College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University students looking for anything from tips on how to study for an upcoming exam to conversations about strategies for long-range academic success have a new resource upon which to draw.
The Study opened its offices in SJU’s Alcuin Library at the start of the 2022-23 school year – offering a place where students can drop by and meet with peer academic coaches who offer helpful advice and assistance.
Students can also access resources online 24 hours a day via the Canvas platform, CSB and SJU’s learning management system. The platform includes help with everything ranging from time management, MCAT preparation planning and effective study strategies.
“We take an ambition-based view and approach to academic coaching,” said The Study’s director Theresa Anderson, who previously spent 21 years in academic advising at CSB and SJU. “Whatever your strengths as a student we want you to have resources to add to them. When things are going well, and you feel like they could get a little better, we can help. When you encounter an academic strain, The Study can help you address what you need to move forward.”
The concept for The Study arose from CSB and SJU’s most recent round of strategic planning and is meant to provide an easily accessible resource for students seeking conversations about learning.
“Students have always been able to have academic strategy conversations with their faculty, advisors, and others, but maybe that was secondary to their main reason for meeting,” Anderson said. “There wasn’t an obvious place where you could go for these types of discussions.
“We continue to have course-specific peer tutoring on campus and conversations with faculty are still important. The Study is meant to help students consistently level-up in their academic strategies overall.
Anderson said the transition from high school to college in particular can take some adjusting and The Study is there to make that transition easier.
“I compare the move from high school to college - and even from one year in college to the next - to a job promotion,” she said. “With each ‘promotion’ there is a need to adapt strategies and learn new skills. Our role is to speed and smooth that process so students can spend less energy on figuring out success by trial and error and instead enjoy maximizing their learning and accomplishments.
“In short, our job is to make students’ lives easier by sharing strategies to improve learning efficiency and effectiveness while reducing academic stress. These are skills for a lifetime, ones necessary for professional and personal success as well as academic success.”
Currently, The Study is staffed by a team of 10 peer academic coaches ranging from in age from first years to seniors. Each has undergone training that meets national organizational standards for peer academic tutors and coaches.
The coaches are available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and from 3 to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Students can schedule meetings through The Hive, but drop-ins are encouraged as well.
“When you first come in, you’ll be met by a peer academic coach,” Anderson said. “They’ll welcome you to our space, then have a conversation designed to help you think through what’s working and what could be improved. Not everybody is at the same stage or is working on the same things. So we figure out strategies that will work best for you and what you want to achieve.
CSB junior Emma Vicker, one of this year’s staff of coaches, said getting the chance to talk through these issues with a fellow student can offer a different and helpful perspective.
"Students are able to work with a coach, who is another student, to learn new ways to study and prepare for class,” she said. “In this regard, I think it is especially helpful because students realize they aren’t alone in their journey - that other people have experienced the same things and are available to help.”
The Study has been open since last fall and Anderson said she is pleased with how things have been going so far.
“We’re starting to see an uptick in student use,” she said. “It takes a while to build that up but we’re clearly growing. And I think that’s going to continue, especially now that we have our first year of training and outreach behind us.
The Study is part of The Network, a group of programs working in conjunction to further student academic achievement. Academic Advising, the Alcuin (SJU) and Clemens (CSB) Libraries, the Math Center, the Writing Center and Student Accessibility Services are all part of the Student Academic Achievement Network.
“We’re open to collaborations across both campuses,” Anderson said. “Partnering with other departments ensures that our content reflects student interest and faculty expectations. By making this information widely accessible, we hope to elevate the academic experience for all. It’s a long-range plan. Employees of The Study don’t have to do all of the things. Other departments can contribute information and resources, then we make it available in a one-stop shop kind of place for all students.”