Peer Tutoring Info Sessions: This Week at the ERC

If you’re wondering about the Peer Tutoring program but don’t know if a tutor is right for you, get to a Peer Tutoring Info Session at the ERC this week.

Peer Tutoring Info Sessions are scheduled each evening this week, through Thursday. We’ll have staff to answer all your questions about the program.

Click here for the info session schedule.

Email Etiquette: Crafting Quality Correspondence

Michael Lantvet is the ERC's Assistant Director for Tutoring Services.

Email and texting are probably the most common ways that we communicate with each other.  Now that you’re here at BU, you’re probably going to do even more emailing than you ever have before (if that’s possible) and there are a few things you might want to know about before that first email goes out to a professor or administrator.

First up: “I love it when my students email me with questions that are answered on the syllabus.” said no professor ever.  Remember, if you’re going to email someone a question, try to make an effort to answer it yourself.  In some cases, there are about 300 students in a lecture but just 1 professor.  That’s a lot of emails.  A quick Google or BU website search is often all it takes to get a quick answer.

Second, you should probably not assume you can be completely informal with email, particularly with professors, staff, or administrators.  Start your email with a proper greeting like “Dear Ms. ________” or maybe “Hello Professor ________”.  Starting off with “Hey,” or no greeting whatsoever is a good way to start off on the wrong foot.  Also, keep the tone of your email in mind when you’re sending.  It could be that your request is coming off like a demand, or an innocent joke could be offensive.  Read it over before you click “send” to make sure you’re representing yourself well.

Finally, be respectful of time, both yours and others’.  Just because you’re up at 3:00 a.m. sending the email doesn’t mean you’re going to get a response right away.  Of course, replies are generally made pretty quickly; just don’t get too upset if you don’t get instant responses.  Sometimes your questions or requests take a bit of time, some thought, and effort.

If you’re wondering why it matters, think of it this way: An email might be the first impression you leave with someone. You’re going to be here for about four years and some of the connections and first impressions you make while at BU, will last a lifetime.

For a few more useful tips, the following websites have some great pointers to help you navigate the murky waters of modern email etiquette:

The Purdue Online Writing Lab

U.S. News & World Report 18 Tips for Emailing Your Professor

Business etiquette expert, Jaqueline Whitmore


It’s a New Year: Get Ready. Get Set. Goal.

Gin Schaffer is the Associate Director of the ERC. She makes the ERC run smoothly, mostly because she's always goal-setting.

I believe that we get two chances a year to start over; learn something new and maybe, just maybe, achieve a goal that seemed impossible.

When December 31st becomes January 1st, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the entirety of the past year and all the possibility that the new year holds. That zealousness fades after a few weeks, but then September rolls around and with it, the promise of a new beginning. Again.

The start of a new school year signals another chance to revisit a goal that once eluded us or to try something new; like that elective you’ve been meaning to take even though it’s the opposite of your major. The challenge of starting anew is to set goals that are achievable, but not so many goals that you can’t possibly achieve them all.

University of North Carolina - Student Success

In order to keep track of your goals and where you are on the road to reaching them, you should revisit them occasionally and consider how close you are to achieving them, what it will take to get there or whether you want to re-think your goals entirely. The best way to make sure that your goals are achievable is to make them S.M.A.R.T.

Goals should fit into your personal, academic and professional interests. They should be realistic and achievable in a finite amount of time so that you're constantly moving ahead, not spinning your wheels.

The staff at the Educational Resource Center can help support you when those S.M.A.R.T. goals seem more like challenges than motivators. Take a deep breath and appreciate how far you’ve come already without forgetting where you want to go. In this New Year, Part II, find a quiet space and write freely about what you want to accomplish this semester—in all areas of life. Try to get 3 to 5 goals on paper using the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. You may feel overwhelmed; you may have lots of expectations. That's okay. The way to any goal is to prioritize and follow through.

Happy New Year, Part II! Now, go set some goals.

CCD-ERC Student Ambassador Corner: Spring – and Finals – Are In the Air

Zach Costello, CCD-ERC Student Ambassador

Spring has sprung, but it comes at a price. We have to get through finals before we can really start to enjoy the nice weather.

So how to tackle finals?  One of the most important things you should know how to do is, believe it or not, STUDY! Many students think that simply memorizing their textbook will get them an "A" on their exams. It's not about memorization.

The key to effective studying is to know how to apply concepts to certain situations. Many professors like to ask hypothetical questions and expect you to apply what you know to the given situation. Memorizing terms and definitions will only get you so far. But knowing how to apply what you know to real life is the key to understanding the material. A good way to test your ability to apply concepts is to try to find real-world examples and considering how much you truly understand. The more you can relate theories to real-life examples, the deeper your understanding will be of the course material.

I hope the fact that memorization is not always the answer comes as a relief to some of you. Now that exams are around the corner... again...strive to become conversational in your course material. Being comfortable just chatting about something is much easier than expecting to memorize a whole textbook...and a lot more useful.

