College Ready

Sharing strategies for student success, college readiness and academic coaching


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Light Some Fires: The Top 4 Strategies for Student Success!

As a college instructor for over fifteen years, I’ve learned the importance of starting off the semester with a framework for student success. Although you may find it hard to schedule it in, taking time for this type of discussion in the early weeks is so valuable and will lead to better student outcomes, more engagement, and higher student retention.

These are the “Top 4” strategies for student success we’ve been discussing in the classroom:

1. Growth Mindset: Intelligence is not “fixed.” You are not programmed at a certain level of “smart” and that’s that. Your brain is like a muscle, and with more use, and practice, you can grow your dendrites. (See also neuroplasticity.) You can improve in a subject area. For example, it isn’t that you “just aren’t good at writing, never have been,” but that you have not yet learned the right combination of skills and techniques for that assignment. Once you have these skills, (in writing or another subject) you will see steady improvement.

2. Personal Survey: Find out how you feel about learning. (See #1 above regarding how self-limited beliefs can shape outcome.) What were your previous experiences like with this subject matter in school, higher education, or in the K-12 school system? Think about your prior knowledge and experience (schema) on the subject. Find a connection, with your courses, & the college. If you’re not already excited for the semester, find some way (student clubs, sports, etc.) to get excited. The brain on positive is 31% more productive than on negative, stressed, or even neutral!

3. Goal Setting: establish “SMART” goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. For best results, write or type out your goals and address each of the SMART areas. When you think about and set goals early in the semester, it leads to you taking the small steps to achieve those goals. For example, it’s fantastic to say, “Well my goal is an A in this class.” You have a positive attitude and are setting high expectations for yourself. But, what specific action steps will you take that will lead you to obtaining that grade? How many hours a week will you study? On what days? Where?

4. “The Basics.” Read the syllabus. Go to (every) class. Visit your instructor early and often when you have questions. We welcome, expect, and want you to come to office hours! We don’t bite! I promise! And we’re even kinda funny, in an endearingly nerdy sorta way! Again, I promise! ūüôā

If you are a student, let us know in the comments which of these strategies you find most helpful, or most difficult, to put into action. If you’re an instructor, let us know if you spend time during the early weeks of the semester working on these metacognitive strategies, and/or which others you might add to the list.

For more on all of these topics, (including the research that backs it up),¬†check out our blog archives, or leave a comment with any questions. We like–no–LOVE questions here at College Ready Coach! Now go out there and light some fires!

Happy Learning~~Lisa (aka, The Happy Teacher!)

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Goodbye Summer. Hello Students.

I love you both. And I love teaching!

It’s a brand new school year. Get ready for:

A Fresh Start.
A new semester.

New Beginnings.
New Challenges.

And all the optimism, opportunity and rewards that come along with it. 

It’s my first day! Wish me luck! When do you go back to school? Are you excited? Ready? What do you like best about the first day? For me…it’s that sense of starting a brand new adventure. New students. New faces, New dreams. Being in a room filled with dreamers is a wonderful feeling.

Have a great start to a great year.

xo, Lisa (aka, The Happy Teacher)


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The Top 10 Secrets of College Success

This article from US News & World Report “Top 10 Secrets of College Success”¬†outlines the way college students can soar to the top of the class. Don’t let nerves get the best of you. Set out to succeed, make a plan and stick to it. The 10 tips in the article are a good starting point.¬†

Top 10 Study Tips:  Know your tasks: organize your study material and schedule so you know exactly what chapters or lectures you need to review. ...

collegereadycoach.com

Be There.

As a college prof who has been in the classroom for 17 years, I have to agree with the list. I am especially fond of #3: “Get to class!” and #8: “Get to know your prof!” I would say that in my many years of experience, with countless numbers of students, the ones that consistently do the best are there. In the seat. At every. Single. Class. Yes. We did something important today at that class you missed.¬†

Check In.

And they come to office hours. When they can’t make office hours, they send me an email to set-up an appointment. Don’t be afraid to reach out like that. We really (REALLY!) want you to come talk with us at anytime, not only when you are having difficulties, but for mentoring, advice about classes, and just to connect. And I promise, it is so NOT like getting sent to the principal’s office. We are kinda cool peeps in a “tweed jacket with elbow patches kind of way.” (Just kidding. I don’t own a tweed jacket.) Again, students who do connect with their instructors tend to do better overall, according to the research.

Get Involved.

I’m going to put in a quick plug for one that isn’t on the list. #11, if you will. Make sure to get involved in campus life. There are literally hundreds of clubs, organizations, sports team (and not just varsity athletics, intramural, too!), and a variety of other groups to check out. Find what fits for you. It’s a great way to meet other students, make some new friends, and to really invest in college life.

College planning timeline: Grades 8-12  More tips for college readiness and student success at collegereadycoach.com

Students that feel connected, with their peers, their professors, and their college, actually graduate at much higher rates of completion! So not only are you having fun & getting better grades, you are making progress toward your long-term academic goals.

Good luck to all of you as you start the new semester. If I can be of any help to you, please reach out. The comments are open. You can also follow us on facebook to get quick updates, articles and advice for college success. You know what to do…just click that blue button at the top of this page that says “Like.” Consider me your virtual college coach…here to help you make it to the finish line.

Go Team!!

~~Lisa (aka, The Happy Teacher)