Answering a Question Left in a Comment: Placement Exam


In a previous post I made in regards to Algebra, someone in the comments section asked what my thoughts on studying for the placement exam was.  Instead of answering in the comment, I thought I would just make a post about my opinion of it.

I vividly remember taking my placement exam, and the to-do list my parents made leading up to actually taking the test (keep in mind, I was 14 at the time).  I had taken the practice tests available online at home (available here) so that I could identify my deficiencies, I also tried to re-learn some of the information which I had forgotten.  Although my reading/writing skills were great; it had been a year since I had even looked at Algebra, and it wasn’t something that I particularly enjoyed.

As I said in a previous post, I am not a genius.  On the Compass test offered at the college, my scores were 99% in Composition, 94% in Reading, and I can’t remember what I got in Math, but I was placed in Math 030.  I knew that math, more specifically, Algebra, was one of my weaker points.  Some people have a knack for it, others don’t, and it just wasn’t something that was of interest to me… I want to be a writer, not a mathematician! 

I studied a little before taking the placement exam, and I definitely recommend that everyone study before taking the test.  My main reasoning for this statement is that I knew how to do math, but sometimes if we don’t use the information for a period of time (particularly for adult students), our brains aren’t quite as quick to recall the information.  If someone does not study, even just to refresh, they may find themselves in a lower-level course in which they already know the information, and may find themselves bored with the material. 

With that being said, I would not recommend holding off on enrolling with the thought of teaching yourself how to do complex equations.  Self-learning takes a lot of discipline!  I could see how it would be easy for someone to tell themselves that they will sign up for college after they learn how to do XYZ, and then they never get around to it… Carpe Diem!  Brush up on the subject(s) you feel as though you are lacking, go take that test, and get enrolled!  If you find yourself having troubles with the materials after classes start, ask the teacher for assistance (or use the tutors).  St. Louis Community College has given each student every opportunity to succeed in their educational endeavors, it is just up to us (the students) to ask for help when it is needed. 

One bit of advice I would give for taking the placement tests, take your time.  This advice was given to me before I went in, and you will do better if you take it to heart.  It was explained to me that in a traditional school setting, kids are typically “rewarded” for finishing their tests early; perhaps they get to go out to recess or work on other homework if they get done early.  As in many schools, there are several teachers at STLCC who will allow you leave class upon finishing an exam.  If we can get ourselves out of this “I get to leave as soon as I finish” mentality, we do better on tests.  Put simply, take the test at your own pace.  I take every moment available to take tests.  I suggest you read and re-read questions to ensure you understand what is being asked.  Also, double-check your answers before handing the test in! 

The Compass placement test did not have a time limit, and I definitely worked things out at my own pace.  Now, actually taking classes, instead of rushing to get through the tests so that I can get out early (as I know many students do), I stay for whatever length of time I need, sometimes the entire class period.  There have been many times I catch errors just by reviewing my original answers. 

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Play Hard, Stay Focused, and Have Fun


I recently attended a conference targeted for club officers, since I am the President of the Creative Writing Club at Wildwood.  What we learned during this Club Officer Leadership Training, more commonly referred to as “COLT,” involved a lot of self-searching. 

When I first heard about COLT, I was expecting to hear about the best ways to carry out meetings, how to promote the club, and so forth.  What I wasn’t expecting was the mentality that the club is only as strong as its leaders; if the leaders are flakes, the club will likely fall flat unless someone else takes over.  While COLT is for club officers, I felt as though a lot of what was covered would be great for the entire STLCC student body.  Even non-students could benefit from the information covered at COLT.

One of the first few things that we did during COLT was go over a little mantra: Play hard, stay focused, and have fun.  These were our rules during COLT, but they’re good rules for students to follow as well.

Play Hard:  Imagine if your favorite team didn’t give it their all during a really important game.  Most likely, they would lose.  Be your own favorite team; put everything you have into whatever you’re doing.  Whether you’re doing homework, or playing dodge ball after everyone got hit in the head with a soccer ball, put everything you have into the present.  

Stay Focused:  It is really easy to let your mind wander: I wonder what’s happening on Facebook?  Should I call up my friend?  I wonder what that hot dog was made of…
This rule builds up from Play Hard.  If you don’t stay focused, you can’t give it your all.  Keep your mind in the present, and work to be open-minded to new ideas because, in college, you are going to come across a lot of new ideas.

Have Fun:  It may seem a little ridiculous to say “go study, but have fun!”  Honestly, very few people actually like the studying part of learning.  If you do enjoy studying, then, good for you!  But, many of us… not so much.  So, how can we “have fun” and still study and get our homework done?  Previously, I offered some study tips, one of those tips involved setting goals and rewarding yourself upon reaching those goals.
Additionally, there may be instances where you can learn the information, or complete homework, and have fun at the same time.  If you’re a YouTube addict like myself, you may find some videos that are entertaining to watch, but teach you whatever you are trying to learn.

 

These three rules were not the only items covered at COLT, however, you likely have midterms to study for.  I’ll be back with more tips and tricks that were learned during COLT.  So, get to work, and remember: Play hard, stay focused, and have fun.

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Three Study Tips to Help Your “C” Turn Into An “A”


How are your classes going? Are you getting good grades?

I know for many of you the excitement of starting classes may have worn off by this point. It may have worn off the moment you realized that there is actually work involved.

