Routine Prevention and Maintenance Checks

How many of us like asking for help? Most people don’t. It’s a skill that you have to learn and hone, but it’s a critical skill to success in education and in life.

In college, you have to learn how to recognize you may need assistance and then how to seek that assistance out. Most people don’t come to college thinking they are going to need help, but all students will need assistance at some point with something. In high school, help is provided without you having to seek it out. If you have a car, you should be proactive about caring for it and do routine prevention and maintenance to keep it in top shape. The same is true for your academics.

As a student, you are in charge of your life and your academic success. We want you to take control of your destiny and take steps to develop the life of your dreams. To take a proactive role in your academic (and life) success, all students should work on building skills in routine prevention and maintenance—staving off problems before they occur and checking regularly on where they stand and how they can continue to improve or maintain their current level of performance.

How do we do this?

  • Self-Awareness

    This involves knowing where your strengths and growth areas lie. We all have them. In terms of academics, where are your strongest? What strategies have worked for you well in the past? What has not worked well? Be able to objectively look at yourself and describe yourself accurately. You can do this through self-examination (review your behavior at the end of each day—what went well? what didn’t? how can you improve?), asking friends/professors/coworkers to give you feedback, working with a counselor on campus, etc.

    You can expose yourself to opportunities to develop self-awareness by taking on leadership positions, thinking critically about world problems, engaging in meaningful dialogue with others, getting a job and seeking feedback, engaging in class, keeping a journal about your day and your feelings, writing a personal life mission statement, creating a bucket list—these things can help you identify what is important to you and what you think about certain things. There are many ways to develop self-awareness. Self-awareness leads to motivation. Knowing about yourself and what you want can help motivate you to become who you are meant to be. Take inventories with CSAS to learn about yourself (e.g., learning styles, personality types, values).

    Do a self-awareness analysis (below).

    Self-Awareness Analysis

    1. What are your biggest academic strengths? (e.g., subject matter, methods for studying, certain skills like test-taking)
    2. Where are your biggest areas for academic growth? (e.g., subject matter, methods for studying, certain skills like test-taking)
    3. In what did you perform best last year? What contributed to that?
    4. In what did you perform less than you desired last year? What contributed to that?
    5. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being best and 10 being lowest), where would you rate your awareness of campus helping resources?
    6. What would others say are your most defining qualities?
    7. What would you say are your most defining qualities? Do these match with #6—why or why not?
    8. What do you most want out of life?
    9. If I were the very best version of myself, what would that look like (describe the qualities)?

    Consider why things do or do not work for you, or why you do or do not like to do certain things. Are there areas you need to overcome to live your best life?

  • Goal Setting: How To Achieve What You Want

    How do you achieve what you most want out of life? What small things can you start adding to your daily life that will help you become the very best version of yourself? For starters, we will look at academics but you can expand this to all areas of your life.

    List 3 Concrete Goals You Want to Achieve Academically This Semester. If you have trouble doing this, set up time with CSAS or AHC to do so. (Some examples might include: Only miss one class in each class this semester; make a B in History)

  • Strategizing: How Do I Achieve These Goals and Form Good Habits?

    To achieve those goals, what do you need to do?

    List 2 ways you will work to achieve each goal under each goal. (List more if you can!)

    Samples:

    Goal 1: Only miss one class in each class this semester

      • Strategy 1: Keep track of my attendance in each class with a calendar
      • Strategy 2: Set my alarm before every class
      • Strategy 3: Tell friends/parents of your goal and ask them to check in with you for
      • Strategy 4: Set a reward you will give yourself at the end of the semester if you achieve the goal

    Goal 2: Make a B in History

    • Strategy 1: Attend every class and keep up with all assignments
    • Strategy 2: Go meet the professor several times each semester to solicit feedback and ask for ideas to help you perform better
    • Strategy 3: Devote time every day to study the material—put this time in your planner
  • Learn and Use Resources

    What resources are already at your disposal to help you achieve your goals and become your best self? Colleges offer tons of resources in close proximity. What resources will help you and why should you use them? Use the Academic and Personal Resources Handout to pick some resources that could help you with your goals. List them and make a point to visit them by setting dates you will do so this semester.

