Academic Survival Skills

Not happy with your performance in class?

Now is the time to make some decisions.

1. Seek Help

Carroll offers much in the way of academic, physical, emotional and spiritual assistance BUT you must take advantage of them! Here are some suggestions for getting the assistance you need to succeed at Carroll:

Your Professors: Carroll professors are teachers first and they want you to succeed in the classroom (and beyond). If you are struggling in a class, make an appointment with your professor who will help you diagnose whether your low grade is a preparation problem (study skills, not studying the right information, not putting in enough quality study time, etc.) or a performance problem (test anxiety, running out of time, etc.). They can provide tips on how to improve in both areas. Don't be afraid to approach your professors because they are very willing to help students who will put in the time and effort necessary to improve preparation and performance, and ultimately grades.

Your Advisor: The Student-Advisor relationship is unique because it is personal and practical. Seek the advice of your advisor as you try to find ways to be more successful at Carroll. Conversations between students and advisors range from ‘what classes should I take next semester' to ‘I'm not sure I'm in the right major.' If you are thinking about changing majors, changing schools, or feeling lost and want to debrief on life, start with your advisor. You can see who is listed as your advisor on your MyCarroll account. If you aren't sure or need to change your advisor, contact Cheri Long, Academic Advisor at, 406-447-4504,  located at Borromeo Hall 105.

Tutoring: Free tutoring is available to all Carroll students. A complete list of tutors can be found on Moodle. Students can schedule a time to meet with tutor through Moodle. If a tutor is not available for a specific course or subject then it is recommended that the student attend professors' office hours plus they can contact Maria Larson in the Office of Academic Affairs.  Maria can help to locate and hire tutors.

Ask Your Lab TA: If your class has a lab component, you can ask for help directly from the teaching assistants (TA) in the lab. Most TA's are happy to provide advice on how to survive classes such as BI 121 & CH 102. TA's are selected for their outgoing personalities and excellent performance in the classroom.

Study Smarter with Teamwork: Work together with your fellow classmates to create study groups to review class material. Instead of passively reading or listening to the material for the course, you and a group of like-minded classmates actively participate in explaining the information to each other. This is a great way to make sure you understand the class material. You can also present mock lectures and work through quiz questions in groups for more effective learning.

Wellness Center: If the help you need is physical or emotional, check out the great people and services at the Carroll Wellness Center.

Campus Ministry: If you need spiritual guidance, Father Marcand others are here for you. Visit Campus Ministry to learn more.

2. Turn Over a New Leaf

Sometimes all it takes is seeing some less than wonderful grades on assignments or midterms to decide it is time to ‘kick it into high gear'! Here are some things to try if you are ready to turn over an ‘academic' new leaf...

Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but it is very tempting to sleep in and skip that 8 a.m. class. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you'll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc. At small colleges like Carroll professors DO care if you are in class and will notice when you are not there. Show up...better yet, show up prepared!

Get Organized. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, a PDA, a big wall calendar -- whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due. Professors spend hours and hours preparing course syllabi and calendars so that you will know exactly what is expected of you -- and when. One of the lamest excuses a student can give a professor: "I didn't know it was due today."

Study Effectively. If your room in the residence hall is free of distractions it might be possible to study there. However, is often difficult to resist the neighbor popping popcorn, the friends that drop by, or the urge to take a nap, watch TV, etc. Studying in a cozy corner of the library or a classroom that is empty in the late afternoon might be a better choice. Go for QUALITY study time, not quantity.

Take Notes to Learn (not just to record):  Here is an easy way to remember the most important points of note-taking:

  1. Record: During the lecture or while you are reading, write all meaningful information legibly.  Here, you are just recording what you hear, read, see -- as accurately as possible.
  2. Reduce: Within ten minuts after the lecture, write a summary of the ideas and facts using key words as cue words. Reducing all your class notes, into your own words and ideas, helps to:
    • Clarify meanings and relationships of ideas
    • Reinforce continuity
    • Strengthen memory retention
    • Prepare for exams in advance
  3. Recite: To ensure that this new information is properly stored in your long-term memory, you must recite all the information in your own words without looking at our notes or the text.  Tell your roommate.  Tell your grandma.  The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.
  4. Reflect: Think about your own opinions and ideas as you read over your notes. Raise questions, then try to answer them creatively. Record original ideas in your notebook and review them regularly. Use your creative ideas when answering exam questions, in classroom discussions, and when writing papers.  Reflect on how this new idea or information relates to other things you already know.
  5. Review: Before reading or studying new material, take ten minutes to quickly review your older notes. Skim over the main ideas and details. Review enhances your retention of old material while adding new material to your memory.

 - Pauk, W. (1989). How to Study in College (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Stay healthy/Eat Right. A lot of problems students face can be traced back to an illness that kept them away from classes for an extended period of time that led to a downward spiraling effect. Stay healthy by getting enough sleep, taking your vitamins, exercising, and eating a balanced diet.

3. Withdraw from a Class

Unfortunately, there are situations that arise that it is clear to both the student and the professor that it is not possible to pass a class. If this is the case withdrawing for the course is the best options. Withdrawing from a course is not a decision that should be taken lightly because there may be academic and financial ramifications. A drop slip is available in the Registrar's Office or the Academic Advising office in Borromeo Hall, and must be signed by course instructor and academic advisor. If you must withdraw from ALL CLASSES, please contact the Registrar's office at, 406-447-5435, or stop by the Registrar's office in O'Connell Hall.