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Office for Student Success helps Belles thrive

| Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Saint Mary’s Office for Student Success is ushering in the fall semester with its Academic Skills & Strategies Workshops starting Wednesday.

Diane Fox, director of the Office for Student Success, started the series when the office first opened 10 years ago with the hope to achieve two goals: To help freshman get oriented and help upperclassmen stay motivated, she said.

“Nothing is more frustrating than a professor saying to his student, ‘You should have studied more,’” Fox said. “I want to give students specific strategies to provide answers to all their questions about how to be successful in college.”

Alexis Fady, a sophomore majoring in business administration with international business and marketing concentrations, began attending the workshops the fall of her first year at Saint Mary’s.

“The main reason why I went was because my professors offered extra credit if we attended the workshops but I kept going because of Fox,” Fady said. “She cares about every person who is in that room, whether it’s their first time there or their hundredth. You don’t have to do everything she says and the tips won’t always match your learning style, but there is always someone who benefits from the variety of tips.”

Sophomore Lauren Honkamp, a social work major, agreed the main reason she found the workshops so successful was because of Fox’s charismatic approach to student success.

“I started attending the sessions because going into my first year, I was really stressed about the transition to college and how to manage my time, split up my homework and study for tests,” she said. “That was just something I felt unprepared for. Fox was the only person I felt comfortable going to and her tips were simple things that you wouldn’t think of initially but which really helped me not get stressed about my workload and get everything done on time.”

Fox said she utilizes a variety of methods and strategies in helping students achieve success at the College, even if they don’t know where to start.

“Students genuinely want to do well, but they don’t always know how to do well so I am able to give them some tools to achieve their goals,” Fox said. “Giving them different things to do gives them a very concrete way to accomplish what they want.”

Fady said she was able to implement the study skills she learned at one of the workshops to prepare for finals.

“The workshops are very strategically planned to correspond with what you’re going through in college,” Fady said. “Fox gave us a lot of useful study tips around finals and I really took everything she said to heart, put in a lot of effort, and got high grades on my tests.”

The first workshop is titled “Be Ready to Learn,” Fox said.

“This first meeting is a preview: What can I get in in 30 minutes which students should have for the first weeks that will help them thereafter?” she said. “It lets students know that we are all in this together and that there are resources available to them. The other sessions are more detailed and more strategy specific.”

The sessions will continue through November and will cover topics ranging from time management to preparing for exams. Each workshop takes place twice to maximize accessibility and they are open to anyone who wants to make their academic year a success.

Fady said the session was helpful in giving her a foundation for her success.

“It was really worth it for me to give just 30 minutes of my time to learn things which are fundamental to succeeding in college and beyond,” Fady said.

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