Academic Survival Tips

  1. Use one side of the note page for generating questions or summarizing main points. 

  2. Date and title each new lecture. 

  3. Generate a glossary of course terms and a list of abbreviations. 

  4. Write down as many of the key words and thoughts as possible.  If you miss something draw a line and continue to write.  After class, ask a classmate or the instructor to help you "fill in the blanks." 

  5. If you get lost or confused, draw a "?" and continue to write.  Check with someone after class for clarification. 

  6. Write a one sentence summary of your notes for each class period. 

  7. Use questions and/or main points to generate charts, quizzes, etc. 

  8. Take notes, charts, quizzes etc. with you when you see an instructor or tutor. 

  9. Use notes to generate mock exams. 

  10. Use notes daily to clarify reading assignments, course concepts, etc. 



Recognize and accept that note taking is a way of gathering information necessary for learning.  


Determine what type of information you need.  For example, if your syllabus says the topic for the day is "factors leading to the uprising," your goal will be to look, listen, and gather carefully any information about those factors, i.e., how many factors, their respective impacts.


If the instructor writes the information on the board, repeats it, leans or move forward toward the class while stating it, raises his/her voice, asks if there are any questions about it, PUT IT IN YOUR NOTES with a note to yourself that it is important. 


You can keep up with the pace of the lecture and understand what you wrote when you review the notes later. 


You spent time and energy gathering the information, the raw material.  Now, spend time and energy thinking about it, checking it for accuracy, expanding on it, analyzing, synthesizing and extrapolating it.  Your notes are now tools for learning.

Are you...

  • putting enough time into preparing for your classes and exams 

  • reading your assignments before going to class 

  • going to class 

  • listening and taking notes in class 

  • sitting in class where you can see the board and hear the professor 

  • identifying and studying the ideas / concepts that end up on the exam 

  • studying in a location that is supportive of learning 

  • studying at a time that is supportive of learning 

  • using study techniques that will do the job required 

  • using all the resources available to you - i.e., your professors, study groups, labs, etc


Different habits could make a significant difference in the grades you are receiving.  Talk to your advisor about how you can make some positive changes.



Write down what information you want to gather in your reading, i.e., "I want to find out the chronological order of the 8 factors leading to the uprising." 


Simply stated, if you do not actively attend to the reading, the information will not "get in."  A good way is to generate questions from the text while you are reading. 


Develop mental pictures, mnemonics and associations to help rehearse material as you gather it. 


Practice recalling information silently, in writing, aloud, using pictures, standing in line, brushing your teeth, etc. 


For example, once you have recalled the 8 factors leading to the uprising, practice answering questions about them.

CONCENTRATION - Not Just a Mind Game

Create a study environment

  • Find a place to study and keep it for study only.

  • Make sure the environment has all the study tools you will need.

  • Minimize the noise level and the visual distractions.

  • Avoid relaxing while working.

Try some of these techniques to improve your concentration while studying

  • Keep a paper handy to jot down thoughts that cross your mind while studying, get them out of your mind and on to paper.

  • Set study goals before you begin each period of study (i.e., number of pages, number of problems, etc.)

  • Give yourself rewards after specified goals are reached.

  • Break up the content of study by mixing up subjects and building in some variety.

  • Make the most of break periods - do something very different.

  • Don't try to mix work and play.

  • Start with short study periods and slowly build to longer periods.

  • Plan the length of your study period by the amount of material you have decided to cover not by the clock. (A clock can be a serious distraction.)


You will be able to concentrate best if you:

  • Study during the day and early evening.
  • Study when there are the fewest competing activities in progress.
  • Take short breaks and STOP studying when fatigue or lack of attention occurs.

Source: National On-Campus Report, 1993

Make an appointment

Review the syllabus for your instructor's office hours. Go to his/her office during these times.  If you are uncertain of your instructor's office hours, ask for them.  If your schedule conflicts with the office hours, tell your instructor why you can't make the scheduled office hours.  Then tell him/her about your concern.  Set up a specific time to meet with your instructor.  Be use to indicate the amount of time you think you'll need.

Establish a rapport

Be on time for your appointment.  When you arrive, be pleasant, smile, introduce yourself again (include your name and class), and shake hands if appropriate.

Present your concern

Focus on the specific things you have identified as problematic.

