Testing: One, Two, Three, Breathe

Ever since you can remember, you knew you wanted to be a teacher. You simply can’t envision yourself in any other career. But before you can start teaching, you have to pass PRAXIS I and II, and you hate standardized tests. Although you were a strong student in high school, your SAT scores were on the lower end of mediocre. You just don’t test well: you freeze and forget everything you know about grammar and geometry. People keep telling you not to worry, but so much depends on this test: your career, your livelihood, and your happiness.

Like it or not, standardized tests are a fact of American life. To enter graduate school or certain professions, you may have to take one: the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, PRAXIS, or a licensing exam. Many students find these timed exams intimidating. They dislike working under pressure, and they believe their entire future hangs upon their performance on the test.

Fortunately, you can improve your performance on standardized tests – even if you suffer from test anxiety. Follow this formula for success and peace of mind:

1.) Start Early. By early, we mean weeks, even months, in advance. The sooner you begin studying, the more prepared and more confident you’ll be on test day. This might mean scheduling your test months in advance. (Usually, you can do this online.)

2.) Practice, Practice, Practice. No, practice doesn’t always make a perfect score, but it can help you achieve a higher one. Take an up-to-date practice test long before your testing date. (You should be able to find one at Academic Support, Career Services, the library, your academic department, or on the test’s website.) Find a quiet place to work, and give yourself the same amount of time you would have on test day. Afterward, when you score your practice test, you’ll have a better idea of the concepts and skills you’ll need to review before the real exam.

3.) Focus Your Study Sessions. Concentrate on the content that’s most challenging to you. For example, if writing is your strong suit, you may not need to review grammar and vocabulary before you take the GRE or PRAXIS. However, if you’ve forgotten all the algebra you’ve ever learned, you might want to spend some time brushing up on it before the test.

4.) Get Help. Don’t suffer in silence. If you are having trouble preparing for a test, stop by Academic Support in Babcock. Whether you need help with math, want to practice writing timed essays, or simply get some study tips, we can help. Your professors may also be able to give you test-specific advice.

5.) Take Care of Yourself. That means pacing yourself in study sessions, getting enough sleep the night before the exam, and eating balanced meals on test day. If you’re sleep deprived or your blood sugar is low, you won’t do your best work.

6.) Take a Deep Breath. Yes, the test looms large, and yes, you want to do as well as possible. But the worst case scenario isn’t the end of your dreams: if you don’t do as well as you’d like on the test, you can take it again. Graduate schools only pay attention to your highest score.

7.) Reward Yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to after the test: a nice lunch, a favorite movie, an outing with a friend or family member. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve a treat. This strategy can also help reduce anxiety about the test as it reminds you that life goes on – even after the dreaded exam!

Although you may not enjoy standardized tests, following these steps can make them much less daunting. The same skills that help you succeed in the classroom – time management, planning, self-care – can also boost your scores. The test looming in your future is just one step on the path to the life you want.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

5 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues & Make the Spring Semester a Little Easier.

Winter in Vermont is so beautiful. The mountains are covered in snow, and the trees bend beautifully with its heavy weight. It’s a season we look forward to. We break out the cozy sweaters, sip hot chocolate, and listen to Christmas music. But once the holidays are over, we feel winter will never end.

In most states, winter will last an average of three months. Then spring arrives, and everything is fresh and new again. However, here in Vermont, we tend to skip spring altogether and get bombarded with six months of winter. During these long and dark months, we tend to fall into a rut. Our grades being to slip, we put minimal effort into our appearance, all we want to do is sleep, and we fear we won’t make it to spring. As someone who has lived in Vermont for over ten years, I fully understand winter’s gloomy affects. So I have compiled a few tips and tricks that have helped me beat the winter blues and stay on top of my homework during the spring semester.

