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Simon's Rock/Academic Survival

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Don’t get behind on your work.

Teachers are likely to give you extensions, accept revisions, and help you figure out what you’re doing if you talk to them.

Going to class: Simon's Rock has a max cut policy where you’re allowed a week of cuts for each class (mods generally only allow one cut), after which one more cut gets you suspended from the class. You’ll get a notice when you’re a cut away from suspension. After this, you can try to get reinstated into the class, but there’s no guarantee of this. If you drop below 12 credits, you’re in a bit of trouble and would do well to get out of that situation if possible.

Drink lots of water. Eat. Sleep. Not sleeping makes more time for work, but being healthy makes doing work easier. This is perhaps a delicate balance.

Don’t believe in your own superhuman powers. Even if you are a master of planning, to-do lists and scheduling your time can help. However, most students find out that their to-do lists have no effect after a certain amount of time on campus, since you have scheduled 4 events simultaneously.

Freewrites may seem like a Workshop Week crutch, but don’t underestimate the help they can provide in giving order to your thoughts.

Structure and transitions are important in papers, but try to break out of the intro-->three-main-points-->conclusion model as soon as you can by thinking of more intuitive ways to order the breakup or flow of your argument. Try to aim for a writing style as close as possible to the way normal people speak (i.e. how would you convince your professor of your point if you were having a discussion with them?) and avoid constructing long sentences and those that contain a lot of commas or more than three major logical transitions like this one is starting to do. Look back and see if you can reduce several words to one. A good rule for vocabulary is that if it’s a new, obscure word you just found that isn’t a technical term in your paper or the text(s) you’re using, putting it in a paper is probably going to weaken your voice. Big words are okay if you know how to use them, but if you start tossing them around because they look neat in the thesaurus, your professor is going to realize it and more likely than not will call you out for it.

Teachers expect intelligent and well-planned work. You’ll probably find your groove, especially approaching finals, once you find research topics and ideas that you’re genuinely interested in. Most teachers prefer passionate work on a quirky subject to bland form writing that covers the assigned subjects. Plan ahead on big projects, talk to your teachers about your ideas for feedback and approval, and keep emailing them drafts as you finish them. There is nothing like completing a 12-hour project only to find that it's not what you were supposed to hand in.

Group study sessions can help a lot in preparing for tests, and teachers are generally favorable toward note-copying pools. Do keep in mind that study sessions with friends can often become gossip/social sessions; stay focused and keep your friends focused while studying with them (there's no need to be a jerk about it, though). Don't be afraid of taking the occasional break while studying; often you'll come back and find that you can think more clearly about the subject after a 15-20 minute break. For language classes, try speaking to one another using the vocab and grammatical stuff from the chapter you’re working on. If flash cards work for you, crack out the index cards and Sharpies; consider keeping a file system.

You can set up tutoring meetings with subject and writing tutors through the Tutoring & Writing Center office upstairs in the Lecture Center, and writing tutors are regularly available in the Win Commons. They can talk with you about paper ideas, go over drafts, and edit for spelling, grammar, style, structure, and content. (Note: Technically, only certain tutors are qualified to edit for spelling and grammar. They have to pass an exam first, and not all pass it, or even take the exam. If they haven't passed/taken the exam, tutors are advised to correct only those mistakes that they are absolutely certain are mistakes.) Tell your tutor if you have any special concerns before they read your paper. Opinions about the quality of the tutors available are mixed, and some tutors are better than others. It's never a bad idea to get a second opinion, though, whether it's a tutor or a friend.

Professors are generally happy to help, especially because the fact that you're going to them means that you care. They are pretty busy, and generally recommend going to writing tutors first, but they are much more open and caring than high school teachers. All of them have office hours and you can sign up to meet with them, which, if you're really needing help, you can do easily. Also, most tend to check and reply to emails fairly regularly (notable exception being Becky Fiske, who is amazing but never emails you back).

Never leave studying to the last moment. YOU WILL REGRET IT. You will end up feeling swamped and over-stressed. If you know you're going to be very busy, try to get some of the work for that week done ahead of time. (Each class has a syllabus; look at it.)

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