Orgo Prep Registration opens January 30!

So you’re going to take Orgo, and you might be a bit nervous. Lucky for you, OrgoPrep is here at the ERC to help you out!

Organic Chemistry may have a bad reputation as one of the most notorious college classes, but we at OrgoPrep can assure you it is just misunderstood and are here to help you begin to make sense of it all!

OrgoPrep is an informal non-credit class taught at the ERC every spring semester for students planning to take CH203 next fall. It’s designed to expose you to organic chemistry topics and to help you develop the study skills you will need to succeed in CH203 and beyond. The class is totally student-run, so there are no tests, grades, or obligations. Simply sign up, show up, and learn some really interesting chemistry without any stress. Everything is taught by students who have recently taken CH203 and excelled, so we know all the tips and tricks to help you succeed!

We hope you come take OrgoPrep with us so we can pass on our knowledge and show you that Orgo isn’t nearly as scary as it is made out to be! That is, unless you plan to go all Breaking Bad with it, then it might get scary but don’t blame us for that.

OrgoPrep classes meet for an hour and a half once a week. Registration for Spring 2014 begins January 30th and classes will run February 3rd to March 28th. Contact with any questions.

In the mean time, here are a few other tips we have to help you get by:

1.     Take OrgoPrep! Ok so maybe this was already covered, but really, check it out.

2.     Don’t Panic. No matter how daunting any class or test may seem, stressing only wastes your time and energy. Worrying won’t help you perform any better, and it certainly doesn’t help you feel any better either. Imagine all the productive things you could get done with the energy you would have spent worrying.

 3.     Practice, practice, practice! And also, don’t forget to practice. Seriously, a recent 2013 study has shown that the most effective study method is (you guessed it) practicing.

 4.     Try the internet. You might be surprised by how much information and practice material you can find. We are particularly fond of for your Orgo needs (especially if you like using cats to learn stereochemistry).

The Night Before Finals

Twas the night before finals, when all through BU

Every creature was studying, staying up way past two

The notes were highlighted, the flashcards were made

In hopes that professors would curve final grades


The students were restless,  sitting in their chairs

While images of “F’s”  caused them to pull out their hair

Professors with their Scantrons and the TAs to grade

And once they're turned in--all they can do is pray


The students were stressing, for they did not know

The ERC study tips that they should soon follow

The note-taking tips and how to manage your time

Are available for free! They don’t cost a dime!


But of course, dear reader, you know much better

Because you come to our workshops, you’re a real go-getter!

So you’ve learned our tips, and you’re taking them all

And we know that you’ll pass all your finals this Fall.


The library has become the hottest club in town

Students pile up in every cubicle around

The air in the place is filled with finals-week gloom

And students can’t wait until they get back to their rooms


Now head on back and get a good night’s rest

Because 7-8 hours of sleep will help you pass your test

You can study when the sun’s up and the morning knocks

Just make sure that you study in 2-hour blocks!


Time for a study break and a quick trip to Rize

Because meals are important, no matter the size

So make sure to eat, and take a deep breath

Because stressing too much won’t help you pass that test.


The day has finally come and you’re feeling prepared

As your classmates gather around the class looking scared

You finish your test. Sweet success, you can taste it!

Since you used ERC tips,  you know you just aced it.


And now finals are over and you get to relax

It’ll be quite a while before you come back

And we’ll be here at 100 Bay State, crying out with glee


Sera Idoko, Allie Gressler, Mike Parello and Dee Patel are Student Ambassadors for the Center for Career Development and Educational Resource Center, and this week, they're also poets.

Coffee On My Mind (and In My Cup)

The Huffington Post recently published an article, “11 Reasons Why You Should Drink Coffee Every Day,” highlighting the benefits of regular coffee consumption. The article was based on a collection of past studies.

As an avid coffee drinker myself, I couldn’t help but be excited at the prospect of my favorite beverage actually being good for me. It turns out, the writers at HuffPost and I see eye-to-eye on this coffee issue.

According to The Huffington Post:

1. Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.

2. Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed.

3. Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

4. Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol).

5. Coffee can make you feel happier.

6. Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide.

7. Coffee could reduce your changes of getting skin cancer (if you’re a woman).

8. Coffee can make you a better athlete.

9. Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

10. Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer.