Exercise

Your health is your wealth, so take care of your body by moving a little every day. Whether that’s going for a walk, hiking, doing a mini workout in your dorm, or having a full-on sweat session at the gym, make sure to move your body for at least thirty minutes each day. If you can, do some of your workouts outside. I know it’s cold, but try going for a run. Anything involving fresh air and movement will help tremendously, and getting the blood flowing will help you de-stress, focus, and sleep better.

Sleep!

This is probably one of the most important tips out there, but making sure you get enough sleep every night will do wonders for your overall well-being. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before, but getting enough sleep is so important for your physical and mental health. A study done by experts at Stanford University suggests that college students need at least 8 of sleep every night. I understand that this can be difficult when trying to balance school, sports, homework, work and a social life, but at least try to squeeze in an hour nap here and there. Your body, mind, and grades will thank you.

Take Your Vitamins

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is important to add to your daily routine. Vitamin D is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure; however, during these winter months, we don’t typically see much sun so adding in the vitamin D will definitely increase your mood. It is also known to help reduce the risk of the flu, which has been running rampant as of late. So to avoid getting sick and stressing your body, definitely throw this into your daily routine, and you will be ready to get that assignment done that has been staring at you for three weeks.

 Try Not to Procrastinate

I’m laughing as I type this because I am the Princess of Procrastination. I will put things off until the very last minute and then stress, get mad at myself, and then put it off some more. Moral of the story, don’t be like me. School can wear you out. I get wanting to come home, sit on the couch for 6 hours, and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, but putting off your schoolwork is going to cut into that precious snooze time we all need. Set up a schedule for yourself, laying out everything you need to get done and the dates your assignments are due. This will help you stay on top of your work and also allow you time to sit around and watch Netflix in your PJs all day.

Do Something for Yourself and Make Time for Friends

Despite our busy schedules, it is so important to take the time to do something with your friends or even just by yourself. After a long week, I know all I want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing, which is totally okay! But make sure you make time for friends, too, because they will encourage you to have a little fun and forget about the stresses from the week before. Also, plan something fun for the week, whether it’s promising a lunch date to yourself, a trip to Target (because everyone loves Target), or a coffee with a friend. This will give you something to look forward to and will keep you going until that special day arrives.

The winter can be a drag, and unfortunately we can’t completely escape the winter blues. But adding any of these tips to your daily life should help. Let’s face it: there won’t be that “one thing” that solves all of our winter problems, but adding in some of these tips regularly should help make those cold, dark days a little better.

Jessica Penwarden is a senior majoring in multidisciplinary studies at Castleton University.

 

Budget like a Boss: Tips to Get You Through the Semester

Having a good time, going out with friends, and splurging on something you really want are all good and well, but they can make staying with your budget difficult.

A budget is one of the most helpful tools students can use over the course of their college career. Unfortunately, successful budgeting can be difficult. Here are some of the best tips to stay on budget and help you save money!

 

  • Know Yourself: You’ll have to know yourself to set workable goals for managing and saving money. That is, maybe you want to save $100.00 each month, but you know that by the end of the month you will spend at least $15.00 of that money on a meal with your friends. Plan to save $85.00 each month and work $15.00 into your budget to spend with friends or on something fun.
  • Wants vs. Needs: Learning to differentiate between wants and needs can be incredibly useful when you’re trying to create a successful budget. For example, a candy bar might be a want, but a new notebook for class could be a need. By writing a list of your daily, weekly, or monthly wants and needs, you will be better able to factor them into a realistic budget. Creating a wants and needs list can also help you cut back on impulse buying, which will help you save money!
  • Organize and Prioritize: Watch where your money is going and what you’re spending it on. Prioritizing your expenses can be as simple as listing them out and organizing them based on how much they cost, how important they are to your daily life, and if they need to be paid in a certain amount of time. For example, the list below shows how a student might prioritize expenses and then allocate their income accordingly:1.) Rent
    2.) Groceries
    3.) College/loan payment
    4.) Car/gas
    5.) Phone
    6.) Wifi
    7.)
    Fun/extra
  • The Right Tools: It is important to use the budgeting tools that work for you. If paper and pen will help you create a budget and stick to it, use paper and pen. If you need to use an Excel spreadsheet to organize your finances, that’s easy to do. If you’re like me and forget to write things down or keep track of them, a budgeting app, such as MINT, is a great way to go!  

