Supporting students during final exams

With the end of the fall term quickly approaching, Deanie Kepler, the Director of Parent and Family Programs, and Christi Contreras, the Director of Parent Giving, share information from SMU resources about ways to support students during final exams and as they prepare for the spring semester:

Learning specialists at SMU’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC) encourage students to develop a plan for the end of the term, including setting realistic short-term goals, creating a daily study schedule, using library resources and meeting with professors during office hours.

If parents would like to show support for students during exams, the A-LEC suggests sending encouraging messages and a reminder of your student’s strengths and past successes. At the A-LEC, students can obtain free tutoring, take workshops and review essays with English faculty members.

Winter break is a good time to plan for learning experiences beyond the classroom, such as Engaged Learning projects, internships through the Hegi Family Career Development Center and SMU Abroad programs. The winter and summer breaks also offer opportunities to earn credits through SMU JanTerm, MayTerm and other Summer Studies courses, both on the main Dallas campus and at SMU-in-Taos. The University Advising Center can help students plan ahead.

Find more information from campus resources below:


2015-12-08T11:02:08+00:00 December 4, 2015|Ask Deanie, Health and Safety|

Ask Deanie: Wrapping up the academic year

ask-deanie.jpg What should students do before they depart campus in May? I hope these tips will help make the transition to summer a bit easier.

Forward mail to summer address.
Pay fines for any overdue library books.
• Resell textbooks back to the bookstore.
• Clean their residence hall room or apartment to avoid penalty fees.
Return all keys in the proper manner to avoid penalty fees.
• After finals, get a good night’s sleep before driving long distances home.
• If your student needs to store items over the summer, see “Summer storage” below.

Graduating seniors should do all of the above, PLUS:

• Request a refund on any remaining Pony Cash dollars. (Dollars roll over for all undergraduates.)
• Pick up robes for Commencement.
• See SMU’s Commencement Web site for complete graduation information.
• If you have student loans, check with Enrollment Services for the repayment schedule.
• Complete the Graduation Survey that was emailed to you by May 12. If you have any questions about the survey, send them to

Continue reading for summer storage information:


2017-04-04T09:27:35+00:00 May 4, 2015|Ask Deanie|

Ask Deanie: How Can My Student Kick-Start the New Term?

ask-deanie-sm.jpg There is no better time than the start of a new year and new term for your student to fully and honestly assess how the first semester went.

Were they satisfied or disappointed with their grades from the first semester? Are they willing to take responsibility for their successes and their failures? In case of a less than satisfactory GPA, is everything someone else’s fault or do they hold themselves accountable?

The Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC) offers one-on-one counseling, one time or on a regular basis, for students looking to focus – or in some cases refocus – their efforts. First-semester “disasters” do not have to mean a disastrous college career. Call 214-768-3648 for an appointment.

Read tips for the new term from SMU’s learning and library experts at the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center and Central University Libraries.

Regardless of students’ GPA, most everything said in August still applies:

1. Go to class;
2. Get to know the professors for each class; and
3. Take advantage of the resources on campus (hint: the A-LEC has free tutoring, academic counseling and a writing lab).

Every GPA from the fall can be improved upon with some “sweat equity”:


2014-01-17T10:22:06+00:00 January 11, 2014|Ask Deanie|

Ask Deanie: Prepare for Next Year and Give Us Your Feedback

ask-deanie-sm.jpg Finishing the first year in college is a big deal, so if you haven’t done so already, now is a great opportunity to celebrate your student’s accomplishments.

Don’t be surprised to learn that a student with a year of college under his or her belt is not the same one you moved to campus a short 10 months ago. Though they still may seem like “kids,” they’re well on their way to adulthood.

So now that you have them home again, what can you do to help them prepare for next year? Find some suggestions below.

Also, we’d like to hear from you to help us prepare for next year: How do you like to receive information from us?

> Would you prefer to receive SMU resources in print or posted online?
> Do you like to learn about SMU news by email or by mail, and how often?

Please let me know at or 214-768-4797, and then get back to enjoying your summer!


2012-05-17T20:56:14+00:00 May 16, 2012|Ask Deanie|

Ask Deanie: The Holidays Are Upon Us

ask-deanie-sm.jpg Parents, it is time to mark your calendars. Thanksgiving is upon us, followed immediately by finals and the end of the semester.

Two of the most important school days of the entire semester are the Monday and Tuesday before the Thanksgiving holiday – encourage your son or daughter to be in class! These two days enable students to ask questions about pending papers and upcoming tests while demonstrating to the professor their interest in the classroom material.

After Thanksgiving, there are only a few days of class before reading/study days and final exams. Check dates on the academic calendar. If your son or daughter is staying on campus over Thanksgiving, be sure they tell their RA and Hall Director that they will be in the residence hall. There is always staff on call.

2011-11-28T20:19:24+00:00 November 14, 2011|Ask Deanie|

Ask Deanie: My Student Is Struggling With Grades

ask-deanie-sm.jpgAll of the things students may be feeling now are very normal. A myriad of emotions comes with the transition to college. Your student may be worried that the transition to college has been more difficult than anticipated and that they have fallen behind. Their writing may not yet be the quality their professors are looking for. They do not understand what the professor is talking about in class. They are working so many hours outside of class that it is cutting into their study time.

For all of these questions and concerns, I recommend four things:


2009-10-09T14:46:42+00:00 October 9, 2009|Ask Deanie|

April Showers Bring May Flowers

ask-deanie.jpgPerhaps on a college campus, it should read, “April Showers May Bring Flowers.”

Similar to the skills gardeners exhibit growing spectacular flowers, it takes extra effort and determination, good study habits, a healthy lifestyle … combined with support – not pressure – from home to attain increased success in the classroom, or at least save a semester from “heading down the tube.” Here are some tips to help your students position themselves for success!


2009-04-01T11:01:15+00:00 April 1, 2009|Ask Deanie|

Ask Deanie: Setting Your Watch on Hawaii Time

ask-deanie-sm.jpg“Hawaii time” is a phenomenon experienced by parents when their students come home from college for holiday breaks. Parents find themselves getting ready for bed at the same time their student is preparing to go out for the evening.

On “Hawaii time,” parents awaken at the normal time, straighten the house and go to the office long before their students even wake up (usually around noon). Students prefer to participate in family activities later in the day, about the time parents are returning home and beginning to wind down. Your dinner may be their lunch. Students may expect to be fed at all hours of the day or night; i.e., whenever they get hungry, and don’t be surprised if they make plans to see friends without ever thinking to consult those at home first.


2008-12-08T16:05:44+00:00 December 8, 2008|Ask Deanie|
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