Academic Success

This site is focused on supporting our community in passing their classes at UCSC, and thinking about academic success more broadly. Keep reading below for info on basic needs and mind and body support, creating times and places to study, and what to do when the pieces are just not fitting together.

UCSC Campus Orientations' What to Expect in College has lots of helpful tips about studying and completing your work at UCSC. Counseling and Psychological Services also offers Tips for Academic Success. And the First Generation Initiative offers their Top 5 Tips for incoming first-generation students.

You may enjoy reading Dear Incoming Student, a letter from an LALS alumna who found strength when she realized she was not alone in feeling overwhelmed by her college experience.

 

Lifelong Learning, Loving your Work, and Being an Intellectual

We hope that in LALS our students have found a subject and world view that they feel excited about, one that will sustain a lifelong commitment to keep learning through the lens of LALS. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi talks about the kind of academic success we support for our students in his commencement speech on intellectualism, which rightly notes that one does not need any specific kind of degree to live the life of an intellectual.

If you are a first-generation college student, you may find it reassuring to draw on the stories of other successful first-gen students, like supreme court justices Sonya Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, CEO and mechanical engineer Ursula Burns, former first lady and dedicated public servant Michelle Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Viet Nguyen, and former California congressional representative (and activist) Ron Dellums. 

We hope the information on this page helps students create and utilize the tools available to meet their intellectual and academic needs.

 

Mind and Body

How can we do our best if we don't feel good? It is critical to meet basic needs for all students. Part of supporting a more holistic idea of student success is addressing systemic social inequities. The following resources are free and available to currently registered students:

Food Pantries and Immediate Food Assistance: resources on an off campus

Radical Resiliencerecognizing and addressing historical institutional barriers and systems of oppression

Technical Support: financial and logistical help to meet students' technology needs

Keep Learning: multiple resources for UCSC students learning online

FitLife group exercise classes: online exercise classes through UCSC

Counseling and Psychological Services: online appointments are available

 

Time Management and Making Time to Study

Virtually all college students suffer from time-management issues. The stress in maintaining busy schedules can take a toll on students' health and happiness, and as any quarter system student will tell you, missing even a few days of class to recover from an illness can affect your grades. In other words, learning to manage your time can improve your overall wellbeing.

If you can figure out how to schedule regular times for studying, and then maximize that study time when you have it, you will be well on your way to a successful UCSC career. Map out times (preferably the same times) that you can study each week. If you have a choice of where to study, plan that out, too!

Start by evaluating your past experience to figure out the ideal conditions for you to study.

  1. Where do you get the most work done? Busy coffee shop, quiet library, at home, outside?
  2. Why do you work well there? Do you need occasional distractions, no distractions, music?
  3. Does the type of studying change the dynamic? Reading vs. writing, history vs. math?

Once you have your study location set, you need to make sure you can keep with it. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track when inevitable illness or emergencies take precedence over schoolwork:

  1. Stay a few days ahead of your assignments whenever you can so you can afford to miss a couple days of class and/or work. Also, if you are completing assignments on time regularly before an emergency, your instructors are more likely to make exceptions for you when you need one.
  2. Contact your instructor as soon as you know you will miss class or work. They will appreciate a heads up from you via email. Be sure to include your full name and address them properly.
  3. See a doctor if you can if you will be out for more than a couple of days. Your instructors may want some documentation if you need to ask for an extension or a make-up exam.
  4. Exercise regularly and eat well whenever possible, so you don’t get sick as often, you recover faster, and you have more energy in general.

 

Working from Home

In 2020, students are much more limited in their study location options. If you're someone who enjoys studying in a cafe or library, what is it about that space? Could you achieve the same effect by stopping every 20 minutes or so and texting someone? Or try a Zoom study session with a friend (or a group of friends!) to know you are in a learning community. Maybe your family's kitchen table provides just enough occasional distractions to keep you going.

There's nothing wrong with being the kind of student who cannot sit still reading for two hours straight! It would be nice to be that person who can study for hours on end while in college (and to have that kind of time and quiet space), but given most real-world work settings, it is a skill that is useful primarily in school. Most jobs rely on collaborative processes and multi-tasking, rather than individual efforts that require sustained concentration on one task over the workday.

 

Disability Resource Center @ UCSC

If you are making time to study but you find that despite a lot of effort, you are not able to keep up with classwork, or you are rereading the same paragraph 20 times and it's still not sinking in, or you know the material but your mind goes blank when faced with a test, you may want to consider the possibility that there is something else going on, such as an undiagnosed learning disability.

It is not easy, and in fact is a shock to many students, to realize they have gotten this far (a research university!) with an undiagnosed learning disability. Once they get over the shock and transition, students are often amazed at how much better they feel when they realize that their struggles have a name and a set of possible accommodations to help level the playing field of academic success.

Students registered with the DRC at UCSC may be eligible for extra time on tests, distraction-reduced testing environments, notetakers, and consistent support from staff at the DRC. Like all of the resources at UCSC, reaching out and asking is free, and even if it doesn't end up being a resource for you, you might be able to recommend it to a friend or acquaintance later.