    Samples:

    Goal 1: Only miss one class in each class this semester

      • Strategy 1: Keep track of my attendance in each class with a calendar
      • Strategy 2: Set my alarm before every class
      • Strategy 3: Tell friends/parents of your goal and ask them to check in with you for accountability
      • Strategy 4: Set a reward you will give yourself at the end of the semester if you achieve the goal
        Resources To Use: Academic Success Coaching at CSAS
        Why Use this Resource?: Provide accountability

    Goal 2: Make a B in History

      • Strategy 1: Attend every class and keep up with all assignments
      • Strategy 2: Go meet the professor several times each semester to solicit feedback and ask for ideas to help you perform better
      • Strategy 3: Devote time every day to study the material—put this time in your planner
        Resources to Use:  Free Tutoring at CSAS
        Why Use this Resource? Help me stay ahead and devote time to studying
  • Do Routine Prevention and Maintenance Checks

    All students should routinely do “prevention and maintenance checks” on their academic performance. Start by putting certain “maintenance” dates/events in your calendar (just like you would do for your car with a mechanic or your teeth with your dentist). Review your goals for the semester and gauge where you stand on them. (If you have not set goals for the semester, schedule Academic Success Coaching with CSAS to do this). To determine where you stand, engage in self-analysis from time to time, talk with professors for feedback, do grade checks on yourself, ask friends and family for feedback, keep a journal and review it—there are many different ways to review your performance and progress. You can determine what type of preventive maintenance you should engage in depending on your goals. But there are certain preventive and maintenance checks all students should do:

    1. Check the Academic Calendar at the start of each semester and put important dates in your planner/calendar (such as enrollment, last day to withdraw, final exams). These dates will guide other things you should do in your Maintenance Check-Ups.
    2. Put dates in your planner to rent/buy books before or during the first week of class.
    3. Put all class dates/times in your planner. Make attending every class a priority. Do not miss—your education is a full-time job. In the rare event you have to miss class, you should contact your professor as soon as possible to discuss it and make arrangements for any work you miss.
    4. Put study times for each class in your planner—commit to several hours each week for each class and don’t let other activities supersede these times. For every hour you spend in class, you should be spending 3 hours studying outside of class.
    5. Schedule time to individually meet each professor during office hours during the first week or two of classes. Go prepared to ask them how they recommend best preparing for the class and any study tips they would offer you.
    6. Review the syllabus in each class regularly—put check dates in your calendar several times each semester to make sure you stay on top of deadlines (as a start, put a date in your planner during Week 1, Week 3, Week 6, and Week 9).
    7. Schedule time several times in the semester to visit each professor again and do a grade check and ask for feedback on how you’re performing. This will help you know where you stand and what you need to do to get where you want to get. You might visit with each professor during Week 4, Week 8, and Week 11 (right before the last day to drop classes without a failing grade).
    8. Get a Success Guide from CSAS for your classification (Freshmen, Sophomores, etc.) and follow it.
    9. Set several times each semester to think about your academic performance and what resources might help you get better results at that time (as a start, put a date in your planner during Week 1, Week 3, Week 6, and Week 9). Review your goals to help you start. Think about what you want to achieve and need and what is lacking. What resources might help you better connect and get the results you want? There are many people on campus who want to help you succeed. Seek them out early and often.
      1. Visit the CSAS website for info on academic support services like free tutoring, academic success coaching, and academic success workshops and sign up.
      2. On the TU homepage, check Info for Current Students for things like the calendar of events, various resources on campus, policies, services, etc.
      3. On the TU homepage, check Campus Life for resources like housing, dining, activities, health and safety info.
      4. Read emails from your Academic Advisor about important upcoming dates and events. Put these in your calendar and refer back to them.
    10. Know the last day to withdraw from a class (during the 12th week of classes). Look at all your grades as you approach this deadline. It is far better to get a W on your transcript than a failing grade. Make every attempt to pass the class but if you realistically don’t think you can, it is better to withdraw from it. You can take it again in the future and replace the previous grade with the new grade. If you find yourself in this situation, visit CSAS, your professor, and/or your Academic Advisor to discuss options and to make plans for better outcomes next time.
    11. Allow for rest time every week. You need time to recover from a rigorous academic schedule. Plan something fun to do each week and put that in your planner. Use this as a reward for meeting your weekly academic goals.

    For more assistance with this, visit CSAS and set up Academic Success Coaching in 249 Zink Hall or by e-mailing CSAS@utulsa.edu.