All posts tagged student success strategies

Top 5 Strategies for Beating Procrastination

colored sticky notes with the phrase "do it" plastered on a cork bulletin board

“do it – procrastination concept” by Vic is licensed under CC BY 2.0


We all deal with procrastination. I’ve been working online for six years, and I’ve been struggling with procrastination every day of those six years. When I was a teenager, I procrastinated, too. However, there was less around to distract me. I could do my homework, or I could watch some MTV or re-read one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. That was it. There was no YouTube, Facebook, or Amazon. Nowadays, you’re just a click away from getting off-task and losing hours of precious work time. Online students seem more prone to procrastination than brick-and-mortar students. However, there are ways you can keep procrastination at bay. Here are some of my favorite strategies for reducing procrastination and increasing productivity:

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How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills!


Image of a man posing next to a wall with a thought bubble painted on it.

“thought bubble called confusion : san francisco (2011)” by torbakhopper is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Today, one of my students told me she was attending a seminar on commas and semicolons because she wanted to do everything in her power to improve her academic writing. I applauded her for being proactive and taking charge of her academic experience. However, I lamented the fact that she had subscribed to one of the most misguided beliefs about writing out there – that good writing is about good grammar.

Listen, I love semicolons as much as the next gal. Probably a little more. However, a semicolon can’t make a vague and uninteresting sentence better. What can make a vague and uninteresting sentence better? A good idea.

All good pieces of writing – academic or otherwise – start with good ideas. If you want to learn to write better, you have to learn to think better. You have to improve your critical thinking skills. If you change the way you think, you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your writing and (hopefully) your scores.

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Tips for Staying Productive During the Summer

Sunset over a seaside town.

“Summer vacation 2006 in Italy-Venezia” by skyseeker. Licensed under CC-BY 2.0, Original Source via Flickr.

When I tell people that I’m a teacher, they usually say something like, “You must love summer.”

I don’t love summer. I don’t like summer.


Unlike elementary and secondary teachers and my colleagues who work in traditional brick and mortar institutions of higher learning, I teach year-round. I don’t get a break during the summer months. And working in the summer is difficult because my kids are they’re home with me. During the sweltering heat of July and August, I need to grade papers, deal with house flies, and prevent my kids from killing each other. It’s tough.

However, over the past seven years, I have learned a few things about staying productive during the hot summer months. If you’re an online student and a parent and you want to keep your GPA up and keep your kids happy during the summer, here are some of my best tips:

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Effective Communication Strategies

Sidewalk with the word "Communication" etched into it.

“Communication” by F Delventhal is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Students often reach out to me at the beginning of the term.  They express their concerns about the course, they confess their shortcomings as students and writers, and they solicit some advice.

“What’s the one thing I can do to increase my chances of doing well?” they ask.

“Simple,” I say. “Keep the lines of communication open.”

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your First College Research Paper

By Transcendentan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout my high school career, I wrote about 4 research papers. After my first month at Wellesley, I had matched that number. I soon realized that high school had not prepared me for the challenges of college-level academic writing. Sadly, my experience is not unique. Too often, students matriculate without knowing how to form a strong thesis, support their ideas with credible research, and cite everything using the proper documentation style. That’s why it’s important you go into the writing process knowing what to do and what not to do.

Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid when writing your first college-level research paper:

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

Work created by NY –

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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