students and tutors studying at the Learning Commons center

Student Success Resources

Tutoring Services offers a variety of student success resources. Study Skills Sessions are available for students to learn strategies to improve their skills in organization, time management, test taking and studying.

College Success Sessions provide coaching and concrete resources designed to help students with executive functioning needs, including neurodivergent learners and students with accommodations. These sessions help students stay on top of their classes and achieve their academic goals. To request an appointment, complete the College Success Sessions form.

The following student success tips have been developed through Tutoring Services

Online Learning Tips

Lectures & Labs

  1. How do you access course content, such as lectures, discussion boards, and activities?
  2. Are lectures at a specific time or can you watch it anytime?


  1. What are the due dates?
  2. How are assignments submitted?
  3. When are quizzes/exams and how are they administered?

Get Help

  1. How can you contact your instructor? Do they have virtual office hours?
  2. Take advantage of the Learning Commons online assistance options.

Only 2% of the population can multitask. Even if you feel like you’re multitasking, you’re probably just switching between tasks very quickly (micro-tasking). 

Negatives of Multitasking/ Micro-tasking

  • Assignments take longer: Each time you come back to an assignment, you have get familiar with it, find your spot, remember what you were going to do next.
  • You’re more likely to make mistakes: Distractions and switching between tasks tires out the brain.
  • You will remember less: When your brain is divided you’re less able to commit knowledge to long-term memory.

Monotask Instead

  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Take breaks between tasks
  • Use the Pomodoro Method To improve focus, work for 25 or 50 minutes then reward yourself with a 5 or 10 minute break.

With online classes there may be less activities scheduled for a set time. Setting a schedule can help provide structure and motivation.

Include the following activities on a daily or weekly calendar:

  • School work
  • Work schedule and chores
  • Social activities
  • Exercise
  • Self-care activities

Look for ways to adapt your usual habits or form new ones. 

If You Usually Study in a Coffee Shop or Library

Ask yourself what kind of environment helps you study. Try to recreate that at home. Such as studying in a chair, rather than on a couch, or moving to a new spot when you change tasks.If you need background noise, try a white noise app.

If You Usually Study With a Group or a Tutor

Try a virtual study session with your group using Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, or over the phone. Access Learning Commons services online.

If you Thrive on Strict Timelines, But Now Have a More Open Schedule

Think about how working with others or setting up a schedule can recreate that for you. When that gets hard, see if you can even do fifteen minutes at a time. 

  • Stick to the course schedule
    Staying on schedule will help prevent you from falling behind.
  • Find out how to ask questions
    Is there a chat feature? Is there a discussion forum? How do you contact your instructor?
  • Close distracting tabs or apps
    Humans aren’t good at multitasking.
  • Take notes as you would if you were in person
    Check out the Leaning Commons Effective Note-Taking video.
  • Watch videos at normal speed
    Playback speeds of 1.5x can lower your retention and can result in lower assessments. This faster playback speed is worse for complex, multi-step material.
  • Group projects may be out-of-sight, out-of -mind if you aren’t seeing each other regularly. Resist the urge to procrastinate. Make progress and stay in touch.
  • Meet regularly, with classmates. Consider a text about progress every few days. Ideally, have conversations over video when you’re working together.
  • Set a purpose for meetings in advance. Use a shared notes document so you can all contribute and follow along. Even if your team worked well informally in the past, meetings might feel different using video.
  • As long as you can see necessary docs, aim to keep the video chat window visible on the screen. Seeing the expressions of your teammates will help communication.
  • Check on each other and ask for backup: If someone has been absent from group discussion, ask them directly if they’re still able to participate. If you don’t get a response in a day or two, let your instructor know. It isn’t being petty, it’s your team’s responsibility. 

Connect with family and friends for a healthy school and life balance. Stay in touch with instructors and classmates to complete coursework effectively.

  • Schedule video calls with friends and family. Talking with loved ones is helpful when you’re stressed or nervous. Taking a break to have a laugh is also important.
  • Use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc. to meet with classmates.
  • Attend virtual office hours with your instructor.
  • Take advantage of Learning Commons online academic assistance.


  • Read exam guidelines: When is the exam? Is there a time limit?
  • Know the format: Is it essay, short answer, or multiple choice?
  • Test yourself: Take a practice test or create practice questions.
  • Check your device : Do you have needed hardware, software, and internet signal?
  • Find a distraction-free space and time: Ensure you have enough time and turn off notifications.
  • Gather your materials: If allowed, gather notes, book, scratch paper, calculator, etc.


