Learning Strategies FAQ

Q: What is a learning consultation? What happens during a consultation?

A: A learning consultation is a one-on-one consultation with a peer who is trained to assist you in designing a strategic individualized approach to your learning based on your unique strengths and the specific academic demands. The goal of a consultation is to enable you to make the most of lectures, precepts, and readings and achieve your personal goals while balancing academics with other aspects of your life at Princeton. McGraw strongly suggests you make a consultation to meet with a consultant early in the semester in order to manage the academic demands of the entire semester. Also, this doesn’t have to be “one and done”, you are welcome (and encouraged) to meet again, or even periodically with a consultant to continue to strengthen your approach(es).

Q: Who consults with me?

A: You will meet with a peer consultant for one hour. Our peer consultants come from a variety of disciplines and are trained to help you design a strategic approach to your classes. Your consultant may not have majored or have extensively studied in your particular field, course, etc., however our consultants are trained to collaborate the with you regarding the process of your learning goals and needs, and therefore do not need to have specific content knowledge in your field in order to work with you.  Our consultants are pretty awesome! Please review our consultant’s profiles to find a consultant you might want to work with.

Q: Will they help me with my Calculus exam? What is the difference between consultation and tutoring?

A: Consultants can help you (re)think and strategize how you have been studying for calculus, for example our consultants can help you develop a strategic study plan that will enable you to be prepared for that exam, however they might not be able to help you solve a particular problem for a problem-set for the exam. In other words our consultants do not offer tutoring or advice on content, rather they collaborate with you on the process of your learning. Routinely our consultants assist students on topics such as: self- regulation and time management; avoiding perfectionism and overcoming procrastination; dealing with large projects; engaged and active reading; advanced problem-solving; effective note-taking; exam preparation; crafting compelling presentations.

Q: I am a student that is struggling with writing here at Princeton. Can the individualized consultations that McGraw offers be geared towards improving my writing in general?

A: At the McGraw Center we view writing as a holistic process that involves more than the act of writing or the writing product itself. In other words, how you read and engage the text(s) your writing on; how you understand the purpose or overall context of how that text or writing is situated within the objectives of the course is equally important to the writing process as the writing itself. At McGraw we focus our consultations on the how. We can work with you individually to assess the design and objectives of the course and discuss how those themes and features of the course impact writing within that specific discipline the course is located, along with the particular conventions of writing in that discipline.

The Writing Center is an excellent resource for the brainstorming, drafting and revising stages of the writing process and your writing product. They can supplement that support with working with you to understand the how and purpose of academic writing, which often can make the writing process less daunting. They can also help with how to manage the project in lieu of the many demands Princeton places on your time and/or discuss how to improve any motivational dynamics you feel are impeding your progress and confidence as a writer, such as procrastination.

Q: May I visit McGraw more than once?

A: Short answer: yes! Consultations help you engage you in a process and approach of thinking and strategizing about your courses, and many students benefit from more than one meeting. Thus, you are welcome and encouraged to meet again, or even periodically, with a consultant to continue to strengthen your approach(es). Many students have found it helpful to use subsequent consultations to follow-up or stay accountable of goals and strategies discussed from a previous consultation and/or to engage in a new discussion and collaboration regarding their academic needs and goals.

Q: What should I bring to my consultation?

A: Bring whatever is relevant in regards to your question, need, or course you would like to discuss; the more your consultant knows the better they can be of assistance. Below are some recommended items to bring:

  • Syllabi and/or relevant handouts
  • Course Text
  • Calendar/Planner
  • Current assignment, including any work-in-progress (two copies)
  • textbooks or other reading materials
  • Anything else, including your questions

Q: How do I make an appointment?

A: Schedule a one-hour, one-to-one session. Please do not schedule an appointment for less than 24 hours from the time you make it because we cannot ensure that our staff will be available on such short notice. Please Note: For training purposes, some consultations will be staffed by two consultants.

Q: What should I do if I can’t make my scheduled appointment?

A: Please contact us ASAP, either via phone (during normal business hours) or via email, mcgugrad@princeton.edu. Please feel free to reschedule your appointment by visiting our schedule page or emailing us.