internal and external distractions has put me in control of my study time."

Have you ever sat down to read your textbook and somehow could not seem to concentrate on the task at hand? Do you sometimes try to study at home and everything seems to distract you (i.e. phone, roommate, television, doorbell, etc.)? The more we understand about concentration, the better we are at focusing our attention and learning the material the first time we read it. You can do several things to increase your level of concentration. This concentration workshop is for anybody who has to do a lot of reading and studying -- basically all college students.

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Getting the Most from Your Memory

Do courses which demand memorization discourage and defeat you? Come learn about your own memory style and methods to improve retention and recall. Then use Einstein Memory Trainer software to learn mnemonic techniques.

"I spent hours trying to memorize dates and formulas, then got them all confused on the test. Learning about my memory style and mnemonic techniques has saved time and made this part of studying almost fun."

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Do you try random study techniques, then find your effort doesn't really pay off? Attend this session to analyze your unique learning preferences. Then build upon your personal strengths by selecting the study techniques that are most natural -- and productive -- for you.

"All my life I've been using visual study methods like highlighting and reading over my notes, never understanding why I got little benefit from all my study time. Now that I understand my auditory learning style, I'm investing time in ways like reciting, discussing, and making and listening to tapes. The information seems to 'stick' so much more easily that I feel smarter!"

Have you ever realized that your concentration is much better in the morning than it is at night, or vice versa? Do you enjoy working alone, with a partner, or in a group? Imagine you could set up an ideal study environment for yourself. Do you know what you would include in it? Is it helpful for you when your instructor draws a diagram on the board? These are all elements of your learning preferences. You have your own learning style--the instructional method, environment, social grouping, and time of day in which you learn most effectively. Knowing your learning preferences can make the single most significant difference in your success in college. 

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GPA 101
SMU Survival Skills

Low grades on your early or midterm academic warning reports? Come right in and start over! You'll review current grades and determine the negative factors that have caused them to be low. Then you'll choose positive steps to take to improve those grades. An overview of techniques for managing time, texts, lectures, and tests gives specific strategies for immediate use.

"Socially, I had a great time the first half of the semester, but I didn't know how poorly I'd done academically until my first test grades came back. I was shocked, but a 'GPA 101' workshop helped me develop solid study habits and turn things around."

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Develop New Strategies to End the Semester Strong

Mid-terms are over, and there are only a few weeks before final exams. If you're not satisfied with your performance in classes, perhaps it's time for some new strategies. An overview of techniques for managing time, texts, lectures and tests focusing on specific strategies for immediate use.

"When I looked at my syllabi and saw how many projects, papers, and tests were coming in such a short time, I was really nervous. My grades had been okay, but I knew that I could do better. I just needed some focus and some new ideas. I used the ideas from the 'Reclaim Your Semester' workshop to develop new plans for my time, my studying, and my test-taking. Now, I'm more in control of the semester."

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Do your final exam grades always destroy your GPA? Does a cumulative final inspire terror? Are you concerned about how you will get everything done in a relatively short amount of time? Come to one of these sessions during the last month of the semester to apply time management and test preparation strategies. Dealing with both your remaining assignments and a thorough review in each course, you will leave with a tentative written "battle plan" covering each task and each day through the end of finals. You plan your work, then work your plan.

"My final exam grades always pulled my course grades down, and I was always sick by the end of finals week from lack of sleep. After developing and following a plan to study, I felt organized and confident -- and my GPA was much higher."

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Do you want better results for your research projects? Come to this workshop and get started. A librarian will introduce you to research techniques that will save you time and help you find better resources.

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