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The Academic Skills Center & The Tutor Clearinghouse are gearing up for a new remote term. With more time to plan to accommodate the many needs of our undergraduate students, we have revised our priorities for summer 2020. 

We thought that it would be helpful to clearly state what our initiatives are for 20X so that we can best help you. During this time, remember that you are not alone and that you have a whole team behind you rooting for your success. 

Beginning Summer 2020, the Tutor Clearinghouse is prioritizing Tutoring Groups to continue to offer its services for free while meeting student tutoring demands. 

Tutoring Groups consists of up to five students, in addition to a Group Tutor, and meets weekly for 1.5-hour tutorial sessions. Group tutoring is available for introductory STEM and social science classes, introductory language courses (Numbers 1 through 3), as well as some other courses that have had historically high demand.

Students can register for a Tutoring Group throughout the term. Learn more about becoming a Group Tutor and how to register for Group Tutoring.

Individual Tutoring is very limited and is intended for students who demonstrate a specific need for individual tutorial support. Individual Tutors are allowed to tutor their tutee(s) for one hour per week. Here is the application to request an Individual Tutor

Students who are approved for an Individual Tutor are also strongly encouraged to also join a Tutoring Group.

The Conversation Partners and Resident Experts programs have been discontinued!

ALL tutoring services are FREE for enrolled students for the allowed amount of time per week. 

In addition, we will continue to conduct our personal academic coaching sessions through Zoom led by Carl Thum, PH.D. and Karen Afre.  Visit our website for remote learning tips and information about our remote summer term services. We will also be conducting our Tutor Clearinghouse office hours during new times. See here for our updated office hours times. 

Check out more posts on the Academic Skills Center’s blog for tips on how to survive this remote summer term. 

Please do not hesitate to contact the Academic Skills Center & the Tutor Clearinghouse if you have any questions regarding 20X, remote academic programming, and/or our tutoring services!

 

Reflect on the Year As a Whole

Look holistically at your accomplishments and things that you want to improve on. This has been a crazy year with a lot of emotions and stressors. Be gentle with yourself, and try not to judge yourself too harshly. 

Michelle Shory, Ed.S. and Irina V. McGrath, Ph.D. are both district instructional coaches and Google Certified Trainers in public school districts. They both state that, “reflection is also a great way to consolidate learning, process our feelings, and share about ourselves [...] Creating a year-end reflection is often a good culminating project, but it seems to be essential this year. Allowing students to reflect, share, and document their feelings about this time in an open-ended way can serve as a reflection of learning, as well as documentation of a once-in-a-lifetime event (Ferlazzo).

 

Plan for Your Triggers 

As a college student, you probably know what your usual end-of-the-year triggers are (rise in temperatures, dehydration, allergies, etc.). Those are things that you hopefully have figured out a way to combat as the final weeks of the spring term wind down. Of course now, with Covid-19, there will most likely be some additional triggers that you will need to combat in order to stay positive and focused.

Negative thoughts about the future and a lack of a usual study space could be an example. Take some time to plan ahead so that you can alleviate some of that anxiety. Some ways to combat these issues could be journaling, drinking enough water, investing in an extra fan, stocking up on your allergy medication ahead of time, etc.

 

Incorporate Self-Care and Positive Thinking

We’ve talked about these two aspects quite a lot in this blog. Now more than ever is the time to put those practices that we’ve discussed into use. “Self-care activities like deep breathing, quick exercises/stretches, and mini-breaks really do have physical and psychological calming effects” (Waters, MSW).

Even if they seem insignificant as you're reading about them, make a commitment to incorporate some of them into your day, especially as you go through long periods of studying or sitting at a desk.

In addition, it’s important to do our best to avoid negative thoughts and ideation as much as possible. Of course, we are all human and we’re bound to get sad and down on ourselves and our situations during this time.

But it’s a good idea to practice mindfulness and avoid indulging in “catastrophizing (magnifying the negative aspects of a situation while discounting the positive ones), permanence thinking (assuming that setbacks are going to last forever and problems never improve), and/or false helplessness (assuming–without evidence–that you are powerless over a situation)” (Watson). Doing so will leave you feeling healthier, happier, and more motivated overall.  