  • Keep track of time: Set an alarm for when there are a few minutes left.
  • Use a Word document: If allowed, type essay answers in Word to make editing easy. Then, paste the essay it into the exam.
  • Don’t exit out of the exam: If online resources are allowed, open them in a new window or a different browser.
  • Technical issues? Contact your instructor including screenshots to explain the problem.
  • Double check your work. Then click submit!


  • Assess your progress: How do you think you did on the exam? Review your notes or textbook to find answers to questions you were unsure about in the exam.  Check your grade: Allow time for your instructor to grade exams if results are not immediately available.
  • Record ideas for ways to improve on your next exam: Did you study appropriately? Were you able to complete the exam without any distractions or technical issues? 

Student Success

The manifestation of stress that continues after the stressor is gone. 

  • Focus on who You are and how You feel. Feeling concern about doing well in college is good, but when you feel anxious or panicky, it’s important to become aware of these feelings and do something.
  • List the stressful events in your life and determine why they make you anxious.
  • Analyze your list to see which stressors are realistic. Often we worry about matters that are not very realistic, such as working hard to prepare for a test but still worrying that we will fail.
  • Anxiety is often accompanied by feelings of fear, apprehension or impending doom. If you experience symptoms that are more consistent with anxiety than stress, you should meet with a healthcare provider or contact COD Counseling Services.

Anxiety Management Strategies

  • Set goals. Any step towards goals reduces stress.
  • Manage your time.
  • Address issues before they become big problems.
  • Set boundaries and learn to say no.
  • Socialize with people who invigorate.
  • Get sufficient sleep.
  • Eat right.
  • Talk with a friend, counselor, or therapist.
  • Write in a journal.

Anxiety Management Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play

  • Worry Box
    Learn to control worry and get relief from anxiety.
  • What’s Up?
    Learn techniques to feel grounded in stressful moments.

COD Resources

College can help you achieve the “life success goals” that will get you where you want to go.

  • Congratulations, your accomplishments and persistence have earned you the opportunity to be a college student.
  • Achieving your personal best has never been more crucial to your success— and you will be up to the task.
  • You are responsible for your future, and college can help you achieve the “life success goals” that will get you where you want to go.
  • Examples of Life Success Goals:
    • Increase employability and earning potential
    • Prepare for career success
    • Make smart personal health choices and gain self-knowledge

Attitude Management Strategies

  • Think Positively! Tell yourself, “ I can learn this material. I am a good reader. I can succeed.”
  • Ask how to repeat, increase, or have new positive experiences. For example, “Am I ignoring or taking for granted some positive aspects of my experiences?”
  • Laugh and play with friends or get a physical workout; successful people do not study all the time.
  • Listen to good music.
  • Try Nap Therapy. Taking naps is a wonderful way to relax and revitalize yourself.
  • As you learn new information and skills in college, try to think of ways they can be useful to you in other courses or in the future.

Attitude Management Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play

  • Happify
    Games to increase your happiness and reduce stress.
  • Head Space
    Guided meditation to increase, sleep, happiness, & productivity.

COD Resources

Counseling and Advising Services
Student Services Center (SSC), Room 3200
(630) 942-2259

Learn how to get focused and stay focused.

  • Internal Distractions - Monitor your thinking when doing coursework both in class and out of class. Identify what is negatively affecting your concentration and work to eliminate or minimize the thoughts or actions that draw your attention away from that task.
    • Keep an attention list
    • Check your concentration
    • Review time management and memory principles
  • External Distractions -Analyze your environment to see if it helps or hurts your concentration.
    • Shut yourself away from noise and distraction
  • Compartmentalize your life

Concentration Strategies

  • Try to study at the same times and in the same places. This way, you can program your mind to promote concentration.
  • Be intensely involved. Tell yourself that what you are doing is important and needs your full attention.
  • Structure your study sessions so you know the time you will spend and the material you will study.
  • Select the right company (or no company at all).
  • Attempt to place personal problems aside if you can’t postpone studying. You simply won’t get anything done worrying.
  • Get some sleep! Lack of sleep destroys your ability to concentrate.