It can be difficult to keep the energy levels high and stay motivated to do your work. I am shocked by how often I hear people say “I got a 76% on that test” and they get congratulated as if it was a 96%. Perhaps you are one of those people? A letter “C” grade is enough to get you by, you will still pass your classes and you will still graduate… but I must ask, are you getting anything out of it?

Sure, you get a piece of paper that says that you completed the required courses, which is great! You can go out and get a job with that. But beyond the paper, what have you gained? Did you learn anything cramming for that first test of the semester? I find it quite safe to assume not.

“But it’s so hard to get an ‘A.’” That is actually not at all true. You have an “A” from day one, everyone does. What can be difficult is maintaining your “A.” While there is no “one size fits all” method to keep you motivated through all of your work, I am willing to share a few tips that have worked for me.

1. Reward yourself. I have found that when I have something more to shoot for than simply a letter grade, I can get my work done faster and more efficiently. These rewards can be anything from allowing yourself to watch a funny cat video to buying that book you’ve had your eyes on forever.

2. Don’t cram. Speaking from personal experience as well as words that have been repeated to me (and likely you as well) many times. My Biology teacher (shout out to Mr. Cradick) offered his class an excellent study format to follow to keep our minds fresh so that we can absorb the maximum amount of information. Only spend 30 minutes at a time studying. If you need to study for longer, take a ten minute break every 30 minutes. Your brain is a muscle, and when you use any muscle for too long it breaks down. But when you take a break you have a chance to refresh your mind and learn even more.

3. Multi-Read. Another tip that my Biology teacher shared with his class (a method that I have used since I was homeschooled) was to read the book three times. The first time you aren’t really reading more than simply glancing over the headers and pictures (it shouldn’t take you more than five minutes per chapter). Then you sit and read through the text, but do not take notes. This step is simply for comprehension, and you may need to repeat this step if you are reading complicated text. Finally, read through the chapter and take notes (note that I do not say “highlight,” though you can if that is what works for you). Try to make each point as brief but detailed as you can (remember, your notes are supposed to help future study sessions move quicker, not be a rewrite of the text book).

Good luck!

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Welcome Back!


Christmas has passed. The new year is here, and with it comes a new semester, the first classes start tomorrow (Monday, January 13). Do you have your sticky notes ready?

I highly recommend to everyone that you start looking through your text books. If you don’t have them yet, what are you waiting for!? Go to the bookstore and get them! I also suggest reading and taking notes on the first chapter of each of your books, this will ensure that you are well prepared for your first day.

If you haven’t already, check Blackboard to see if your instructors have your course syllabus up yet. If they do, then you can get a head start on planning out the semester so that you can have all of your homework and studying done in advance (and you can take well-deserved breaks in between and after assignments).

Also, check your schedules to make sure that you know the correct start day for each of your classes. You may have a class that starts later in the semester.

Jump into this semester with confidence. Aim to make this your best semester yet, because with some effort, it can be. Good luck everyone!

For those of you whom have not registered for classes, or have decided you want to take another one, registration has been extended until Tuesday, January 14.

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Breakfast for the Faculty

This gallery contains 23 photos.


Last Wednesday (November 27th) Phi Theta Kappa put together their first annual faculty appreciation breakfast. The turnout was less than expected as there was still a large remainder of food and we ended up calling students in from the Commons … Continue reading

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Keeping up the Momentum


Since the newness of this semester has probably faded for most everyone, I thought I’d try to give some encouragement.  It can be oh-too-easy to start the semester off strong, with the ‘I’m ready to conquer the world’ mentality (especially if this is your first semester), only to fall into poor study habits a few weeks in. 

 

Here is a secret… your final assignment is just as important as the one you are just about to turn in.  Using basketball as a metaphor, the last shot missed is just as important as a shot missed in the first quarter.  People just react differently to the final shot taken at the buzzer.  Every shot counts, missed or not.  If you get a bad grade on an assignment because you put forth minimal effort it is possible to recover, but it requires working yourself harder on future projects.

 

If you have started slacking on your homework, make a resolution to start fresh today (not tomorrow, not next week… definitely not next semester).  Get yourself organized (cough, cough, sticky notes), and go!

 

On a slightly unrelated note, winter is fast approaching.  I highly recommend that all students sign up to receive STLCC alerts on their cell phones so that you can hear about school cancelations.  Simply text “Follow STLCCAlert” to 40404 from your mobile phone.  Despite the fact that these are Twitter updates, you do not need to have a Twitter account (however, if you do have one, you can follow @STLCCAlert ).

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“I am always doing that which I cannot do,


in order that I may learn how to do it.”
-Pablo Picasso

Unlike most of the STLCC student body population, I was home schooled. My parents decided to home school for academic reasons. As a family, we got our fair share of criticisms, especially from relatives. Their primary concern was (of course) socialization, since I am also an only child. Despite all of the accusations and rumors through the years, I was home schooled through high-school. I enrolled in my first class at STLCC Wildwood when I was 14, and became a full-time regular student the following semester.

After enrolling here at STLCC, I was told that it probably wouldn’t work out… I was too immature to handle it, etc. Here I am, a year later, and I’m doing just fine. I am going to let you in on a secret… although I started college early, I am not a genius. Learning is just as much of an effort for me as it is for everybody else. Just like everyone else, sometimes I fall short. But sometimes I thrive.

Put simply, don’t let someone else determine what you can or cannot do. Strive to be a better person.

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