Academic Support Programs offers finals planning and preparation

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer

When it comes to supporting and encouraging students, Baylor’s Academic Support Programs (ASP) department hopes to make a positive impact on the community through resources related to finals preparation and advice.

ASP is offering “Road to Finals” packets located in the Sid Richardson Building containing eight and five-day study plans, an end of semester calendar, daily study guides, finals schedules and more. Additionally, walk-in study workshops are being offered from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the ASP Learning Lab (Sid Richardson 021, West Wing Basement).

Sally Firmin, director of ASP, said the workshops are an informal way to get advice from mentor students and receive help mapping out a study plan for finals week.

“They’re not formal workshops with a start and end time, but offer group instruction where a grad or mentor student can work with a few people. All walk-ins are welcome as well,” Firmin said. “They help students work out a study plan for their last week so they can see where their open time is.”

Firmin said she views the workshop times as an important resource for students to create an organized plan for finals and map out studying time in an efficient way.

“Mapping out a schedule lets you know for sure that you have a plan and that you can cover all of your material in the order that you will need to use it,” Firmin said. “Having a plan and talking with a more experienced student is helpful and does something to your confidence.”

In addition to workshop times in the Learning Lab, Firmin said students can request a group strategy session with an ASP staff member online.

“We’re able to talk them through the finals packet and give them specific study suggestions,” Firmin said. “We respond to requests for residence halls, classes, and student groups like clubs, fraternities or sororities.”

Firmin said the advice students tend to find most helpful is to study in smaller increments of time as opposed to spending hours attempting to cram a large chunk of information.

“It’s important to study in 45 to 50 minute chunks with a break,” Firmin said. “You retain more that way than studying hours without a break. You may feel like you’re doing the right thing by cramming, but research shows that students who study more than two hours without a break retain 40 percent of their material, whereas students who studied in segments with a break retained 90 percent of the same material.”

Firmin also advises students to periodically switch subjects when studying, as the brain can often become fatigued when focusing on similar material for long amounts of time.

Along with offering finals resources, the ASP department seeks to provide academic support throughout the school year and cater to students with a variety of study habits.

“We provide support for students’ learning in several different forms and venues,” Firmin said. “Some people really respond to collaborative learning through SI and others need more one-on-one help through tutoring. The Learning Lab is more-strategy based and all members of ASP are available for academic counseling.”

Champaign, Ill., sophomore Tiana Dyson said she appreciates the ASP department and its willingness to make resources available for students, especially through this week’s finals workshops.

“They’re definitely beneficial for students that haven’t experienced college finals before, or for students who didn’t try a lot in high school but who want to in college,” Dyson said. “Anybody can get better at studying, and especially for freshmen, a program like this could assist with their studying for the rest of college as well.”

The ASP Study Commons in the Sid Richardson West Wing basement will be open for studying until 9 p.m. during study days and the first night of final exams. All ASP department updates can be found online or through their social media pages.