 

Having a monthly budget will help you reduce your spending and track where your money is going. Best of all, you’ll be less likely to scramble for money in unexpected situations. So even though budgeting isn’t always glamorous or fun, it’s something everyone should try to incorporate into their lives.

Challenge yourself to create a budget and stick to it – even if it’s just for a month.

-Christin Martin

Christin Martin graduated from Castleton in 2018. During her time at Castleton, she served as a Senior Community Advisor and a TRIO Mentor. She has co-coordinated the Game of Life, a financial literacy game for undergraduate students.  Currently, she is the assistant director of student life at Northern Vermont University.

 

Dealing with Distractions

tech_distraction

You’re ready to write a short paper for your English class. It’s only a two-page response to a novel you’ve been reading, so it shouldn’t take long. You sit down with your laptop. Before you start typing, you decide to check Facebook quickly. You comment on a friend’s post. Then you see that another friend has posted a funny cat video. You click on it, of course. You Tube recommends more cat videos; you watch two more before you start typing your essay.

Three hours, ten texts, three e-mails, and one conversation with your roommate later, you finish the essay and hit save. You don’t have time to proofread: you have history class, dinner, and a pickleball meeting ahead of you. Then, after pickleball, you need to study for that big biology test tomorrow.

You spent three hours doing what you could have done in an hour or less. And you didn’t even do it very well.

Sound familiar? Modern life is filled with distractions — and not just for students. Parents, faculty, and staff find their heads spinning between various screens and obligations. But to be productive, all of us have to put down our devices, prioritize our workload, and focus on the task at hand.

No one is saying you have to give up social media, texting, extracurricular activities, or your social life. We also know that some students have jobs and family responsibilities. However, if you’re a full-time student, college is your full-time position. As with any job, you should arrange your life around your studies, not your studies around your life.

Here are some tips to keep you grounded and focused as you navigate college life.

1.) Find Your Place. You need a space where you can concentrate on your work with a minimum of distractions. This may not be your dorm room or apartment! Consider studying in the library or Academic Support Center. When you really need to focus, check out the study carrels on the library’s second floor. You can get a key to one at the library’s circulation desk.

2.) Turn It Off! Turn off your music, phone, TV, and other devices while you study. If you’re working on a computer or tablet, resist the urge to keep multiple windows open. Tell yourself you’ll look at Instagram after you finish the paper. Some students insist they need background noise in order to concentrate. If this sounds like you, try listening to soft music during study sessions. However, don’t try to combine socializing, web surfing, or television with academics. They don’t mix.

3.) Schedule It. Fill out a Weekly Schedule. In addition to your classes, work, practices, and other commitments, make sure you block off time to study. Dedicate a few hours to studying most days of the week. For example, if you know that you’ll be working on assignments from 2-5 every Thursday, you’ll be able to reserve the evening for food, fun, and sleep.

4.) Remember Why You’re Here. You chose to attend college because you had a dream: you wanted to become an expert in something or prepare for a particular career. Everything else is secondary, including extracurricular activities, entertainment, and your social life. Remind yourself of your goals whenever any distraction tempts you.

5.) Focus on Fun. Heard about work-life balance? It’s hard to achieve when your work and study times blend. Imagine if you didn’t have to do your chemistry homework and catch up with friends simultaneously. You’d do a better job on the assignment – and you could relax and enjoy your friends’ company.

Imagine seeing your grades improve and having more time for yourself. Imagine being less stressed about your classes and doing better work than ever. Eliminating distractions and focusing on your studies can help you become more effective in all areas of your life. Here’s the best part of it: you don’t need to buy anything to achieve this balance. You have all the tools you need to become the best student you can be.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

The Post-Transfer Blues: Adjusting, Settling, and Thriving

Starting new things can be scary.

