Archives—November 2012

Finishing out the semester

Welcome back!

Students have all safely returned to campus and are getting back to the grind, ready to finish out the last few weeks of the  fall 2012 semester with a bang. Campus may be a little colder and whiter than when we all headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday, but the routine is pretty much the same. Hopefully you all had the opportunity to enjoy some relaxation, lots of good food, and some holiday shopping with your students while they were back home with you over break. I know that at least for me, break was a great way to recharge and brace myself for the end of the semester.

Finals

Even though 3 weeks may seem like a pretty significant amount of time, when it comes to final exams and end-of-semester papers and projects, it goes by in a flash. This semester’s final exam period will be Monday, December 17 through Friday, December 21. Even though most students aren’t quite back to full mental capacity and are still partially on break, now is the time to start thinking about how to prepare for finals. By getting a jump start, students will be able to reduce the stress and often overwhelming amount of work that comes with finals week. Preparation and organization are key to finishing any semester strong, so here are a few strategies that I’ve learned through my four years at Michigan Tech.

Get organized: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s shocking how quickly things can get out of hand when the workload increases and deadlines are coming up quickly. Many students keep a planner with all of their assignments and exams written down in one convenient location, and it’s important to keep this up-to-date. Another great way to stay organized is keep to-do lists for each week and to set goals for what you’d like to get accomplished. This helps with motivation because nothings feels better than crossing something off of the list and moving on to the next task! Finally, using Google Calendar and Google Drive are super useful for keeping everything straight when times are hectic. Google Calendar allows students to put all of their classes, exams, meetings, and deadlines on one calendar so that they can see an overview of what they need to do and when they need to do it. Google Drive provides an organized way to keep assignments in one spot so things don’t get lost or buried in the pile of papers on a desk.

Get some extra help: This is a huge one that many students overlook. When studying for finals, remind your students that they are not alone. Learning centers, professors, and teaching assistants are all there to answer any questions and clarify any unclear concepts. Michigan Tech has a learning center for almost any subject that you can think of, including writing, math, biology, engineering, physics, and chemistry just to name a few! Each learning center is staffed by students who have been successful in the courses associated with the center. Most centers offer walk-in appointments or weekly sessions, depending on the level of support a student needs. Professors and teaching assistants have office hours that students can visit if they have a specific question about a lecture topic or assignment. This is time that is set aside specifically for students and any questions that they may have. Not only is this a great way to get inside information directly from the instructor, but it allows students to develop a connection with their professors. Another way to get a little extra assistance is to form study groups with other students in the same course. Working as a group gives students a wider knowledge base and different perspectives on how to solve a problem or answer a question. Also, everyone has different learning styles and unique approaches to studying, so working with others can introduce students to strategies and techniques that they haven’t tried before.

Students hard at work

Stay healthy: When things get busy, it’s often easy to sacrifice sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition to stay on top of things. However, it’s important for students to keep in mind that the last thing they need during finals is be sick. Treat school like a 9 to 5 job, so when night comes there’s some time to recharge and get some rest. Of course there will be a need to study and do some work at night, but if students get the majority of assignments out of the way during the day, things will seem much more manageable. Also, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is very important and helps to ensure that students are getting the rest that they need to get everything done! Many students feel that they are too busy to fit exercise into their crazy schedules during finals. However, exercise doesn’t have to mean hours in the gym. A brief jog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing some push-ups and crunches in their room is much better than nothing at all. A healthy body means a healthy mind, which is something that every student needs. Finally, remind your student to make smart choices in the dining halls and to avoid using food as a way to deal with the stress. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables gives busy students the energy they need to keep up with their schedules. Avoid sugary and fried foods that will only slow the body down and go for nutritious and healthy options instead!

Keep calm and carry on: Remember not to freak out! Many students think they need to spend every waking moment studying and doing homework, and while it is important to dedicate time and put forth effort when it comes to their studies, students must also take time to unwind. Studying and working nonstop is a recipe for getting burned out. It’s important to set aside some time to chat with friends, read for leisure, watch a little TV, or do a bit of web surfing to relax and recharge. Studying is important, but research has shown that 2-3 hours is the maximum amount of uninterrupted time that someone can study something and still absorb information. Students should take brief study breaks to get the most out of study sessions.

These are just a few tips that I’ve found helpful during finals and I hope your student will find them useful as well! One of the most important things that you can do as parents is to just be supportive. Take the frantic phone calls in stride, offer words of encouragement, and be the shoulder that your student can lean on when things get busy. As a survivor of six finals weeks, I can attest that your students will get through this. Even after all of the “I just know I failed!” and “I can’t do this!” calls, they’ll most likely do much better than they expected and be ready to take on another semester and conquer new challenges.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please post a comment or email me directly at tggendro@mtu.edu.

Until next week,
Travis


Midyear Commencement

With the Fall 2012 semester almost at a close, some students are preparing to graduate and take the next step in their lives. After each semester there is a commencement ceremony to honor these graduating students, and to send them onward from Michigan Tech on a high note. Midyear Commencement will take place on December 15 in the Student Development Complex Wood Gym. The ceremony usually lasts about two hours, and involves a keynote speaker as well as farewell speeches from select graduates and university administrators.

The commencement stage

After the main commencement program, there is a Graduates Reception hosted by the Michigan Tech Alumni Association where there will be light refreshments, as well as areas reserved for taking pictures to capture all of the great memories. In addition, there is the President’s Reception for Graduates, scheduled for December 14 in the Memorial Union Building’s Isle Royale Ballroom. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided at the event and a cash bar will also be available. The President’s Reception is hosted by President Glenn D. Mroz and his wife.

