How to succeed in college without really crying

By Olivia Patterson – [email protected] – Contributor | Feb. 18, 2015 |
Stress plagues virtually all college students’ lives and can result in academic difficulties, but UNC Asheville officials said they offer multiple services to students struggling with school.
“Many students assume that tutoring is primarily a remedial service that corrects deficits, and students working under that assumption attach a stigma to tutoring. However, I intentionally refer to tutoring as collaborative learning, and I believe that all students benefit from learning in collaboration with others,” said Deaver Traywick, director of UNCA’s Writing Center and peer tutoring program. “I tell students that they should be doing some of their learning in classes, they should be doing some of their learning alone in their room or the library, and they should be doing some of their learning in collaboration with others.”
Traywick said students primarily use the Writing Center, the Math Lab and peer tutoring for academic resources. UNCA offers an academic coaching program for students who need dramatic improvement in their academic standing. If a student qualifies for academic coaching, they are paired with a trained student mentor who helps them develop effective study habits and time-management skills.
“Although not a traditional academic service, I would say the Career Center is a great resource for students who are struggling academically. One of the big reasons why students struggle academically is because they’re uncertain as to what they want to do, and that’s something that the Career Center is incredible at helping them work on,” said Margaret Mahlin, a OneStop adviser who mainly works with students in the academic recovery program.
UNCA’s Career Center offers traditional career services, as well as free tests such as the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory, according to Mahlin. These self-assessment tests help students fully realize their interests and dislikes, making it easier to narrow down possible areas of study and future jobs.
Stephanie Watkins-Cruz is a UNCA senior studying political science and sociology.
“I am the co-president of She’s the First and the Black Student Association. I am the captain of the cheer and dance team, a member of the Order of Pisgah, and the co-founder and managing editor of Shades of Color. I also work two jobs on campus—one with the political science department, and one with transition and parent programs as an orientation programming supervisor. Outside of school I am a freelance blogger for the Asheville Grit, and I occasionally tutor at the Urban Mentoring Academy,” Watkins-Cruz said.
Despite all of her extracurricular activities, Watkins-Cruz manages to have an active social life. She said she attributes motivation for success to her family.
“I do my best to do things I am passionate about. Even at my most organized point, there is a layer of anxiety pushing me from one activity to the next. I have to constantly recognize that I’m a student first. I have struggled academically because college isn’t easy,” Watkins-Cruz said.
Traywick, Mahlin and Watkins-Cruz said study tips help them in their academic careers.
Traywick said everything looks easier when you are well-rested and recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
“First, take a deep breath. Second, talk to your professors immediately because even though some of them have been doing this for a long time, they can’t read your mind. Then, set aside time for homework without any distractions. Take on the little stuff first, and then bigger projects in chunks. I love the technique of working for 25 minutes, resting for 25 minutes, and then working for another 25 minutes,” Watkins-Cruz said.
According to Traywick, students must actively work to seek academic help, so a genuine desire to make a change is necessary.
“Set short and long-term goals that satisfy you, not your parents or your professors. If you’re not sure why you’re in college or feel like you’re just here because someone else expected it of you, it will be very difficult to excel academically. It’s OK to feel aimless, but college is a very expensive place to chill while you wait for that sense of direction to arrive. Set ambitious and achievable goals, or find something more productive to do in the meantime,” Traywick said.