Concentration Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play

  • Forest
    Stay Focused, Be Present
    Beat phone addiction.
  • Luminosity
    Brain games designed to improve your mental focus

COD Resources

Utilize the SQ3R method when reading to process information:

  • Survey. Scan material you want to learn to get an overall picture of area covered by the reading.
  • Question. Turn headings or subheadings into questions, and then try to answer them in your own words.
  • Read. Go through the text with these questions in mind, and take notes at your own pace.
  • Recall. Close the book and remember what you read. Write down what you remember in your own words.
  • Review. Go over your notes to be sure you don’t forget and to see how the material relates to the course and other reading.

Brain Pays Attention To

  • High contrast
  • Novelty
  • Movement
  • Symbols
  • Strong, simple images
  • Icons

Information Processing Strategies

  • Read slowly and deliberately. Define unknown terms.
  • Take notes in your own words and recite knowledge.
  • Explain what you have learned to another person.
  • Devise ways to get interest - The brain prioritizes by value, meaning, and usefulness.
  • Group ideas into categories - The brain can process only 5 to 7 bits of information at a time.
  • Give info proper attention - If not deemed necessary it becomes a short-term memory and is ultimately discarded.
  • Activate past knowledge about a subject before learning something new - The brain makes more connections this way.

Info Processing Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play.

  • Voice Dream Reader
    Adjusts text for easier reading or reads text aloud.
  • Simple Mind
    Brainstorm by creating mind maps.
  • Diigo
    Highlight, annotate, and organize notes.

COD Resources

Plan and execute your goals to achieve them:

  • Types of motivation:
    • Intrinsic—doing things because they give you personal satisfaction.
    • Extrinsic—doing things because of potential repercussions.
  • Locus of Control. Some believe they are the “masters of their own destiny” while others believe they are the “victims of circumstance.” Locus means location. If you have an internal locus of control then you believe your decisions create an outcome. Research shows that individuals with a strong internal locus of control tend to be happier.
  • Self-determination Theory. To maintain motivation, individuals must feel: competent in their skills, connected to others who will support them, and in charge of their behaviors and goals.


  1. Set specific, clear and realistic goals
  2. Clarify your values, purpose, and approach to achieving the specific goal. 
  3. Set a target date to reach the goal.

Strategies to Motivate Yourself

  • Establish long-term goals that cover a period of at least six months to a year. Then create short-term goals that move you toward the long-term goals.
  • Each day take action to move towards your goals.
  • If a goal seems overwhelming, think of it as a series of steps. Identify the steps to reach the goal.
  • If you are having difficulty, ask yourself: Is this goal still relevant? Are other goals more important?
  • Plan a reward for when you reach the goal.
  • Be responsible. You’re in charge of meeting obligations and making decisions to move toward goals.
  • Create positive affirmations. Ex: "I complete my work on time," not "I will never turn in a paper late again." 

Motivation Apps

  • Think Up: Positive Affirmations
    Techniques to inspire positive affirmations and self-talk.
  • Habit Tracker
    Track, identify, and change your habits.

COD Resources

Make meaning from text and critically think about the information:

  • Know why you are reading and what you are looking for.
  • Practice Metacognition (thinking about and regulation of thinking). It is not enough to merely know how to read; you must think about your reading and task management as it happens.
  • Read with a purpose. This will motivate you to complete the reading.
  • Monitor Comprehension. Write down the answers to questions like: ‘What is the author saying?’, ‘How can I use this information?’, and ‘How does this information relate to my experiences?’
  • Survey the text. Look at the index and contents page. Check the beginning/end of reading for a summary. If you are previewing a chapter/article, read the first sentence of each paragraph.
  • Identify how much space is devoted to a subject to see where the authors have placed their emphasis.

Preparing for your Reading

  • Determine what you need to do.
  • Recall what you already know.
  • Look at your notes to review the topic.
  • Survey the text.

Strategies for Difficult Reading

  • Reread to understand and get a feel for the language.
  • Find the important words, usually verbs and nouns.
  • Slow down and pay attention if you pass a signpost (bold-faced words, call-out boxes, charts, diagrams, questions, check-ins).
  • Pause briefly to summarize what you have read.
  • Read it aloud.
  • Stand up. Changing positions combats fatigue.
  • Talk to your instructor or a tutor.
  • Locate specific info by skimming quickly until you find when you are looking for.

Reading Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play

  • Ultimate Reading Free
    Solidify your reading and understanding skills
  • Iris Speed Reading Tips
    Become a more efficient reader.

COD Resources

Gauge the effectiveness of your learning strategies.

