St. Olaf College | News

The Hill From A Distance: Strategies for academic success

This post is part of a new blog series called The Hill From A Distance that highlights how the St. Olaf community is moving forward together, even when we’re apart. Each week the series will feature a message from a campus leader — and this week Director of Advising and Academic Support Kathy Glampe ’92 shares how the college is providing resources and supporting students during distance learning. Read her message below.

In his inaugural post to The Hill From A Distance, President Anderson called to mind “the longed-for day when we can reconvene on campus.” Indeed, the eventual return to familiar classrooms and supportive community will lift our spirits and put us all at ease.

In the meantime, the staff at the St. Olaf College Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS) want to remind you that WE ARE HERE for all students. CAAS is still offering academic coaching, tutoring and Supplemental Instruction (SI), writing tutoring, multilingual student support, and disability and accommodations support. Make appointments with our staff here. Students and parents can check out the CAAS Tips for Distance Learning to learn more about how to create a study space, stay organized, and access CAAS resources.

A staff photo of the CAAS team.
The Center for Advising and Academic Support staff members, pictured together on campus last fall, are supporting students during distance learning. The team includes (from left) Assistant Director of Advising Melody Geiger, Office Coordinator BreAne Hampsher, Associate Director of Disability and Access Services Laura Knobel-Piehl ’93, Director of Advising and Academic Support Kathy Glampe ’92, Disability and Access Specialist Joe Young, Academic Enrichment Specialist Nayeli Trujillo, Multilingual Student Support Specialist Anne Berry, Academic Enrichment Specialist Tara Hupton, and Associate Director of Writing, Speaking, and Academic Support Bridget Draxler ’05.

We also want to share some words of encouragement and advice for students:

First, it’s helpful to remember that the newness of this situation and the challenges you are being made to face are actually increasing your cognitive flexibility. In a way, this unexpected reconfiguration of spring semester is an opportunity for growth. You are adapting your habits, expanding your creativity, negotiating barriers. You are learning new ways to learn, and you will bring that knowledge with you when you return to the Hill.

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. — Albert Einstein

Second, in these last few weeks of the semester, as you get ready for what may be your first-ever online exam week, remember that you have the skills and strategies that you need to succeed in your final exams; you may just need to apply them in a new way.

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body. — Seneca

What are your tried and true study methods, and how can you make them work in this new environment? Here are a few tips:

  • Be protective of your study time. Create a distraction-free space and communicate your need for uninterrupted, focused time to complete your work. 
  • Use the planning calendar to make a reverse plan — work backwards to think about what needs to be done before finals and the steps you’ll need to get there.
  • Make a weekly to-do list and stick to it.
  • Study using the Pomodoro technique to create timed breaks in your schedule that will help you keep up your energy. 
  • Find a study buddy. Teach each other the material, quiz each other, and encourage each other!
  • Review old tests and quizzes. Pay attention to incorrect answers, and practice those types of questions.
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Stick to a sleep schedule, stay hydrated, eat healthy, exercise, and practice relaxation breathing
  • Visualize success! Give yourself some positive self-talk. Tell yourself, “I can do this!” “This is hard, but I’m going to keep trying.” “I have learned a lot, and I am going to show my best work on the final.”

Again, WE ARE HERE to help you with all of this. Please reach out to us if you need our support, guidance, or resources. If you know an Ole who needs our support, please encourage them to reach out.

All of us on the CAAS team wish you success in these remaining weeks of the academic year.