Getting off to a Good Start Academically
The academic transition to college is challenging for most students. In order to help student veterans adjust to college life, some “basics” have been identified and are presented in this module. Being familiar with a syllabus, knowing some time management tips, and feeling comfortable about meeting professors and tutors are all important keys to getting off to a good start in a college career.
Syllabus – On your first day of class, your professor will distribute a syllabus or outline of your course. Generally, a syllabus will include the course description; course objectives; textbook name; professor’s name, office hours, and basic contact information; assignments; grading scale; attendance policies; calendar of when the assignments and exams are due; and other key information related to the class. There will also be an invitation to meet with the professor to discuss disability-related issues if you desire accommodations for this class. It is important to keep the syllabus as it acts as sort of a contract between you and the professor. Things can change, but basically, this is what will be expected of you for a successful completion of the class. Some professors put their syllabus online so note if this will be true for your class. Keep your syllabus in a notebook, folder, or file so you can readily refer to it throughout the semester. (Learn your professors’ names ASAP!)
Professors’ office hours – It is a wise idea to contact your professors. Knowing where to seek help if it’s needed is something all students need to be aware of as they go through the semester. Your professors are your “front line” for information. The professors are supposed to maintain some office hours throughout the week. This means they will be in their designated office on certain days and times. They will willingly meet with you during those times to discuss class content, study strategies related to the class, or concerns that you might have about the class. Know when and where the office hours are for your professors. They are probably listed in the syllabus, but if not, ask your professor before or after class when you can meet. Although Ball State has the Learning Center with tutors available, your professor is the ultimate expert for your class and can help with specific questions related to your section. By visiting your professor during their office hours, it also shows the professor your concern about the class and your initiative in trying to be successful with the material and concepts. If you are not free during a professor’s office hours, contact your professor before or after class or by email to see if your professor can arrange another time to meet with you.
Time management – This is a complicated topic for many reasons. If your time has been closely programmed in the past, college may feel strange to you. You may be in a situation where you have more free time than in the past, or you may have family responsibilities that restrict your free time and make designating study time difficult. Get a calendar or planner to mark due dates, exam dates, etc. It is helpful to keep daily “To Do” lists in your agenda, also. Many students find it is useful to have the “To Do” notes in the agenda/planner so they will know what to do each day. It is important to have a weekly schedule so you know when your classes, work, meetings, etc. will occur. Finally, keeping a semester calendar helps with long-range planning and will avoid surprises of assignments and tests sneaking up on you. All three of these time management strategies (daily, weekly, semester) can be accomplished by purchasing and maintaining a planner. If you need assistance in setting up a calendar for the semester, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange a meeting to help you GET ORGANIZED for the semester. Some specific tips include:
- Make a weekly schedule and plan your fixed commitments (classes, work, meetings, carpooling, etc.) as well as your flexible commitments (study groups, sports events, social gatherings, etc.)
- Assign specific subjects to study times in the free time blocks.
- Reward yourself with time on Facebook, TV, or meeting friends when you follow your schedule.
- Make daily “To Do” lists and cross off items when completed to give you a feeling of accomplishment. Keeping a planner helps you to track when assignments or tests are scheduled as well as helping you to break large tasks into smaller ones and spreading them across time. This counters procrastination and makes the big projects easier.
- For more information there are several useful online sites such as http://www.academictips.org/acad/timemanagement.html
Tutoring - The main academic resource on campus is the Learning Center. Tutors are available for specific classes as well as to help you develop more generalized skills such as writing and study strategies. The center is located in North Quad 350 and is open 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM Monday through Thursday and 9:00 AM to noon on Friday. Services are offered without a fee. To learn more about how this resource can assist you, see http://bsu.edu/universitycollege/learningcenter
You may feel it is too early to get a tutor since you haven’t had any tests yet and so you don’t know how you’ll do in your classes. Don’t think of tutoring as something you put in place only if you are struggling in a class. Yes, it’s there if that situation arises, but it is available for much broader access than that. Tutoring is available to any enrolled student. We want to meet you where you are and help you advance. We can help clarify concepts, provide practice with procedures; and basically, help you take the next step in understanding the material. At this point in the semester, one suggestion is to get a Study Strategies tutor. This person can help you get organized and apply study tips to the classes you are taking. Information related to the process of getting a Learning Center tutor is described in the next section.
Getting a Tutor at the Ball State Learning Center
* Contact the Learning Center by coming to North Quad 350 or by calling 765-285-1006.
* Upon arriving in North Quad, stop at the reception desk. The office staff will ask your name and BSU ID number. There are four main areas within the Learning Center and the staff person will direct you to the appropriate area. Contact information for the four areas is included in this email. Appointments can also be made by calling the desk numbers below.
* Frequently, students can get appointments the same day, or within a day or two. It depends on the tutor’s and your schedules.
* In all tutoring areas, weekly appointments can be set so you will have the same appointment time and tutor. Additionally, in Math and Writing walk-in appointments are often available. Students are always encouraged to set an appointment in advance to ensure that someone will be available.
Contact phone numbers to make tutoring appointments at the Learning Center:
- Core Curriculum Desk 285-3776
- Math, Physics, Accounting & Economics Desk 285-3780
- Writing Desk 285-3778
- Study Strategies Desk 285-3779
BE PROACTIVE ABOUT GETTING HELP RATHER THAN REACTIVE AFTER IT IS TOO LATE!