Some of last year's graduates

One of the most memorable elements of commencement (aside from the pride of graduating of course!) is the Class Tribute Program. Students can offer a public tribute and give thanks to those who have inspired and supported them in exchange for a monetary donation. Students write a special message to parents, family members, friends, or favorite professors. These messages are printed on a page in the commencement program, which can be kept as a keepsake to remember this exciting time! All of the money that is raised from this program supports student scholarships at Michigan Tech.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email me directly at tggendro@mtu.edu or post a comment!


Ready to take a break!

Although we all love being at Michigan Tech, many students (including myself) are ready for a break! Luckily, in less than two weeks we’ll be getting just that. With about ten weeks of classes, exams, homework, campus involvement, and other activities under our belts, Fall Break is a welcomed sight on the horizon. This year’s Fall Break will begin at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, and last through Sunday, November 24.

Students who are planning to make the trek back to the homestead for break have several transportation options. The Inter-Residence Hall Council Rideboard is a great online option for students who need a ride home to post a ride request. Students who have a car will find it useful to recruit passengers by posting where they are going and the destination that they may be passing on the way. This is a great way for students to split up expensive fuel costs, make a new friend on the long drive, or just have some company for the ride through the infamous “Seney Stretch.” Another option is to take the Indian Trails bus. The routes will be advertised on posters around campus, but they can also be found on the Indian Trials Website. Just check under the Scheduled Service tab for more information.

Reminders for Students

All students who live in the residence halls should have received a “You Deserve A Break” newsletter in their mailbox, as well as an email with a link to the online newsletter. This newsletter has important information about when the dining halls, Campus Café, and reception desks will be closing for Fall Break. The newsletter also has some important reminders for students leaving campus for Fall Break, including things like room security and parking.

For students who are planning on leaving campus for break, it is important to remember to close and lock the windows, unplug nonessential electrical appliances, turn off all lights, and lock doors before departing for the week. Michigan Tech also encourages students to leave their vehicles at home if they will not be using them often during the winter months. The amount of space in the parking lots is greatly reduced due to snow, so the fewer vehicles on campus, the better!

Students who are not taking their vehicles home over break or who are staying in the residence halls over break need to make sure their vehicles are moved to Lot 26 by Sunday, November 18, to avoid towing. Vehicles should be moved back to their assigned lots by 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 24.

If your student has a bike on campus, they must remove them from the bike racks by Friday, November 16, as the racks are moved during Fall Break to new, snow-friendly locations. Despite the move, the racks are available for use throughout the winter months in their new locations. Students also have the option of placing their bikes in on-campus storage. Students may look at the “You Deserve A Break” newsletter for more specific bike storage information.

Students who are planning to stay on campus for all or part of Fall Break will need to register at their residence hall reception desk by Thursday, November 15. This includes students who plan on leaving after 8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, or returning prior to noon on Sunday, November 24. There is no extra charge for staying in the residence halls during break. The dining halls will close on Friday, November 16 at 6:00 p.m., and will reopen on Monday, November 25.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email me directly at tggendro@mtu.edu or post a comment!


Halloween Recap and Leadershape

Halloween Recap

The past week was full of great Halloween events, which, as always, were a great success! Activities like pumpkin-carving, a costume dance, and Safehouse allowed students to bring campus to life in the spirit of the season. One event that I didn’t mention in last week’s post was the Halloween Global Social. The event took place on October 31, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. in the ROTC Gym. This Halloween party was designed especially for commuter students, transfer students, and international students to celebrate Halloween, but was open to all students. Admission to the event was free and there was a costume contest, a DJ, international dance lessons, as well as food and refreshments!

The Leadershape Institute

Michigan Tech offers many great leadership opportunities for students. One of the most well-known is the Leadershape Institute, which will take place January 7th – 12th at the Ford Center in Alberta, MI. This week-long institute places students into “family clusters,” which include other students and a facilitator. The facilitators are generally Michigan Tech faculty and staff and are there to create an inclusive and welcoming environment in the cluster meetings. They also serve as mentors to the students and support them through the successes and challenges of the week. The students work with their clusters to develop leadership abilities and learn about the vision process.

The goal of the Institute is to encourage students to realize their own leadership potential and to provide an environment for students to openly collaborate in developing a vision or goal, which they will make a plan to achieve and hopefully work toward once the institute is over. Another element of the institute is the lead facilitator (usually 2) that heads the week’s programming. These include motivational speakers, people who work in higher education, and others who value student leadership. Also, there are two On-site Coordinators who work behind-the-scenes to ensure that everything goes smoothly. These positions are filled by students who have graduated from the Leadershape Institute and know about all of the great benefits it has to offer.

I attended the Leadershape Institute three years ago, and I still remember all of the great conversations and events that I got a chance to participate in while I was there. Not to mention all of the lasting friendships I made! I’m also proud to say that I am one of the On-site Coordinators for Leadershape 2013. We’ve already started the planning process, as applications are due November 2nd. I know that I grew from attending Leadershape and I gained skills that I’ve carried with me throughout my multiple positions across campus. A registration fee of $100 covers food, transportation, lodging, and programming for the entire week, and many students can get all, or at least part of the fee covered by their departments, campus employers, and even student organizations. However, in my experience, $100 is more than worth it for the unique and memorable experiences that Leadershape provides.

I hope that you’ll encourage your student to apply for this awesome opportunity! Again, the applications are due November 2nd and the participants will be notified of their acceptance by November 16th. To learn more about the national Leadershape program, you can visit http://www.leadershape.org/.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to send me an email or to post a comment.

Until next week,
Travis