Thomas Edison State College Blog

9 Deadly Habits Every Student Should Avoid

April 15, 2014

While there are an infinite number of strategies and tactics that can drive a student’s success, there are only a handful of reasons that may lead a student to crash in failure. But those reasons are MAJOR. And, oftentimes, hard to avoid. But not impossible.

By understanding the pitfalls that often plague students, you can better prepare for your own college success. Whether you are just learning how to navigate a work/life balance, or searching for a reason why going back to college is so much harder than you thought it would be, kick these 9 habits to the curb and give yourself a degree tune-up:

1. Poor Time Management
Work is calling. The kids are crying. Dishes are piling up in the sink. You miss a course deadline… or two… or three… We get it. Life gets busy. You can’t plan for everything. But you can plan for something.

The Fix: Set aside a few hours each day to do school work, uninterrupted, that will allow for your total focus on the task at hand. By planning your day or week in advance, and writing it down in a notebook, planner or on a post-it stuck to the fridge, will help you visualize what needs to be accomplished. Then you can make adjustments and arrangements as needed.


2. Not Keeping Up
We’re all guilty of procrastination. Putting off tasks until another day is going to happen in some way, shape or form while you pursue your degree. Telling yourself that you will just “do it later” will only hurt you in the long run. Getting totally lost in a course is a problem that happens far too often.

The Fix: Set personal deadlines that come before your course deadlines so you can assure that the work gets done in a timely manner. You may need that extra day or two to polish your work, or recap something you read earlier on. By staying on pace with your courses, even studying will come much easier to you; cramming for your courses is one thing you can leave behind.


3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Ah, sleep. We can’t get enough of it, literally. With the hustle and bustle of balancing work, school and family, where is sleep supposed to fit in? But not getting enough sleep can hurt your test taking, studying and writing performance.

The Fix: Getting a good night sleep can actually improve your grades over pulling an all-nighter, help you to retain more information and much more. Find the balance that works for you so you’re refreshed and recharged to take on the day ahead, the right way.


4. Not Discussing Your Plans or Questions With Your Advisor
Not discussing your degree plans with your advisor could adversely affect the courses you take; who knew you didn’t need to take that class again?! Your advisor certainly did! Your advisor is the one that can offer the guidance and advice you need to finish your degree on time and as efficiently as possible.

The Fix: Your advisor is an invaluable resource. When in doubt, ask. As a Thomas Edison State College student, when you are in doubt, you can make an advising appointment through myEdison® 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or, you can call the College’s Advisement Expressline to reach an academic advisor quickly without the need for a formal appointment, especially for questions that typically take less than 10 minutes for an advisor to answer. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Every question is important because it applies to you.


5. Not Having the Right Supplies, Materials or Equipment
You wouldn’t take a test without studying, right? And you really wouldn’t take that test if you didn’t even have the book to study from, right? It is crucial to obtain your course materials in a timely manner so you can engage properly at the very beginning.

The Fix: Plan to purchase your materials, test out your equipment and review the syllabus before the course begins so you can understand what’s required of you. And don’t forget to test out your technology; be sure to have a reliable computer with the programs you’ll need and a dependable Internet connection to actively participate in courses.


6. Using Google and Wikipedia as Credible Research Sources
Sure, Google can be a great resource to help you develop ideas, but it should never be the only source you use to look for information. And neither should Wikipedia. Simply put, these sites are not credible sources in an academic paper.

The Fix: Public libraries, online journal databases, and credible online websites (typically those whose web addresses that end in .org, .gov, .edu, etc.) are the most reliable places to gather research information. As a Thomas Edison State College student, you do have access to the New Jersey State Library and its special databases, articles, books, journals and more that can help you nail that next research paper.


7. Taking On More Than You Realize
“Biting off more than you can chew,” as they say, can be detrimental to your success in any course you take. When you begin as a new student, ready and eager to get started as quickly as possible, it may seem tempting to take two or three courses at a time, and underestimate the time commitment required. Falling behind then becomes all too easy.