11. Coffee may make you more intelligent.

This is great news, considering that finals are fast approaching. When times are tough, I know my coffee will be there to motivate and energize me for a long day. It's gotten me through midterms, finals, and every paper in-between.

A nice cup of coffee motivates me to get to class in the morning and provides an easy way to stay in touch with friends, among other perks.

Too much of a good thing, though, is never a good idea. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic and read up on how much is too much.

In the meantime, fellow fans, I say, Keep Calm and Drink On, Coffee Lovers!

Rebecca Shinners is a Student Ambassador for the Center for Career Development and Educational Resource Center

The Finals Countdown. Really.

The thought of studying for finals in the midst of midterms is probably the last thing on your mind. But guess what? You realistically only have 5 weeks left in the semester.

How is this possible?

Simple. We have 3 weeks until Thanksgiving and after we come back from break with our stomachs full and our cheeks red, we have a whopping eight days of classes.

Let’s be real. During these last 8 days of classes, most of us are physically back at BU, but mentally back at home, waiting for mom to make the next home-cooked meal.

So, what can you do within the next 5 weeks that will prepare you for a stress-free finals week?

(1) Go to Office Hours – Make sure your professor knows you, if you haven’t already introduced yourself. Head to their office hours with questions or comments related to the course. Keep in mind; you might come away with more questions after seeing a professor, which is a good thing. The more you think about the concepts and break them down, the better you understand them.

(2) Mark Your Calendars – You’ll be surprised how many people think that the final for your class is on the same day and location that your respective class usually meets. This is not the case. Make sure you take a look at the finals calendar and your syllabus, which will let you know when and where your finals are. If you have more than three finals in one day (very rare) you can talk to your professors to change the dates. If you aren't familiar with the Registrar's website, bookmark it. Here's a link to the University's final exam schedule: The schedule is determined by when classes are held.

(3) Plan Ahead & Use Thanksgiving – Usually, when we get back home we’re excited to see friends we haven’t seen in months, eat real food, and watch football. Homework is the last thing on your mind. Try something new this year – study during Thanksgiving break. Not only will this give you a head start on review, but it’ll keep you from totally leaving the academic setting, making the transition of coming back to school much smoother. Prior to Thanksgiving (way ahead of now), make sure you break down each syllabus and figure out what you need to know for the exam. What’s going to be covered? What’s the format of the exam? Then create goals for review, such as “By the end of Thanksgiving, I’ll have chapters 4-7 reviewed with notes.”

These are just some ways to make use of the next 5 weeks. Consider ways in which you can prepare by paying attention to factors such as time management, test prep, and syllabus management. The ERC has put some of these workshops on  our website and on our YouTube channel. Make sure you make your own plan of action for the finals showdown.

Andy Vargas is a Student Ambassador for the Center for Career Development and Educational Resource Center.

You Can’t format Papers in Gangnam Style (Unfortunately)

Academic citation may not sound exciting, but once you get past the dry business of formatting, ethical questions of plagiarism, the origin/ownership of ideas, and common knowledge are actually fascinating topics...for another post. Formatting first!

The American Psychological Association, the modern Language Association, and the Chicago Manual of Style have each created a set of style guidelines for formatting research papers and citing sources. APA is most commonly used in the social sciences, MLA is popular in the liberal arts and humanities, and Chicago is common almost everywhere else. (There's also Turabian, which is Chicago style modified for college students.) It's a good idea to figure out which style you're going to use most often in your major, and get familiar with it.

The official guidelines for each style try to cover every possible kind of source you might need to attribute--which means they are complicated, and they change. No one has all the rules memorized, and online citation-generators like EasyBib and CitationMachine produce lots of mistakes (such as when my students' Works Cited pages claim that books we've read together in class have "n.p., n.d." --no pagination, no date). Use common sense! And at least at first, plan to consult a handbook and/or a website like the excellent Purdue OWL every time you format a paper.

Lastly, don't wait until right before the paper is due to format your citations, or you're guaranteed to make mistakes--which can mean getting in serious trouble for plagiarism. Start your Bibliography (if using Chicago style), Works Cited (MLA) , or Reference List (APA) during the note-taking stage! With practice, you'll get the hang of it. And once you understand how a style works, you can even figure out how to cite weird sources that have no official guidelines.

