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How I Write and Learn

In this blog series, “Ask a Coach!” our Writing and Learning Center coaches answer our UNC-CH undergrads’ burning questions! Check back every month to see what our coaches have to say about everything from taking breaks to utilizing office hours! 

How can I help myself stay organized and studying throughout the term and not just the few days before the exam? 

Aiden has a headshot with the frame around them.Aiden: It can be tough to stay on top of a giant list of assignments and exams for the long stretch of a semester. One thing I like to do is always have paper copies of my syllabi, so that I can easily flip through to see the outline of my semester for each class, and I check-off day to day completed class sessions and assignments to track my progress. Another great resource is Semester-at-a-Glance calendars from the Writing and Learning Centers —you can write out your whole semester so you’re not surprised by a test you forgot you had coming up.

Learning Coach Miranda stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Miranda: - Art Hist PhD Student Studies art...can't paint." The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesMiranda: Start early! Take time during your first week or two of the term to map out what assignments, tests, papers, or presentations you might have. I have found that adding these to a calendar (check out the Learning Center’s Semester at a Glance calendar) can really help. I also suggest color coding the assignments or projects that might take more time, so you can see when they are coming up and start earlier. Knowing the big picture of your term can really help, but each week I would suggest checking in about what is working or what is not so that you can adjust your long-term plan to reflect what you have learned. 

Learning Coach Michael stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Michael - School of Edu PhD student I've watched indoor skiing (in-person) while dining at a cheesecake factory” The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesMichael: I try to set a routine for each day of the week for myself. After the first week or so of class I try to get an estimate of how much time a normal load of homework takes for that class (I overestimate a bit). I’ll draw myself up a weekly schedule and fill in my schedule based on those hours and add in two/three flex hours to handle those big assignments or give myself a backup for when life gets hectic. 



Learning Coach Jacob stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "How I Write and Learn Blog" and at the bottom "Jacob - Anthropology PhD Student and S. Club 7's Biggest Fan." The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashes

Jacob: I often find myself struggling to keep momentum! I tend to start strong with tasks and slowly see my productivity wane as the dreaded due date approaches. For me, I have combated the due date fatigue by adding more structure to my schedule and making a habit of doing certain tasks at specific times. I know when my “take on the world” hours are. These are the times of the day when I am feeling my best and most productive. I purposefully do the tasks I am struggling with the most during these times. Afterwards, I reward myself with a nice Netflix break, a walk with Barb (my dog), or a bowl of ice cream for breakfast……adulting at its finest. 

This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach, a peer tutor, or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

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