Even students who are excited to start college will likely report that some things scared them—and that’s when they start as a freshman in the Fall with everyone else.

Switching schools can offer a whole new set of frightening experiences. Starting new in the Spring means everything is new to you even when it isn’t to your classmates.

As someone who has made this transition, I know how overwhelming this can seem. But don’t fret! There’s no reason your transition has to go poorly.

Don’t Hide. If you’re anything like me, your first response to finding yourself in a strange new circumstance is to do as little as you can. It can be very tempting to move only from your lectures to the dining hall, and back to the inviting cave of your blankets, stuffed animals and laptop. This is a bad idea – and I speak from experience. Hiding in your room won’t help you feel more comfortable in your new school.

Try talking to people. Maybe sit in the library, or a public lounge, or the common room in your suite instead of your bed. Try leaving your door open. It’s okay if you don’t feel like going to supper every time your suitemates invite you, but you shouldn’t turn them down every time either. Chances are they’re really nice and want to help you settle in. Let them help you.

Get Involved. Okay, I get it, your Intro to Psych class may not be the best place to meet people with shared interests. But there are other ways to make friends. Castleton has many clubs; check out the list and see if any of them might be fun. If you’ve already found a couple of people who’d like to have a Quidditch team, but you want to find a whole bunch more, you can see about starting your own club. (If anyone wants to start a Quidditch team, let me know).

Getting active through community service can also be a great way to meet people and accomplish something good!

Go Home, But Also Don’t Go Home. If being closer to home was one of the reasons why you chose to come to Castleton, then you should take advantage of it! If it’s 2pm on a Friday, you’re done with class, and home is within a couple hours, go for it. Leaving school, especially in your own car, can make a world of difference in reminding you that you’re not actually trapped.
The flip side is that going home too much won’t help you. It’ll make school seem even more foreign, cut down on your chances to make friends, and probably only make you feel more homesick. If you find some way to cheat and go home three nights in one week, you’ll only find it more depressing the next week when you can’t swing it.

Don’t Sweat it. At first it may feel like you’ve come to an alien planet where no one is interested in anything that you like, and no one likes you. When you start to feel this way, do something to remind yourself that your entire life isn’t based on this place. Decide to stop worrying about it. Relax.

Once you stop worrying, you will find that suddenly you don’t feel like such an outsider. You probably won’t notice it happening, but before you know it you’ll have places you like to sit, an inspiring professor, and a great group of friends to study, commiserate, and hang out with.

-Amber Clark

Amber Clark is a former transfer student and a recent graduate of Castleton University.

Exams, Holidays, Then What?

christmasgrumpy-cat

In a few days, it will all be over. You’ll finish your finals, turn in any last papers, and go home. We hope you’ve had a good semester and wish you a relaxing break. You deserve it!

We also hope you reflect a bit on the semester and think about the one ahead. Just as the New Year allows you to make a fresh start, a new semester gives you a clean slate. No matter what happened this fall – a bad grade, poor decisions, a failed class, a list of failures – you can overcome it. Really!

First, consider this semester’s successes. Maybe you overcame what you thought was incurable shyness or conquered your fear of public speaking. Perhaps you discovered a love for ceramics, sociology, or chemistry. In any case, you learned something about your strengths and interests.

Second, you need to identify what you did wrong. No, you don’t need to beat yourself up. Just acknowledge your mistakes calmly as though you were talking about someone else’s life. For example, say, “I procrastinated about my math homework, so it became more difficult that it should have been” or “I let breaking up with my boyfriend distract me from my studies.”

Next, think about what you gained from the experience. Maybe you learned something about time management or study skills. You may have discovered something about yourself and your interests: perhaps accounting is not the right major or career for you. Use this insight to move forward even if you’re not quite sure of your path.

