Category Archives: Student Success

2A-Tools for academic success

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

Every profession has their tools. Plumbers use wrenches, accountants use spreadsheets, lawyers use briefs, and athletes use various types of objects like pucks, helmets, and balls. As a student, you must consider it a job, a profession, and you need the best tools if you want to succeed.

Here are the tools that we recommend and why:

  • One Single Large three-ring binder. They call them Trapper Keepers, Zip Binders, etc..: One giant three-ring binder is best because it allows you to keep everything organized in one spot, to add new things – like handouts from your instructor, to remove old things – like old notes and to create sections like – HOMEWORK TO BE TURNED IN.
  • Pockets to go inside the binders. These pockets are needed to store homework, and to store loose papers so that the papers will not fall out and get lost.
  • 8.5 by 11 inch loose leaf paper, narrow or college-ruled, whatever you prefer. Do not use spiral notebooks because they do not give you the ability to add and remove things.
  • Pens, #2 Pencils, and Highlighters. Number 2 pencils are important because many teachers like to use, “Fill in the circle,” aka “Scan-tron tests,” and those machines typically can only read #2 lead. Please note that highlighters are important, but are not for highlighting in your book. Each highlighter will represent a different class subject and will be used to mark the dates when things are due for a particular class. For example, a Red highlighter represents Math, Blue represents, English, and Yellow, represents Science. If you have an English paper due on a Friday, September 3rd at 11:00 am…then there should be a blue line on September 3rd at 11am. Likewise, if you also have a science project due that day at 3:00 pm, then you will also have a Yellow line on that date at 3:00 pm.
  • One Weekly/Monthly Planner that we will call your “Academic Calendar.” It is a book that can be purchased in the “office supply” section at any discount store, or office store. It is to be carried with you, so that you can keep track of all of your assignments, and never miss a due date, and to keep track of assignments, tests, papers, and projects.
  • 3 by 5 flashcards. Flashcards are vital for improving memory. They were invaluable to me as I learned those various languages.
  • Here is a link for Free College Textbooks if you meet the requirements: Free College Textbooks.

Read p. 30 and 31 of the workbook, then proceed to p. 32: Time management is the key to success

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2B-Time management is the key success

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

As discussed on p. 32 of the workbook, time management is the key to success in school, work, at home….everywhere in life. If you mismanage your time, then you are limiting your success. Here are the time management strategies that we recommend:


If you can, plan out the entire semester using your, “Class Syllabus.” If you are not a student, having a planner will help with project management. Having a planner can virtually guarantee that you always know what is going on. What should be in your planner?

Weekly Planner Page
Weekly Planner Page
  1. Outside of family, DUE DATES FOR ASSIGNMENTS, BIG & SMALL EVENTS, and projects for work are your #1 priority.
    • Wake up time; let it be the same time every day
    • Give yourself plenty of time in the morning
    • Plan on having breakfast every day,
    • Work out if you prefer working out in the AM
    • 15 minutes, to 1 hour to review notes in the morning, before dinner, and before bed
    • Create or review your to do list
    • Commute time, time to get to school or work without rushing
    • Lunch time
    • If you are an athlete, what time is practice if you have it. If you plan to work out, write down that specific time
    • Use a different color highlighter to clearly mark all of your due dates for school work, or work projects. Use the same color for one class, not two classes
    • Exercise time
    • Home work time
    • Sleep time, a regular sleep schedule

How much HOMEWORK TIME should you schedule?

In addition to the 15/15/15, you will need to schedule at least 1 to 2 hours of homework time every day.


Study during daylight hours. Why? Because since birth we are all conditioned to sleep when it is dark. So getting an early start. Limiting study time to daylight hours leads to better grades.


I personally do not like to sit for an hour, I like to move around. So what worked for me was to look at my schedule, and used both the 15/15/15 strategy, and the 1/1/1 depending upon the topic. A combination of both strategies worked for me, but sitting for an hour or two may work for you, you decide.


p. 33 of your workbook. The Gold rule is, “Study what you do not know.” Do not waste time going over what you know. How do you know when you know it? The Silver rule, “If you can teach it to someone without your notes, then you know it and it is time to move on.” The Bronze rule is, “the more you learn in class, the less you will have to do outside of class.” Be an active listener while in class, or else you will have to relearn it after class. Class time is similar to work time, it is important to be active and alert, be a professional.


