Let’s get right to the point. The only reason that math is important to any student is for grades. Forget about taxes, buying groceries, playing Monopoly or keeping score in Spades. If you can’t calculate your grades in class, then you just increase the chances of not passing. I recently looked at my undergraduate transcript to take a look at a class. When I reviewed my grades in the class I realized that I received a failing grade for a class that I passed! I pretty much flipped a lid, and I’m still angry.
If your grades are based on points or percentages, it’s going to require some math up front. Instead of asking the teacher to do hypothetical grade calculation, create one of your own and ask to review it with them–with you guiding the review. Most people don’t want to do this because they don’t feel comfortable in math, but if you control the review session it leaves the teacher to do their job and TEACH. The teacher knows that providing clarity at this point rests on them, and that denying the clarity that has been requested is like begging to be fired.
If you don’t keep up with graded materials in your class, you’re simply paying for your demise. Assignments that were never completed don’t lose their effect on your grade just because you forgot about them–every point counts. For example: if homework counts as 5% of your final grade and tests count as 60% of your final grade, you might be tempted to ignore the 5%. That’s a bad way to view this, because percentages are based on a total percentage of 100, which is like saying that homework will be 5 entire points of your final grade and tests will be 60 points. If your test average is a 75 then you only have 45 out of 60 percentage points to go towards your final grade. A 45 is not passing–you’re going to need alot of points from somewhere–so now that 5 points from homework are looking alot prettier.
Schedule your assignments just like you schedule your job. You know what time you’ve got to go to work every week, so know what assignments are due each week. When you see your tasks it gives them importance, and it gives you the potential to engage the assignments. But if you never make your assignments visible–give them a face–then they remain invisible until your failed grade gets the spot light…
No one in an epic crisis would intentionally slap a lifeguard, run away from the paramedics, or avoid a star in Mario Kart. That sounds silly at first, but that is how it appears when we reject help-especially when we know that we need it. But according to research help around campus is becoming more and more difficult to find. According to an article by The Hechinger Report, there is only 1 College Advisor for every 367 students (http://bit.ly/2p7xA9p). When you don’t take advantage of help when it is within reach you could find yourself standing behind 366 other students.
If you plan to survive any emergency or disaster you need to know where your resources are and how to use them. Using campus resources is like having a first aid kit, so it needs to be approached like this:
#1. Know What Goes Into A First Aid Kit: Most people can name 5 things that go into a first aid kit, but can you name 25 things? If you have a first aid kit for your house, you’ve gone hiking, traveled cross-country, or prepared for disasters, then you can probably name more than 25 things that could go into a first aid kit. Identify the Student Services office/area at your college…and if you are being proactive, identify them BEFORE classes begin. There will be information online at the schools website, at the Admissions office, or the office for the Dean of Students. There are even Student Organizations who keep lists like these. This will require for you to research and network–which are two activities that require you to do a bit of leg-work. Here are a few areas to call the school about:
Counselors : Not just Counselors for the school, but ask if they have program-specific Counselors, i.e., Counselors for Health Science students or Engineering students. Locate their offices and their free resources.
Disability Support : Did you know that some schools provide special devices for the hearing impaired? Did you know that some schools provide special testing areas for students? They can also help you to determine if you have been dealing a with a learning disability.
Veterans Assistance : These initiatives help our Veterans to get adjusted to college life, access supplies, interpret complex college documents, and simply offer support to those who have supported and protected us.
Tutoring Services : Schools usually have different tutors for each of the major subject ares or those areas that seem to encounter the most difficulties. Now, most tutoring is free so most often the cost is simply your time.
Minority Based or Needs Based Services: Ask your school if they have any academic, minority or needs based student groups available for you to join. Often times these groups have alot of strategies in place for student success, as well as access to other very viable student success resources.
Food Services: You will live and die by your stomach, so know what food services are available on campus. Lots of student clubs have free food as incentives to join, and they already expect you to come for the food. Some local establishments give student discounts but some of the better discounts can be found on apps like the Vittl app.
#2. Locate Your First Aid Kit: You need to know where your first aid kits are. I keep a first aid kit in my bedroom, one in the kitchen, another in my car when I travel, and the 4th is in my office. I have needed all 4 at some time, and most of the time it has been for other people. The point of this is that I knew where to locate my assistance when I needed it–even if I did not need it often. Do you know where to find free tutoring? For Math? For Biology? For Literature? For Economics? Did you know that there are programs that provide assistance for clinical and technical supplies, like nurse uniforms, welding masks, technician gloves, lab coats and more? These programs actually pay for your equipment! What have you found on YOUR campus?
#3. Pay The Fee: There are two prices to pay for free assistance–Pride and Time. We have to put down our pride to ask for help and admit to ourselves that we are not perfect. We must spend the time seeking this assistance, while keeping in mind that sometimes academic assistance is NOT clear. It is often times created, but not publicized nearly as well as school officials assume that it is. They think that an mass email and some small flyers on random boards will out shine the frat party flyers and free pizza flyers. These are outdated notions, and they simply do not work. To find the best resources, it will require a few days of searching for sure.
