Grit for Student Success

“Grit”, defined as having the ability to persist in something and persevere when you face obstacles, is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, aside from what talent and intelligence contribute.  Being naturally talented and intelligent are great, however to truly do well and thrive,  it is important to have a skill set that allows students to persevere. Students who possess the quality of “grit” are more likely to experience academic success, and it is equally as important as talent and intelligence.

accomplishment ceremony education graduation

In order to stick with a long term goal such as earning a certificate, diploma or degree, here are some ideas and tools that can help you develop “grit”:

  1. Get Clarity: clearly define what your goals are and be sure your goals are related to your core values.  Get clear on what your course plan is, get clear on whether your program is related to your values and get clear on your “WHY”, so that when things get challenging, you can go back to the meaningful nature of why you are doing this in the first place.
  2. Prime Enthusiasm: create energy and excitement daily by consciously deciding how you want to show up everyday. Get involved, visit your goals daily and create an emotional connection to what you want.  Be responsible for the energy you are projecting and transferring to others and be aware of the energy that is being “downloaded” to you by others.  Draw clear boundaries around habits and people that are energy vampires, so you can sustain the energy that is required to work through challenges. Eat healthy, move your body, look for inspiration from positive people and make time for self-care and connection.
  3. Block Time: time management with intention is a critical skill to possess in order to sustain success long term. identify blocks of time for class, studying, sleeping, and connecting with others.  Block time to engage in school related activity as well as activities outside of school so you feel a sense of control and organization.  Plan your days with intentional tasks related to your goals.  Identify any time wasters and reduce or eliminate them.  Spend time on tasks that create value and eliminate tasks that don’t benefit you.
  4. Enlist a Team: successful students have a team of support and recognize that asking for help is a strength not a weakness. Identify what areas of development are required of you and tap into the resources available on and off campus.  Consider student supports such as writing help, academic coaching, instructors and counselors as being part of your team. Reach out to other students or people in your field of study as mentors and create an environment that allows for success.

If you would like help identifying what tools you require in order to develop grit, follow the link below to book an appointment online and see me for help!

https://www.mhc.ab.ca/Services/AcademicSupport

 

 

Top Five Tips for Surviving Finals

In order to prepare both intellectually and emotionally for the most stressful part of the academic year, you will need to arm yourself with the top survival tips for final exams. Supplying your tool belt with a host of strategies for success will ultimately lead to a  successful exam week.  Read on to learn more about the top five survival tips for being more prepared and less stressed through finals.

1. Block Your Time

With a lot of material to cover when studying for finals, it is critical to plan ahead and manage your time wisely.  Research consistently indicates that last minute cramming is not an effective method of studying, therefore it is recommended that you begin scheduling study times early. Break down the material into manageable sections and allow more time to spend on the classes that will likely have the most challenging tests. It is also important to block time for study breaks to allow your brain to rest, so you can function well and retain information effectively.

2. Enlist a Team

Successful students surround themselves with positive, supportive people.  Consider who those people are among your circle of friends and classmates, as they can be a valuable resource for keeping you motivated.  Gathering in productive study groups can allow you to discuss topics that you find challenging and teaching others is a great way to learn.  MHC campus also has many support staff that provide student services such as academic coaching, writing support, peer support and counseling. Be sure to make these people part of your team, as they can be of great help.  Your instructors can also be part of your team if you include them by asking questions and communicating your challenges to them.  Enlisting a team is about making meaningful connections and being resourceful.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Despite popular belief, cramming over a book at all hours of the day and night will not guarantee that you achieve straight A’s during finals week. In order to maximize your studying potential, you need to make sure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs to perform well. Feed your brain with well-balanced meals to avoid feeling sluggish. Rather than pulling all-nighters, also get plenty of sleep throughout final exams week to aid in memorizing the information you studied earlier. To clear the mind, move the body…. schedule in plenty of time for movement, to release endorphins through your body that can boost self-confidence and combat anxiety.

4. Eliminate Distractions

To go about your study days with focus and intention, consider what your distractions are and eliminate them. Video games, social media and TV series binging are good examples of activities that can easily interrupt study time and disrupt your studying groove. Consider negotiating with yourself by allowing time spent with these types of activities as a reward at the end of a productive study session or study day.  If you are busy checking your social media accounts, watching movies or trying to achieve the next level on your favorite video game, you will not be giving your undivided attention to the study materials and will not retain the information. Lock your phone away in a safe place where you will not be tempted and refrain from gaming and watching TV until you have finished your study sessions.

5. Remember to Breathe!

Final exams week can be one of the most stressful weeks of the school year with tremendous amounts of pressure to succeed. It is essential that you do not let the stress overwhelm you and steal your power. Before writing your exams, be sure to take a few deep calming breaths to release all of the built-up tension and put your body at ease. With the top tips for finals in your tool belt, be confident in your intelligence, stay relaxed, and try your best.

