Where do you stand?

By: Cristina Kerluke, Learning Commons Academic Support Program Specialist

Here we are, week 10 of the semester. It’s hard to believe that after this week there are only 5 weeks left before final exams. At this point in the semester, it’s critical to know where you stand academically and to also have a plan to maximize your success leading up to finals. 

  • Do you know where you stand in each of your courses? If not, ask yourself why? You should have received assessment grades in each of your courses, whether that be from exams, papers or projects. Review course grading procedures in each syllabus to calculate your overall course grades to date. Having an accurate picture of where you stand currently can impact how you may need to strategize your efforts in these last weeks of the semester. If any of your professors have been concerned about your academic standing thus far, you may have received an Academic Update email summarizing the concerns and suggested action steps.
  • Once you have an estimate of where your grades to date stand, visit USM’s GPA calculator at https://usm.maine.edu/advising/gpa-calculator to determine what your GPA would look like if the semester ended today. Why do this now you might ask? You may need to keep your GPA above a certain level to remain in good academic standing, retain scholarships or earn academic honors. Estimating now may prevent future surprises if your GPA is not where you expected it to be at the end of the semester.
  • Do you have a plan? If you are not satisfied with your grades to date, now is the time to make a plan! Now is the time where your attitude and determination can mean the difference between improving or maintaining a grade. There is still time to make a positive impact on your final results!

9 Tips for Finishing Strong:

  1. Review each syllabus thoroughly to know what you have left to complete and how much each contributes to your final course grade. Pay special attention to extra credit opportunities that may be noted.
  2. Create an “end of the semester plan” by mapping out what you still need to accomplish in each course. When it comes to the end of the semester, planning ahead is critical. Make to-do lists for each week and day, keeping in mind how long each task will take to complete. Review your plan each morning to get a sense of the day (and week) ahead.
  3. See your instructor regarding your standing and to address concerns. Instructors want to help students that they see are making an effort to learn. To make your visit with your instructor as efficient and as effective as possible, have a list of specific questions you would like to address.
  4. Attend all classes with purpose. Every class meeting offers the opportunity to learn. Get to class early, be visible, and pay full attention!
  5. Form a study group. Studying in a group means meeting regularly with others from the class to teach each other concepts, ask challenging questions, predict exam questions, and debrief an exam. Sharing and discussing different ideas and perceptions will deepen your critical thinking and understanding of the material. If you can teach the information effectively and accurately, then you know it!
  6. Remember the importance of spaced practice. All effective learning requires practice. Instead of cramming at the end of the semester, start your practice now. Build-in practice times more than once per week to really commit information to long-term memory.
  7. Use academic support resources. If you haven’t met with a tutor yet, schedule your first appointment now, not only right before the final! Tutoring at the Learning Commons is NOT just for students who are struggling, but also for those who want to excel academically. We currently have over 70 tutors across a wide array of subjects available. (A reminder that students can schedule two FREE appointments per week, per subject area. If you scheduled two appointments for a subject each of the next 6 weeks moving forward, that would be 12 “practice” sessions focused specifically on actively learning course content. Wow!)
  8. Use AGILE strategies to maximize your success. Visit usm.maine.edu/agile to review academic strategies and printable resources. Also consider scheduling an appointment to meet with a Peer Academic Coach at the Learning Commons to review AGILE strategies, such as how to effectively and efficiently read textbooks, take notes in the classroom, manage time, and prepare for and take exams.
  9. Avoid procrastination. Be aware of the reasons, habits, and thoughts that lead to your procrastinating. Refer to the tips for overcoming procrastination from last week’s article and visit usm.maine.edu/agile to take this month’s poll on procrastination for a chance to win AGILE swag! 

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