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To form a habit, it’s important to chunk your habits into a series of smaller tasks. For example, a morning routine can be considered a habit broken up into the following series of tasks:

  1. Get up at the same time every day
  2. Go to the same bathroom
  3. Brush my teeth
  4. Wash my face
  5. Moisturize

My habit begins with getting up and ends with moisturizing. Because I am used to completing the three steps in between those, it is hard to skip them as they are part of the habit. 

So, if you want to change a habit to wake up earlier, you should chunk your habit with a series of other actions. For instance, you can wake up at the desired time every day, drink a glass of water, and read the news for five or ten minutes. If you want to study every day at a certain time, start your habit with an action-step, like heading to your favorite study spot, check your to do list, get out your study materials, start studying, and end the habit with a quick review of your study session.

In short, a new habit sticks best when you incorporate it into a series of other habits.  This is because the part of your brain that is activated when you carry out a habit is excited at the beginning and end of a habit, so if you begin a habit it, it will be very hard for you to not finish it. 

If you’re interested in reading the neuroscience behind why, here is the article I used as a reference:


Stage 1: Note-taking

This stage focuses on recording information, whether it’s spoken by your teacher or read in your textbook. Below are some tips.

  • Use the Cornell note-taking method. 
  • At the top of the page, write a concept question that your notes will help you answer.
  • Write points and details on the right side of the page. 
  • Use words you can understand when you look back at your notes.
  • Use shorthand, so you can write faster.
  • Write in phrases rather than complete sentences. 
  • Leave space between the main points, so you can add more information and revise later. 
  • Indicate key ideas, concept changes, and links between information (you can do this by drawing asterisks by the key idea, underlining, or highlighting).

Stage 2: Note-making:

In this stage, you will begin to think about why you’ve written your notes down, what questions do they answer? You will also make connections, test your knowledge, and begin the review process. 

  • Write the questions that your notes answer on the left side of the page. 
  • Link key chunks of information. 
  • Exchange notes and ideas with your peers and quiz each other.
  • Review!

 Stage 3 Note-interacting:

In stage 3, you will continue to test your understanding and review, and you will condense your notes into a summary. 

  • Write a summary of your notes that answers all of the questions you’ve written. 
  • Quiz yourself by covering the right side of your paper and answering the questions on the left.
  • Review! 

Stage 4 Note-reflecting:

Focus on problem areas and continue to review before your exam!

  • Use feedback from a professor and from being quizzed by a peer or yourself to figure out what you don’t fully know or understand yet. 
  • Spend more time learning and reviewing those concepts.
  • Regularly review your notes for a unit before your exam. Spending even five minutes to review is helpful.



Now that my time at Dartmouth is nearing its conclusion, I’ve been reflecting on the highs and lows of my Dartmouth experience. From failed friendships to amazing internships to stressful all-nighters - and everything in between, I wanted to take some time to break down what I’ve learned in my two years at the Big Green. 

So first, a little bit about me. At Dartmouth, I was a graduate student in the Master of Art in Liberal Studies Program, and I was in the Creative Writing concentration. While taking classes and subsequently working on my portfolio, I developed an interest in studying the intersections of race relations, gender, and literature. Through Dartmouth, I was able to grow as an academic and I will be entering a new graduate program in September. 

I’ve had so many highs and lows while studying at Dartmouth: academically, emotionally, and even socially. Looking back, there are four key things that I took away from all of my experiences. 


Don’t let Imposter Syndrome Stunt your Progress

No matter where you are on your academic journey, know that you belong where you've been placed. You being in your current academic sphere is not a mistake, and you wouldn’t be where you are if you didn't deserve it. 

As a black woman with immigrant parents, I often struggled with feelings of inadequacy and with wondering if I deserved to be at an institution such as Dartmouth. Thoughts like those will only impede your growth and negatively affect your mental health in the long run.

Comparison is the thief of happiness! Go at your own pace and recognize that your differences and uniqueness are what got you as far as you are today.  


Lean on the People that Actually Care About you

This is a tough one, but I believe that it deserves to be said. There are some people that will root for you openly and lovingly, and there are some that will pretend to while secretly hoping for you to fall. Follow your gut and don’t give all of your energy to everyone that you think could be a friend to you. I ended up becoming really drained and sad by trusting the wrong people. 

It’s better to have one or two close friendships that are nurturing and uplifting than to have five or six friends that talk down to you or gossip behind your back. One thing that I really had to learn was that not everyone is going to like me or want to be my friend, and that’s okay. What matters most is that you cut off people and relationships that dissuade your growth and cause you to doubt yourself! 


Keep your Focus on your Accomplishments and your End Goal

Take the time to celebrate your wins and don't dwell on your perceived failures. If you got a high mark on that research paper, reward yourself with an extra hour of Netflix that night. If you found a professor to write that letter of recommendation for you, celebrate with some ice cream. Safe and healthy rewards are great motivators. 

I got into the habit of always expecting perfection from myself. So when I didn’t reach that expectation, I was crushed. And when I did, I moved passed it like it was nothing. I was constantly going and making no time to breathe and appreciate the smaller moments during my Dartmouth experience. Try not to be too hard on yourself, and appreciate the journey that your on instead of only looking at the destination. 


Manage your Stress - no, for Real!

Prioritize self-care… in whatever ways that means for you. From bubble baths to hiking to going to therapy, I’m of the opinion that self-care is whatever relieves your personal stress and allows you to internally care for you. 

Relaxing is essential for your overall well-being, and many students at Dartmouth seem to forget how important taking care of yourself really is. Mindfulness and meditation are great strategies that a lot of college students find to be very beneficial. I, personally, find working out to be great for my mental health and my academic productivity as a whole. Do what works for you and prioritize it like you prioritize your school work and friendships. 


In the End, It's All About Growth

At the end of the day, I grew more over the last two years then I did in the previous ten. I learned a lot of hard lessons, pushed myself farther than I ever could have thought possible, and grew a new appreciation for who I am as a person. I'm ready to tackle academia and my personal relationships in ways that I never would have considered if I did not attend this institution. To any new students (graduate or undergrad) that are nervous about what Dartmouth may hold for you, my advice for you would be to take each lesson as an adventure and an avenue to grow into yourself. Enjoy the journey!



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.