Amy Bennett-Zendzian is the Senior ESL Writing Fellow for the ERC.

OK, So I Wrote a Draft. What’s Next?

Many times, getting a first draft on the page is the hardest part. But it’s also only the first step of writing a successful essay. The key to a great final product is revision: the process of rethinking and reworking the paper, including the thesis, organization, evidence, and prose style. Here are some tips about how to start revising.

1.)   Leave enough time. Turning in a hastily revised paper (or worse, a rough draft) is never a good idea. Budget ample time for revision.  Try to schedule it so that you can set your first draft aside for a day or two: that way, you start the revision process by looking at your essay with fresh eyes.

2.)   Check the assignment. Students sometimes lose points because they don’t write the kind of paper the professor is looking for, or they don’t follow the directions. Read the paper prompt carefully, and ask for clarification if you are unsure.

3.)   Start with the big picture. Distinguish between “global” and “local” issues: global issues relate to the whole paper (thesis, organization, evidence and analysis), while local issues are smaller scale (mechanics, style, citation). Start by addressing global issues.

4.)   Focus on the thesis. Most college essays require an argumentative thesis. For that kind of assignment, it is vital that your thesis is legitimately arguable—which means that someone who is familiar with your paper topic would potentially disagree with your perspective. For instance, if you are writing on college sports, arguing that “Hockey is a big part of the culture at Boston University” is weak—not many people would really dispute your point. However, asserting that “College athletes should be paid” would certainly cause some debate!

5.)   Get feedback. If you want to discuss how to revise your essay, or need help identifying which aspects need the most work, meeting with a Writing Fellow can help. That’s what the ERC’s Writing Assistance is for! Go to to schedule an appointment.

To read more about revision, consult:

Claire Kervin is a Senior Writing Fellow at the ERC.

Majors, Internships & Careers: Why? How? When?

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to major in something completely different? Or can you not imagine life in any other field of study?

Why are you studying [insert major here] anyway? What do you hope to actually do in the real world? Do you just want to go to a faraway land and help save the world?

Exploring Majors, Internships & Careers kicks off tonight with Dinner and a Major. Some of the events we helped line up for you over the next two weeks include: roundtable sessions with representatives from major service organizations; faculty and alumni panel sessions about your major in the real world; a panel of undergraduates who made tough choices, but finally chose majors they're crazy about, and decision-making workshops that can help take the stress out of life-changing decisions.

All of it will culminate with this fall's Career Expo on Thursday, October 17.

Rilke said: "Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

You don't have to find the answer right away, but exploring your options and the opportunities that potentially await is half the experience.

Register for any session here:

Cecilia V. Lalama is the Assistant Director for Mentoring and Outreach for the ERC.


Test Prep Made Simple

Rebecca Shinners is a CCD-ERC Student Ambassador.

It’s that time of the semester—your notebooks are rapidly filling up, the red due dates you marked on your calendar are getting closer, and your textbooks have turned colors from all of your highlighting. Sound familiar? The first tests of the semester are approaching.

After 3 long months of summer and only one way-too-short month back at school, some of us have yet to escape the lack of motivation that comes with “summer mode.” The first test after summer is always the scariest, but there’s no need to be intimidated.

Get back into test mode with these tips:

1. Make sure your workspace is neat and organized.

Whether you’re the type of person who spends your nights in Mugar, or  work in your off-campus apartment, it’s important to have a neat workspace you know you can rely on. Clutter can cause stress, so if you’re working in your room, keep your desk organized and free of distractions.

2. Be aware of due dates.

I always mark my tests and papers on my calendar in purple pen. That way, they stand out and I always know when I have a test coming up, so I can prepare by studying in advance. If you haven’t yet done so, take out your class syllabi and mark down test and due dates for the rest of the semester now. Then, you’ll be able to see what days you’re free to volunteer with a club you’re in, or go apple picking with your friends. Build your social and extracurricular engagements around your class commitments.

3. Know the test format.

When studying for a test, it’s important to know not only the content, but also the format that you’re studying for. Is your test multiple choice? Short answer? Essay? A mix? Additionally, if it’s a take home test, know when your teacher is giving it out, so you can decide how much time you’re going to have to work on it.