Physical exercise is important for mental health. Therefore I recommend 10,000 steps per day as proscribed by doctors on WebMD: WebMD, 10,000 steps per day. I personally find walking more soothing than running.


How much sleep should you schedule? 6 to 8 hours at a minimum each and every night. Modern research has proven that lack of sleep can cause a 20-50% drop in brain function. As a student, or working professional, the last thing you need is a drop in brain function, so get some sleep. If you have a problem sleeping because you things on your mind, creating a “to do list” before bed may help.


A “To be done,” or “to do list,” is a tiny list of 3-4 things that you want to get done that day. Completing this list daily will make you feel good about yourself every day. More importantly, numerous students say that it helps them to sleep by getting those things out of their heads, and onto a piece of paper.

Purchase a Weekly/Monthly planner, complete it, then proceed to: Know your learning style

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2C-Know your learning style(s)

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

Nobody learns the way you do. Our individual learning styles, or how we learn, varies from person to person. Knowing your learning style is vital to both your academic, and professional success. Below is an introduction to the 5 learning styles followed by a video. Watch the video, take notes and figure out which learning style(s) best describes you:

  1. Reader and Writers – they learn better when the material is presented in writing.
  2. Visual learners – they learn better when the material is presented in a video, graph, or chart.
  3. Auditory learners – they learn better from listening in class or to recordings.
  4. Tactile/Kinesthetic learners – they learn better from being engaged with the subject matter, and using their hands.
  5. Environmental learners – these types of learners benefit from studying in a certain type of environment.

Learning styles video:, please keep in mind that you may have more than one learning style, and that is normal.

Stay on p. 33 and click here: How to learn more while in class

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2D- The BIG 3, How to learn more while in class

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

In the Plan for Your Success: What Century Do You Live In? workbook, and in section 3C, there are three Ivy Tech academic success rules, the Gold, Silver, and Bronze. This section is about the bronze rule, “The more you learn in class, the less time you have to use for studying after class.” So how do you learn more while in class? Focus on the BIG 3:

  1. What is the TOPIC of the Day? What is the teacher talking about?
  2. Example(s) or problem(s) to be solved.
  3. Instructions, rules, steps, or solution for the problem to be solved. Knowing the steps is how you SHOW YOUR WORK! Show the steps you took to get to the answer.

That is it. Those are the BIG 3. Leave every class knowing what the main topic was, the examples that were used/problems to be solved, and the instructions for solving those problems.


Do the problems in section 3 of the workbook. In addition, go to Kahn Academy and watch the video about how to Divide Fractions and write them as mixed numbers. Use the video to practice this note taking format: Kahn Academy, how to divide fractions. Likewise, here is a video about Conjunctive Adverbs, follow the same process: Conjunctive Adverbs. YOUTUBE has video’s for virtually any topic.


  1. Topic of the Day

  2. Examples given, problems to be solved, formulas, diagrams, etc…

  3. Instructions/Rules/Steps related to the example/topic. What are all of the steps?

    • Then write down every step and make them as easy as possible for you to understand

  4. Repeat this process for every topic and lastly, handwrite and transfer the BIG 3 onto 3X5 flashcards.

Stay on p. 33 and click here: How to remember more of what you learned in class

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2E-How to remember more of what you learned in class, BIG 3

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

How to remember more of what you learn in class, focus on the Big 3. Topic, examples and instructions/steps/rules.

  • Make sure that you have the BIG 3 in your notes, and then transfer them to your 3×5 flashcards. Ste 3 is vital, remember these words, SHOW YOUR WORK, show the teacher how you got the answer.
  • Create all flashcards within 24 hours of reading something, or within 24 hours of class, and read them out loud as often as possible.
  • After creating the flashcards, read them out loud in order to make sure that you clearly understand the materials.
  • How do you know when you know it and can stop studying it? Remember the Silver Rule: “If you can teach it to someone else, then you  know it.”
  • Apply the 15/15/15 strategy. Review your flashcards for 15 minutes as soon as you wake up, 15 minutes before dinner, and again, 15 minutes before bed, 6 or 7 days per week.
  • In your weekly schedule, dedicate one full hour, one day per week to homework. Homework time is IN ADDITION to the 15/15/15 strategy.
  • Lastly, ALWAYS supplement your learning. If you can, watch YOUTUBE videos, or listen to recordings of the subjects that you need to know for an exam. The smart kids always get extra help.

