Academic centers help students prepare for finals

Dec. 3, 2012

April Wefler
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Grab those textbooks, pull out the note cards and run to the academic centers. It’s finals week, but with help from the Centers for Academic Excellence, it doesn’t have to be stressful.

“I think a lot of students are taking time away from the university as classes wind down so they can prepare for finals,” said Jerry Phillips, director of the Center for Excellence in Science. “I’d rather see them in here than at home.”

He added that the academic centers provide students with a high-energy environment to keep them more energized for finals than working alone.

“Our goal is to really kind of help people focus more,” Barbara Gaddis, executive director of First Year Experience and Transfer Student Connections, said, adding that the centers try to have students come in throughout the semester so that the final is more of a culmination.

Gaddis mentioned that the centers have been busy with students preparing for final assignments. “I think sometimes that’s intimidating, especially if you haven’t been there before,” she said.

Gaddis< recommended that students visiting for the first time introduce themselves as new users, and the staff will give them a tour. She also encouraged students to look for others who they know so a tutor can help them. "Group work is really helpful," she added. During finals week, some of the academic centers will be extending their hours. The Center for Excellence in Science, located in Centennial Hall 204, will close Monday through Thursday at 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., Friday at 5 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. The Center for Excellence in Communication, located in Columbine Hall 312, will have tutors available to help with final presentations or projects in any discipline, help fix PowerPoint or Prezi projects and tutor for all upper-division communication classes as well as select philosophy classes. "More students visited the CEC in October this year than in September and October combined last year," said Chris Bell, director of the communication center. He said that the center's services are on an appointment-only basis, and those who would like to schedule an appointment can call 255-4771, noting that slots fill up quickly. If a student needs a quiet place to study or a computer to work on, there is open space available on a walk-in basis. The CEC is always open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and, during finals week, will stay open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. "Don't wait until the last minute. You're not going to learn it all, or remember it all, in one night. Start studying now and spread it out," Bell said. The Center for Excellence in Writing, located in Columbine Hall 316, encourages students to call 255-4336 to make an appointment. It will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Gaddis added that students can submit their papers to the Online Writing Lab, or OWL, but it may take a few days to receive feedback. In addition to the extended center hours, Ellen Burkart, associate director for First Year Experience, will host a workshop on Dec. 3 in University Center 116 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and Dec. 4 in University Center 307 from 11 a.m. to noon. "I help students create a study plan for finals, show them what they need to get on the final to get a certain grade," Burkart said. She added that it's a relaxed workshop and an opportunity for students to decide what they need to do in terms of studying. The workshop is part of FYE's weeklong Jump Start to Finals, including Late Night at the Library Dec. 3 from 7-10 p.m., which provides students with pizza, blue books and study tips. There will also be Tutor Tuesday for math and science on Dec. 4 and a Cram Jam for housing on Dec. 6. The Center for Excellence in Mathematics, located in Engineering 136, will not have extended hours but said students should focus on both solving practice problems and understanding concepts. "The idea is to continually look at definitions, formulas and notes on concepts and slowly weed out the ones that are solid," said Jenny Dorrington, director of the Center for Excellence in Mathematics. The Center for Excellence in Languages, located in Dwire 270, will also not have extended hours but has individual language tutors' hours posted on their website. The center offers support for Spanish, German, French, American Sign Language and Chinese. All of the centers' extended hours will be posted online ( Students can also make appointments for online help, available after hours. The center asks that students who come in bring in a first draft of their essay and or a script as applicable to a speaking assignment. "Bottom line is there's no reason not to do so well. Every student should do well, and that's what we're here to help ensure," Phillips said. "Good luck on finals!" Bell added. "Come in and see us!"