 

Listen To Your Brain and Take Breaks

Give yourself a break! Be kind to yourself and recognize that most people don’t function optimally with the incorporation of eight-hour studying days or all-nighters. Space out your work, and take plenty of water and stretching breaks.

Break down large tasks into smaller chunks so that they feel more manageable. That way, you can feel a sense of accomplishment every time that you complete a position of the task, and you can avoid that dreaded “burn out”. You can read more about that here. 

 

References: 

 

With the end of the spring term approaching, many Dartmouth students are dealing with the new & ominous feat of having to take their first-ever online final examination(s). Taking a test online can differ greatly from taking one in a traditional classroom setting.

A lot of students don't know what to expect, which translates to them not knowing how to properly prepare for these online exams. Below are a few helpful tips and tricks that students can use to maximize their chance of success while jumping over this final hurdle of the remote term. 

 

Tip #1: Prepare Your Machine

An easy thing to overlook, be sure that your computer is as ready as possible for finals week. Download any necessary software and ensure that it is running quickly and efficiently before finals week. Make sure your wifi connection is solid and that you have a reliable computer charger. You need to be able to depend on your machine to get through your exam; you want to spend your brainpower on your work, not on a computer malfunction. 

Tip #2: Prepare for the Format

Don’t underestimate your online exams just because they are technically “open-book”. Think about how the exam will function in real-time and prepare for it. Will your exam be timed? If the test isn't at a specific time, then create a deadline for yourself by which you'll need to have it completed.  

Is it short answer, multiple-choice, essay-based, or even a combination of the three? Usually, open-book examinations encompass a large amount of material, so constantly looking back into your notes could be counterproductive. In addition, make sure to “set up an environment where you won't be interrupted. You'll want to take the test somewhere quiet where you can concentrate. Don't forget to turn your phone on silent as well to avoid any distractions” (ECPI Blog).

 

Tip #3: Prepare Your Mind and Body

This one may sound self-explanatory, but this remote term may have caused a lot of disruptions to our lives schedule-wise. Now is the time to establish some order again before finals week draws nearer. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep before all exams.

Also, try to wake up at least an hour and a half before each exam. This will allow you to eat a meal and to have a short established routine to wake you up and get your mind right. That could be taking a hot shower, doing some light stretches and/or breathing exercises, doing some skincare, etc. There’s nothing worse than waking up five minutes before you have to take an exam and then expecting yourself to do your best. Give yourself the best chance possible to succeed! 

 

Tip #4: Save Your Answers & Submit Your Exam On-time

Save your answers multiple times throughout the exam. You may even want to type them up in a word document or in a notes app before copying and pasting them to the exam. Always plan for the worst; if the webpage crashes, you don't want to lose all of your hard work and risk getting a poor grade.

Most online exams aren’t done until you click the “Submit” button at the end. If you finish ahead of time, do a once-over, and ensure that everything is completed to your satisfaction. Make sure that your submission is confirmed once you submit the exam and before you exit your browser.  If you have any problems submitting the test, let your instructor know immediately and send your intended answers in an attached document so that they know that you finished on time.

 

References: 

Graduate school is not in everyone’s future. But for those of you who are considering diving into getting an advanced degree, it would serve you well to really consider what that would consist of. It can be a wonderful opportunity to expand your horizons academically and for your future career. 

However, graduate school is a whole different ball game from undergrad. Expectations, class structures, and social norms all differ drastically. One of the biggest issues that new graduate students run into is that they don’t foresee the many changes that are expected to occur in them academically and professionally between undergrad and grad school.

Preparation is key during that transitional time, and here are some key things that you can keep in mind if you are thinking about entering graduate school sometime in the near (or even distant) future. 

 

Hand-holding vs. Mentoring

In graduate school, there is an understanding that professors are closer to being colleagues of sorts to their students rather than authoritative figures. This change can feel unnatural to some, but there are many positives you can take from this. You can feel more comfortable to speak your mind in discussions and during office hours.

With this notion also comes the understanding that you, as the student, are fully in charge of your own research and academic trajectory. Gone are the days of professors hand-holding you through lectures and assignments. There is now the expectation that you are in charge of your academic life, and that professors are there to act as guides and mentors throughout your journey. 

 

Time Dedicated to Each Class

In undergrad, it’s common to take between four and six courses at one time. With the D-Plan system, the normal course enrollment is three courses per each ten-week term. That is a lot of broad material packed into a very small time frame.

