Dr. Margaret Mbindyo, assistant professor for student development and the Advising Center Coordinator for the Lombardo College of Business and the College of Arts Humanities and Social Studies at Millersville University, provides helpful tips for students to help them remain focused and successful. As Millersville students navigate finals in a virtual format, Mbindyo hopes students will succeed despite the unconventional situation.
For students who may be struggling during finals with new demands of a virtual learning landscape, there are several resources available online and on campus to support Marauders. “Everyone should have a personal care team during this time of the pandemic to provide emotional and spiritual comfort,” says Mbindyo. “The care team may be comprised of family, friends, pastors, counselors or advisors. These people work to ensure student success through offering support, guidance, communication, problem solving and advocacy. They work to empower students with a holistic approach that focuses on growth and personal development.”
Students should communicate regularly with faculty and their academic advisor. “During the pandemic, your professors and advisor are available by email, phone or through office hours. Among other things, they are willing to answer questions, discuss any problems and suggest other support resources. Academic advising is still available virtually to provide support and clarify academic policies and procedures,” says Mbindyo.
Mbindyo encourages her students to use campus resources, whether that be the Writing Center, tutoring services, success coaching, Counseling Center, or IT Help Desk. Mbindyo says, “Success coaches and the University Tutorial Services offers academic support for students who may be struggling in any course. Success coaching is a great resource to help you identify potential barriers to your academic success. You will have access to personalized one-on-one coaching appointments.” In addition, peer tutoring is a great way to get help and interact with other students who have already gone through the material that you are struggling with.”
“The ongoing pandemic and the virtual environment can be extremely stressful,” says Mbindyo. “If you find yourself struggling and in need of help, the Counseling Center provides clinical and referral services. The center is a resource for your psychological, emotional and mental well-being.”
Dr. Mbindyo’s tips for navigating virtual finals:
- Make sure you have set up a conducive learning environment where you can study and take your finals. This eliminates interruptions and ensures you can concentrate.
- Organize essential test materials such as reading, notes taken in class, assignment questions and midterm exam questions in a way that you can easily access them.
- Create a study schedule and revise your notes in chunks. Remember to revise the quiz questions and midterm exam questions.
- Take breaks. Regular, short breaks are best.
- Be clear with what is expected for the final. Ask the professor to confirm final expectations.
- Prepare for the different variables that can arise while test-taking in an online format (example: Wi-Fi is connected, laptop computer is charged and ready)
- Remember virtual exams still deserve the same amount of time and preparation as physically taking a final in class. Devote the same amount of time, preparation and studying as you would to a face-to-face, closed book exam.
- Do not be afraid to reach out to faculty, success coaches, advisors, classmates and peers for last minute help. Be upfront about how you need them to help.
- Be positive and reflective as you look back on what this term has been like to date.
- Sleep enough! Get good sleep to rest and re-energize your body – it’s critical for your well-being and alertness!
Mbindyo emphasizes the need for students to practice mindfulness and self-care during this challenging season, “Prep and do the finals to the best of your ability. Please remember you are not alone; the Marauder family is cheering you on. History is being made right before our eyes. This is a time when we can all learn from this moment in history and emerge stronger and better! Focus on this time and be present. Shift your external environment in some way so that any feelings of stress can be reduced.”
Mbindyo says, “We are all going through challenging times right now, so you are not alone. This has been such a tough time for everyone, and as the semester comes to an end it is my wish to all of you that you continue to stay resilient and focused.
The concept of academic resilience is a key component of Mbindyo’s work at Millersville. Academic resilience is the ability for students to make it through challenging academic scenarios and to reframe challenges as opportunities for growth. Millersville’s Academic Resilience Speaker Series is a collaborative effort between Mbindyo and Dr. Ann Gaudino.
Visit Millersville’s Academic Resilience Initiative for additional resources to finish finals week strong, and as always, do not hesitate to reach out to your professors and advisors for additional support. Good luck, Marauders!