Tag Archives: study tips

Five of Napa Valley’s Best Study Breaks

By Sarah Tanner 

The Napa Valley is known best for luxury living, fine dining, and watercolor sunsets set against the dark green of its surrounding mountains. For college students with limited budgets and even less time, while the area is gorgeous to take in, it is not always easy to find inexpensive activities to relieve the stress of classes. Luckily, the valley has much to offer, and discovering your next favorite study break location is easier than you think!

Lake Berryessa

Adventurous students with a love for the outdoors can head to Lake Berryessa for a variety of activities including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and a number of water sports. Less than a forty-minute drive from PUC’s campus, this lake makes for a fun weekend hangout location. It’s also the perfect spot for hot weekends early in the fall quarter, when students can pack a picnic lunch and spend the day surrounded by nature, and still make it back to the dorms in time for nightfall.   

St. Helena Farmer’s Market

The St. Helena farmer’s market is a lovely Friday morning activity just a few minutes’ drive down the hill. This event is open from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each week and features the valley’s favorite artisan products. Located in Crane Park from May through October, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a number of baked goods are available for purchase. Grab a coffee, and wander the stalls for a quick morning get away. 

Bocce Ball

St. Helena features a number of parks that include bocce ball courts. This easy afternoon activity pairs best with a handful of friends and a large pizza. Take in the sunshine and let your competitive spirit run wild as you compete on the court. With a little skill and some luck, this game is relatively simple to master, and a great way to fit outdoor activity within a busy schedule. 

Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

A favorite area of its namesake author, and located just north of Calistoga, this state park includes a number of hiking trails and cycling opportunities. It encompasses Mount St. Helena, as well as a number of scenic viewpoints. With hiking options ranging from short jaunts to a ten-mile round-trip, Robert Louis Stevenson practically begs for return visits.

Bouchon Bakery

Tucked between restaurants lining Yountville’s main street is Bouchon, a local bakery known worldwide for their award-winning desserts. What better way to treat yourself after a long week of classes, quizzes, and studying? Pick up a house-made macaron, pain au chocolat, or take a loaf of fresh-baked bread to go, and enjoy a well-deserved break from the stress of the quarter. 

Whether you prefer to wander the streets of Calistoga, fit in an early morning hike, or sample your favorite baked goods, the Napa Valley has a number of budget-friendly activities practically made for busy college students. With a wide variety of options and locations, the valley offers something fun for virtually everyone. 

 

6 Tips for Staying Organized this Fall Quarter

By Sarah Tanner

The beginning of each new school year is a busy time for everyone. The whirlwind of moving into the dorms, figuring out new schedules, and adjusting to new routines can be quite stressful at times, and it is often easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with so many changes after a relaxing summer. However, having more responsibilities does not necessarily equate with more stress! Ease into fall quarter with these quick tips for organization, and start the year with your best foot forward. 

  1. Invest in a daily planner. Nothing is worse than falling behind in assignments early in the quarter. Every Sunday, plan your upcoming week by writing out each day’s assignments. With your week planned, you can avoid being surprised by last-minute tasks, making it easier to schedule in free time for other activities. Take your planning one step further by color-coding each class, so assignments are easily distinguishable. 
  2. Clean up your workspace. A cluttered desk often creates a cluttered mind. Take some time every once in a while to clear up the week’s messiness. Throw out unneeded papers, line up your textbooks and notebooks, and round up your stray pens and pencils. Creativity always flows best in an open space, and a freshened-up work area can do wonders for your studying mentality. 
  3. Highlight, highlight, highlight. As you study, keep a highlighter on-hand and mark what you find important as you read. The bright visual cue combined with the physical act of highlighting the text will help information stick long after the exam. Highlighting also makes studying later easier, as all the significant portions of the text will stand out right away. 
  4. Stick to a routine sleep schedule. Nothing is more important to staying organized than getting a good night’s sleep! College students are notoriously bad at going to bed, much less going to bed at the same time every night. If possible, try to sleep at least eight to nine hours each night. Not only does it improve focus, but it also helps with memory and information retention, as well as simply revving your energy for the day. 
  5. Make time for fun. No one can maintain a study-only lifestyle. One of the most important aspects of staying organized is to build in time for the things you genuinely enjoy. It is much easier to complete a task if it means you can do something you love afterward. Whether it’s working out, grabbing a coffee with friends, or driving into San Francisco for the afternoon, give yourself something to look forward to!
  6. Ask for help. Everyone needs a hand sometimes. Learning to recognize when you need a little help and being willing to ask for it is one of the best ways to keep on top of the demands of busy schedules. Friends, professors, and family are always willing to lend a hand, and reaching out to them when you are feeling pressured can help prevent a downward spiral before it even begins. 

Start the new year with confidence that staying organized is easy to do. Keeping these tips in mind will not only help you transition from summer to school, but they will keep you working smarter, not harder, all quarter long. 

 

Imparting Bits of Wisdom

Last week I was scrolling through Twitter and came across an interesting post thread. A woman, a wife and mother, decided to go back to school and get her college degree and was asking for advice for an incoming college freshman. After spending nearly ten minutes reading through the replies, some great, (actually attend your classes) and some a little less great, (don’t date the first attractive person you meet), I realized the faculty and staff at PUC have dedicated their careers to helping students reach their full potential and would likely love to impart some wisdom on this year’s incoming class! 

So here it is! Have some free advice from college professionals! 