Finally, realize you’re not alone. Many of your peers and professors have had low periods – and recovered from them. All of us have struggled – academically, personally, or professionally. Successful people aren’t the ones who’ve never stumbled; they’re the ones who’ve continued on anyway.

Happy Holidays and Happy Break! We’re already looking forward to seeing you next year.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

 

Tis the Season to Be Saving: Financial Tips for Break and the Holidays

Image result for cats santa costumes pictures

For many students, college life means being broke – and this is especially true around the holidays and winter break. With gift shopping, holiday parties, and outings with friends, the pressure to spend money can leave students feeling less than festive. What should be a time of joy and relaxation becomes a burden.

Fortunately, it is possible to save money and enjoy the holidays. Here are some tips to help you stay in good financial health over vacation.

1.) Think Modest. You’re a full-time college student. No one expects you to give extravagant gifts. Give small, thoughtful presents, go homemade (baked goods are always a hit), or consider limiting your gift list. Some families do a Yankee Swap; others pull names from hat and select a present for the person whose name they pulled. Be honest about your financial situation with your loved ones. You even might ask siblings, friends, and extended family to take a break from gift-giving this year. They may be glad you suggested this!

2.) Check Your List – Twice! If family members ask what you want for the holidays, think about your needs. Do you have enough clothing to last you through the next year? Socks? Do you need help buying books or school supplies for next semester? Could you use a gas card or points for your meal plan? Don’t be afraid to ask for necessities: most loved ones will be happy to help you pursue your goals. If you receive money, save it or earmark it for next semester’s expenses.

3.) Be Selective. During break, you may be tempted to spend money on entertainment, including movie tickets, restaurant meals, concerts, and nightclubs. Of course, you want to have fun with friends, but you don’t want to lose your savings. Limit your outings, or plan less expensive ones. Consider going to a matinee – or staying home and watching DVDs with popcorn. Check your local newspaper and see what free events are going on in your hometown. Clip coupons for your favorite chain restaurant. (Sunday newspapers usually include them.) Can’t afford that lift ticket? Try bundling up and taking a walk in the snow.

4.) Treat Yourself. Maybe you really want that concert ticket, dress, or season pass. It may even be worth it. But before you open your wallet, think about what that splurge might mean. Will seeing your favorite band live be worth a few months of being broke? Will you have opportunities to wear that dress? How often will you be able to get to the mountain this winter? It’s normal to want to reward yourself for hard work, but a smaller treat, whether it’s a book, garment, or a trip to your favorite café, might make you just as happy.

As the year and the semester draw to a close, think about your financial goals for the year ahead. How can you save money and reduce your debt? This sounds like a grim process, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, the more money you save in college, the less debt you’ll have after graduation. Think of being frugal as preparing for the future – just one more step on your journey to the life you want.

– Dorothy A. Dahm

Caring and Curiosity: Meet TRIO Star Liam Edwards

When Liam Edwards first registered for classes at the Community College of Vermont, he encountered a lot of skepticism. At seventeen, he had dropped out of high school to attend college. “I got negative feedback from friends,” he says. “They didn’t think I could make it. My family didn’t believe I could make it either.”

Liam’s first day at CCV seemed to confirm everyone’s fears. “I didn’t even show up to the right class,” he recalls, chuckling. “I sat in the wrong classroom for three hours.”

There was also the financial burden. Liam’s parents couldn’t pay for his education so he worked at Rutland Mental Health, doing outreach work with adults with chronic mental health problems. He became a substitute teacher at Head Start. In the summer, he toiled long hours as a farmhand. In between, he worked in production at music festivals.

Despite the bumpy beginning and the heavy workload, Liam thrived. He left classes wanting to engage with classmates about the ideas they were learning and discussing. He earned an associate’s degree in early childhood education from CCV before transferring to Castleton, a transition he describes as “seamless.”

Today, the young man who was told he wouldn’t succeed in college has a 3.26 GPA despite a plethora of outside commitments. Until Liam began student teaching this semester, he continued his work with Rutland Mental Health and Head Start in addition to working part-time at the Calvin Coolidge Library’s circulation desk. He has also been an active member of the university’s Greenhouse and Gardens Club. In January, he discussed his experiences as a transfer student on a panel for new transfer students. 