The Fix: Speak to your advisor and get their insight into what they think may be an appropriate course load for your first term. Keep in mind any job, family or outside commitments, and consider how much time in a week you will be able to dedicate to school. This will help you assess the right amount of courses to take without sacrificing your grades.


8. Not Participating
In any course, class participation is key. Whether you are raising your hand in a traditional classroom, or posting a reply to a discussion thread, your presence is noted. And assessed. And graded. If you don’t participate as required, not only are you putting your grade in danger, but you won’t get the most out of your course. Which, at the end of the day, is the whole reason you’ve chosen to pursue your degree.

The Fix: Actively participate with quality responses, and be sure to answer emails promptly and efficiently. Sure, your mentor is watching, but your classmates are also hoping to learn from you, as you are from them.


9. Not Writing Down Due Dates and Assignments
If you don’t have a planner, get one, stat! It will be your fail-safe throughout your academic career. Notating your course assignments and deadlines is fundamental to your time management skills, and will help you plan your life accordingly to stay on track.

The Fix: Whether it be a planner, a Google Calendar or a mobile calendar and reminder app, find the planning tool that works for you. Include the due dates of all your assignments, exams and readings. Being able to quickly and easily reference your commitments is the easiest way to stay organized and on top of everything.

 

Are you guilty of any of these habits? How have you overcome them?
 

Tags: Going Back to College , New Jersey State Library , nontraditional students , online courses , online learning , Studying at Thomas Edison State College , tips and advice

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Scared of Math? 5 Considerations to Overcome Math Anxiety

April 03, 2014

By Todd Siben, Assistant Director
Prior Learning/Portfolio Assessment

Concerned about the math requirements in your degree? Perhaps it’s been 20 years - or more - since you studied math. Depending on your degree program, fulfilling your math requirement may not be as difficult as you think.


Consider Fit
First consider the degree you have chosen and the math requirement for that degree. Ask yourself, "Have I chosen a degree appropriate for my own ability?" For example, since you haven't studied math in almost 20 years, your math skills may be rusty. Perhaps the last math you studied was algebra, and you passed, but barely. Now you've chosen a degree that requires calculus I and II.


Taking that calculus course may require that you first refresh your algebra skills. Then you'll be better prepared to take the next logical sequence of courses. Math is taught in logical sequences, with concepts built upon previously learned concepts.


Consider Your Comfort Level
According to College mentors Ildy and Csaba Boer, "it is better to start with a lower-level math course even if it doesn't fulfill your degree needs. Students who lack basics often do not succeed when taking a course above their level. Instead of dropping down to a lower-level course, they repeat the higher-level course again, unsuccessfully, wasting both their money and time."


Consider Your Assets
As a self-directed, mature student, perhaps you are better prepared to study math now than you were years ago. You are more analytical, more disciplined and more driven toward degree completion. So, why be threatened by a math requirement?


Consider Your Degree
Some institutions require algebra for all degrees. Thomas Edison State College offers alternatives. If you have selected a liberal arts or human services degree, the math requirement can usually be satisfied with an "entry level" math such as MAT-105 Applied Liberal Arts Math. Although MAT-105 is a reasonable option, students often choose intermediate or college-level algebra because they've heard the word "algebra" before, so it seems more familiar than a course called "Applied Liberal Arts Math." This fear-of-the-unknown can result in the incorrect choice.


Perhaps you are pursuing a business degree that requires MAT-119 Quantitative Business Analysis. If you wait until the last few courses to complete this requirement, then find you are unable to pass the course and switch to a liberal arts degree with a lower math requirement, you may find that you now need additional credits to earn the new degree. This situation can often be avoided with a bit of advanced planning.


(Cue your advisor…)


Consider Your Options
Along with the many online math courses available to you, credit-by-exam programs such as CLEP and DANTES (DSST) standardized tests in math and statistics. Some investigate math courses by distance from other schools. Some students just prefer to take math as a classroom course at a local college whenever possible. Also consider that a statistics course can satisfy your math requirement for some degree programs.