5 D’s for Combatting Overwhelm

The winter semester is nearing its end and with that many students may be experiencing a huge sense of overwhelm.  Term papers, finals and all of life’s responsibilities can lead to feelings of being smothered with too many tasks and a lack of control.  So just what can you do to manage it all? The 5 D strategy can help you identify your priorities and gain control of your tasks to relieve the stress around all that is required of you.

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5 D Strategy:

DUMP: Do a mind dump!  Get all of your tasks and responsibilities out of your head and onto paper.  Many students think they can manage their days and to do lists without writing things down, however keeping things in your head takes up space and brain power that you could otherwise be using for other things.  Make a list of all that is expected of you from now until the end of the semester for school and outside of school. By writing down your tasks, you will no longer need to “remember” them.

DELETE: Sometimes we have tasks on our list that are not necessary and can be removed to make space for other things.  Look at your list and eliminate all the items that are not absolutely required.

DEFER:  Identify items on your list that you haven’t been able to delete, but that can be delayed or pushed to a later time.  These items are still required, so make sure you visit your priorities daily so they don’t get missed.

DELEGATE: Often times students have difficulty asking for help.  Successful students are resourceful students, so make sure you tap into the support available on campus and among your friend and family circle.  Building a network of support is critical for anyone to succeed, so remember that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

Do: Create your days with focus and intention by blocking time to accomplish specific items on your list.  Take into consideration due dates and be realistic about how much time things will take to complete.  When your calendar says it’s time to work, eliminate distractions so you can focus.  If you find yourself feeling scattered, refer to your list of to do’s and ask yourself if what you are doing at the moment is a priority.  Don’t forget to make yourself a priority and make time to get adequate sleep, eat healthy food and spend time with family and friends.

Being a college student is demanding and overwhelming at times. Don’t panic or let anxiety steal your thunder.  Remember that “CALM IS A SUPERPOWER” and implementing the 5 D strategy to weather the challenging times will allow you to be in control.

If you need help with student success strategies, I am available for appointments and drop-in service in the library.

 

 

LNAP WINTER 2019

LNAP is coming to MHC on February 13, 2019, and there is so much to be excited for!

But what is it?

LNAP stands for Long Night Against Procrastination, and this semester it is coming to MHC on February 13, 2019!

Once a semester we plan a night to bring you the services we you need at times they normally are not available at. After hours!

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Who is it for?

LNAP is planned with MHC students in mind! All of this is for you!

When is it?

Winter 2019 LNAP is taking place on Wednesday, February 13th from 5 pm. to midnight.

What can I expect?

  • You can expect an exciting, welcoming atmosphere
  • You can expect quick half hour (or less) workshops filled with all kinds of activities
  • You can expect mental health stress reliefs (hint:  puppies and kitties, and Zen Zone)
  • You can expect snacks and drinks (another hint:  pizza and coffee)
  • You can expect assistance and guidance from Faculty, all staff including Advising, Library, IT, Peer Support, Writing Specialist, tutors in the ARC, Counselors and more
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What do I need to do?

  • Register now at LNAP Pre-Registration or register in person starting February 4 in the cafeteria or B-wing hallway (location changes depending on the day)
  • Bring your student ID card
  • Arrive at 5, ready to make the most of an amazing night!

We’ll be there, and we are excited to see you there too!  Participate in all the workshops, or only a few for some well-deserved breaks, or just hunker down to get your assignments and studying done.  What the night is really is up to you!

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Big Picture Problem Solving

Many students find problem-solving in their math and science-based courses very difficult and can end up feeling deflated or frustrated with the challenge.  I often hear students say, “The test was NOTHING like the homework!” or “The problems on the test were not the same as the problems we worked on in class!”  If this sounds like you, here are some questions to ponder…

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What is your approach to solving problems? Do you jump right into the first problem assigned? Do you have a consistent process, system or strategy for solving problems, or are you approaching problems with random, unfocused methods? Do you attempt to see the BIG PICTURE before starting to solve? Seeing the BIG PICTURE can be the difference between a good grade and a poor grade. In order to do well, it is important to review and be aware of your approach to solving problems. The following BIG PICTURE APPROACH to problem solving is a valuable tool that can improve your problem-solving skills and  results:

Part 1: Seeing the BIG PICTURE

CONCEPT – the first question to ask is, “what is the concept?”

A concept is a main idea. When you have a problem, it is important to be familiar with the concept that is associated with the problem. If you don’t know the concept for your problem, then review your lecture notes or textbook to better understand the concept.

S.A.M. – the next question is, “what is the S.A.M?”

  • Set-up
  • Algorithm
  • Method

Every concept has a specific S.A.M. or steps to follow for solving problems. If you don’t know the S.A.M. for your problem, return to examples in your textbook or lecture notes to gain an understanding of the process for doing the calculations and problem solving operations.

VARIATION – now that you have identified the Concept and S.A.M., ask yourself, “what is the variation?” and how does it AFFECT the S.A.M.?”

When you have a group of problems – review all of the problems in the group. They may share the same concept, but are the problems different or the same? The “difference” is the variation.

Does the variation affect the S.A.M.? How do you need to modify the S.A.M. for different problems?

