What to decide when you’re undecided Tuesday, Oct 12 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

Every year, hundreds of U of L students declare themselves as “undecided” majors. As a result, many students fall behind or even delay their intended graduation because they can’t meet their flight plan within the traditional 4 years. Here is some insight into how to choose a major when you’re undecided.

First, know your timeline. On the one hand, U of L doesn’t require students to declare a major.

On the other hand, the longer that a student takes to determine their major, the more classes they might have to take beyond the 121 minimum credit hour requirement. The reason for this is because students must earn at least 121 credit hours to graduate, but they also have to fulfill certain course requirements as part of their major’s flight plan. Thus, not every credit meets the flight plan requirements.

However, Daniel Darland, an academic counselor in the Student Success Center, said that a good rule of thumb is to try to choose a major by the halfway point of your student career. Typically, this means declaring a major upon reaching 60 credit hours (traditionally, this would be the end of sophomore year).

Next, brainstorm a list of what you enjoy. What are your hobbies? Do you want to do that for the next few decades? What made you happy in high school?

If you enjoyed science classes in high school and you’re passionate about helping others, consider going into a pre-med track.

If you want to work with kids and you’ve got a background in babysitting, daycare work, or tutoring, consider an education major.

And if you enjoy drafting written work like speeches or marketing copy and you love to write, try communication!

U of L offers around 60 undergraduate degrees and that isn’t even the end. If you know what you want to do in the future but can’t find the right major for you, you can even create your own. U of L’s Individualized Studies program allows students to devise their own major to fit their interests.

When you choose what you want to study, ask yourself why you chose that field. Is it something that you’re interested in and passionate about studying? If not, stop yourself right there.

Are you interested because the career will pay well? If money is a concern for you, consider possible advanced degrees in the field that might get you more money. Look into all financial aid plans. Consider your options.

If you chose the major because your parents expect it of you, then you’ve spotted your obstacle. This takes away your autonomy as a student and instead places your education in the hands of others. Every student deserves to get an education for themselves.

Furthermore, don’t assume that everything you enjoyed in high school will still interest you in college. Think about whether you can or even want to make a career out of a passing interest. 

Finally, reach out to someone when you’re having trouble. Every student has an assigned “Success Team,” which consists of an academic advisor and a student success coordinator, amongst others. The REACH Center offers many services designed to help students achieve academic and personal success; there are tutors, academic coaches, PAL leaders, and more.

But the most important piece of advice for undecided students is the following: “your major doesn’t equal your career.” You’ll likely hear this from any academic advisor or student success coordinator. But it’s absolutely true. No matter what degree you work towards, your career is a result of your effort and experience, not the words written on your diploma.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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Kick high school study habits to the curb Tuesday, Oct 5 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

As first-year students transition into college, a lot of students have to learn how to get rid of old study habits from high school. 

Why do so many freshmen start off their first college semester on a low note?

The answer is simple: High school teachers generally don’t require the same level of attention to academics as college professors.

Valerie Strauss, a writer for The Washington Post, wrote that the reason first-year students often struggle upon transitioning into college is that they aren’t familiar with the importance of studying.

Strauss suggests that a big problem with first-year college students’ studying habits is that they don’t know how to approach studying correctly. Where a student might benefit from quizzing themself over the material or questioning the material they read, they might instead only read a chapter out of a textbook or skim through notes.

Another reason students might not utilize the strategies that they need to do well?

Inadequate feelings of “belonging” in college, according to Strauss.

She said that feeling outcast can be a tell that a student is struggling in their first year at college.

“Feeling out of place is usually triggered by a setback freshman year: the student fails a test, for example, or feels he doesn’t have any close friends. Any student would be discouraged, but a student who is the first in his family to attend college, or is a member of minority stereotyped as “not academic” may construe the experience as evidence he’s not college material.”

Geoff Bailey, Executive Director of U of L’s REACH and Testing Services, said that first-year students struggle with adjusting to college study habits for a multitude of reasons.

“First, like most of us, first-year students have gotten into certain habits that may have worked in the past (or that they’re simply comfortable with even if they are not the most effective),” said Bailey.

“When they find that a study habit isn’t working as well for a particular class at UofL (e.g., they’re not understanding concepts thoroughly, they’re not earning test scores they want, or they’re having trouble retaining information and recalling it accurately for class or tests), students have to choose whether to keep trying the same approach or be open to new possibilities that will create less stress and improve performance.

“Second, students may know they need to try something different but aren’t necessarily sure where to begin. Third, students sometimes assume that if a strategy works for one class, it should work for all classes. However, the reality is that different courses require different levels of thinking and application.”

Poor study habits can contribute to poor academic performance. First-year students should establish good study habits when they enter college so that they can start their first semester successfully.

Freshmen Madison Oser and Emily Sutter have had differing experiences regarding their own study habits.

Oser, a music therapy major, said that her major doesn’t require her to change many of her study habits from high school. She said that most of the time she could study for tests by reading her notes before class or making flashcards.

On the other hand, Sutter, a social work major, said that her go-to study method is also using flashcards because she believes that it helps her to retain information. She also said that once she got to college, she had to learn to adapt to a fast-paced environment.

U of L offers many resources for students of all grade levels who want to improve their study skills. Bailey recommends that students utilize REACH’s offerings such as tutoring, the Hackademic Workshop series, and academic coaching.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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REACH adds new Peer Academic Coaching program Wednesday, Sep 8 2021 

By Tate Luckey–

For students who are struggling with getting a good start to their academic career, or even those who need a quick confidence boost, REACH is the service for them. Not only do they provide tutoring, graduate exam prep, and a whole resource center dedicated to up to 200 level math courses, they also are providing a newer service referred to as Peer Academic Coaching.

According to Dr. Geoff Bailey, Executive Director of REACH and Testing Services, Peer Academic Coaching is designed to help students develop their academic skillsets to achieve their goals.

“We help students establish specific, SMART goals and identify challenges that might detract from their academic success as well as help identify resources (U of L services, people, departments) that can support their academic lives,” he said.  The other REACH services, by comparison, are more focused on course content and learning the specific subject matter.

And don’t worry about the service being virtual either. While the pandemic has definitely left a ripple in how educators like him and Mark Woolwine, Assistant Director of Learning Resources, approached REACH as a whole, no student utilizing this service will talk to a coach through a screen.

Students who sign up can meet one of eight different peer coaches in BAB 427.  “Our peer coaches record students’ progress in CardSmart and review information about previous appointments to ensure we’re helping them continue to make progress on topics or developing skills that are critical to our students,” Bailey said.  

Students who are interesting in being a coach can sign up here. The only requirements are to have a 3.0 cumulative GPA and a faculty or staff recommendation. If you’d like to sign up for a coaching appointment, you can do so here. 

Graphic by Eli Hughes // The Louisville Cardinal

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