Provide background information

Explain the study strategies you have used to understand the material.  Briefly tell your instructor about your background and preparation for the course - if relevant to resolving the problem.

Redirect for clarification

If the instructor's explanation isn't clear, redirect his/her attention to the specific point where you become confused.  Talk through your problem so that the instructor hears your reasoning.

Summarize resolution of the problem

Example: "I was missing his step. . ." or "I need to apply this formula. . ."

Thank your instructor

Ask to come back if necessary.

  1. Prepare for the exam using study techniques which are best for your personal learning style and the course.

  2. Avoid cramming.  You just can't master large amounts of material in a short period of time.

  3. Anticipate what questions the instructor may ask and practice answering them using material from the lecture and text.

  4. Take care of yourself before the exam:  sleep, exercise and eat properly.

  5. Take short, scheduled breaks as you study.

  6. Relax the hour before the exam.

  7. Arrive at least 10 minutes early for the exam so that you can organize yourself.

  8. Pace yourself during the exam so you don't run out of time.

  9. Concentrate on doing your best.  Keep your thoughts positive.  DON'T compare yourself to classmates.

  10. When it is all over, reward yourself.

  1. Allot enough time for study. 
    Study is a major priority in college.  While 6 hours may be too much for one student, it may be what is necessary for another.  Therefore, you must examine your own needs and then allot your time appropriately. 

  2. Make use of your free hours between classes. 
    If your schedule permits, the hours between classes can be used to review notes before a class or to begin an assignment. 

  3. Study at the same time daily. 
    Having specific hours set aside each day will maintain the systematic organization of your schedule and keep you actively involved in studying. 

  4. Schedule a weekly review. 
    Plan to review each classes' notes from the beginning to end once a week.  This only takes a short time and will reduce the amount of study time needed before an exam. 

  5. Schedule daily reviews. 
    Spend 15 - 20 minutes reviewing your notes immediately following class or when classes are done for the day.  Again, this will reduce the amount of study time needed before an exam. 

  6. Account for project time. 
    Remember to allow an appropriate amount of time during the course of the week for long-term projects (i.e., papers, group projects, journals, etc.) 

  7. Allow for flexibility. 
    Although your schedule should be very systematic, you should allow for some flexibility.  It is important not to over schedule thus allowing for a variety of "non-academic" activities.



How to calculate your GPA

Now that you are paying particular attention to your GPA you need to know how to calculate what you may be expecting next semester. Your GPA (grade point average) is calculated by dividing the sum of all grade points earned at FAU by the total number of credits attempted. Courses in which grades of “P”, “W” or “WM” have been received are not used in calculating GPA.  

To calculate your cumulative (this is a bit more tricky), you can use the GPA Calculator located on our webpage. Follow the instructions on the page. You can also use the GPA calculator to determine exactly what grades you will need to achieve to get the GPA you are working towards. 

Grades A through F are given the following point values:

Grade             Grade point per credit hour  
  A                                 4.00  
  A-                                3.67  
  B+                               3.33  
  B                                 3.00  
  B-                                2.67  
  C+                               2.33  
  C                                 2.00  
  C-                                1.67  
  D+                               1.33  
  D                                 1.00  
  D-                                0.67  
  F                                  0.00



What is Academic Probation?

Undergraduate students who fail to earn a satisfactory grade point average (2.0 or higher) on all work attempted in any term are considered to be on academic probation. Students on academic probation who fail to earn a 2.0 grade point average on all work attempted in any term but have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher at FAU will be continued on academic probation. Students on academic probation who earn a 2.0 grade point average or higher in the next period of enrollment but whose cumulative grade point average at FAU is lower than 2.0 will be continued on academic probation. Undergraduates on academic probation should seek assistance from their academic advisors in improving their academic performance.




What is Academic Suspension & Dismissal?

Suspension and Dismissal 
An undergraduate student on academic probation who fails to earn a 2.0 average in all work attempted in any term and who has a cumulative FAU GPA of lower than 2.0 at Florida Atlantic University will be suspended from the University. If at any time after having once been suspended, an undergraduate student fails to earn a 2.0 average in all work attempted in any term and has a cumulative FAU GPA of lower than 2.0 at Florida Atlantic University, the student will be dismissed from the University. FAU Catalog 2013-2014

Returning After Suspension   
A suspended student is eligible to re-enroll after a minimum of one semester and will return on academic probation due to previous suspension. All students returning from suspension are required to meet with an academic advisor, at which time the terms of re-enrollment will be specified. Students suspended with 59 or fewer earned credits will meet with an AcCESS academic advisor. AcCESS Program information may be found here: Students with 60 or more earned credits will meet with an academic advisor in their college.  