Be resourceful and find other examples of different problems.  If you still need help, see your instructor or chat with peers to gain an understanding of the variation.

Now that you understand the Concept, S.A.M. and Variation, you can see the BIG PICTURE and are ready to begin solving problems.

Part 2: Solving the Problem

COME UP WITH A PLAN – Using the S.A.M. from Part 1 of the Big Picture
Approach to Problem Solving, make a plan for solving your specific problem.
Before making a plan, check that you have a clear understanding of the problem. What is the problem asking? Do you understand all the words in the statement of the problem? Can you restate the problem in your own words? Is there missing information that, if known, would allow you to solve the problem? Still don’t understand the problem? Then return to the steps in Part 1 of the Big Picture Approach to Problem Solving.

What are your techniques to solve problems? Successful problem solvers use a variety of techniques when they attempt to solve a problem. Here are some recommended strategies:

 Make a list of the known and unknown information. Can you express the unknowns in terms of the knowns?
 Make a list of information that is needed
 Draw a diagram
 Make a table
 Work backwards
 Try to solve a similar but simpler problem
 Research the problem to determine whether there are known techniques for solving problems of its kind
 Try to determine whether some pattern exists
 Write an equation
 Guess at a solution and then check it

Need help coming up with a plan? Then STOP here BEFORE continuing. Explain the problem to someone who may help (other classmates, tutors or professors). Ask them how they would solve it.

USE YOUR PLAN TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
If you can see the Big Picture and have come up with a good plan, then this should be the easiest step in the Big Picture Approach to Problem Solving.
 Work carefully
 Don’t skip steps
 Write clearly

If you have trouble solving the problem, then go back and make sure you didn’t make any mistakes. No mistakes? Then maybe you need to come up with a new plan. Don’t worry, this is part of the learning process. It may help to take a break and come back later with a clear mind. Remember “20-minute rule”– do not stay “stuck” on a problem more than 20 minutes. Skip it and get help later!

THINK ABOUT YOUR ANSWER – Does your answer make sense? Does it fit with the Big Picture? This is the most rewarding and important step. Getting the right answer proves that you have mastered the learning, and it is the learning that matters most.

 Check that your answer is correct. Does it fit with your expectations? If your answer is not correct, then step back through each step. Where is the error?
 How would the answer change if the problem changed? (See VARIATION in Part 1)
 Marvel at your accomplishment. Enjoy the rewards of your hard work.
CONGRATULATIONS! You are now trained in the Big Picture Approach to Problem Solving.

Engaging in learning processes and strategies can lead to student success!  If you need help with this or any other learning strategies please visit me!!

 

Justine McKennie

To book an appointment call 403-529-3819.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re invited to LNAP!

LNAP logoWhat is it?

LNAP stands for Long Night Against Procrastination.  Still confused?  One night each semester we bring together all the services that we think will help you succeed as a student here at MHC.  We want to help you avoid procrastination and give you support to start (or finish!) all of your assignments and papers.

Who is it for?

LNAP is a college-wide event for all MHC students.

When is it?

Fall 2018 LNAP is happening Wednesday, October 10th from 5 pm. to midnight.

What can I expect?

  • You can expect a fun, friendly atmosphere
  • You can expect quick workshops filled with all kinds of success strategies
  • You can expect stress release activities (hint:  puppies and kitties)
  • You can expect food and caffeine (another hint:  pizza)
  • You can expect help and support from Faculty, all staff including Advising, Library, IT, Peer Support, Writing Specialist, tutors in the ARC, Counselors and more

What do I need to do?

  • Register now at LNAP Pre-Registration or register in person starting October 1 in the cafeteria or B-wing hallway (location changes depending on the day)
  • Bring your student ID card
  • Arrive at 5 and be ready to become a part of something big!

It’s up to you.  Join in all of the activities or hunker down and get some work done.  It’s all good.  See you there!

Preparing for College

Starting college can be an exciting and overwhelming time for students.  Here are some tips to consider when preparing for the semester ahead:

  1. Time Management – Get organized with your class schedule and plan to create a study schedule that works for you.  Be aware of what distractions may be time vampires — such as social media — and eliminate them so you can make room for more valuable ways to spend your time. For help with time management, see the Academic Strategist … me!
  2. Be Resourceful – Resourceful students are successful students. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness, so be open to reaching out for help.  You will most certainly face challenges, and knowing where to get help when you need it is key to managing those challenges effectively.  Find out what services are available on campus, and consider introducing yourself to MHC support staff early on.  Here is a link to the services available: https://www.mhc.ab.ca/Services
  3. Attend Orientations – There is a lot of valuable information given at student orientations.  Be sure to attend those that apply to you and take detailed notes so you can refer to them later. This can be a good opportunity to meet instructors and fellow students, and can help you get connected.
  4. Self-Care – Starting classes can be overwhelming, so looking after yourself should be a priority. Consistent, healthy habits create consistent positive results. Proper sleep, exercise, time with friends, music, and time in nature are all examples of self-care practices. Identify what activities and habits work for you and be sure to add them to your schedule.