U course straightens out students’ study habits

Some say the U’s academic refresher course helps students, but it’s underutilized.

Kyle Stowe

As Rachel Horoshak’s fall semester unfolded, she realized she had some bad habits she needed to kick.

“I had never cracked open a textbook before to study,” said Horoshak, a neuroscience sophomore. “But things are different now.”

To boost her study skills, she enrolled in the University of Minnesota Counseling and Consulting Services’ one-credit academic refresher course. Both students and instructors say the class is effective for improving academic habits, but some say it’s underutilized.

The eight-week, pass-fail course begins midway through fall and spring semesters. Many students enrolled at the suggestion of their academic advisers, said Scott Slattery, program director for UCCS’ Student Academic Success Services.

Communications junior Alissa Moe transferred from the University of Texas at Tyler last fall.

After encountering difficulties with managing her coursework, her adviser suggested she take the refresher course.

“I really wasn’t prepared for the difference in academic intensity between my original school and the U,” she said. “This class has really opened my eyes up to some new skills that I can incorporate into my studies today and going forward.”

In the class, students meet with their instructor twice a week — once in a lecture and once individually or in a small group. The class aims to get students back on track for the rest of the semester by teaching them how to improve study skills and by providing individual feedback for each student.

Slattery said some students struggle with a lack of confidence in academics and sometimes resort to dropping a class or not completing a semester.

“If a student falls behind, there’s a real temptation to want to just give up,” he said. “But there really are ways you can recover and get back on track.”

Slattery said UCCS introduced the course shortly after the University began its midterm alerts policy, which requires instructors to notify students and their advisers in the middle of the semester if they’re in danger of receiving an N, D or F in a 1000-level class.

“The class’s creation really was a response to a call from the University to develop some options for students who weren’t where they needed to be in the classroom as the semester unfolded,” he said.

Slattery said he thinks students don’t use the refresher course and other academic support options often enough. This semester, the course has seven students enrolled.

“We would like to see more students interested in the course, because we know it can help,” Slattery said. “But at the same time, we understand that it can be difficult for students to discuss their struggles with other people.”

Moe said she thinks students who are struggling should seek help to get back on track with their schoolwork rather than simply relying on themselves. 

“Students have so many great resources to help them here at the University,” she said. “It’s important to realize they’re not all on their own.”

Refresher course instructor Rob Wilson said students of all ages are prone to experiencing academic difficulties during their time at the University.

Many students come to the class with a basic knowledge of study skills, he said, but there’s often room to improve.

“A lot of what we work on with students in the class is building on the skills they already knew,” he said.