Study Strategies for College Students

I really like this series of 5 short youtube videos produced by Samford University.  In these videos, Dr. Stephen Chew, a Psychology professor at Samford University, provides some effective study strategies and discusses some of the science behind why these strategies are effective.

The first of the 5 videos is accessible here.  I recommend watching the videos in order.


Academic Support

Need a little bit of extra help with an essay?  Nervous about an upcoming math exam?  Struggling with a science lab?

Take advantage of free tutoring!

The tutoring schedules for The Learning Center, The Writing Center, and The Language Lab are accessible here:  You may book appointments online at, drop by rooms 207 or 205, or call 617-541-5324.

The Math Clinic schedule is available here.  You do not need an appointment to receive math tutoring: simply drop by during The Clinic’s open hours.

Summer Tutoring!

Dear Students,

We wish for you a wonderful and productive summer!Sun

Summer classes are usually more intensive, and move more quickly, than classes offered during the Fall and Spring semesters.  The Summer sessions are shorter than the Fall and Spring semesters, so the pace of teaching is quicker.

Keep on top of your classes by taking advantage of summer tutoring!  The Math Clinic (Building 3 Room 206) is open today and tomorrow from 10am – 4pm.  From June 1 – June 25, The Math Clinic will be open Mondays – Thursdays.  You do not need to schedule an appointment in advance: simply drop in during open hours to receive free Math tutoring.  You may view The Math Clinic schedule here.

The Learning Center, The Writing Center, and The Language Lab will open Monday, June 1.  Stay tuned for more information about the schedules for these centers and lab.

Best wishes,

The Department of Academic Support

Need Academic Support?

The end of the semester is almost here!  What a long winter, but you made it.  Still have papers to write by a specific deadline?  Have questions about how to put together a PowerPoint presentation?  Need extra help in math?

All the resources you need are here on campus.  The Learning Center is located in the Academic Building on the second floor (Room 207).  We can assist you with making an appointment with the right tutor at a time that works for you.  Walk-in anytime to make an appointment.  You can also call the front desk at 617-541-5324, or book your own appointment online at htpps://  You will need to register for a free account in order to use the online booking.  What a great resource!  Tutoring and study strategies are available in all subjects.  Submitting a paper online for review by an available tutor is also an option when you register for an online account.  You will get feedback after two business days.

The Math Clinic is also on the second floor in Room 206.  You can drop-in between the hours of 9am-9pm Monday through Thursday or 9am-4pm on Fridays and there is even a math tutor available on Saturdays from 9am-4pm!  Tutors are available to answer your questions and assist with understanding the math concepts that are presented in your course.

The Language Lab is on the second floor as well in Room 205.  Students who are studying a language such as Spanish, French or Arabic can come in and use the associated programs and resources that are on the workstations for those courses.  Tutors are available for Spanish and French, so stop by to find out who is available to assist with tutoring.  If English is your second language, you may want to come in and use software to practice pronunciation or review grammar when a class is not in session.  ESOL tutors are also available by appointment.

The Writing Center is in Room 203 on the second floor.  You may sign up to meet with a writing tutor for either 30 minutes or for 60 minutes.  Sign up through The Learning Center, or online at htpps://, or stop by and someone can assist you with making an appointment.  Learn how to create an outline to organize your ideas, develop your paper with more thoughts or research, or learn how to cite your sources correctly so as to avoid plagiarism.  Don’t delay, we know those papers have deadlines!  You can also use the workstations in the Writing Center to sit and write your papers.  Make sure you bring a flash drive to save your work!

Even if you just need help in formatting a paper in Word or how to put together a PowerPoint presentation, stop by and make an appointment.  Someone will be happy to assist you!

Questions?  Contact Joyce Atkinson, Coordinator of Learning Resources or Francine Rubin, Director of Academic Support


— Submitted by Joyce Atkinson, Coordinator of Learning Resources.  Joyce’s office is located in 3-205A, inside the Language Lab.  Joyce oversees the Writing Center, the Language Lab and the Math Clinic.

Get it, right?

Did you ever notice this sign


and smile to yourself, looking around for those stupid kids?  Be very careful…..if you don’t pay attention, your own writing could be just as amusing.

Check these out:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

What does this writer mean? That partner-less women are losers?  Punctuated differently, the same sentence can mean just the opposite.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

How about this one?

Look at the huge hot dog!


Look at the huge, hot dog!

What about this?

Now, I must go and get on, my lover.  You can probably guess the alternative.

These examples are included in Eats, Shoots & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynn Truss.  The book is wonderfully fun, and will convince you to pay attention to where you put those commas, colons and semi-colons. By the way, the book’s title is in reference to a panda who…

“…walks into a café.  He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots into the air.

`Why?’ asks the confused waiter as the panda makes for the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

`I’m a panda,’ he says at the door.  `Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and sure enough, finds an explanation.

`Panda.  Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots and leaves.'”


Truss, Lynn. Eats, Shoots & Leaves. The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. United States of America: Gotham Books, 2004.

Spring Break Tutoring Hours

Dear Students,

The Learning Center, The Writing Center, The Math Clinic, and The Language Lab will be open March 16 – March 20 (Monday – Friday) from 9am – 3pm!

The 4 tutoring spaces will operate on a regular Saturday schedule on March 14.  The 4 tutoring spaces will be closed on Saturday, March 21.