CCD-ERC Student Ambassador Corner: My Top Three (Last Minute) Study Strategies

By Sonia Su, CCD-ERC Student Ambassador

Midterms are coming up, and for some of you, they already happened. Maybe yours is tomorrow or in a few days -- and you still need help studying.

Although we don’t endorse cramming, sometimes it happens -- Here are my top 3 ways to study for midterms when you don’t have weeks to prepare.

1) Do NOT reread your textbook or all of your notes.
If an exam is in less than 24 hours, rereading chapters 1-20 the day before will only keep you up all night. It won't help you retain the information. Sure, if you had two to three weeks before your exam you could reread chapters and your notes (this is where good time management comes in).

But if time is short, look over lecture slides, key concepts, past tests, etc., and review only what you need to. Then, a few hours before the test, review what you don't know so well first, then cover the stuff you could recite in your sleep. Devote brain power to the tough stuff first. You'll want to capitalize on the information you're most comfortable with, but it wouldn't hurt to review material you didn't get to master. Just don't try to memorize anything.

2) Do practice exams and review homework quizzes.
As you take more tests in college, you’ll realize that questions on practice midterms, past tests, homework, quizzes, problem sets, etc., almost always appear on the actual exam. In one of my classes, we were tested on the same scenarios that were on the practice exams. In my other class, questions from our problem sets appeared on the test. In a last-minute studying situation, it might make sense to focus on doing practice questions over re-reading your textbook. Your textbook, though, is one of the most valuable tools after your professor.

3) Talk to your peers.
As tempted as you may be to hide the day before your exam, take advantage of the brain power a study group can offer if you don’t understand a practice problem or concept. With office hours, review sessions, study groups, etc., talking to people is easy. Review sessions are gold, because you can not only tap your TA or professor for help on topics, your classmates are there, too.

Plus, studying alone can be frustrating and unproductive. Make studying a more social activity!

Good luck with midterms, and make sure you come to our Midterm Mashup workshops next week (Tuesday, March 5 through Thursday, March 7) for even more tips and advice! Check out our Twitter Chat #ERCMashup, this Friday at 3:30, where we'll answer your questions on prepping for test, staying calm and carrying on.

The Midterms are Coming! The Midterms are Coming!

As much as the thought may make you want to run (you won’t get very far, given the size of those snow banks out there); there’s nothing to fear if you take a few simple steps to study smarter so you don’t have to study harder.

The single best thing you can do to prepare is to start way in advance.

The next best thing; be prepared by gathering all of your materials.

And then? Prioritize by topics you understand least to best. Finally, take a deep breath.

Here are some common sense study prep strategies:

1.       Make a list of all the chapters, concepts and themes that you will be tested on, and identify your weak spots within that list.

2.       See how many days out you are from the midterm. Plan to review a little bit from every subject each day. It’s easier to study ten chapters in ten days than it is in five days.

3.      Prepare: Create study sheets, answer end of chapter questions, list predicted essay questions and outline, etc. Review: Read study sheets, redo “missed” problems, review formulas, etc. everyday right up until the day before the test.

4.       In a 4-6 hour chunk of time, try 1.5 hours of studying, 10 minutes of review, a 5-minute break and repeat. Don’t study for more than 4-6 hours at a time. You’ll just burn out.

5.     If test anxiety is an issue, try to take the unknown element out of the equation by taking a practice test at home in the time you would have to take the real midterm. That way, it won’t feel like you’re going through it for the first time when you walk into the classroom.

6.      Study with classmates. See if you can take turns teaching each other concepts. If you can teach the material to others, you’ve mastered at least a portion of the subject.

7.     Get 8 hours of sleep and eat good food (junk food will just slow you down, so go for healthy proteins, veggies and fruit). Making sure your body is nourished and fueled up can make a big difference in your cognitive abilities (the way that you learn).

8.      Always read through the entire test before you begin. If possible, decide how much time you’re going to spend on each section and stick with your plan. Don’t miss the five easy multiple-choice questions on the very last page of the test.

9.      Stay positive. If you don’t know the answer to Question #1, boost your confidence by answering Question #2 first. The next question may even give you a hint about the one that stumped you the first time around.

10.   For essay tests, save incomplete answers for the end. Six incomplete essays will likely score you more points than three complete essays and three blanks.

11.   For multiple choice tests, try covering up the answer choices and write down the answer in your own words if none of the choices look right. Uncover the choices and find the closest match to what you wrote down.

12.   Reward yourself and leave any negative thoughts associated with the test behind you when you leave the room and move on with your life. Find something fun to do, either on campus or around town. You won’t have to look far to find cool things to do around Boston:

You can find our calendar, register for workshops or check out our online workshops here:

@BUERC Member Attends the Presidential Inauguration

Patrick Devanney, the ERC's Retention Program Specialist, was invited to view President Barack Obama's Inauguration
and take part in an historical moment in our nation's history week. Patrick canvassed for Congressman John Tierney (D-MA 6th District)
this past fall.

