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Make it a Success: Five Ways to Start Your Semester Off Right


Make it a Success: Five Ways to Start Your Semester Off Right


What separates Southwestern University from other schools available to choose from is the extraordinary advantage its students possessthe vast amounts of support offered by the staff. Every one of the Southwestern personnel was selected with the welfare and happiness of the students in mind. I had the opportunity to interview some of these individuals and collect some words of wisdom which they hope students will keep in mind.

Dr. Paul EmbertonProfessor of Economics

“The key one would be to not fall behind, to make sure you’re putting in the number of hours a week right from the get-go, rather than trying to cram it all just as the exam comes up. I think the main thing is just to keep studying at a steady rate throughout the semester so that you don’t get stressed out by piling everything into one corner of the room at exam time.”

Procrastination is a terrible epidemic, and even the most responsible students can still find themselves in the familiar rut. Dr. Paul Emberton’s advice is crucial, not only to your collegiate career, but it transforms you into a lifelong learner. Take advantage of all the resources offered. Go to office hours, use the free tutoring sessions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your professors are happy to assist you and love it when you attend office hours.

Daniel OrozcoDirector of the Center for Career and Professional Development

“There’s two things that we tell students all the time (…). You gotta start early and you gotta come by often. And not just ours, any office, (…) because if we have this conversation in your last semester, it will be more difficult to help you in that short amount of time, but if we have that conversation now, then we have years to get you lined up with whatever it is you want to do. Pursue the services, pursue the help, early and often.”

Along with pursuing the academic resources offered by Southwestern, also take advantage of the professional services offered. The Center for Career and Professional Development offers a variety of services including refining resumes, hosting events, and providing students with connections. It is difficult to know where to start when it comes to preparing for your career, however, the Career Center can lead the way. Keep an eye on your email, as the Career Center often sends updates about events taking place for students. Additionally, you can stop by the Center to talk to an advisor in Prothro 140 if you have questions. 

 Dr. David GainesProfessor of English

“I think balance, joy, generosity, and information. (…) I think the joy is about being fully present in all of those different places (…) and appreciating what a gift it is to be able to do all of that. (…) I think we need to (…) be able to listen to, and read, and see, and hear with open minds and open hearts (…) My coda is that this is all the real world, it seems to me that everything we’re doing is “real.” (…) It’s been my campaign to suggest that everything we do is real, and we should do it with joy, generosity, and openness.”

Dr. David Gaines, is someone on the staff who can offer not only academic advice but life advice, too. It’s easy to think that college is simply a stepping stone to reach the end goal, which for most people, is the prospect of a successful career. However, this is a time to be savoured. This is a point in life with an abundance of opportunities to experience, learn, and develop. Your “real” life does not start once you graduate. It’s real life right now, and being present in it and living to the fullest is important.

Dr. Lisa Gustavson- Professor of French

“Travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer, or so they say. My advice would be to plan ahead to include some form of study abroad in your education. (…) While in college you have a unique opportunity to spend an extended block of time living abroadfew people have the luxury of a big block of time once they begin working and pursuing a career. The time you spend immersed in a foreign culture will give you: a better understanding of your own culture, wonderful memories, more wisdom, a broader outlook on life and a more open mind. In other words, you’ll be giving yourself a gift that lasts a lifetime.”

When will we get another opportunity to travel to another country and experience a new culture, without putting life on hold? There are many cultures to be studied, and a world to explore. Visit Southwestern’s Office of Intercultural Learning in Prothro 231 to learn about your options. 

President Edward B. BurgerPresident of Southwestern University

“It is easy to get sucked into extremes: Find a balance and leave a bit of space in your day for reflection and mindfulness—trust me, it will make you feel better and you’ll be even more effective!”

Manage your time! Try starting assignments early, even if it’s just a draft. You can always let it sit and then return to it later. There’s a good chance you’ll have new insights and understandings needed to complete your draft. 

President Burger urges us to find balance. This is important, as exhaustion is a common issue among students. Instead of looking for fulfillment in one thing, partake in a wide variety of things to prevent yourself from becoming too focused.

He also offers advice on educational achievement and how to attain it. The hardest part about schoolwork is starting. That’s why the best way to finish something, is simply starting it. Forward momentum is key. 

Finally, according to President Burger, “change is never easy, but nothing wonderful ever is.” So work hard, treat yourself, and ask for help when you need it. Good luck!


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