Counseling Department » Student Success Resources

Student Success Resources

Our goal with the resources you will find on this page is to assist students with executive function skills. Executive functioning skills are are so important for young adults to learn; they are the foundation for so many other skills that help us be successful in school and our every day lives. While you can use these resources on their own, the counseling team is happy to guide you through these areas and go over these resources with you.
Success chart
WAIT! What ARE executive function skills?
  • Self-control- the ability to regulate yourself including your emotions, thoughts, and actions
  • Attention - sustaining focus, especially for a long period of time, and shifting that attention when needed
  • Task Initiation - the ability to independently begin a task--even when you don't want to-- and overcoming a desire to procrastinate
  • Organization - the ability to develop and maintain a system that keeps materials and plans orderly
  • Planning and Prioritizing - the ability to figure out how to accomplish goals, including mapping out multi-step tasks, and tackling tasks in order of importance
  • Time Management - is having an accurate understanding of how long tasks will take and using time wisely and effectively to to accomplish them
  • Flexible thinking - the ability to think of new ways to do something or work through something
  • Metacognition - the ability to reflect on one's own learning and have self-awareness that drives good choices

Here are some tips and tricks to get ready for distance learning!

  1.  Get organized -- and stay organized

    • Start the year by labeling notebooks and binders with the names of each class. Online this may look like creating folders for each class in your Google Drive and may be even further categorized into folders for Notes, Assignments, etc. 

      • Pro tip: Looking at your teacher's syllabus is a good way to get an idea of how the work for their class may be organized.

    • Organize your files as you go, or at least set a reminder once a week to clean them up.

  2.  Create a study space

    • If you can, avoid studying in bed. Having your mind try to focus in the place where it usually is supposed to sleep can be challenging.

    • Keep a backpack/pencil pouch nearby with materials that you may need. Otherwise, keep your study space as clear as possible. 

    • End each school day by cleaning your study space.

  3.  Eliminate distractions

    • Turn your phone off (or at least on silent) when you are studying or in class.

    • Close unnecessary windows and tabs online.

    • If you need to, look into apps that block websites to help with self-control from browsing the Internet when you need to be paying attention.

  4.  Establish a routine

    • Try to be consistent about the times you wake up, go to sleep, and eat.

    • Schedule time into your week for studying, doing homework, working out, and enjoying your hobbies.

  5.  Use your resources

    • Don't be afraid to ask your teachers questions! If you are not comfortable turning on your microphone yet, send your teacher a private chat or an email.

    • Set up a study session after school with a friend. Bouncing ideas and questions off of each other help help solidify learning.

    • Not everything needs to be online! Use handwritten notes or flashcards to improve your learning.

  6.  Plan time to socialize

    • Set time in your schedule to connect with friends! FaceTime or set up a phone call during lunch. Hearing someone's voice or seeing someone's face provides greater connection than texting alone.

  7.  Move your body

    • Get up and walk or stretch during breaks. Getting your blood flowing through your body will help you feel more alert.

    • Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day in a way that works for you, this can be running, yoga, YouTube workouts, lifting weights (or makeshift weights), playing a sport, swimming, etc.


Time management means having an accurate understanding of how long tasks will take and using time wisely and effectively to accomplish them. Not applying this skill can make school overwhelming or cause you to fall behind, so please consider the following plan and techniques to help if you need it! There are additional resources listed below to help you break this down further into easy to follow steps. (You don't need to go through all the resources or use them all! Just use what you need.)
Remember that we all need help with time management and that it's a life-long skill: meaning that you will use it all the time, and with practice, you will just keep getting better and better at it!
3-Step Plan to Tackle Time Management: 
1. Set Goals
  • What are you hoping to accomplish by tackling time management? This may mean assessing your areas of need.
    • For example: "I need to get a better grade" is a goal that is too broad. Instead, try to be more specific: "I need to improve my grade by turning in late assignments and staying on top of homework."
2. Prioritize and Plan
  • Assess what you need to do then divide and conquer!
    • For example: Write down assignments that you have to do for your classes within the next few days. Then decide what is most important and start with that first. 
3. Integrate effective time management and/or organization tools 
  • Use tools that work for you. One system/tool is not a one size fits all--we're all different, and you might have to try a system and tweak it until it fits you! The key is TRYING.
    • For example: planners, agendas, or bullet journals/agenda, to do lists, apps, etc.
  • Make a weekly schedule and stick to it!
  • Learn to prioritize using a daily “to do list”
  • Break large tasks down into smaller parts
  • Learn what time of day is best for you to study
  • Study harder subjects first
  • Assign yourself work for class every night
  • Set goals and reward yourself when you complete them
  • Balance study time, recreation, sleep, etc.
  • If completing tasks is difficult, think of the reasons why it is hard to start/finish projects
  • Find an accountability partner who can check in to see how you’re doing with assignments like a friend, family member

