Center aids students’ study

Kara Shook, Contributing Writer

With midsemester examinations at hand, some overburdened students are beginning to feel the full weight of an increasingly heavy workload.

As students fill their planners with exams, papers and presentations, good study habits become more prominent as time becomes more limited.

Pitt-Johnstown Academic Success Center counselor Jilliane Bolt said that one of the most common mistakes students make is studying only one or two nights before an exam.

“Even if the student gets some sleep, this is still considered cramming and this approach is rarely effective,” Bolt said.

The center staff recommends that students study each day, four to six days before an exam.

Kate Stahl-Kissinger, center director, acknowledged that most students do not put enough time into studying.

“One of the best things students can do for themselves is to work on material each week, shortly after the lecture, rather than waiting until a day or two before the exam to start studying,” Stahl-Kissinger said.

Stahl-Kissinger said that waiting results in a buildup of material that is too large for students to cover in just a few days’ time.

Freshman Katie Saylor said she has found this strategy successful.

“I prepare for an exam by recopying down my notes from the lecture and combining them with notes from the readings. I’ll go over them once a week then spend the week of the exam studying,” Saylor said.

However, good time-management alone does not guarantee a good grade. According to Bolt, it depends largely on how a student studies.

“The key characteristic that makes a study habit effective is that it must be active, something that requires the student to be involved with the material,” she said.

Active studying involves making and practicing notecards, creating concept maps or study guides and preparing responses to essay questions.

“When the students have multiple, meaningful interactions with course material, they are more likely to understand it and remember it,” Bolt said.

Senior biology major Christa Smith said she turns the idea of active studying into interactive studying by teaming up with classmates.

“Sometimes, I will study with other students in the class. We can quiz each other or explain the confusing things,” Smith said.

Stahl-Kissinger said she considers tutoring to be an effective way of interactive studying.

“Going to tutoring isn’t just for students who wish to avoid failing a class. Rather, it can help maximize course grades and build a stronger grade-point average.”

Stahl-Kissinger said that many center tutors have their own tutors.

Saylor has taken advantage of tutoring to further her studies.

“I have tutors for the classes that I knew I was going to struggle in,” she said. “It has helped to give me a better understanding of the material.”

For students challenged with fi nding a balance in their study habits, the center’s staff offers a three-credit course entitled Foundations of Learning that explores study strategies.

Stahl-Kissinger said that she encourages students to take the course, which is taught by academic counselors.

“The course allows students to explore their strengths and weaknesses as learners and figure out ways to improve performance in college.