When my friends and I arrived for our first day on campus, we spent the weekend before classes walking the entire campuses, walking in and out of buildings, and writing down what we found. Why? Because the campus was pretty big, we were pretty new, and people told us everything we needed to know about having fun–but nothing about where our classes were, where the other computer labs with printers were located, and where study labs happened to be for each of our majors. We located so many secrets that for an entire semester people thought that we were sophomores! It’s not too late to begin searching for this material right now. It’s time to get a first aid kit and stop being a casualty of war.
Reason #2.Rate Your Professor
Some teachers cannot stand the RateMyProfessor.com website, and they hate it when I promote it. Maybe they view me as being Tony Stark and the Superhuman Registration Act during Marvel’s Civil War. I don’t agree with fake testimonials given by poor performing students, but I do believe in student feedback. If you are mean and insensitive, then you need to know it. Dude, it’s a Speech Class! You’re supposed to build my confidence to speak in front of people, not destroy it! But when reading the ratings make sure to avoid ratings that lack details (i.e., “she’s really hard”, or “he makes you read”), and be very careful of angry posts that were made just after they received their final grades. I once had a student who arrived halfway through class and slept through the other half of my class. She then asked to make up all of the work that she had missed during the entire class with just three weeks left in the semester. Without a documented excuse, all I could tell her was ‘no’. That didn’t go too well. After the final grade was posted she proceeded to post the most negative review about me that I had ever seen. So I contacted RateMyProfessor.com because a teacher can contest a bad review. Oh, you didn’t know that, did you? Yep, I provided proof that her accusations were false and they removed the negative comment. So don’t read one comment and make your final decision. Also, if the ratings are low over a consistent period of time (like two years) there might be a reason why. Anyone can have a bad semester or two but when you never do anything that raises your street cred then that might be another sign altogether.
NEXT WEEK: Reason #3 No One Is Signing Up For Their Class
I couldn’t believe how I died. The battle had been intense on an insane level and I had used every special item that I had. Surely I saved before walking into the last cave…right? WRONG. Like a cocky little idiot I had not saved my game before walking blindly into the last cave, nor had I buffed the status and healed the characters in my team. I had not saved my game for the last three hours and I passed up the opportunity to save just before walking into one of the worst boss battles that I had ever experienced in a video game. I was a fool.
Unfortunately, thousands of students returned to school this Fall and walked into a class that was just like my “cave experience”. If they ignored the signs that said that this class is more than some simple grade booster, then they will be in for a rude awakening. Just as I overlooked the trademark signs in any RPG video game that clues you in that a major boss battle is about to take place, here are a few simple signs that says that maybe you should be a bit more prepared for what lies ahead in this class:
Reason #1.Pay attention to the reaction that you get when others hear the name of your teacher
I took a guy for biochemistry several years ago, and when I say his name babies cry while dogs howl. If you get a horror movie reaction from people when you say the name of the teacher, you already know what to expect. Trust me, no teacher really wants to spill the beans on a co-worker. I work with alot of good teachers within my department, so I rarely run into this issue. However, the folks that I work with are uncharacteristically honest about peer feedback. If you are at a school that doesn’t have this kind of atmosphere then they will lie about the demon spawn that is waiting by the chalkboard down the hall just to save face. Beware…
A long time ago I had a class that simply never stopped complaining. They literally complained about everything, and they always complained about the difficulty of the course material. I could never seem to get them to focus on the class assistance or the study resources. They only complained and whined about the difficulty of the class. So one day I noticed that this class (which was a 100 level class) was due to discuss the same topic as my 200 level class. That’s when I got the crazy idea to “lie”.
I showed up to class the next week and began teaching my 100 level class the 200 level material. Every once and a while they would complain but we continued moving forward on pace with my 200 level class. I noticed that they were literally plowing right through the material–they were complaining but they were comprehending. That’s when I applied my final variable: I gave them my 200 level lecture exam. I handed each one of them a copy of the test. Out of 26 students in my course only two scored a grade of ‘C’, while everyone else scored ‘A’s and ‘B’s…and then I told them the truth.
They were shock–and pretty upset. I thought that they would be excited but they were pretty angry. After we took a bathroom break everyone returned to class and requested to talk about the exam. One student mentioned that she made a “C” on this exam which was the hardest one that they took, yet she had not passed the previous two. Others spoke about how empowered they felt. Overall, they requested if we could maintain some of the same rigor–not all of it, but much more than what they had previously been experiencing.
So what the heck happened?!? They were forced to work within their potential rather than their comfort…THAT’S what happened. If you are not careful you will function based on what you can see, and this is not potential. The muscles of your body will supply strength and energy based on what you see. Your brain will literally give you access to only the muscles that it thinks that you need to perform a task, causing you to under-perform. This is why adrenaline is provided by your body in emergency situations: it overrides your brain so that you activate all of the muscles that have the potential of saving you and not just the muscles that it assumes can perform the job. School is the exact same way, as you will perform at the level that you assume that you can rather than your potential. You must move your mind out of this realm and into the world of true potential! Try the following:
Learn to celebrate every victory–no matter how small
Win an award–set out to complete the criteria to win an award or title
Find someone or find an organization that celebrates you
Read about people that overcome obstacles
Find music that makes you feel good
Find a way to express your happiness
All of these things bring focus to winning even when you are losing. They cause you to get back up when you are knocked back down. They push you beyond your comfort zone and into your no-flex zone. Once you begin this you will be amazed at the new energy, focus, drive and dedication that you will tap into. And the best part about all of it is that it will be just the beginning–and that’s no lie 🙂