Dr. Melissa Brown, a current postdoc at Pennsylvania State University, states that “each graduate class will require a lot of reading, more than you ever thought possible in college – and more than might actually be possible in a week. You’ll have to learn to prioritize the most important readings and actively skim the rest […] You’ll be expected to be prepared for seminars and to speak up and participate in the intellectual conversation [...] Higher quality is expected from your papers, presentations, and group projects”. 

Don’t let this knowledge intimidate you! In fact, think of it as an opportunity to dedicate more time to what you're truly passionate about research-wise. That is one of the main benefits of a graduate program after all! 

 

Breadth of Knowledge vs. Depth of Knowledge

In exchange for the past academic trajectory of learning a lot about a wide variety of topics, you will now be expected to take more of a deep dive into the material that you are covering. Your classes and course work are there to prepare you to compose your own individual research and thesis/dissertation.

"Be sure to “develop a clear idea of what you want to study before you start graduate school because you won’t have the same freedom to explore different disciplines as you did in college” (Brown). Flexibility decreases significantly when you enter most graduate programs. But in its place, you have more time to focus your attention on one valuable area of study. 

 

Departmental Ties vs. College/University Ties

In undergrad, students are more likely to feel a kinship for their university or college as a whole. They may feel a lot of school-centered pride (or possibly resentment depending on multiple factors). During graduate school, things change a bit.

In most graduate schools (Dartmouth graduate schools included), students are accepted to individual departments, not the school itself. Most classes and job opportunities take place in the same one or two buildings, and most interactions among students and faculty are within the department. 

Ways to get more involved with the university as a whole would be to sign up for activities that involve undergraduate interaction (ie. resident fellow programs, tutoring, mentorship programs) and/or signing up for graduate student organizations to keep you engaged with grad students from multiple departments.

Of course, this is optional, as most graduate students are more than content with keeping their social circle confined to their department! It can be easier for some as you are all working towards more similar goals with similar research endeavors. 

 

Accountability is Key

Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind during your transition into graduate school is the importance of taking accountability for your education. Graduate school is expensive. And whether you need to pay for your classes through being a teaching assistant, a resident fellow, and/or federal loans, it is important to keep in mind that grad school is what you make of it.

You can only get out of it what you put in. The goal is no longer to just pass and get your degree; you should be actively learning and engaging as much as possible in order to make the process worthwhile. 

Figure out an effective study system, how often you need to take breaks, and what a realistic deadline looks like to you so that you do not get overwhelmed.

Be sure that you’re ready to take on one of the most important components of graduate study, that being to “take the initiative to seek out materials to make new experimental and conceptual connections that take your research in new directions" (Stanford Biosciences).

Ease the adjustment period by being prepared. That way your transition into higher education will be smoother and you’ll be equipped with the readiness to become a true scholar. 

References

It’s normal to be feeling anxious and stressed during this time. In order for us to keep our loved ones safe, it’s vital that we practice social distancing and that we stay in our homes as much as possible. Of course, in doing so, we are resisting our innate human need to be social and build/maintain relationships with others to our fullest capacity. 

The CDC notes that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are a few things that you can do during this time to increase your happiness and decrease your feelings of isolation and stress. See some of these ways below. 

 

Having a healthy life-work balance

Now that a majority of us are working from home (both school wise and job/internship wise), it can be easy to begin to conflate work life and home life. Now you can wake up later, do your work from your bed, and work later to finish up work that you wouldn’t normally get to. While these conflations may seem tempting, it is important to distinguish a separation between working and relaxation. 

Some ways to do this could be setting an alarm to wake up earlier than your first class of the day, having a designated work station (if possible), and having a certain amount of hours or black of time dedicated to working each day. Take breaks the same ways and in the same duration that you would if you had in-person classes. 

 

Stay in Touch

Use this time of physical isolation to verbally and emotionally connect with people that you care about. If you are in quarantine with your family, take the time out to eat a meal with them, watch a movie, and/or play a fun game. Schedule facetime sessions or phone calls with some of your close friends. Check-in on some of those more long-distance friends that you’ve lost contact with. Stay in touch with people however you can avoid feeling isolated. 