Faculty and staff praise his appetite for learning and his determination. “Liam is truly committed to learning. He eagerly searches for new knowledge and he passionately engages with scholarly work,” says Leigh-Ann Brown, Assistant Professor of Education. Stephanie Traverse, Access Services Librarian, raves about his “incredible work ethic.”

Liam believes Castleton’s Academic Support Center is partially responsible for his success.  He has met with Math Specialist Deborah Jackson and Writing Specialist Doe Dahm during his time at Castleton. “It’s reassuring to believe that there are people at Castleton who will help,” he says. “And it’s been useful to get help with my writing, especially synthesizing and sequencing. The Academic Support Center has helped me achieve one of my goals, which is to keep my GPA above a 3.00.”

A multidisciplinary studies major, Liam hopes to pursue a career in elementary education after graduating in December. He also plans to attend graduate school. This semester, he is student teaching. He eagerly creates lesson plans for the 4-6th graders in his classroom, and despite his busy schedule, finds time to mentor fellow student teachers, sharing ideas and strategies with them.

Monica McEnerney, chair of Castleton’s education department, is supervising Liam in his student teaching role. She is impressed by his interactions with students and peers.

“It was evident from the first day that Liam had built strong connections with students and was a responsible and kind colleague,” she says. “He knows that, even when times get tough, he must be a positive presence for his students.  Liam is an excellent elementary educator.”

McEnerney believes Liam’s intellectual curiosity will enrich his work as an educator. “Liam has a broad sense of the world, has a poetic disposition, and cares deeply about his community,” she says.

Ann Slonaker, Associate Professor of Education, agrees wholeheartedly. “Liam will be a good role model for all his students,” she adds.

In the meantime, Liam hopes other students will take full advantage of the opportunities to learn and grow during their time at college. “You can’t just read what’s given to you,” he says thoughtfully. “Your professors are all hard workers, and they haven’t stopped learning. Read outside your interests.”

– Dorothy A. Dahm

Persistence and Heart: Celebrating Castleton’s First-Generation Students

Castleton TRIO and first-generation students join international students for apple-picking this fall.

When Sarah Dunbar and Brooke Knudsen arrived at Castleton in Fall 2015, they had lots of questions about college life. Neither of their parents had attended college, and they weren’t sure how they would pay for their education. “Even understanding my financial aid package was a challenge,” Sarah admits.

And then there was homesickness. “Growing up, I was a shy person, always leaning on my family and friends,” says Brooke. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through college being away from them.”

Both young women found the answers to their questions – and a home away from home – at Castleton’s Academic Support Center (ASC). Through the Summer Transition Program, they made friends like themselves, first-generation students with the same concerns about college life. Staff members helped them identify financial aid opportunities and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

Today, those early uncertainties seem very far away. Both Sarah and Brooke have thrived academically at Castleton. Sarah, a multidisciplinary studies major who hopes to teach elementary school, has a 3.80 G.P.A. This summer, Brooke, a biology major, conducted research on the effects of glyphosate-based pesticides through Castleton’s McNair Scholars program. Both have mentored and tutored other students at the ASC. Despite her avowed shyness, Brooke recently served as the Mentor Coordinator for the TRIO Texting program, a program for incoming first-generation, low-income students. She attributes her newfound confidence to the ASC. “The ASC shaped who I am today,” she says. “I have grown as an individual.”

While Brooke and Sarah’s stories are inspiring, they are far from unusual: roughly half of Castleton’s students are first-generation. These students often face a plethora of obstacles from financial problems to unfamiliarity with academic jargon. For these reasons, they are more likely to become discouraged and drop out than their peers. “They have a sense of fragility, that coming to college does not necessarily mean finishing college or having the lifestyle of one’s dreams,” observes Rich Cark, Professor of Political Science at Castleton University.

