Learning Blog

The McGraw Center is here to help all students adapt to the new and unfamiliar expectations and demands that go with the unique aspects of Princeton academic life. We want to reassure you that you belong here, we have confidence that you can adjust to new challenges and attain your goals. With a spirit of camaraderie, resourcefulness, and resilience we’re here with you to tackle difficulties as they arise creatively and strategically.

We believe that it’s useful to conceptualize Princeton as a distinctive teaching-learning culture. As you transition into and through this culture and community we expect that you’ll encounter new kinds of courses with new expectations and demands that will require you to adapt your academic approach and acquire new skills and strategies. Doing so not only assists you in getting an excellent education it is an essential PART of an excellent education.

In this blog we will respond to questions and issues raised by Princeton students with brief posts that include concrete, actionable advice and incorporate other McGraw resources. Posts will be added frequently, so please share with us challenges, questions, and topics you would like addressed

What’s the most prevalent challenge that students face as they acclimate to the academic environment at Princeton?

There are a number of factors that go into this and there are important differences among students.

Test-taking Techniques

Tests are not transparent measures of what students know, and performing well on them is not simply a matter of knowing the relevant course content.

Studying and Exam Prep: What exactly are they, and how are they different?

It’s useful to distinguish the act of ‘studying’ from the process of ‘exam prep’ in order to home in on how to do each of them optimally. In short, while they certainly overlap both in terms of methods and mental processes involved, they differ in that studying generally emphasizes ‘taking in’ information and organizing, synthesizing and...

Final Projects, Dean’s Date Papers and Final Exams on your mind?

McGraw can help you prepare for and excel on end-of-semester assignments and exams.

What Can I Do Now To Prepare For Dean’s Date & Finals?

Q: Finals feel far away, but I know they will come quickly. What can I do to get ready for finals?

Getting into an “academic rhythm” when you are off campus/in isolation

Q: I can’t seem to get into an “academic rhythm” in the same way at home as I did when I was on campus—what are some things I can do?

How do I deal with spending so much time by myself, working alone and isolated?

Strive to make your academic work as collaborative as possible. Create study groups, contact friends to serve as accountability partners, be proactive in your classes to reach out to students you don’t already know. And, of course, devote non-academic time to meeting your social needs and just having fun “with” others.

I’m having a hard time motivating myself to “attend” online lectures and, especially, watch recorded ones. What can I do?

There’s a lot to adapt to.Whether you are on or off campus there is now a lot less structure to your day, fewer environmental and social cues that you are a student in college, and there may well be greater distractions of a less-than-ideal...

Structuring Your Unstructured Time

Without extracurriculars and other non-academic activities, some of you may feel like you have more ‘free time’ yet find it more difficult to get started, create a doable schedule, and stay on task.

Creating A Productive Workspace

Many of us find it difficult to work at home and are missing our favorite workspace(s) on campus right now. Establishing a workspace that is physically, socially, and mentally conducive to productively engaging in your academic work will be crucial in the coming weeks.