This practice will help you remember more of what you read and learned in class.

Stay on p. 33 of the workbook and click here: How to read faster

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2F-How to read faster & remember it, use the BIG 3

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

Reading fast is helpful. However, it is only helpful if you can remember what you read. When I was in graduate school in Chicago, I studied Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew, while studying both the Bible, and Qur’an. As a result, I had to learn how to read fast. What helped me was the fact that both Arabic, and Hebrew were written from right to left.

My brain had to relearn how to read. I had to break the reading assignments down into small chunks of words. Then I had to use my pointer finger on my right hand, and point directly at the words. Why my right hand? It allowed me to see all the words as a whole, and did not block my vision. However, when I read the Bible in Greek, I would point to the words with my left pointer finger. Yes, I was reading in both directions, and taking notes with both my right, and left hands.

I started slowly, and over time both my reading speed, and my comprehension increased. As a matter of fact, it helped me to score in the 91st percentile on the reading comprehension section of the GRE (Graduate Records Exam.) Reading fast, and comprehending more is both helpful, and fun. Here is a video about Howard Berg, one of the fastest readers in the world. You may find it helpful: Howard Berg, how to read faster.

However, if you do not like the Berg Speed Reading method, you can use the BIG 3. How?

  • First, skim what you plan to read, and look for the BIG 3.  Start from the beginning of the section, or chapter, and find out what the TOPIC is. Remember, the topic could be a person, ex. Mr. Incredible.
  • Second, ask yourself the question, “What examples are being used here?” If it is a literature class, you ask yourself, “What did the main character do here? What actions did they take?”
  • Third, locate all of the steps, rules, and instructions. If it is a literature class, then you ask yourself, “How did the characters actions impact the story?”
  • Lastly, take notes, and write down the BIG 3 in your notebook. Do not skip steps, start by taking notes in your notebook.


  1. Transfer what you read to flashcards immediately after you finish reading and taking notes in your notebook.
  2. Next, use the 15/15/15 strategy. Review your flashcards 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes before dinner, and 15 minutes before bed.
  3. Lastly, always remember, tests are about the instructions that are needed to solve a problem, so part 3 of the BIG 3 will always be on your test, always. Remember when you were in high school and took those standardized tests and the teacher said, “SHOW YOUR WORK?” That is what step 3 in every problem is, showing your work.

Stay on p. 33 of the workbook then click here: How to get A’s on tests, and exams

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2H-How to get A’s, Master the BIG 3 & the Star Wars Method

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

As stated previously, time management is the key to success, and exam preparation is why you are managing your time. If you want to do well on an test, always ask the teacher, or professor, what type of test, or quiz it will be. Next master the BIG 3.


    1. How? Review your flashcards every day. Use the 15/15/15 review strategy. Also, have a separate review day for all flashcards, and review them up and until the exam is placed upon your desk. Right before the exam begins, put your flashcards away as instructed by your teacher, or professor. Reviewing up and until the last minute helps keep the information fresh in your brain.
    2. Utilize YOUTUBE, watch a video, or two, on the materials prior to the test, or quiz.
    3. Once the test is on your desk. If there are things you think you might forget, then write them down immediately on the back, or on the side of the exam. If you are allowed to have scrap paper, write as much as you can about what you want to remember down on the scrap paper.

No matter what type of test or quiz it is, you must read the instructions first. Second, find the question to be answered, then read the question carefully. Make sure that you completely understand what you are being asked before writing anything, or filling in any blanks.


The first type is, the Essay exam, and there two types, Open Ended and Closed Ended. However they both require that you use the STAR WARS METHOD:

  • Open Ended. For example, if the question says, tell me what you know Coors Light? You have to tell the teacher 4-5 things about that beer, use the Star Wars Method.
  • Closed Ended. Questions that have a long, medium, or short fact pattern, with the question about the fact pattern. Always read the instructions first, and only answer the question being asked. ORGANIZE your thoughts, then write…Star Wars Method.

Find a sample test, and use your flashcards to answer those questions. Or, create true-false questions of your own and answer them using your flashcards. First, when you get the exam, read the instructions. Second, find the question mark and make sure that you understand what you are being asked.

