Don’t sleep away study days, says academic support manager

With finals approaching, The staff members of Baylor’s Academic Support Programs haven given advice aimed at helping students succeed in their studies. Nathan De La Cerda | Multimedia Journalist

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

With finals approaching at an almost breakneck speed, Baylor’s studying experts weighed in with tips to survive the last weeks of the semester.

The staff members of Baylor’s Academic Support Programs specialize in helping students succeed in their studies. Sally Firmin, director of academic support programs, said students need to avoid cramming and break up their study sessions instead.

“I have one really good piece of advice: study in smaller chunks of time, like 45 to 50 minutes, followed by a 10 – minute break,” Firmin said. “All the studies show when studying in shorter amounts of time followed by a break, students retain significantly more of the information and learn more deeply than if they study for long periods of time without any breaks.”

Trish Baum, ASP’s program manager for resources, said students hoping to finish the semester strong need to make sleep a priority.

“Sleep, but don’t sleep away the study days; they’re called study days for a reason,” Baum said. “Pulling all-nighters is not a good thing for you to do… When you get this great night’s sleep of seven to eight hours, then it transports everything from short-term into long-term memory… When you pull the all-nighters nothing really sticks into your brain.”

Getting enough sleep is just a part of looking after one’s health, which Baum said is crucial, especially in the last weeks of a semester.

“I think the most important thing would just be to take care of yourself health-wise,” Baum said. “When you get the proper sleep and you’re eating right and you’re going out and getting exercise, it does a wonderful thing to your body. It rejuvenates you, it rebuilds your immune system, it clears your brain, it reduces stress – all of that is great.”

Even this late in the semester, Baum said, struggling students can still benefit from a meeting with the ASP staff, and ASP offers services specifically tailored to preparing students for finals.

“One thing that we have, which is very popular during this time, is our finals packet,” Baum said. “It is a resource that’s printed out for the students. They can actually hold onto it with their hands, and they can use this to guide them throughout the finals preparation. We prefer that they start doing this pre-Thanksgiving holiday, but a lot of them come in at the last moment.”

While waiting until December to get help is not ideal, Baum said the ASP staff work to the end of the semester to help as many students as possible.

“It is a huge increase of students who come in, and a lot of them are panicked and stressed and worried and concerned, and we see as many as we can,” Baum said.

For students continuing their studies, Firmin said developing proper study skills can yield a lifetime of benefits.

“Students that have been learning and developing their study strategies – that’s a lifelong thing,” Firmin said. “[Those students] are in a much better place to go into finals than a student that’s just trying to cram at the last minute, but we will help a student wherever they are – We’re just glad to see them.”

ASP’s offices are located in the West Wing of the Sid Richardson Building.