Procrastination and Goal Setting Prioritizing and Planning  Additional Resources: Apps/Videos 
Study Skills Basics- Without these basic steps, it'll be hard to prepare effectively for any test. Think about it--if you don't attend class, then it's hard to take notes which you might need later to review, right?
  • Pay attention in class
  • Come to school and be on time
    • You can't learn if you're not in school
  • Take notes
  • Stay on task in class
  • Keep class materials organized
  • Ask questions in class and participate in group activities/discussions
  • Plan a definite study time and consistent place of study
  • Get enough sleep and eat well on the day of a test
Assess YOUR time management with studying. If you answer yes to every question, you are on the right track! If not, consider using some of the resources in this section to help you. 
• I study during a regular block of time each day.
• I study during my periods of maximum alertness.
• I limit study time to 1-2 hours before taking a break.
• I give equal time to all of my classes.
• I complete assignments as soon as possible after a lecture/class.
• I do not cram. I plan my time so that I can do a little bit each day.
• I plan a schedule of balanced activities (sleep, schoolwork, leisure).
• I build in flexibility in case something unexpected comes up.
Study Session Tips
  1. Organize subject matter - Prioritize the hardest concepts first
  2. Don't make study sessions too long
  3. Break down tasks into smaller parts
    • For instance, you might make notecards one day, highlight your notes on another, etc.
  4. Do daily summaries of work covered in class in your own words and title it "Main Points"
    • This can be part of your notes 
  5. Set a task to achieve for each session
Additional Resources
  • Flashcard machine (web-based study flashcards)
  • Quizlet - app - create your own study materials or choose from others created by Quizlet users
  • Khan Academy (tutorial vides for most subjects)
General Test Taking Tips
*When you receive your test, READ THE DIRECTIONS FIRST. Then do an overview of the entire test by quickly reading each question.
* When you receive your test, immediately write down any information that you needed to memorize, such as formulas, specific dates, names.
* Use your watch or school wall clock to pace yourselfDon't rush, but be aware of the maximum time to spend on a question.
* Always read the whole question carefully.
* Do the easiest problems first, and the problems with the greatest point value.
If you get to a question you don't know, don't waste time. Mark it with a "?" and move on. Don't forget to go back to the question when you have completed the test.
* With multiple choice questions, try to think of the correct answer before you read your options.
  • Read all answers first. Cross out items you know are wrong, and choose your answer from the remaining options. 
  • Use clues if you are completely stuck and have to guess, such as, phrases like "All of the above" and "both a and b" are likely correct. The longest and most precise answer is likely to be correct. Beware of questions with "no", "not", and "none." These words easily change the meaning of questions. Reject answers that use specific determiners such as: everyone, always, never, etc. Choose answers which use qualifying terms such as: often, most, etc.
* With fill in the blank questions, look for grammar clues and hints. 
  • For example, the word "an" will indicate that the answer begins with a vowel. Look at verb tenses and plurals in the question.
*  When answering essay questions, try to make an outline in the margin before you begin writing.
  • Organization, clear thinking, and good writing is important, but so is neatness. Be sure to make your writing legible. 
  • Also, begin your answer by restating the question.
  • Remember to get to the point quickly.
If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions. 
  • Make an "educated guess" if you absolutely don't know the answer. 
  • Only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one.
  • Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.
Write neatly and double check to make sure that you put your first and last name on the test and the date.
Additional Resources
  1. Sit close to the front of the class to minimize distractions.