4. Know your weaknesses.

What content didn’t you understand in the readings or during class? Make note, and focus on studying that material first. Was there a reading you missed? Make it up while you study!

5. Utilize office hours.

Going to your teacher’s office hours is a great way to get to know your professor and hear helpful tips for the test. Even if you don’t have a specific question, ask your teacher what content he or she considers most important. Your teacher will appreciate your initiative.

6. Stay positive.

If you’ve given yourself time to study, you’re as ready as you can be to tackle your first test of the semester! Keep your head clear of negative thoughts, get a full night of sleep, and go into the test ready to do your best. Avoid classmates who will be in “panic mode” and frantically studying at the last minute.

Feeling more prepared for your midterms yet? Learn tips like these and more at the Educational Resource Center’s Midterm Mashup event at 100 Bay State Road from Monday, 9/30 through Thursday, 10/3.

Sleep: A True “Frenemy”

Elise Korte is a Wellness and Prevention Office intern and guest ERC blogger.

As sad as we all were to see summer come to a close, it’s always nice to come back to the friendly face of routine. We’re starting to settle into classes, getting back to the books, and let me guess: You made a new school year resolution! Whether it is to earn your best grades yet or to shed some pounds from oh so delicious home cooked meals, sleep could be your key to success.  Sleep is a true ‘frenemy’- it can help or seriously hinder your health, grades, and mood.

This school year, make a resolution to add quality sleep to your to-do list.  Not convinced it deserves to make the list? Business Insider recently shared 15 interesting sleep facts that all college students can relate to:

  1. Make sleep your study buddy.
    Sleeping soon after studying or learning new material helps our brains remember it.
  2. Sleep makes for better sex.
    Sleep deprivation has been linked to less interest in sex by both males and females.
  3. Avoid weight gain.
    Lack of sleep weakens communication between your brain and stomach, making you more likely to overeat.
  4. How you doze matters.
    There is such a thing as sleeping too much, and it can actually decrease your lifespan. Sleeping too little also has the same effect.

(Sorry, but sleeping with books under your pillow won’t magically fill your brain with exam material!)

I’m sure you’ve all heard that as young adults, we need 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night to be our best selves during the day. But how in the world is a studious, involved, and social college student like you supposed to fit in that much sleep?

Here are five strategies you can use to get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Put your thoughts to bed: Make a to-do list of everything that keeps you up to help your mind rest.
  2. Consider your caffeine intake: Try to avoid caffeine at least 4 to 6 hours before going to sleep.
  3. Get yourself in the mood: Stop studying 30 minutes before bed and do something relaxing.
  4. Use your bed only for sleep and sex: create an association between your bed and sleep.
  5. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it! (Even on weekends!)

For other tips and information on sleep friendly apps check out this infographic from Greatist and the Wellness Office blog, Spread the Health.  How do you make time for quality sleep? Let us know by commenting on this post!

Get more tips on sleep from Wellness & Prevention services this week during Midterm Mashup. Got Sleep workshops will be held Monday, September 30 at 4 p.m. and Tuesday, October 1 at 5 p.m. at the Center for Student Services, room 101.

Timing is Everything

Gin Schaffer is the Associate Director of the ERC

Those watches on your wrists and clocks on your walls apologize.  They really just want to tell you what time it is. They mean no harm. They don’t like seeing you panic, wondering: 'Where, oh where has all the time gone!'

The truth is, time is on your side. It can be your best asset if you learn to use it wisely.  Have you had the experience of waking up saying you had so much to do only to fall asleep that night feeling you accomplished nothing?  Be honest; did you have a plan to complete your tasks?  One of the pitfalls in time management is not having a plan or trying to use a system that simply doesn’t match your learning and cognition preferences.  I love those fancy Franklin Covey day planners, but the truth is, I never write in them!  I finally realized that a combination of an electronic calendar and daily to-do lists is how I get things done.

Now, it’s your turn. What time management system works for you?

Decide on a type of day planner and take inventory of your time so that you know where you may be struggling with wasted time.  Don’t leave anything out of your inventory – be honest about how much time you spend on the computer, watching television, or hanging out.  Then, make adjustments so that you can balance your social, academic, and work responsibilities.  You’ll be calmer and love Time for it!

Watch the ERC’s video on Time Management to learn more useful tips.