“1) Talk to a teacher or staff member. Even if it is just a few words before or after class. Make contact more than once. We think you are interesting and want to get to know you! That is why we choose to work at PUC. 2) Get involved in something outside your department. Join a club, participate in a music ensemble, show up at SA events, make time to cheer for the Pioneers at home games, volunteer to help out with dorm worship, homeless ministries, vespers, The Twelve, Sabbath school, etc.” – Rachelle Davis, professor of music

“If you are interested in someday being a leader, find opportunities to serve today. Come see me and I can help!” – Kent Rufo, chaplain 

“My advice is to ask students! Other students are more than happy to help you out, so just ask! Who knows, you might even make some new friends.” – Jenn Tyner, vice president for student life

“I wish I had taken the time to learn about how the brain stores complex information. If Google had existed, I’d have researched “sleep and learning” and then proceeded to get way more guilt-free sleep than I did. You may also be surprised to find that time spent zoning out in PUC’s Back 40 (without a phone!) also helps your brain to solidify information that you have been studying.” – Maria Rankin-Brown, associate academic dean 

“Don’t let finances be a roadblock! Mark the finance deadlines on your calendar: Sep 15, 2019, for Fall, Dec 15, 2019, for Winter and Mar 15, 2020, for Spring. Plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you are financially cleared.” – Brandon Parker, vice president of financial administration (Of course the school’s CFO would give advice about finances!)

“Technology is an important resource but it’s not always easy to know how to use it most effectively for your studies. Talk to your professor about what they recommend. Practice unplugging from your phone and social media while you study until you can sustain 30 or 40 minutes of undistracted work followed by a 5 or a 10-minute break.” – Chantel Blackburn, professor of mathematics 

“It’s a fresh start. Reach outside your comfort zone to say hi to someone and meet new friends.” – J.R. Rogers, associate vice president of student life

 “Get Organized! In college, your success is up to you (not your parents or teachers any longer). This means you need to develop a study plan, be aware of homework/paper/finals deadlines, and communicate effectively/timely with your professor. Knowing, Who, What, When, Where, and How is invaluable!!!” – Stacy Nelson, associate vice president of human resources 

“It’s helpful to get into a mindset of being excited or at least curiously inquisitive about learning new material from every course you take.” – Elaine Neudeck, assistant professor of physical science 

“Your college years are when you are the freest you will ever be. Take advantage of this! Try new hobbies. Travel. Visit museums and attend events while you can still get student discounts. Ask lots of questions. Study abroad. Explore different ways of doing things. Take elective courses just to learn something new and fun. Be a student missionary. Say yes when new friends invite you out, or when your professor has a student dinner at their home. Whatever it looks like for you, don’t miss the plethora of opportunities to explore new aspects of life during college; it sets the tone for the rest of your life.” – Becky St. Clair, department of music office manager, PR writer

Keep these tips in mind as you begin your first quarter of college and remember, great advice is just a question away, so ask! 

 

Finish In Four: Stay On Track

Getting accepted into college is a great accomplishment! Now, you will want to have a plan to stay on track and graduate in four years. While that’s not always possible (lots of people take five!), here are some things you can do to ensure you stay on track.

 Meet Regularly With Your Academic Advisor

Your academic advisor is one of the most important individuals on your academic journey. They will help you plan your schedule each quarter and can walk you through your curriculum guidesheet and track your academic progress using the Student Planning tool to assure you’re registered for the right classes at the right time.

 Complete An Average of 16 Credits Per Quarter

To earn a baccalaureate degree in four years, you need to complete at least 192 college-level credits, which is about 48 credits per year, and an average of 16 credits per quarter. That means you should plan for 16 credits a quarter. If you get behind, don’t worry; your advisor can assist you in figuring out how to fit in some extra credits or apply for summer classes! 

 Follow Your Curriculum Guidesheets

Every program has what’s called a curriculum guidesheet, which lists the classes needed to complete the program and contains a sample four-year schedule you can refer to when planning your schedule each quarter. Visit puc.edu/academics/degrees-programs for a complete list of programs and the accompanying guidesheet. 

Note: Undeclared students can still plan to finish in four years if they take an average of 16 well-chosen credits per quarter! You may refer to the “Information for Undeclared Majors” guidesheet for a sample first-year schedule for deciding students.

Track Your Progress with the Student Planning Tool

This helpful tool (available through WebAdvisor) shows you which courses you will need to take to complete your degree. If you’re considering changing your major, you can also run a comparison for a new degree to see which requirements you have already met and how many credits you still need to complete. The Student Planning tool is available through your WebAdvisor account in the Academic Profile section (click on “Student Planning” and select “My Progress”).

 Avoid Transferring Schools

Don’t leave! Since different schools offer varying degrees and requirements, earning a chosen degree on time means committing to a school’s program and tenaciously working toward completing requirements. Plus, we’d miss you.

 Take Your Classes Seriously 

Attend your classes and take them seriously. Did you know if your cumulative GPA falls below a 2.0, you will be placed on academic probation? That could seriously slow you down. But not to worry, if you are struggling, we encourage you to seek help from your academic advisor and the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). There are multiple resources available to you helping establish academic success. 

Just remember, while stressful at times, your years in college are going to be some of the greatest! By keeping the above steps in mind and accepting the support your Pioneers family offers, you’re setting yourself up for a successful and meaningful scholastic quest.