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”:

studying-18jan2011.ashx.jpg No cutting class, more time studying, regular visits to the LEC, numerous meetings with an academic counselor, getting to know the faculty teaching a course, making appointments for the Writing Center, more visits to one’s academic adviser, less shopping, less partying, fewer soap operas, more studying ahead, reading all assignments, new study habits, making new friends in class and forming study groups (if endorsed by the faculty), regular meetings with faculty during their office hours, changes in the company one keeps, a strong determination to improve, a genuine commitment to change past behaviors that were barriers to success and a willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful … are all good places to start!

Involvement in the campus community is important but should enhance one’s academic pursuits, not detract from them. Student activities, club sports, Greek letter groups, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, intramurals, community engagement and leadership, religious organizations, academic clubs and honoraries all have openings in the spring term.

It is not too early to consider SMU Summer Studies, which is offering courses on the Dallas campus, at SMU-in-Taos and through SMU Abroad. Also consider May Term in Dallas, in addition to May Term in Taos. Summer courses are a good value, typically costing only about two-thirds of the cost of fall and spring courses.

In addition to summer courses, SMU Abroad offers programs throughout the year, and J Term offers concentrated January courses at SMU-in-Plano and SMU-in-Taos. Students should plan early in the semester to talk with their academic adviser about these opportunities.

The long winter break gave you as parents family time to enjoy your students, but also time to assess their mental and physical health. I urge you to familiarize yourself with SMU’s Health and Safety website, including efforts by the President’s Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures, and what parents should know about alcohol and drug abuse on campus.

Do not hesitate to call me at 214-768-4797 for referral information or contact any campus resource directly for advice. There are tremendous resources on campus should you have any concerns.

Happy New Year!

Question for Deanie? Ask Deanie, director of Parent & Family Programs, at or 214-768-4797.