I made my way to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 19th, meandering through New England byways and the length of the New Jersey Turnpike (122.4 miles, according to Google) along the way. On the trip down, I reflected on my eight months of knocking on 2,000 doors and phoning 500 households. I did not expect that my canvassing efforts would result in two tickets to the Inauguration, courtesy of my Congressman.

I imagined these throngs of people, the crowd's energy, thousands of people moving in a single mass as what the New Year's Eve ball drop  in  Times Square must be like. The flow of people on Inauguration Day was as organized as an event involving half a million people could be. The  assembly  of Orange Gate ticket holders was as wide as First Ave., NW. By the time I reached the metal detectors just below the Robert A. Taft  Memorial  and Carillon, I had been waiting for more than two hours. For security purposes, we were told by officials to leave our cell phones and cameras on while we passed through the metal detectors.

Once through, I made my way up the lawn of the Capitol to the North Standing Area and found a sparse spot among some holly and rose bushes. The picture below is from that spot.

A few  friends laughed at the picture saying it looks as if it were an inaugural address for one. Though when President Obama spoke, it almost did seem like he was talking to everyone individually. It was a beautiful speech, and I’m glad to say that I had tickets to this once in a lifetime event. He spoke of hope, faith and brighter days ahead. Cheers to that.

I ended my trip with a visit to Gettysburg; the perfect bookend to a weekend that will go down in history.

Diving in to BU

Rebecca Shinners - CCD/ERC Student Ambassador

Lacing in and out of the crowds, I hustled through Nickerson field and read sign after sign. “Acapella, Theatre,” sounds like fun—but not for me. Like BU’s other new students, I was at SPLASH searching for my niche at Boston University.

Navigating SPLASH is not an easy task. It’s hot, crowded, and there are so many tables, you never know if you missed one with the perfect opportunity waiting for you.

After SPLASH came the emails. I signed up for way too many groups and spent my first few weeks at BU with club meetings basically every night. How else would I know where I wanted to spend my free time?

As a recent transfer student to Boston University, I viewed extracurricular activities as a vital part of my transition into the BU community. At my old school, getting involved as the editor of an online magazine my freshman year helped me realize I want to pursue a career that combines communication and art.

During my first few weeks here, I picked out the clubs I found most interesting and relevant to my major: Photojournalism in COM. I’m now the Photography Director of The Buzz, BU’s Lifestyle Magazine, and an Editor of Her Campus BU.

Even if you don’t share my love of writing and photography, find the extracurricular activities that interest you. Getting involved around campus is a great way to explore your interests, possible majors and even future career paths.

If you missed SPLASH or didn’t find what you were looking for, visit BU Student Activities online (insert link to, or check Twitter and Facebook to explore your options. Ask around to see if your friends are in any interesting clubs.

I found my major by getting involved and so can you—or you can at least have fun trying out some new activities!

Finding the Right Fit

Dvisha Patel - CCD/ERC Student Ambassador

Like many other students, I was undeclared when I first arrived at Boston University. I had a few ideas of what I might pursue, like business and international relations, but no concrete plans. As a College of General Studies student for my first two years at BU, I was able to complete my general requirements while taking an elective of my choice each semester. Each elective I took was an introductory course to topics such as microeconomics and macroeconomics. I figured the best way to find my major was to try new things. Unfortunately, taking introductory courses didn’t help as much as I thought it would.

I turned to an academic advisor and, after expressing my slight interest in business, I registered to take SMG SM299, Management as a System (a course that all transfer students into School of Management from both outside and within BU are required to complete). Taking this course was the best decision I’ve made so far at BU as it led to my decision to continue on to SMG. When I first arrived at BU, I felt lost amidst the multitude of majors, but now I have found my place in the world of business and management and have never felt happier.


Building Your BU Experience

Emily Mulloy - CCD/ERC Student Ambassador

After driving nearly 20 hours in a van, we pulled into Nashville, TN: our home for the week. We were tired, but ready to work! While other BU students spent their spring break relaxing in exotic places, we were working hard building wheelchair ramps as a part of BU’s 2011 Alternative Spring Breaks (ASB) program.

As a sophomore, I felt unhappy at BU and questioned my college selection. I was far from home and lonely. My application to the ASB co-coordinator position was an impulsive response to an email from the Community Service Center in attempt to find my place on campus.

After my eventual hire and the following months of planning, there we were: on the front lawn of a woman we didn’t know. While our 12-member group began to work, I looked around at all these strangers who suddenly had become friends. Though we were all different, we united in our common purpose, and later watched that same woman cry with joy as she rolled down the ramp we had built for her.

At a large university like BU, it’s easy to feel lonely and lost without a direction. Unlike in high school, you have to fight to be noticed and recognized as special. But there in Nashville, hundreds of miles away from Boston, I became a part of this small BU community. I realized the limitless possibilities that were in store for me as a BU student.

Sometimes, you have to fight for the experiences you want and the future you desire for yourself. For me, it took a little bit of sawdust and 2x4s, to realize that BU has everything I need as long as I’m willing to look.