To view The Learning Center and The Writing Center tutoring schedule and to reserve appointments, you may log into  If you need help scheduling an appointment, you may drop by Building 3 room 207 or call 617-541-5324.

You do not need to schedule an appointment in advance to see a Math Clinic tutor – simply drop by during open hours.

The Language Lab will offer some tutoring during open hours.  For more information on how to request an appointment with a Language Lab tutor, please visit or contact Joyce Atkinson at 617-933-7403 or

Have a wonderful Spring break!

Are We Stupid?

I’ve lived through decades of prejudice against women, and have been a feminist all of my life. Still, over the years, as I learned to live with sexism, I became less easily shocked.

Back in 2005, however, one experience set me off with a surprisingly fresh anger. Larry Summers, the then President of Harvard University, stated that women might be innately less able than men in the area of science and engineering. He was making a speech at a Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In his speech, Summers suggested three reasons why women were underrepresented in top-tier engineering and science positions. He acknowledged that employers wanted high-power performers, and women were often distracted by family concerns; he recognized that searches were often laden with discriminatory practices, and that being well socialized, women simply didn’t apply. Both true, if unfortunate. But in that speech, Summers also floated a third reason. He said it was possible that women were naturally less endowed with scientific minds. Biologically, he was suggesting, women were more stupid than men in the fields of science.

What enraged me wasn’t just the arrogance, the disdain or even the sneering way in which he introduced the theory: he called it “an attempt at provocation” (not even entirely owning the statement). Certain men (or even women), when in power, can use their privileged position to be condescending.  (Charlie Baker’s recent treatment of MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott comes to mind…)

What enraged me then, thinking of Summers’ comment, was that deep inside, he really believed it. Worse still, although plenty of women and men reacted negatively to Summers’ speech, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to censure him[1], many individuals, television shows, and editorials supported him. The majority of students at Harvard supported him[2]. Prominent female professors rallied to his side, accepting the legitimacy of his claim.[3] Even a dear friend of mine who worked at MIT in admissions, someone who fought hard to diversify the student body by recruiting students of color, even he guessed that Summers might have a point.

What shocked me the most was that, at least momentarily, I also wondered whether Summers might just might be right. “I’d like to be proven wrong on this one,” Summers had taunted, and, I feared secretly, that the proof might not be there. My own experience didn’t help. I had stopped my own science education at high school Biology; the last Mathematics I covered was Algebra 2. In the late sixties, that was acceptable: I was female, and “naturally” gifted in English, History and the Arts. Later in my career, although responsible for a half-million dollar budget, I still sweated over my spreadsheets. Working around economists, I was mystified by regression analyses. Several years ago, taking a course in diesel engines, I was lost at basic electronics.

Maybe, I feared, there was some truth to the notion that – for whatever reason – women were inferior in the fields of higher Mathematics or Science. Politically, my instincts told me that this was rubbish, but….

I’ve learned since that I was simply a victim of a phenomenon called “stereotype threat”.[4] Since the late ‘90’s, plenty of studies have been done on this phenomenon, proving that groups subject to prejudice, internalize the prejudice, and perform less well because of it. It’s an unconscious reaction, precisely because discrimination is so insidious.

So, if you, like me, are ever prone to believing the worst about yourself because of what hostile social forces repeat about your group, here are a few tips:

  • Surround yourself with positive, mind-changing models (much like Hazel Bright did when she worked with a group of other smart Black students who loved Math and were determined not to fail)
  • Work to change the mindset, then recognize how much you’ve learned (as I did when I studied Excel’s Pivot Tables, took courses in Financial Management, and asked many questions of our firm’s best financial analysts).
  • Ease off on that group identity: Yes, I’m certainly a woman, but that truth doesn’t totally define me. Unlike the stereotype, I’m not flightly, flirty, weak, or dependent. (Hint: Most of us aren’t.)
  • And, if you’re interested in learning about your own hidden biases, take an online test run by Harvard University’s Project Implicit.[5] It’s free, it’s fun, and you’ll be surprised at exactly how much you’ve been socialized. Once you know, you can work to overcome.

Kate Phelps

Writing Tutor

[1] “The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard approved a resolution on Tuesday expressing a lack of confidence in the leadership of the university’s president, Lawrence H. Summers, citing longstanding dissatisfaction with his management style and, to a lesser extent, his remarks in January about women in math and science. The vote was 218 in favor and 185 opposed, with 18 abstentions”. Rimer, Sarah, “Professors, in Close Vote, Censure Harvard Leader”, New York Times, March 16, 2005.

[2] “By a three-to-one margin, undergraduates do not think that Lawrence H. Summers should resign his post as University president, according to a poll conducted by The Crimson this weekend.” Javier C. Hernandez and Daniel J.T. Schuker, “Poll: Students Say Summers Should Stay”, The Harvard Crimson, February 20, 2006.

[3] But Lee Professor of Economics Claudia Goldin, whose own research has examined the progress of women in academia and professional life, said she “was pretty flummoxed” by the negative response to Summers’ speech, which—in her view—displayed “utter brilliance.” Hemel, Daniel J. “Summers’ Comments on Women and Science Draw Ire Remarks at private conference stir criticism, media frenzy”,The Harvard Crimson, January 14, 2005

[4] Artze-Vega, Isis, “Wanted: Inclusive Teaching Practices”, NEA Higher Education Advocate , January 2015. (An article on how professors can help their students overcome the phenomenon of “stereotype threat”.)