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Charging into summer sessions

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Tyler Yoshinaga

Tyler Yoshinaga, International Business major, balances study and play.

A little advice can make all the difference getting through hard times in school. The staff and students at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa have words of wisdom that summer students might find useful in the weeks to come.

When it comes to being a good student, “it definitely doesn’t have to do with ability,” UH Mānoa English professor Jacquelyn Chappel said in a phone interview. 

As a professor teaching Composition I this summer, Chappel recommends active participation, doing the work thoroughly and seeing your instructor at least once during the semester. 


Being there in mind and body

The urge to scroll through Tumblr or catch up with the news on Ka Leo might be strong when the lecture is half an hour longer than during the fall or spring semester, but focus on what your instructor is saying and doing and take organized and detailed notes. 

Doing the practice problems will help you figure out if you need to go in for tutoring before you even leave the lecture hall. 

But, the practice might not be enough to push your grade up to where you want it to be. If you do find yourself in that position, you will find that attenfing class was worth it. Both Chappel and Ferguson said that attendance might be what pushes your grade up to the higher letter.

Even though you might have the drive, other outside obligations might conflict with your newfound or renewed commitment to your academics.

If you need to work around any summer commitments, Ferguson said to talk to instructors about it and ask if you can take care of your scheduled work at another time.


Getting down to business

Avoid being deceived by the relaxed summer atmosphere around you, because a condensed schedule means deadlines come at you in a matter of weeks. 

“It’s really easy to procrastinate over the summer, so, the moment you get your homework, I think the best thing to do is try to look at it as early as you can,” said TJ Combs, a mathematics graduate student teaching Calculus I this summer.

Lilian Burkhard, a geology and geophysics major, said that “keeping up with the work during the semester [and] not cramming everything in the last second” helped her.

While you might get away with doing a few pieces of homework the morning before the due date, there is more to a research paper than meets the eye. Chappel advised against taking research paper assignments lightly. 

“Students come in believing that they’re gonna have no problem with the research because they’re sort of used to googling everything,” Chappel said. “But I think they underestimate the time and the complexity and the nuances of doing research ... using the university’s resources.”  

Quality trumps quantity when deciding the amount of time you should spend studying, Combs said. 

“Let’s say you did five hours of studying but ... you’re not really paying attention,” Combs said. “You put a lot of time into it, but it’s not the same as, say, spending 30 minutes really banging your head against a problem and really trying to figure out what’s going on.”

As you get down to do the work, keep in mind that these smaller assignments do have weight. Take advantage of opportunities to boost your grade.


Friends with academic benefits

Introducing yourself to your instructor on the first day is important in building rapport. After your first meeting, try to see your instructor again as often as you can. 

“If your professor is willing to meet with you, you should … ask them what they’re looking for, get to know them and use them as a resource,” Chapel said. “Even in my undergrad experience, I wish that I had done that more.” 

Getting help from them is a good thing, but avoid asking at the last minute because you might not get it. 

“I wish they told me sooner,” Combs said. “When you’re having trouble ... try to go in earlier than later.”

Aside from seeing your instructors, you can go to receive tutoring or learn study skills from on campus locations like the Learning Emporium in Bilger Hall or the Learning Assistance Center in Sinclair Library. Instructors can be compassionate and understand that bad things can happen. 

“If something happens ... talk to your instructor, talk to a counselor,” Ferguson said. 

He said instructors will go out of their way to help their students as much as they can.


Making it through

Both instructors and students agree that when it comes to reaching your goals, there simply are no substitutes for good old perseverance and hard work.

“Finish everything – all your assignments, and then when you’re finished, reward yourself,” psychology major Richard Ramirez said. “Because everyone deserves it. We all work hard.”