  2. Be prepared to keep your notes neat and organized. Use a separate spiral-bound notebook for each subject, or use dividers in your loose-leaf notebook to make separate sections for each subject.

  3. Begin each note taking session at the top of a fresh page. Start by writing down the date.

  4. Do not try to write down everything the teacher says, but do try to record as many facts and ideas as you can. Mark important facts or main ideas with an asterisk or star or underline them.

  5. Use short sentences and phrases and easily remembered abbreviations and symbols. Some commonly used abbreviations and symbols are

    • cf (compare)
    • ie (that is)
    • eg (for example)
    • w/ (with)
    • w/o (without)
    • &, + (and)
    • = (equals, is)
  6. Write clearly, and leave lots of blank space in the left margin or between ideas in case you need to add information later.

  7. Read over your notes as soon as you can after class. If there is anything you don't understand, ask the teacher at the next class.
Adapted from Teacher Vision
  1. Organize your paper the same as for class notes.

    • Put the date at the top of the page.
    • Write down the name of the book and the chapter or section you will be taking notes from.
    • Leave space in the left margin or between ideas for your own comments or questions.
  2. Keep textbook notes separate from class notes. Use a separate notebook or a separate section in your loose-leaf notebook.

  3. Get a general idea of what the reading is about.

    • Read the introduction, headings and subheadings, and any paragraphs that summarize the content.
    • Look at any illustrations or graphs and charts and read the captions.
  4. Go back and read the chapter or section carefully. Look for the main ideas.

  5. Try not to copy information directly from the textbook into your notes. Instead, summarize the information in your own words. This will help you to concentrate and learn.

  6. If you do copy directly from the textbook, use quotation marks to indicate that it is a direct quotation. Take care to copy the quotation exactly.

  7. Summarize the main ideas at the end of your notes and circle them.
Adapted from Teacher Vision
12 Strategies for Motivation
  1. Set goals. Be sure they are realistic and achievable. Make them small to start.
  2. Establish rewards for progress toward your goals.
  3. Expect set-backs and when they happen, re-direct and renew your energy toward your goals. Don’t give up.
  4. Use the power of positive thinking and believe in yourself. Overcome discouragement.
  5. Tell others what you are trying to accomplish and seek support from loved ones.
  6. Learn to say no to options and distractions that deter you from your goal. Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
  7. Establish routine and regular exercise; meditation, prayer or yoga, even if it is only 15 minutes a day to start. This will help you to cultivate discipline.
  8. Use positive imagery to help you achieve your goals. Imagine yourself as you will be and feel when your goal is achieved.
  9. Spend time reflecting or talking to others about what has stopped you from achieving your goals in the past.
  10. Post reminders and inspirational quotes in prominent places about what you want to achieve.
  11. Get professional help and support to overcome physical or mental roadblocks (depression and anxiety are just two examples) and to bolster your efforts, no matter how small they may seem. School mental health support staff can help with this.
  12. Practice extreme self care. Good health is essential to positive thinking and feeling, which will take you a long way toward achieving your goals.

Adapted directly from: a non-referenced article on The Center For Personal and Professional Development’s Home page, Information from Allegheny College’s Office of Residence Life and Allegheny College’s Counseling Center.

  • Motivational Style survey
    • Not everyone is motivated in the same way. Find out if your style is goal, learning, or relationship oriented so you can understand what pushes you to get things done.
  • Motivation Techniques
    • Learn how to change your thinking, make things easier, just get started, etc. 
Stress Management and Self Care Strategies

Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

·      Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.

·      Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

·      Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

·      Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.


Make time for fun and relaxation

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If youregularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.


·      Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

·      Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.

·      Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

·      Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.


·      Healthy ways to relax and recharge:

Go for a walk.

Spend time in nature.

Call a good friend.

Have a good workout.

Write in your journal.

Savor a cup of coffee or tea.

Play with a pet.

Work in your garden.

Curl up with a good book.

Light scented candles.

Take a long bath.

Listen to music.

Watch a comedy.

Get a massage.


Adopt a healthy lifestyle

You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

·      Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.

·      Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

·      Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

·      Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

If you have any feedback on anything you see on this site (like broken links), please reach out to Ms. Miguel at
Last revised: 10/15/2020