Clark knows something about being a first-generation college student: neither of his parents went beyond high school, and they did not encourage their six children to further their education. “They tended to feel that those with higher levels of education were snobs who looked down on them,” he says.

Clark applies his own experiences to his work with Castleton students. He recalls meeting first-generation students during his interview. “I felt like I had found my people,” he says. “At my previous school, many of the students struck me as feeling a sense of entitlement about their lives and their position. I don’t get that with Castleton students, many of whom have a sense of triumph about being in the room, being on campus.”

Faculty and staff agree that first-generation students bring unique strengths and insights to their studies. “Typically, first-generation students are appreciative and work hard to prove they belong,” says Andy Vermiliyea, chair of the Natural Sciences department and a first-generation college graduate.

Gerry Volpe, Castleton’s Coordinator of Disability Services, concurs. “Many first-generation students have overcome obstacles many of their peers can only imagine and have come away with a strength of character that serves them quite well,” he says. “As a first-generation student myself, I am proud to support these students.”

Certainly, Brooke and Sarah are grateful for their education. “I know how hard I have worked to get here and how hard my family has worked to get me here,” says Sarah. “So I am doing my best to make the most of this opportunity.”

Brooke agrees wholeheartedly with her friend. “Persistence and heart are the true meaning of being a first-generation student,” she muses. “We do the best we can, and our heart is always in it because we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t truly want to be.”

– Dorothy A. Dahm

 

Campus Nightmares: Tricks and Treats for Halloween and Beyond

Tis the season for witches and warlocks, ghosts and goblins. Maybe you’re donning a costume, attending a Halloween ‘do, or indulging in a little candy. But if you’re a college student, chances are, your biggest fears may not appear in horror movies. Here are some “monsters” you may encounter this semester and some “tricks” to help you dispel them.

Deadly Deadlines: They sneak up on you. And they often appear in pairs or trios: you know, your biology paper is due on the same day as your English essay and your history test. And deadlines don’t care about your job, social life, or family. 

Well, you can’t make your deadlines disappear if you want to stay in college. But if you prepare for them, they can lose their ability to intimidate you. Use a calendar or planner to keep tracks of tests, papers, and projects. And instead of cramming for an exam or writing a paper in one night, break assignments and study sessions into manageable chunks over a few days or weeks.

Terrifying Teachers: Well, “terrifying” is a strong word. But some classes are more challenging and some professors less approachable than others. And if you don’t understand your professor’s expectations, it can be a little scary.

The good news is, professors can lose their power to terrify. Have a question about an assignment, grade, or class? It’s best to approach your instructor directly. Don’t know how to start the conversation? Talk to one of the counselors at Academic Support. They have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Haunting Habits: In the scariest movies, the main characters discover something terrifying about themselves: a potential for evil or a shaky grasp on reality. It’s no different in college. What’s holding you back is probably inside you: social media addiction, procrastination, maybe even a belief that you can’t cut it academically or personally.

Dispelling bad habits can be hard – most of us can’t manage it overnight. Sometimes, we make progress only to fall back. But the first step is acknowledging that they exist. After that, make a game plan, meet with a counselor, and do anything you have to do to replace destructive thoughts and actions with healthy ones. Keep going even when you stumble. It will get easier.

Ghastly Grades: Sometimes, despite your best efforts to keep the other horrors at bay, you’re confronted with Ghastly Grades anyway. A test or paper, a semester or academic year, end poorly. What’s most frightening is that they can make you give up entirely.

But don’t give in! Ghastly Grades may feel like the end of the world – or your academic career – but they don’t have to be. If you’re struggling academically, meet with one of the counselors at Academic Support. They help you develop a plan to get back on track. And while you’re there, they’ll tell you a few stories about other students who’ve beaten Ghastly Grades and achieved their goals.

We hope these tricks make your time at Castleton a treat. Happy Halloween from all of us at Academic Support!

-Dorothy A. Dahm