The third type is, Matching:

Find a sample test, and use your flashcards to answer the questions. Or, create matching questions of your own and answer them using your flashcards. When you get the exam, read the instructions first. Second, find the question mark and make sure that you understand what you are being asked.

The fourth type is, Multiple-Choice:

Find a sample test, and take it using your flashcards. Or, create your own and answer the test using your flashcards. When you get the exam, read the instructions first. Second, find the question mark and make sure that you understand what you are being asked.Third, eliminate the answers that are obviously wrong.

The fifth type is, Fill-in the blank:

Find a sample test, and take it using your flashcards. Or, create your own and answer the test using your flashcards. When you get the exam, read the instructions first. Second, find the question mark and make sure that you understand what you are being asked.

The sixth, and last type are, Open Book exams:

Prepare for open book tests just like you would an essay exam. Know as much as you can. Make sure that you have read the book, article, or journal. These exams are not to be taken lightly. If you have not read the material, and then expect to do well, you are gambling with your grade.

NEVER cram for an exam. Make it a goal to have all flashcards done 24 hours in advance of an exam. For example, if there is a Math test in on March 15 at 10 am, then your flashcards for that class should be done by March 14 at 10 am. Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Make sleep a priority, and time management a priority, and academic success will come. Avoid the abuse of alcohol and drugs. If you have a problem, contact a counselor immediately. They are glad to help. If you need mental health, or emotional health support, call student services immediately. They will be more than happy to help you.

 Stay on p. 33 of the workbook and click here: How to write A papers

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2I-How to prepare for a speech/Prepare for a work presentation

How to prepare for and give a speech

Most students are surprised when they find out that you prepare for a speech the same way that you would prepare for writing a paper. You research the topic, know your audience, and follow the Star Wars method from 3H: How to write an A paper.

Giving a speech is just like writing, if you borrow someone else’s words then you must say something like, “Quoting Thomas Jefferson,” or, “As President Truman once said.” Never take credit for another person’s words. To be safe, always tell your own story, and use your own words to avoid plagiarism claims.


When giving a speech, always use 3X5 cards. Write down the 3-5 things that you plan to talk about on those cards. If you have followed the steps from 3H, you will be prepared. When you look down and see your flashcards, you should be able to remember what you wrote.


Practice your speech in a mirror, or to your pet, using your flashcards. Keep practicing until you feel comfortable. If you cannot remember all of your words, just write a little more on your flashcards so that you can look at them, and refresh yourself. More importantly, make eye contact with everyone in the room. Consider giving a speech as practice for a modern job interview. Most modern job interviews are group interviews, and you have to make everyone in the group feel comfortable with you. You do that by making eye contact with them, so practice making eye contact when you practice in the mirror, or with your pet.

COMPLETE P. 40-41 in the workbook then proceed to section 4, p. 41 of the workbook: Networking

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Step 3: Networking is the #1 job search strategy

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

UNLESS THEY KNOW YOU, they probably will not hire you:

Networking is the #1 job search strategy, if they know you, and like you, they will hire you. Here is a true story. I was teaching a student success class at Ivy Tech. We were talking about networking and filling out their Plan for Your Success workbooks. After I instructed the students to get to know their classmates, most of the guys tried to get to know the beautiful blonde girl in the front of the class. Several of the guys wanted jobs at the steel mills, steel is huge here in Northwest Indiana. However, they ignored another attractive young lady sitting in the back corner of the room.

As it turns out, the young lady in the back of the room had power. Her father was the Vice President of one of the largest steel companies in Northwest Indiana. He had contacted me through her to tell me that he loved my workbook, Plan for Your Success. Had those guys not been so superficial, they possibly could have gotten either internships, or jobs at the place they wanted to work in the first place.

Get to know people, people like to hire who they know. Start networking with:

  • Classmates from each class/co-workers
  • Family and friends
  • Churches, Mosques, Temples, Synagogues
  • Academic advisers
  • Faculty advisers
  • Career Services Personnel
  • Someone from Human Resources
  • Your supervisor or boss
  • Those who helped you climb the ladder of success
  • Employers in your career field

After you get to know them, that is when you keep in contact via email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin.

COMPLETE the networking exercise on p. 43 of the workbook, then proceed to p. 44: Understand the legal environment

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