Returning After Dismissal 
A dismissed student, after a minimum of one year away from the University, may seek re-entry by reapplying to the University and petitioning for approval from the student's last college/major. If a student is seeking admission to a college different from the original college, the petition process will include notifying the new college regarding the student's intent. If at any time after having once been dismissed, an undergraduate student has a term and cumulative average below 2.0, the student will be dismissed from the University permanently.  FAU Catalog 2013-2014 

Deferred Probation, Suspension and Dismissal 
If an undergraduate student takes a single course (or a single course and linked laboratory) in a term and earns a semester GPA of less than a 2.0,  and  if this would result in the student being placed on probation or being suspended or dismissed, the action will be deferred until the end of the next term in which the student is enrolled. At that time, any academic action will be based on the grades earned in the "next term" and/or the cumulative GPA. In the event of deferred action, the student's academic status will remain the same action as at the end of the semester preceding the "single course" semester.  FAU Catalog 2013-2014 



Develop a plan to get off Probation

Review of your self assessment, discussion with your academic advisor and connecting to the resources on campus can help you create an action plan that is individualized to you to help get you on the right track. Here are some general tips that can help to bring you back to good academic standing:

Choose your classes wisely, don’t overload  

For some students the tendency once they have failed a course or two is to take extra courses in the next semester in attempt to skyrocket their GPA back up.   Not a good idea. Your GPA was low for a reason, whatever that reason may be.

  • Taking too many courses can set you up for another poor semester. 
  • You are better off taking a course load that you can handle and doing very well in those courses, than taking on too much and do poorly across the board.
  • If you do not have on campus housing or have financial aid you may not need to take 12 credits in order to be full time. 
  • Consider taking less so that you have more time to devote to your classes.  

If you find yourself in trouble, make wise decisions  

When on Freshman Warning or Probation, your GPA is extremely important to your academic standing.

  • Your goal is to choose your classes wisely, have a balanced schedule and put the effort into doing well in your classes so that your GPA will improve. 
  • However, sometimes things happen (you get sick, your car dies, etc.). 
  • If you find things going terribly wrong in one or more of your classes- keep in mind the drop/add and withdrawal dates so that as a LAST RESORT you can get out of the class without damaging your GPA.  
  • Withdrawing from a class may cause you to lose the money you paid for the class but it will not affect your GPA.  
  • These dates can be found in the academic calendar located in your catalog.

Use your grade forgiveness policy  

If you have taken a course and received a poor or failing grade, you may take the course again and apply your grade forgiveness policy.

  • By using grade forgiveness, your old grade will be taken out of your GPA and your new grade will be factored in. 
  • This can bring a dying GPA back to life. Use your policies wisely though, you are only given two throughout your college career at FAU. 
  • Word of caution: If the course you took was exceptionally difficult for you the first time chances are it will still be hard the second time around. 
  • Don’t take a course like this for grade forgiveness when you are on Freshman Warning or Probation. 
  • You are attempting to take courses and receive excellent grades, not just mediocre, to bring up your GPA.  

Use campus resources  

If you find that your difficulties first semester stem from personal problems, health related issues, or poor career/major fit, use the resources on campus to help you. Free services are offered from the:

  • Counseling Center
  • Career Development Center
  • Student Health Services
  • Tutoring is also available for FREE, take advantage of the services provided to you.  

Practice good time management and study skills  

  • Use a planner, PDA or wall calendar to prioritize and organize your time. 
  • Allow enough time for personal and social time as well as ample study time. 
  • In addition to focusing on when you study, you should also examine where and how you study. 
  • Find a study place that works for you and schedule frequent study sessions rather than cramming for exams.         

Meet with your academic advisor.  Advisors do more that just help students register for classes.

  • The UAS office is available to help students navigate through their freshman year and assist in handling any bumps they may encounter along the way. 
  • As advisors we have seen many students on probation and have ideas and support to offer to students in need. 
  • Take ownership of your education and seek out the support or advice of an advisor.