  • Reinforce information in your memory often so you can access it easily later.
  • Create a checklist of study items and use short daily review sessions.
  • Concentrate daily reviews on material you have just learned and material that involves simple memorization.
  • Review at least once a week for each class. Access what you’ve learned and what you still need to learn during each study session.
  • Review material periodically because information in longterm memory fades away without reinforcement. 

Strategies for Study Sessions

  • Create flashcards throughout and review in free time.
  • When reading, stop periodically and summarize in your own words. Check the text to see if you are correct.
  • Compose and answer questions before, during, and after reading, studying, or going to class.
  • Review notes to see if they are complete and can be understood.
  • Answer the review questions in your textbooks.
  • Restate material in your own words or try to explain it to someone. If it is difficult to explain, study it more.
  • Apply a principle or method you are learning .

Self-testing Apps

  • StudyBlue Flashcards & Quizzes
    Quiz yourself and track your progress.
  • SimpleMind
    Brainstorm by creating mind maps

Test taking strategies to do your best.

  • There is no substitute for having studied thoroughly and knowing the content.
  • Reviewing course material throughout the semester helps commit the information to your long-term memory and eliminates the need for cramming the night before.
  • Ask your instructor to describe upcoming tests - what course material will it cover, is it cumulative, will it be true/false, multiple choice, or short answer? How much will it be worth?  The day before a big test take some time to do something you enjoy. A relaxed brain is a more effective brain. 

On the day of the test

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Scan the exam first. Provide more time for more heavily weighted questions.
  • Write legibly and show your work.
  • Start with the questions you know.
  • Learn from the exam as you take it. Questions may provide clues for other questions' answers.
  • Your first choice is often right. Don’t change your answer unless you are sure!
  • Use all of the time allowed. Take time at the end to review.

Test Strategies Apps

  • Study Tips
    Learn easy-to-use powerful study tips.
  • MindShift
    Learn strategies to cope and manage testing anxiety. 

COD Resources

Create to-do lists and indicate priorities.

  • Priority 1 items are the most crucial. They may include attending class, completing school assignments, working at a job, and paying bills. Enter Priority 1 items on your planner first, before scheduling anything else.
  • Priority 2 items are important but more flexible parts of your routine. Examples include library study time, completing an assignment for a school club, and working out. Schedule these around Priority 1 items.
  • Priority 3 items are least important. Examples include phoning a friend, catching up on your favorite shows, and cleaning out a closet. Many people don’t enter Priority 3 tasks in their planners until they know they have time for them. 

Time Management Tips

  • Establish a schedule and put it in writing.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Create a term calendar. Use your syllabus to write in all important due dates, deadlines, and exams.
  • Create a weekly schedule. Don’t over book yourself.
  • Create daily to-do lists. Transfer tasks to the next day if something doesn't get done.
  • Use your class time and small pockets of time well.
  • Use your best time well. If you’re a “morning person” complete difficult tasks in the morning.
  • Break tasks into manageable blocks.

Time Management Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play

  • Evernote
    Organized your note-taking, research, and to-do list.
    Set goals, track progress, and earn rewards for sticking with it.

COD Resources

Use appropriate Learning Strategies for the task at hand.

  • Rehearsal strategies help you learn material through repetitive exposure. (Repeat a definition, use flash cards, listen to a taped recording of the lecture, and highlight material in a text.)
  • Elaboration strategies involve adding to or modifying the material to make it more meaningful and memorable. (Paraphrase, summarize, create analogies, use compare-and contrast strategies, apply concepts, teach someone, and create possible test questions.)
  • Organization strategies are a category of elaboration strategies that focus on reorganizing and elaborating visually. (Create outlines, cause–effect diagrams, mind maps, and relationship diagrams.) 

Study Strategies

  • Look for chapter objectives, headings, key terms, illustrations, highlighted words, questions, summaries.
  • Read with curiosity and to answer questions.
  • Write or recite main points and facts from memory.
  • Take lecture notes.
  • Study by asking and answering questions.
  • Find study partners who challenge and inspire you.
  • Contact instructors during office hours or email.
  • Utilize academic support in the Learning Commons

Study Apps

Download from iTunes or Google Play.

  • Quizlet
    Study with flashcards and games.
  • Flashcards
    Create and study flashcards online.
  • Notesplus
    Annotate and highlight PDFs.

Troubleshooting Videos

Contact Information

Learning Commons
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 2102
Call: (630) 942-3940
Hours of Operation

Mathematics Assistance
(630) 942-3339

Writing, Reading, Speech Assistance
(630) 942-3355

Tutoring Services
(630) 942-3686