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Student Resources

On this page you'll find advice, links, or other relatively random things that I have
 found to be useful for my students at various stages in their education. I hope you find some of this information useful for you, too.

Often, when they first enter college, students have to learn how to study in better ways than what had been required of them in high school. Not only are college-level courses more demanding (usually), but science courses in particular can be especially difficult. The tips below are a collection of strategies, some of which are solid advice for all students, and some which may work for some, but not other, students. I encourage you to try them all and keep only those strategies that are right for you.
  1. Study in small increments (15 - 30 minutes) every day. Learning biology is a 'cumulative' process. Often, each concept will build on the last, so making sure you understand concepts from the last class period is crucial to understanding concepts in the next. Also, your brain does get tired (I know mine does!), so limiting the length of each study bout will help to ensure that you are putting in high-quality study time.
  2. Minimize distractions during initial study times. When you are studying a new concept for the first time, study alone in a quiet place. Turn your phone and computer off (if you're following tip #1, it will only be for 15-30 minutes).
  3. Try teaching a concept to someone else. New concepts can be tricky. When you think you've got it, ask a friend, tutor, family member, or professor to be the student. Explaining something to someone else is one of the best ways to discover the parts that you do (or don't) understand.
  4. Re-write your notes in your own words. Related to #3 - if you can "teach yourself" using your own descriptions or words, you probably truly understand the concept.
  5. Write your own test questions. Related to #3 and #4 as to why it works for some students.
  6. Make flashcards with words and photos. This is primarily applicable to memory-based courses like anatomy. Even with this strategy, still follow tip #1.
  7. Ask the prof!! If you've really tried to understand a concept, and something still isn't clicking, ask your professor! So many students admit that they didn't make the time for a quick office visit, and instead asked a peer tutor for help, which may or may not have helped, or just admitted defeat and moved on. Student tutors can be wonderful resources for studying, but they usually haven't had the years of experience in a subject that your professor has. The experience of your professor should mean that their deeper understanding of a concept helps them to (1) pinpoint the source of your confusion more accurately, and (2) explain it to you in new ways that may make more sense for you.

  • Thinking of medical school? You'll need to take the MCAT at the end of your junior year.
  • Thinking of veterinary medicine or graduate school? You'll need to take the GRE at the beginning of your senior year (at the latest). Note: different schools have different deadlines, and some allow the general GRE while others request a specialized or discipline-specific exam. Check out the requirements of the schools you are interested in before signing up for the exam.
  • Make sure you do a degree audit with your advisor and have the registrar's office at your school double-check that your plan will get you to your degree on time.
  • Thinking of an MBA to expand the career possibilities of your biology degree? You'll probably need to take the GMAT.
  • Would you like a career with the US Army Corps of Engineers? If so, you'll need to get a position with them while you're still a student. Unfortunately, they don't hire graduates that have never worked for them for a majority of their openings.