The start of a new term is an ideal time to pause and reflect on what happened in the term (or year or place) prior, what worked and what you’d like to change moving forward. So schedule a half-hour of self-reflection into your calendar. Doing so can help set you up for success and can build positive momentum that can stay with you throughout the next 10 weeks.  

Active reflection helps you increase your awareness of and involvement in your own learning process. You’re the expert on you. Use what you know about yourself, your tendencies, your strengths and challenge areas, to develop an action plan moving forward and to make decisions that will contribute to your strongest academic performance.

For starters, you might consider your grades/exams/projects from the previous term/year and review successes and growth areas. The following questions can help you gauge where you are and consider where you want to be:

  • Did you achieve what you’d hoped you’d achieve?
  • Did you leave the term/year feeling like you were able to manage and balance all the commitments in your life?
  • Did you earn the grades you wanted?
  • Do you know what you did to earn those grades?
  • What was your time management method, and how did it impact your learning?
  • More often than not, were you on time, prepared, and attentive in class?
  • What strategies did you use to study throughout the term, and how did it feel to study?
  • At the end of the term, did you feel able to retrieve and apply content that you’d learned at the beginning of the term?
  • How did you make sure to get enough sleep, to eat, to take time for yourself, to exercise, etc., and how do you want to engage in self-care this term?

Answering these questions and reflecting on your academic processes can help you evaluate the previous term, learn from it, and improve in the term that follows. Reflection can also help you set concrete goals for your academic success. Here are some strategies and techniques to use with your goals, or perhaps these will be your goals. Either way, try to engage in the following:

  • Buy your books/locate them at the library or online, and then browse them. What’s the format? How will you read them? What strategies could you use based on what you know about the course content and assignments?
  • Organize your time for each class. Some students like to use paper planners. Others prefer to rely on their smartphones or computers (there are many homework and organizational apps you can purchase for smartphones or tablets). But take the time to get your class times in a calendar, and to block out time throughout the week for study, too. Is there a tutoring resource for your course? When will you spend time there? When are your instructor's office hours, and have you scheduled these into your calendar as well?
  • Explore Canvas. Often, professors will post the syllabus on Canvas before the first day of class, and sometimes professors may post all materials and assignments for the class prior to the first day. Not all instructors will use the same elements of Canvas, so see what your instructors are using and have already posted, discover what's expected of you, and start adding these deadlines to your calendar!
  • Learn your instructors’ names before the first day of class. Find out their office hours and email addresses so you can connect with them throughout the term and seek out help if needed. Plan to communicate and build relationships with instructors no matter what. Instructors and their office hours are great for clarifying information, for getting questions answered, and for learning more about what it is your instructor researches or publishes, or how they got to where they are today. These are valuable relationships that can help you throughout your time in the class, and beyond.
  • Read your syllabi. Not all instructors go over the course syllabus in class, but you're expected to know its contents. Read through the expectations and assignments, and note any questions you have. Contact your instructor for clarification. Also, look for any opportunities for extra help; these might be study sessions, GTA office hours, or review sessions. Plan ahead and use the resources available to you!
  • Introduce yourself to a few people in your class. Exchange contact information. If you miss a class or want to connect with people to study, you'll already know a few people you can reach out to and make plans with.

Remember: college is your opportunity to take charge of your academic achievement. The time and energy you spend reflecting on and planning for academic success early in the term will pay off throughout the term and the year. This kind of work can reduce stress and anxiety, too; managing your time effectively positions you to complete assignments and projects, to account for and navigate the unexpected, and to maintain a healthy life balance between school, work, and life.

We know that grades are important, and we know that everyone has a different goal and vision for their own academic success. No matter what it is you’re striving to achieve, whether here at OSU or out in life beyond OSU, do what you can to embrace challenges and to learn from mistakes. Everyone’s roadblocks or speed-bumps will be different, and sometimes it might feel hard to find anything positive in what’s happened. But continue to reflect, to believe in yourself, to invest in your learning, to do what you can to keep a positive attitude towards learning. Getting a low grade doesn’t make you a failure; rather, it offers you room to grow and improve. Ask for help. Connect with your instructor, your peers, your advisor. Come and see us at the ASC! Your willingness to seek support, try again, and put forth effort will help you to achieve your academic goals.

As a part of your reflection process, consider and engage in the following:

  • Analyze your strengths. Focus on what you do well.  Continue to do well in those areas, and try to apply your strengths in other areas where you encounter challenge.
  • Set small, realistic goals. Goal setting will help you stay focused, and completing your goals will add motivation and momentum as you work.
  • Monitor your progress. Use grade analysis sheets, check Canvas regularly, and track your GPA. Knowing your grades throughout the term will help you prioritize your efforts in classes and on assignments.
  • Seek help. When you notice that you’re struggling in a class (and it’s best to acknowledge this as early as possible), use your resources. Talk to your instructors, evaluate your study strategies, meet with an ASC strategist or an academic coach, and be proactive in asking for suggestions.
  • Stay in touch with your values and your long-term goals. Keep an eye on your degree and your long-term plan. Revisit your goals and plans for motivation when you get discouraged.

In the end, sometime it’s most helpful to talk with someone about all of this, either as you begin your reflection process or as you pause to reflect again. Come and see us at the ASC! We’re here, and we’re eager to brainstorm with you, to plan with you, and to listen. We can offer strategies, tools, and additional campus resources. You don’t need an appointment, just swing by when it works in your schedule: Waldo Hall 125 | Monday through Friday | 9 AM to 5 PM