Before you jump ahead and register for a math course, discuss the options with your advisor. In most cases, there are choices that will be a better fit for you, your learning style and your level of capability in math.


Ultimately the choice will not only have an impact on your success but on the amount of antacid and aspirin required to successfully complete the course. Choose wisely!
 

Tags: CLEP , DSST , online courses , online learning , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , testing , tips and advice

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7 Myths About Online Classes Mentors Don’t Want You to Believe

March 21, 2014

Even though students have done their research and decided that online classes are the best option for them, they still have tons of misconceptions about course expectations and requirements. We tracked down the most common myths students believe, and asked our mentors (yes, those mentors, the ones assessing your grades) to officially bust them, once and for all. Let the debunking begin…


Myth #1: Because it’s an online course, I don’t really have to spend that much time on it.

BUSTED BY: Dr. Sandra Harris, School of Business and Management
“Start with one course to acclimate to the online environment. It is necessary to get into the “classroom” several times a week. Be prepared to spend four to six hours per week on the course.”


Myth #2: It isn’t necessary to schedule or set aside blocks of “class time.”

BUSTED BY: Nora Carrol, School of Business and Management
“Online learning does not lessen responsibility; on the contrary, it can require more time and better time management than face-to-face learning. Expect to do a fair amount of peripheral research using virtual libraries and other online tools. A challenge too is timing, as physical classmates are together, but virtual classmates may be scattered worldwide, all juggling multiple activities in different time zones.”


Myth #3: My mentor is my teacher and should tell me what to do.

BUSTED BY: Dr. Mark Kassop, Heavin School of Arts and Sciences
“I love the adage that an online mentor is the “guide on the side,” rather than the “sage on the stage.” The role of a mentor is to assist students in the process of learning a body of knowledge. It is not the mentor’s responsibility to spoon feed adult learners that knowledge; having mature, self-motivated students helps a mentor to successfully be that guide on the side. I am still responsible for the subject matter, but I can now use it in a different way than I did when I was expected to be the “sage.” I can guide students to useful information, and I can challenge them to move beyond simple answers and partial solutions.”


Myth #4: I only have to put effort into my papers and exams; what I write on the discussion board doesn’t matter.

BUSTED BY: Jordan Goldberg, School of Applied Science & Technology
“[The Discussion Board] is what makes the online dialogue so interesting. Students respond to the topics in the course from various perspectives. I keep an eye on the introductions students post at the beginning of every term to determine how best to tailor my instructional methods to their needs… It is more conducive to learning to interact with other students in an online medium. You are not only learning the subject, but developing stronger written and communication skills that are vital in industry today.”


Myth #5: There’s nothing my classmates can teach me.

BUSTED BY: Dr. Gloria Frederick, John S. Watson School of Public Policy and Continuing Studies
“Many adult learners are already active citizens who bring practical experience to the theory and foundation of community development… by its very nature, the online learning platform and related discussion boards provoke collaboration among students seeking to share their professional views and examine the solutions they might have at their disposal.”

AND BUSTED BY: Robert Saldarini, School of Business and Management
“The wonderful variety of backgrounds, life and professional experiences of our students bring textbook assignments to life; the most influential examples come from our own students.”


Myth #6: I’m just a name on the computer screen so the mentor will never notice if I don’t participate.

BUSTED BY: Dr. Amy Hannon, Heavin School of Arts and Sciences
“Online courses demand far more direct involvement of a student who is typically submitting six written assignments per term in addition to taking exams. This requires an active mentor involvement in critiquing their writing, which results in exchanges that often surpass the interaction found in a classroom-based course. All the while, there is the obligatory flow of discussion board postings. In our online courses, no one can opt to sit in the back row and sleep.”


Myth #7: Online discussion boards don’t allow for the same participation that a traditional classroom discussion can offer.

