Monday, October 31, 2016

Midterms – How to Bound Back

Now that the first round of midterms is almost completed, you’ve probably started to get your first midterm grades back.  If you didn’t do as well as you expected on an exam, don’t be discouraged!  Taking college exams is not an easy task, especially if you’ve never taken one before.  Some helpful ideas to stay on track for the rest of the semester…
Here are some tips that I have found helpful after getting a disappointing grade on a midterm.

Talk to your instructor

Stop by office hours and go over your exam with the instructor.  This is really helpful because you’ll be able to go over your mistakes and find out why your answers were incorrect.  Make sure to ask questions and always ask to clarify a topic that you do not completely understand. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them!

Develop new study habits

In high school, you probably didn’t have to study much for midterms.  In college, studying may require hours at Library, memorizing pages of notes and study guides.  This is not always the most effective way to study the material.  It’s not about how long you study, but rather how well you study.

Make use of the resources on campus

Check out the campus tutoring centers (if you haven’t already) for help with subjects that many students study in their first year.

Hold yourself accountable

We need to be the one to take responsibility for the disappointing grade.  If you do get a bad grade, it’s okay to be upset about it, but then try to find ways to improve yourself.  The best way to deal with a bad grade is to put in the effort to do things differently and to strive even harder the next time for the grade you feel like you deserve.

Stay motivated

Getting your first bad grade on an exam can make you rethink a lot of things in life: your major, your career choice.  Everyone struggles with staying motivated at one time or another.  The most successful students are the ones who ask for help when they need it!  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.  Stay positive, work hard and make it happen!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Albert, Bob, and Buster

One's a famous physicist, winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics and the author of the theory of relativity, considered the most important scientific breakthrough in modern times.

Another's a famous songwriter, this year's Nobel prize winner in literature, and a figure whose songs and lyrics not only shaped his generation's identity but changed folk music forever.

A third's a famous athlete, a catcher for Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants, at 29 regarded as among the best ever to play the game.  No Nobel prize to his credit, at least not yet, but plenty of other honors (Rookie of the Year, MVP, batting titles, and so on)--and more to come.

Could Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, and Buster Posey, each representing a different generation, each with a different talent and passion, possibly have anything in common?


Talent, for starters.  A serious commitment to their work too.  Mostly, a willingness to try harder than others around them.

"It's not that I'm so smart. It's just that I stay with problems longer," Einstein once said about himself and his work.  Truth be told, Einstein was smart. a genius in fact, but also someone with a tenacity that helped him remain focused on problems that had stumped others.

Ditto for Dylan. Those who think his songwriting was effortless need only listen to Dylan describe his commitment to his craft.  "For three or four years, all I listened to were folk standards," he said in a 2015 speech.  "I went to sleep singing folk songs." As Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach commented recently, Dylan may indeed be a genius, but there's more to it. "The secret of geniuses is that they work harder than everyone else."

And Posey? Lauded for his intelligence and dedication as well as his athleticism, he has impressed every coach he's ever played for.  Florida State baseball coach Robert Martin, who coached Posey in college, said his "work ethic and discipline [was] unmatched, the best I've ever seen."  It's this quality that's helped Posey excel in the big leagues, emerge as his team's leader, and even overcome adversity, including a serious leg injury sustained in a nasty home-plate collision in 2011. 

Is there a lesson for us in their stories? Definitely.  

While most of us will never win a Nobel prize, sell out a Madison Square Garden concert, or hit clean-up for our favorite team, we'll all do something--actually several somethings (college, career, family, friendships, etc. etc.)--that will challenge us to try our best.  Chances are the harder we try, the more successful and satisfied we'll be. 

And even if things don't always work out exactly as we'd like, there's satisfaction in knowing we didn't shortchange ourselves. 

Effort matters. Hard work matters. Being your best matters. 

Just ask Albert, Bob, and Buster.    

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What? You're Not Planning to Vote?

In the College Center Building the other day I heard a student tell a friend she wasn't planning to vote in the Presidential election because she didn't know much about the candidates and "it didn't really matter who got in anyway."

Her friend nodded and said that she too was sitting the election out. She added that she hadn't paid any attention to what the candidates stood for, though she thought Donald Trump was a jerk and had heard Hillary Clinton couldn't be trusted.

So both were letting others decide their future for them.

This isn't a pitch for a specific candidate (though I can say for sure it DOES INDEED MATTER who becomes President).  Nor is it one of those "voting-is-your-civic-responsibility" lectures that you've probably heard before and that doesn't seem to resonate these days even though there are tons of people on this planet who would give anything to have a say in who runs their country.

But it is about engagement and knowledge and interest, none of which seemed to matter much to the two students whose conversation I overheard.

It's also, in a curious kind of way, about personal pride. Neither student seemed at all embarrassed that she hadn't bothered to learn about the candidates or their views on issues that will most certainly affect everyone's life.  Both seemed content to be ignorant and indifferent, as if making an intelligent and informed decision about the next President was on par with deciding what Netflix film to watch on Friday night.

Happily, there are students on campus who pay attention to the world, including the words and ideas of those seeking to succeed Barack Obama, and who will get to the polls on Election Day and cast a vote for the candidate of their choice.  To those I say Bravo, no matter what their politics.

But to those who know nothing--and who see nothing wrong with knowing nothing--it's time to step up and start paying attention. There's too much at stake on Election Day (and beyond) for anyone to be mentally missing in action.  What's more, your life is too important to leave its quality and direction to others, not all of whom (trust me on this) have your best interests at heart.

So take these next few weeks to get registered (here's how-- and get informed.  And on Election Day, get to the polls and vote.  

Because your voice and your vote matter. . . .