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Tips for staying focused through the spring semester

Although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the weather, the Spring semester is officially in high-gear. The new year and semester will provide a chance to break out the Toms while also breaking out of some bad habits. For students who were disappointed by their Fall semester grades, it is also a chance to do better and improve their GPAs. With this in mind, here are eight tips to help every student stay focused and on track for success come summer.

1) Go in with a clear goal
The best way to achieve something is to know what is to be achieved. Go into the semester with a specific GPA goal and figure out the grades needed in order to reach that GPA. A great resource for planning out GPAs is the Pace GPA calculator.

2) Exercise daily
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that the average adult engage in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise daily. Moderate exercise is defined as brisk walking, swimming, or the equivalent of the energy used to mow the lawn. The alternative to the 150 minutes of moderate exercise is 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Vigorous activity is defined as running, or aerobic dancing, such as Zumba. It is also recommended by health experts to do strength training at least twice a week. Strength training includes weight machines or rock climbing. All resident students have access to these machines in or near their respective dormitories.

3) Visit the Tutoring or Writing Centers
As soon as there is a theory, formula, or concept that students do not feel comfortable with, they are advised to take a trip to the Tutoring Center, located on the 2nd floor of 41 Park Row. The Tutoring Center “engage[s] in…group tutoring, semester-end reviews, study skills workshops, and peer-led team learning discussion groups.” The Writing Center, located on the 2nd floor of the Birnbaum Library, employs professors, along with undergraduate and graduate students who peer-mentor and help with papers–from proper MLA and APA style, to basic grammatical and sentence structure issues.The mission of these centers is to help both undergrad and graduate students achieve their best. The suggested number of visits per class is between three and five times throughout the semester. Go to the center a few days before an exam or an assignment with reasonable expectations. Three appropriately spaced out visits to review material will help you absorb the information and make it stick.

4) Spend time in the library
The library is a great place to focus. It is quiet and the seats are much more comfortable than they look. Use the library between classes to get that 20 minute retention review in. Emily Jordan, freshman, can vouch for the library saying, “I actually enjoy the library because it is a great place to run into an old friend and catch up if you have an extra few minutes.”

5) Review your notes
The attention span of an average adult is roughly 20 minutes. This means most students can only actively pay attention for half a lecture. This is why it is so important to take notes; take notes and study them for about 20 minutes later in the day after class. Review new definitions, formulas, and concepts. Just looking over the notes for 15-20 minutes after class will help to increase retention of material covered during class.

6) Get involved
Getting involved forces students to structure their week, thus giving them reason to actually build time for homework into their daily schedule. This fights off the urge to procrastinate. Plus it will help build a greater network of friends so that you are more likely to know others in your classes.

7) Make a “to-do” list
Have a list of tasks that need to be completed for the next day. This will ensure that everything gets done on time reducing the need for unnecessary stressing. Keeping the list nearby at all times is also handy. Freshman Palak Shah said, “I keep a notepad and pen next on the headstand because I always remember something else that needs to be done once I am already in bed and do not want to get up.”

8) Put the phone away
Even if the class syllabus does not say that students need to put their phones away, it’s the best bet. Phones are a distraction and we all know how easy it is to stay distracted once a Facebook or Twitter notification pops up.