Advice from the Office of Academic Resources (Part 3)

ATTENTION: All things related to the Haverford Health Portal must be completed by Saturday, July 21st! This includes choosing to enroll in or waive the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and submitting your Health Records!!! (Also don’t forget about the Pre-Major Advisor Questionnaire which is also due July 21st!)

Hello everyone! This is the final part of our interview with members of the Office of Academic Resources. Here we have some studying tips and words of wisdom. For part 1,  click here! And for part 2,  click here! 

Who we interviewed:
Peter Granville, Program Coordinator-Office of Academic Resources
Brian Cuzzolina, Director of Office of Academic Resources
Raquel Esteves Joyce, Assistant Director for Academic Resources

You can check out their full profiles on what they specialize in through the Academic Coaching page of the OAR’s Website!

Some answers are edited or paraphrased for brevity and clarity.


What are your top two/three study tips for incoming first years?

Peter’s Answer: My first tip is to utilize the power of friendship. Think about how you can better study by finding some classmates and getting together. This system is fantastic for accountability buddies, where you tell them what you need to do and by when, and set up time to check in. This really helps with burden of challenging week. Do the same for them: alert them to bad habits, and check up on them.

My second tip is that with any content you’re trying to learn, focus on moving from the stage of absorption (this includes reading the text or lecture notes) to practice (this comprises writing down reactions to ideas, reciting understanding, explaining things to a friend/stuffed animal, problem sets/practice exams) as quickly as you can. Practice requires you to hone your knowledge and learn how to present it.

My third tip is to not use a highlighter when writing down notes or reading a text. Instead, write your thoughts down in full sentences. Highlighted text just signifies what you thought was important, but not how, which is more valuable. Also, people tend to over-highlight things.

Brian’s Answer: My first tip is to get rid of distractions, particularly your phone (especially when reading). Try to read for 30 minutes straight, without using any technology. You can use the Pomodoro Method; break study periods into intense smaller chunks, take a break, and then go back. Working in a distraction-free space doesn’t necessarily mean finding a quiet space, people need different things, depends on you. If don’t know what you need yet, there’s no harm in trying a couple of different things.

Promote space for self-reflection to think about what’s working, or isn’t. Sit back at the end of a study session, and ask yourself: ‘What did I read, and what did I learn from it? Did the space work out for me?’ Being at a space of honesty with yourself, and being able to reflect on what’s working is crucial. We’re here for coaching if you are not sure what to do, or how to create/break habits.

Raquel’s Answer: Know yourself! Find your rhythm and what works best for you, and then use this to your advantage. If you’re a student who is social and needs a lot of people, then work with study groups, and use the part of you that needs social outlet. If sitting by a window is distracting, work outside and be immersed in nature. If you have a short attention span, don’t plan 3 hour chunks of study time. It’s okay to do short blocks with breaks. Make your characteristics work for you, instead of aspiring towards things that don’t work for you.

Alongside finding rhythm, there’s pace. Setting an appropriate pace helps people get big things done by working towards bite-sized goals every single day.

I notice that because students don’t pace themselves, they end up submitting their first drafts and do themselves a disservice. Rewriting, and having a process of separation from your writing is really helpful and powerful. That first draft is the foundation, it gets you started. But if you give yourself time to work on it, your work will be a better reflection of what you know and of your writing skill. Give yourself the space and time to have the ‘aha!’ moment towards the end of the writing process, and then bring that perspective to the rest of the paper. I often hear students say that they could’ve done better. Part of fixing that is pacing and rewriting.


So that’s all folks! Here are some final words of wisdom about utilizing resources:

From Peter: When thinking about tools to use, the ones that I would point to first would be whatever got you through high school. There are lots of options out there, you may actually find that tweaking what you’ve done before is more effective than trying something new. If you need to start over completely, that’s also okay!

From Raquel: At the OAR, we have a holistic approach: we see the academic, social, personal as intermeshed. We’re here to walk with you and support you in different facets of your life, by semester or year. This can be focusing on balance or being sabotaged by your insecurities when you’re doing well. We want you to learn from that, and use that to see where you want to go and what you want to do.

From Brian: Everyone here can succeed (regardless of how you define success) at Haverford. It’s just a matter of figuring out how this isn’t a matter of intellect, it’s one of process. You’re going to be challenged. That’s why all this support exists, in the Dean’s Office, the OAR, and office hours. We’re here to help you learn from missteps.


Have any questions? Email Blien and Isabel at Also, follow us on Snapchat @FYsquirrel for fun snaps and important updates/reminders!