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How the ASC made me a better learner: A story of reflection, learning and success
By Hassan O. Al Suwaidi
The beginning of my journey at AUS wasnât smooth and transitioning to university was difficult. Usually, students go from high school to university directly, but this wasnât the case for me. After high school, I immediately did my national service in the Armed Forces and I was away for a whole year. After finishing my service, I applied to AUS to pursue an international studies degree but, due to parental pressure, I switched to business. The first few weeks of freshman year were hectic as I tried to understand the system and adjust.
The biggest challenge for me was the first Math 101 midterm, where I tried my best to understand the material, but I couldnât grasp it at all. The second midterm came along and the same thing happened. I was lost; I felt like I had no one to guide me or help me, and by the end of the semester, I failed the course and was placed on Probation I. I was shocked and couldnât comprehend what had happened that semester. To make matters worse, my parents were furious with me, as you would expect! I lost motivation and hope, and I genuinely thought it was the end for me.
Luckily, I received an email from the Academic Support Center (ASC). The next step I took truly changed everything in my academic career. I called the ASC and asked to meet with the Director, Dr. Mehvash Ali. I waited anxiously for the appointment because I needed hope and help, and she truly helped me in many ways during that meeting. She helped me convince my parents that I should change majors from business to international studies. The issue of choosing a suitable major is really important, and it has to be a decision that a student makes confidently after careful consideration. A major should be in line with a studentâs interests. This is why I encourage my fellow students to test the waters and figure out what they enjoy, because doing what they love will help them succeed.
Before the start of the following semester, I started to reflect on what I could do to improve my academic performance. From my meeting with the Director of the ASC, I learned about the Mathematics Learning Center, which I didnât know about at all during my first semester; I immediately wanted to use their services. Actually, the Mathematics Learning Center was mentioned in the Math 101 syllabus, but I failed to read it. This shows why itâs crucial for every student to read the syllabus of each course they are taking during the add/drop period so they can have a better idea of what the course is about, the dates of exams and assignment deadlines, and what support services AUS offers, such as the Writing Center and Mathematics Learning Center.
I also found out about the ASC Study Skills Workshops. The ASC offers a wide range of workshops on a weekly basis during the semester to help students become better learners. Topics include note taking, time management, test taking strategies, managing group projects and much more. The first workshop I attended was âStudy Skills and Note Takingâ and it led me to start taking good notes and to develop a proper study routine. The concept of âbefore, during and afterâ is what really helped me become a better learner. Before class, I complete the assigned readings, highlight key words and important concepts, and read the slides if they are posted in order to get a head start at understanding the upcoming lecture. During class, itâs important to take notes on what the professor says and to participate in class discussions because this helps students absorb the information effectively. I advise students to never hesitate to ask the professor questions. If you want to ask a question during office hours, itâs fine to do that, but if you ask in class, everyone benefits. The after class aspect is to go back home, study the notes and condense them into short summaries. I review my notes and then type them; later, while reviewing, I summarize and make flash cards.
When it comes to quantitative courses like math, I highly advise students to practice on a daily basis in order to stay on track; if you donât solve math problems on a daily basis, it can have negative consequences when exam time comes along.
To conclude, choosing a suitable major is important, since this will determine how passionate you will be about your studies. Discovering new methods of studying and note taking will really help you become a better learner. I encourage all my fellow students to utilize the resources available at AUS, including the ASC Study Skills Workshops. Feel free to meet with an ASC advisor or student advisor to discuss your needs. Iâm proud to say that Iâm now one of the Senior Student Support Crew Members who provides peer advising in the ASC. You can book an appointment with me by calling 06 515 280.
As a final word, I encourage all students to reflect on everything they have done and remember that failure is a learning opportunity and, in addition to asking for help, success comes through discipline, determination and dedication.