All posts tagged academic success

Coping with a Mental Illness While in College


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“Depression” by ryan melaugh is licensed under CC BY 2.0


According to a recent article in The Guardian, college students today are 5 times more likely to suffer from mental health disorders than college students a decade ago. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can impact a person’s ability to engage in everyday activities. If you’re an online student with a full course load and personal and professional obligations, mental health disorders can be devastating. However, they can don’t have to derail your academic progress. Over the past 7 years, I’ve helped countless students manage their mental health issues and achieve their academic goals. I’ve also pursued two graduate degrees while dealing with acute anxiety and depression.

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How to Be An Active Learner

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“Studying” by Alex Indigo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Last month, I talked about the importance of adopting a growth mindset. Students with growth mindsets tend to get more from their educational experiences than students with fixed mindsets. Students with growth mindsets also tend to be more active learners, which is one of the reasons why they are successful.

When I was in high school (no, I’m not going to tell you when that was), people thought about education a lot differently than they do now. Most educational professionals still clung to the teacher-centered learning model. In that model, the teacher would speak, and the students would passively listen, hoping that something would stick. The type of education you received depended on the type of teachers you had.

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Moving from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset

“Growth vs. Fixed Mindset” by Jessica Ottewell is licensed under CC BY 2.0


We’re a few days into a new term, and I’ve already received several emails from panicked students who are terrified about the upcoming writing assignments. These emails don’t contain questions or requests for assistance. They contain professions of inadequacy:

“I’m a terrible writer.”
“I’m not an English person.”
“I’ve never been good at writing classes.

I get these kinds of emails all the time. Unfortunately, students who email me things like this usually don’t do too well in my course. It’s not that they aren’t capable of putting together a cohesive essay. In fact, many of these naysayers have solid writing skills! They fail because they assume they will; they struggle because they believe they don’t have the ability to succeed.

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How to Make a Grade Appeal

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“Discussion” by MIT OEIT is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Last term, I had a student send me a very aggressive email. Using some very choice phrases, he demanded I change his final paper grade, and he accused me of not reading his submission. Needless to say, I didn’t honor his requests.

Unlike some my colleagues, I don’t mind grade appeals. I like it when my students care enough to fight for the grade they think they deserve. However, you have to present your case in the right way. So, if you want to get your teacher to rethink your grade, be sure you do the following things:

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Preparing for the Worst: An Online Student’s Guide for Handling Emergencies

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A few terms ago, I had a brilliant student in my English composition class. She actively participated in all the discussion forums, she gave her classmates insightful and encouraging feedback, and she wrote with a passionate elegance. In short, she was an ideal student. About midway through the term, she disappeared without a trace. After weeks of silence, I finally heard back from her advisor: one of the student’s family members had passed away, and she was so distraught that she was unable to concentrate on her classwork. The student tried to make a comeback, but she didn’t have enough time to make up all the missing work.

Sadly, these stories are all too common. Many online students fall off the radar halfway through the term. It usually has nothing to do with their academic abilities. More often than not, students disappear because they encounter unforeseen challenges. Online courses vary in length, but most courses are around 8 weeks long. Although the accelerated format has its advantages, it can make it more difficult for students to rebound after experiencing a setback.

That’s why it’s important to come up with a game plan so you’re prepared to deal with the curveballs that life may throw at you. Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter during your online class and the best ways to deal with them!

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Want to Succeed in the Online Classroom? Ask Questions!

A few days before the start of every term, I get an e-mail from some eager student wanting to know how to complete the first writing assignment. I’m usually still in my end-of-term grading haze, but I direct that student to the assignment guidelines and the rubric, and I assure her that she’s always welcome to ask questions. Inevitably, the student e-mails me back. She thanks me enthusiastically, and then, she issues a warning: “I’m going be that student who asks you questions about everything. Just want you to know.” It’s that student, the one who asks questions on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis, who usually ends up being the superstar of the class!

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Stress Triggers and Management Strategies for Online Students

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Stress is a common and normal reaction to unusual or demanding situations. Some stress can be good; however, too much stress can result in negative emotional and physical reactions. Learning how to deal with excessive or unnecessary stress can reduce these negative effects. We all have stressful situations crop up from time to time, but learning to handle stress is the key to avoiding negative physical and emotional reactions. School can cause stress in students of all ages. Sadly, we sometimes hear of students as young as elementary school age having headaches and upset stomachs related to school stress. College students can also experience high stress levels related to school.

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What’s in a Course Syllabus and Why Should You Read It?

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Every class has a syllabus that is considered a roadmap of the course and contains all the information needed to successfully complete the course. Students are responsible for reading the syllabus in detail and understanding all the information. One part of the syllabus includes school and/or program resources and the other part of the syllabus is a guide to course-specific schedules, assignments, and grading. Review each course syllabus for the following types of information.

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5 Ways to Sustain Motivation in Your Online Class

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You have signed up for a new class and you are excited and ready to get started. For some students, this enthusiasm carries through the entire class term and for others, the enthusiasm seems to wane as each week goes on. What is the difference and how do students maintain their motivation throughout a class? Before your class begins, think about why you enrolled in the class and write down your initial motivation for taking the class. Then think about why you are enrolled in your program; perhaps it’s for a work promotion, or for personal satisfaction, or any other of many individual reasons. Write these down and refer to them often to keep in mind your motivation for furthering your education. Here are five strategies for sustaining your initial motivation for taking academic classes.

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5 Success Tips for Online Group Projects

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When asked about online group projects, the vast majority of students state emphatically that they don’t like working in groups. The primary reason for most students is that group work is not equitable and one or two students end up doing all the tasks. Another consideration is the difficulty in getting all group members together to discuss the project because most online classes include students in multiple time zones. Another challenge is communicating online, which has both advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage of communicating online is convenience; students can check in, post ideas, respond to others, and share files anytime during the day or night that suits individual schedules. The corresponding disadvantage is having to wait for all group members to post ideas or responses to questions, completed tasks, and suggestions for changes. In online group work, waiting for responses from group members holds up everyone’s ability to get work done in a timely manner.

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