Rap-Si offers 10 tips for success By Adi Chavarria
Midterms are almost here, papers are piling up, and before you know it, it’s time to register for next semester. Don’t panic; get organized.
To help, the mentoring program Rap-Si recently offered a session on how to be successful. Rap-Si, which stands for Retention Achievement Professionalism Success Institute, is a project of the CUNY Black Male Initiative and aims to “increase, encourage, and support the retention” of “underrepresented students” in college, according to its website. The program works through peer mentorship, motivational speakers, and college resources where students are encouraged to stay on track with their studies and even possibly enroll in graduate school.
At the workshop, Lieutenant Richard Gussenhoven, a military science professor at City College, offered advice on how students can do their best in school and their daily lives.
“More than 50% of freshmen will change their major, not only once, but twice,” Gussenhoven said at the beginning of the session. “So you’ve got to ask yourself, what are you good at? What is your passion? And, do you need a degree for that?”
With more than half students in the room taking more than five classes, Gussenhoven reinforced the importance of developing goals and good study habits. Here, his suggestions for student success:
- Set realistic goals for the term
“You can’t go from a 2.3 GPA to a 4.0, that’s just not going to happen,” said Gussenhoven laughing, looking at a freshman student sitting in the front row. He then asked the audience to write down “near term goals” and think of a plan to reach them. “These goals,” he said, “are the goals you want fulfilled by the end of the semester.”
- Plan to complete term requirements
You cannot take seven classes, have a full-time job, and try applying for internships for next semester. Just take what you can and plan to complete it successfully. “It’s better to get the ‘W’ than the ‘F’ on your transcript. If you cannot handle it, don’t take it,” the Lieutenant said.
- Organize your weekly schedule to include study time
“Make a schedule of your weekly routine and analyze how you’re spending the most time,” he said. Gussenhoven also recommended counting the total hours and balancing them out by sacrificing things that are not going towards education, like work or entertainment.
- Stick to your plan
“You have your three goals you want to accomplish by the end of the semester so don’t forget about them, go and check them regularly,” he said.
Prioritizing is an important factor in this list, but its not just about prioritizing time. “You have to sacrifice sleep,” Gussenhoven said to one of the students, a mom. “It’s tough, I did it, but it’s tough.”
- Avoid distractions while studying
“No music, no football, no cell phone,” he said. “It’s study time.”
- Use study groups effectively
Gussenhoven advised to picking a study group well. If nobody knows what’s going on, maybe it’s not the best idea to study together. CCNY has tutors by majors and that is an excellent resource not many schools have.
- Get sufficient sleep (recommended 7 hours)
“Who here sleeps seven hours?” the Lieutenant asked. Three people raised their hand. According to him, a full-time student needs seven hours of sleep to do their best every day. But that’s when prioritizing comes in, should you sleep or study? You have to balance things out.
- Review your notes and reflect before starting an assignment or studying for a test
“Three hours of study outside the classroom per day,” he said a couple of times during the session. “I cannot emphasize this enough.”
- Be smart in your exam preparation – don’t attempt to cram
“Everything ties together,” Gussenhoven said. “Study the three hours daily and you won’t have to worry about studying in one night.”
About goal setting, Lieutenant Gussenhoven suggested, “Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound goals.”