OAE Online Workshops


Following are questions that arise as students try to put these strategies into practice. We hope that the answers provided will help you work through your own difficulties. We are happy to help as new questions arise– just email us or make an appointment by calling 302-831-4555.

I don’t know what I want to be when I "grow up”; how can I set long-range goals?

It’s not a bad thing to keep your options open! But you may want to make a goal of doing some targeted exploration of your strengths and interests. Start by taking an interest inventory (UD’s Counseling Center and Career Center both provide assistance in this area), and talk with people taking (or teaching) the majors that interest you. If you are an undeclared student or considering changing majors, it may help to talk with a University Studies advisor. The most important thing as you explore is to take courses that will “count” no matter what major you end up pursuing, if at all possible (this would include courses required for most majors, such as ENGL110). For more, see our Goal-Setting workshop.

Is it bad to change your goals in mid-stream?
Not at all. When you learn more about yourself, your goals may change, sometimes in very significant ways. This is why it’s so important to review your goals—sometimes, you will find that you have short-term goals that no longer make sense, because they will not lead you toward the newer long-range goal.

For more, see our Goal-Setting workshop.

What if my friends want to go out at the times I have set aside to study? I hate to disappoint them.
Before those invitations start landing in your lap, enlist your friends as support for the new, in-control you. Let them know the times you are setting aside for getting together with them (or come up with them together), and ask them for support in holding to it.

For more, see our Time Management workshop.

My girlfriend worries when I don't answer her texts right away. How do I manage this?
As you plan this new “I’m in control” schedule, build in specific times for checking in, and let her know when they are. While you’ll want to keep most of these times limited, you should be able to build time into your schedule to spend more “quality time” on social networking.

For more, see our Time Management workshop

What do you do when the professor goes too fast to keep up with notes?
  • Be sure you’ve read the material to be covered in class.
  • From the reading, make a list of new vocabulary/concepts likely to be used during the lecture, with brief definitions; bring this to class for quick reference.
  • Establish (through meeting with professor or TA) what level of detail is expected from you. Try not to write down every word—use abbreviations and other means (arrows, sketches, etc.) to cut down on writing time.
  • Have at least one motivated “buddy” in class to compare notes with—chances are good that what you miss will get picked up by that person, and vice versa (the more buddies, the better your chances!).

For more, see our Note-Taking workshop.

What do you do when the professor wanders in the lecture—how do you decide what's important?
  • Be sure you’ve read the material to be covered in class.
  • From the reading, make a list of new vocabulary/concepts likely to be used during the lecture, with brief definitions; bring this to class for quick reference.
  • An outline of the text material expected to be covered in class (major and minor headings) may help identify whether an unexpected piece of material is part of the big picture and needs to be paid attention to.
  • Make the decision as to whether material is important after the lecture; when you review your notes, it may become much clearer what will need to be held onto and what was just “gravy”.

For more, see our Note-Taking workshop.

Do I have to do intensive reading before the material is covered in class?
The textbook’s importance will vary from professor to professor and from course to course. If your professor is holding you responsible for material in the text, this intensive approach is important to your taking control of the information. As discussed in the workshop, it may be better in some cases to save your detailed reading for after the corresponding lecture.

For more, see our Reading & Annotating Texts workshop.

There's just so much to read. How do I deal with the workload?
This is a Time Management issue more than a reading concern. Try to identify time in your schedule across the week (instead of toughing it out through one undigestible sitting) when you are alert and able to dig into the text. The more you can cut this job down to size, the more likely you are to follow through on the task.

For more, see our Reading & Annotating Texts workshop.

What if I just don't understand what I'm reading?
Try this hierarchy of comprehension repair strategies:

Suspend judgment on what the selection may mean: ignore your discomfort with it and read on. It’s possible that something in a following section may give you the clues you need to understand it. Be sure to mark it in some way, so you’ll return to it! If this doesn’t work…

Form a tentative hypothesis. If you can come up with an idea about what it may mean, go with that and continue reading. As you read, you should discover whether or not your hypothesis is reasonable. If THIS doesn’t work…

Backtrack and read. Go back to re-read this material, taking it slowly and trying to identify the key words/elements, looking them up if necessary.

If none of these work,

Go to an expert source. You need help. Ask a classmate, the TA, the professor, a tutor…don’t stay mired in the quicksand: grab a rope!

For more, see our Reading & Annotating Texts workshop.

Some of the stuff is just so boring. How do I make myself sit down and do the work?
  • Remind yourself why you are doing this: if you’re in this class, you’re here for a reason: is it a required class? Do you like the material but not the way it’s being taught? Find a purpose and remind yourself that this is part of your plan for meeting a long-term goal.
  • Look for ways to talk yourself into finding a connection to the material—you don’t have to like it to pay attention to it, but the more you can talk yourself into having a positive attitude toward it, the less boring it will become.
  • Remind yourself that you made a plan to do this work. Plan to reward yourself for following through on that plan, and take pride in what you accomplish (every time you do this, it’s easier to start back up again).

For more, see our Studying Strategies workshop.

It is not at all clear to me what the professor wants us to know about this material. What can I do?
Create some possible test questions on recent material, based on what you think your professor might ask. Go to the professor (or TA) with these questions and ask whether these are at a good level of detail/conceptualization. This gives the professor a chance to give you a clearer context, as well as helping you to get a sense of how you may be tested. If possible, check out past exams for this course.

For more, see our Studying Strategies workshop.

What can I do if I have two (or more) tests on the same day?
Review recommendations in the Time Management and Studying Strategies workshops; remember to break material into chunks and distribute the work across time. The Pre-Test Checklist will come in very handy here!
How do I decide what's most important/likely to be on the test?
Create possible test questions, in the expected test format—run them past the professor/TA: Am I on the right track? Do I need to focus with more detail, or with less?

For more, see our Test-Taking workshop.

My professor is just not helpful at all when I try to decide what to study—how do I figure out what needs to be studied more in-depth?
Seek out an alternate resource, e.g., TA, tutor, expert student (someone doing well this semester or someone who’s taken the class before and was successful), or different texts.

For more, see our Test-Taking workshop.

My professor doesn't allow us to take the test home afterward. How can I work on my difficulties if I don't know what they are?
Make an appointment with the professor/TA to review your test results with a copy of the test—make notes, as specific as possible, to help you remember where the problems were.

For more, see our Test-Taking workshop.