 

Ask for Help

Feelings of stress and anxiety are very natural during this time period. Don’t feel afraid to tap into resources that are readily available to you to help you cope! Now more than ever, it’s important to pay attention to our moods and our coping mechanisms: 

  • Wellness Check-Ins 
    • The Student Wellness Center is offering virtual wellness check-ins via Zoom to help students navigate the transition to online learning, refer them to additional resources if needed, and "just be there to support students," Barthelmes says. To request a check-in, email student.wellness.center@dartmouth.edu.
  • Counseling
    • Students
      • Dartmouth College Health Service offers counseling, including 24-hour crisis counseling for students or those who are concerned about a student. Currently, counseling is being provided by phone, and will soon also be available via Zoom. The health service can also help students who live outside of the state connect with mental health professionals nearer to them, when necessary.
      • To access these services, email counseling@dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-9442 weekdays, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. After hours, call safety and security at 603-646-4000.

    • Staff and Faculty 
      • Can call the Faculty/Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) at 844-216-8308. The services are also available for family members. 
      • Can also contact FEAP counselor Sharon Morisi directly at sharon.a.morisi@dartmouth.edu. Morisi is available via Zoom and telephone.
  • Pastoral Counseling
    • Daveen Litwin, the College chaplain, and the United Campus Ministry, representing Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and many other faith traditions offer confidential virtual counseling to students, faculty, and staff. 
    • To make an appointment, email college.chaplain@dartmouth.edu.

 

Physical Fitness

Physical Fitness is of the utmost importance during stressful times.  Exercise releases endorphins that aid in stress relief while also aiding in overall mind and body health. In fact, “Researchers believe that during vigorous aerobic exercise, the ‘anxiety-sensitive’ person is forced to tolerate many of the same symptoms (that is, rapid heart rate, sweating, and rapid breathing) that frighten him or her during periods of anxiety. Over time, the ‘anxiety-sensitive’ individual who continues to exercise vigorously can learn that these symptoms of arousal are typically not dangerous, and the fear that these symptoms trigger gradually decreases in intensity” (Salmon & Charney).

Take advantage of virtual workouts and the great outdoors while gyms are closed. A few suggestions:

  • Go for a brisk walk or run.
  • Hop on your bicycle for a tour of your neighborhood.
  • Try a new activity like yoga, Tai Chi or Zumba.
  • Create an obstacle course at your home. Include activities like jumping jacks, pushups and squats. Then challenge your loved ones to virtual competitions.
  • Check out other free virtual workshops on youtube. My favorite is Blogilates.

 

Eat Well

It's important to minimize our excursions to the grocery store as much as possible to limit the spread of COVID-19. Consider online grocery shopping or home delivery options. Of course, fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods are very important for overall nutritional health.

So if and when you need to go to the grocery store, maintain a safe distance between yourself and others (at least 6 feet), wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands before and after shopping. If possible, also wear a mask or some sort of face-covering to protect other people in case you are asymptomatic. 

With grocery stores limiting the purchase of specific items and advising people shop less often, eating well can be difficult. Make it more manageable with these strategies:

  • Purchase shelf-stable and frozen foods. Staples such as frozen and canned produce, beans, and lentils will keep longer and are easy to incorporate into recipes.
  • Take inventory of the items in your kitchen and get creative with cooking. Choose a recipe site where you can plug in ingredients you have on hand and see what pops up. (You can also browse our collection of tasty, healthy recipes.)
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. When we're cooped up inside, it's easy to overindulge and/or stress eat. Try to maintain your regular eating habits as much as possible and minimize your reliance on takeout and drive-thru options. In addition, try to productively channel stress and boredom elsewhere, whether by venting to a good friend, writing down your feelings or diving into a good book.

 

Stress Well

Speaking of stress, reduced access to food and daily essentials is stressful. With gyms closed, sporting activities shut down, and bars and restaurants off-limits, we're also being cut off from our friends and loved ones. But you have more control over your stressors than you think. A few ideas:

  • Limit the news. Watching the news all day can increase anxiety levels. Tune in to the morning or evening news and turn to reliable sources of information only once or twice a day.
  • Take advantage of stress management techniques. Think meditation, deep breathing and journaling
  • Stay in touch with friends and family. Touch base through phone calls, online games, video chats and virtual happy hours. 

 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, read on for some additional wellness resources from our Ivy-plus peer institutions: 

Duke

Harvard

 

 

References: 

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