Workload grows as semester wanes

To-do lists grow for students at Butler University as assignments pile up after Fall Break.

French professor Larry Riggs said that in his 21 years of experience teaching at Butler, this time of year always provides a wake-up call for students.

“I think this is where reality starts to set in,” Riggs said. “The novelty has worn off in the classes, and the work ethic kind of wanes.”

Riggs said he’s noticed that around the sixth week of classes, absences and missing assignments  start piling up.

“Students just really need to try hard to keep up the effort so that they don’t dig themselves too deep,” Riggs said.

Junior Larry Don said that the first and second halves of each semester are vastly different, especially for freshmen.

“First semester freshman year can be kind of misleading,” Don said. “You think that all you have to do is read and take a few quizzes and write a few papers.

“But right before Fall Break, things really pick up, and you see what college is really like. It can be a good way to ease into college, but it can also be a kind of shocking wake-up call for some people.”

Freshman Katy Cleary said the dynamic definitely changes mid-semester but that she was able to prepare herself for it.

“The beginning of the semester was a good way to let us ease our way into college,” Cleary said. “But at this point, if you’re assigned a six-page research paper, you shouldn’t be surprised. It is college, after all.”

Jennifer Griggs, Learning Resource Center director, said this change in the semester is natural.

“There’s an ebb and flow to every semester,” Griggs said. “It’s really important for students to try to plan ahead and see what’s coming up so that they aren’t completely shocked when things begin picking up.”

Griggs said this time of year brings in students who are considering changing majors, withdrawing from classes or just seeking tips for how to improve their academic situation.

“We have some students that are referred to us by their professors because they are failing or doing poorly, but we also have students that are used to getting A’s and are now getting B’s,” Griggs said. “We have help for all types of students.”

The Learning Resource Center can give students a free academic coach or student tutor in a variety of academic departments. The center also hosts workshops on topics like studying habits, taking notes and managing stress.

“There’s always an increase in students attending workshops and asking about tutors after early term grades are posted,” Griggs said. “This is great because we want students to take advantage of the intimate atmosphere of Butler where you

can receive this kind of individual help.”

Trends of student use of other on-campus resources may illustrate the challenges students face mid-semester.

The workload that comes with this time of year results in high numbers of students seeking help at the Writers’ Studio, said director Susan Sutherlin.

“We’re already booked for about two weeks,” Sutherlin said. “The numbers definitely pick up after early term grades come out and big papers start getting assigned.”

She said students who want to use the Writers’ Studio should plan ahead.

“Make appointments early,” Sutherlin said. “We want to help as many students as possible, but it’s impossible to help a huge group of students so suddenly.”

Sutherlin also explained that the Writers’ Studio can help students with more than just editing.

“We want the whole experience at the Writers’ Studio to teach the students,” Sutherlin said. “It’s our goal to have every person who comes to us leave with more knowledge of writing and improved skills.”

The math tutoring lab also experiences a yearly rush of students at midterm time.

Lacey Echols, coordinator for math support services, said the math lab hired more tutors to accommodate for the approximately 200 students that use it as an academic resource.

Griggs emphasized the importance of students seeking academic help when needed.

“A lot of times students will think that if they study harder, whatever that means, they’ll do better,” Griggs said. “But if you don’t know how to study properly, longer hours will do nothing for you.

“Other times, students will feel embarrassed by bad grades and do their best to hide them. Putting up a front does nothing for you if you’re struggling. There is no shame in asking for help.”

Griggs reiterated how beneficial a school the size of Butler can be for a student seeking academic help.

“Why not take advantage of so many great opportunities that a small school like Butler provides?” Griggs said. “Every single professor on campus holds office hours, and students should take advantage of that individual time.

“There are so many places on campus where you can find your own personal cheerleading squad. You don’t have to struggle through a tough or demanding class alone. We’re all here to help.”

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