BUSTED BY: Dr. Khaled M. Abdel Ghany, School of Business and Management
“Online classes allow many students to express themselves more freely and to ask more questions than the students in the classroom, who are sometimes shy to speak up in front of everyone.”

AND BUSTED BY: Dr. Robert Price, Heavin School of Arts and Sciences
“Online classes have many advantages that face-to-face classes do not. An online discussion gives everyone time to think about their responses and everyone gets “heard”.”
 

Tags: mentoring , online courses , online learning , School of Applied Science and Technology , School of Business and Management

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The Gold is Not Enough: Famous Olympic Athletes That Went Back to College

February 07, 2014

Tonight’s opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi will officially kick start 17 days of competitions among 85 nations, with an estimated 3 billion people around the world projected to watch the Sochi Games. The U.S Olympic Team is bringing 230 athletes, consisting of 106 returning Olympians and including 13 Olympic champions. There will be winners and missed chances, dreams achieved and dreams crushed. But regardless of the rank, score or place of these athletes, they will dazzle us with their talent and determination.


But where do they go when they have reached the pinnacle of their training, when the luster of a gold, silver or bronze medal wears off? Only upwards and onwards to their next goal; the pursuit of a college degree. Check out below which U.S. Olympians just didn’t quit, whether it’s on the ice, the uneven bars or the classroom.


Venus Williams
Considered one of the all-time greatest players in women’s tennis, only outranked by younger sister Serena, Venus Williams grand slammed her way to four gold medals in the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic games. But she doesn’t rest on past laurels, or titles; in 2007 Williams received an associate’s degree in Fashion Design, and in 2011, enrolled in an online program to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business. A self-proclaimed long-time lover of learning, she’s stated that her ultimate goal is to earn an MBA degree in the next four years.

 

Michelle Kwan
Considered one of the greatest figure skaters of all time, Michelle Kwan won a silver medal and a bronze medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, respectively. In pursuit of a college degree since 1998, Kwan graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a minor in political science. She then went on to pursue a master’s degree in international relations, graduating in 2011.

 

Kerri Strugg
Well known for her dramatic performance with an injured ankle and subsequently carried to the podium to receive her medal, Kerri Strugg won the gold that year in women’s gymnastics at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Shortly after, Strugg announced her retirement from the sport, earned her bachelor’s degree and received a master’s degree in sociology.


Sarah Hughes
Appearing only in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Sarah Hughes did walk away with a gold medal in women’s figure skating. A year later, in 2003, she enrolled in college and graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies.


Jackie Joyner-Kersey
She may have begun her studies as a traditional college student from 1980-1985, but Joyner-Kersey took a year off to train for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics in the heptathlon. After winning the silver medal that year, she returned to finish her undergrad degree, going on to receive several more medals at four different Olympic games to become one of the greatest female athletes of all-time.


Apolo Anton Ohno
Emerging as a superstar Olympian in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Apolo Anton Ohno won his first gold medal that year at just 20 years old. Since then, he has received seven more medals to become the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time, while going on to earn a business degree.
 

Tags: Going Back to College , online learning

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5 Powerful Pearls of Wisdom From Our Students for 2014

January 07, 2014

Juggling family and career responsibilities can be quite the balancing act. Add in the pursuit of a degree and it may seem overwhelming. But it is possible. Looking back upon this past year, we’ve seen students overcome insurmountable odds and brave new challenges to fulfill their educational goals and dreams.

With every New Year come new resolutions and new ambitions, and our students offer some of the most encouraging and invaluable suggestions to usher in 2014 as the year of accomplishments. Here are powerful quotes from our awe-inspiring past, present and future graduates on motivation, leadership, passion and everything in between.
 

Your dreams don’t have a time limit.

 

Explore your options.

 

Stay motivated.

 

Learn what you love and pursue it with a passion.

 

Organization and time management are half the battle.

Tags: online learning , Studying at Thomas Edison State College , tips and advice

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