Welcome back from Fall Break Commodores! On this edition of the official podcast of The Commons Dean Melissa Gresalfi talks about belonging, Cheryl delivers the Commons Calendar of events happening this week, and Richard sits down for a fantastic interview with Anwar Agha, a first year from Beirut, Lebanon living in Hank studying Economics on a pre-med track.
On this pre-Fall Break edition of the podcast Dean Gresalfi discusses the importance of taking a break and getting some rest. Elizabeth delivers the Commons Calendar of events coming up this week, and Richard has a terrific interview with Bryce Keating, a first year from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania living in Hank and studying Psychology.
On this edition of the podcast Dean Gresalfi talks about the Lawson Lecture, Tait delivers the info on upcoming events in the Commons Calendar, and Richard sits down for a great interview with Yichi Zhang, a freshman from Gaithersburg, Maryland who is living in Stambaugh House and studying Cognitive Studies.
On this week’s podcast Dean Gresalfi shares some great information about her Dean’s Dinners and why you should consider attending. Tait delivers the Commons Calendar of upcoming events, and Richard has a wonderful interview with Connie Sun, a first year student from Rockville, Maryland studying Computer Science and living in Sutherland House.
On this new episode Dean Melissa Gresalfi talks about how we think about failure, Cheryl has the details on events on campus coming up this week, and Richard has a terrific interview with Will Yuk, first-year student from Long Island, New York living in Stambaugh house studying HOD.
On this edition of the CommonsCast podcast Dean Melissa Gresalfi talks about community and how students can make connections through student organizations on campus. Tait has all the details on events coming up on campus in this week’s calendar, and Richard sits down for an interesting interview with Macharia “Mash” Kanyatte, a freshman from Nairobi, Kenya majoring in Electrical Engineering at Vanderbilt.
On this episode Dean Gresalfi discusses memory and offers strategies for how to use memory to learn effectively. Tait delivers the weekly Commons Calendar of events, and Richard sits down for a terrific interview with Vanderbilt senior & VUCeptor Maggie McVeigh.
On this episode of the podcast Dean Gresalfi has some excellent advice on how to find your community in her Dean’s Minute. Then Tait delivers the Commons Calendar of upcoming events you need to know about, and Richard has an excellent one-on-one interview with Dean Gresalfi in our Humans of the Commons segment.
Here is something I’m sure many will be able to relate to.
You’re up at 2 a.m. cramming for your unit test tomorrow morning, reading and re-reading your notes, watching and re-watching your lecture, highlighting and re-highlighting your textbook (actually maybe I’m the only one that does that last one…) Yet despite all of your blood, sweat, and tears, you BOMB the test.
And I don’t mean just bomb…I mean BOMB!
You BOMB so hard that you don’t feel like doing anything but cry and shout. You BOMB so hard that you can’t manage to even look at your professor in the face. You BOMB so hard that you feel too guilty to even eat your cafeteria food because you don’t feel like you belong at the school. That’s BOMB.
When writer and engineer Karl W. Reid sat his first physics exam at MIT, he dropped a BOMB. 38 percent. The story ends well, however. After some self-reflection and a change-up in his study habits, Reid rapidly improved his grades and scored near the top of his classes consistently! In his book, Working Smarter, Not Just Harder, Reid shares with college students some of the tips that he implemented to achieve success academically. Here are the top 5 tips that MCL compiled from his book.
1 – Embrace a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset.
Nobody is just born good at something. You might be familiar with the 10,000-hour rule: in order to achieve mastery at something, it takes 10,000 hours of practice. Please don’t tell yourself that you’ll never be successful at something just because you failed the first few times. That’s normal. The formal nomenclature for this mindset — when failure discourages you — is called the ‘fixed mindset’. The opposite, much more healthy mentality is the ‘growth mindset.’ This is the idea that anyone can improve on anything when they seek out help and opportunities to grow. If Reid could go from 38% on his first physics test to acing the next few exams, you can too.
2 – Form study groups…the right way.
Ever been in a study group where not much studying actually happens? Reid has a solution. Instead of jumping straight into a study group, start out with studying on your own. That way, you can formulate questions to concepts that you don’t quite understand. You can then bring these questions to the study group, and your study buddies might be able to help out. After convening with your group, Reid recommends self-studying again to let newly-learned ideas sink in. Also, try to be organized with your study groups: schedule specific times and places to meet, hold each other accountable, and set goals for what you want your group to cover prior to each time you meet.
3 – Build connections with all sorts of people.
There’s a common saying that goes, “who you know is more important than what you know.” Whether it’s the Dean of your school, your professors, your peers, or even the admin at the financial aid office, your connections will be able to help you achieve things that you alone might not be able to accomplish. This was especially true for me personally: the head academic advisor at my school (Engineering) was able to help me register for two courses that I couldn’t sign-up for myself due to a small error in YES. Perhaps your professor will be able to connect you with the hiring manager at a company you’re interested in interning for. Or maybe the Director of Vanderbilt Student Communications can connect you with the Dean of the Commons (shoutout Jim Hayes!!)
4 – Set goals…and have others hold you accountable to them.
Reid loves the story of ‘The Pact,’ three inner-city residents of Newark who all became doctors despite having every burden thrown at them. The way that they achieved this was by forming goals while holding each other accountable to these goals. When we formulate goals, we have a sense of direction and purpose. When we hold each other accountable, we have an incentive. Combined, an incentive and a purpose are powerful drivers to success. Keep in mind, however, that goals should be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. A good example of a SMART goal would be “I want to score at least 95% on my next five practice-sets in my Calculus class.” A non-example would be “I want to get better at Calculus.”
5 – Study actively, not passively, using the ‘Deep Dive Method.’
When you hear active studying, think engagement: asking questions about your reading, doing practice problems, attending office hours. It’s scientifically proven that active studying is superior to exclusively passive studying, which is just reading and re-reading your notes and textbook. Think about it this way. Are you more likely to remember someone if all you did was look at them or if you also had a conversation with them? Reid recommends an active studying method called the ‘Deep Dive Method.’ He first reads his textbook or notes, highlighting important ideas and noting questions that he has. Second, he attempts to answer all of his original questions either by attending office hours or seeking external resources. Third, he works on practice problems that solidify his understanding of the material. Finally, rinse and repeat: understand the material and reinforce the ideas with practice.