Students will be returning to the University of Mississippi campus in just a few days, and UM School of Journalism and New Media professors are sharing student advice for a successful semester. Much of it comes down to planning.
Rachel West, adjunct instructor of integrated marketing communications, said students should create a plan and schedule, and stick to it throughout the semester.
“Sounds so simple, but with so many classes being taught remotely for so long, it’s a change and a new routine for a lot of students who have not been in the habit of coming to class,” she said. “Budgeting time to find a place to park, walk to class, and so forth, is part of the process as well.”
Robin Street, a former senior lecture who is now an adjunct professor, said her best student advice is to always follow the public relations mantra of planning ahead.
“I suggest, especially in my online classes, that the student sit down with the syllabus, then enter all the important dates from it on his/her calendar,” she said. “My syllabus already has all the due dates for assignments, quizzes and exams. Then, they should go back a week so, and put on that calendar something like ‘Assignment due in seven days. That way, dates don’t sneak up on you.”
Ellen Kellum, adjunct instructor of media design, said she learned in grad school that if she had several smaller deadlines built into projects, she would be much more successful.
“That was a huge factor in taming those procrastination tendencies we all have,” she said. “It made my work more polished and kept me a whole lot less stressed.”
Chris Canty Sparks, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said preparation is key.
“Be well prepared for each and every class,” she said. “Read. Be curious. Ask questions. ‘Luck favors the prepared,’ from Edna on ‘The Incredibles.'”
Kristie Alley Swain, associate professor of journalism, said don’t be shy about asking your professors lots of questions about assignments.
“The earlier the better after the assignment is given,” she said. “Also, share your preliminary drafts with professors to see if they can provide more guidance and other feedback before you turn it in for a grade.”
Mike Tonos, instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, advises students to turn in every assignment and avoid the automatic zero.
“Even a few points are better than none,” he said.
Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, said it’s also important to take care of yourself physically and mentally during this time.
“Get outside,” he said. “Go for walks. Work on or find a new hobby.”
LaReeca Rucker, adjunct instructional assistant professor, said don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas during class discussions.
“We live in a politically polarized world, but we should be able to share our ideas about news and media issues in classes that are about these topics even if we disagree,” she said. “Students are encouraged to share their thoughts when we discuss current events, as long as they do it respectfully.
“I welcome diverse opinions. I’m interested in getting to know each student, and I like hearing differing viewpoints. The world would be boring if we all thought the same way about every issue.”
Since many of the classes are writing classes, Rucker also advises students to think about the impact they can have with their work.
“Take your work and your words seriously,” she said. “You never know who you might touch in some small, yet important way through your writing.”
Debora Wenger, Ph.D., interim dean and professor, said make time to introduce yourself and communicate with your teachers.
“Come early or stay a few minutes late to say hello and to tell us something about you,” she said, “ — where you’re from, why you picked our school, what you’re looking forward to doing with your degree, or anything that helps us know you better.
“If you’re shy — send an email with similar details. And don’t forget to ask questions and engage with your instructors throughout the semester — we’re here to help you learn and grow.”