Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Time Management and Study Strategies consulting helps students lead more organized, balanced lives

The pressures of being a student can be overwhelming. Balancing academics, extracurriculars and social activities can be tough. While a student feeling stressed can turn to Counseling and Mental Health services for emotional support, there exists another program that can be of help: Time Management and Study Strategies (TM&SS) consulting.

TM&SS, run by the Academic Resource Center (ARC), pairs graduate student consultants with students who need help forming more effective learning strategies.

"It’s kind of two main goals: how to help students learn more effectively, and help support habit change. The purpose ... is to help everyone reach their own goals, whatever those may be. Those are always set by the student,” Claire Weigand, assistant director of the ARC, said.

Consultants can work with students to develop better planning and organizational skills to manage their schedule, Weigand said.

“That might be setting a routine, building routines that work for people to help them get out of bed and get started, wind down at the end of the day or just get more done in a day,” Weigand said. “The reason routines work is because the less decisions you have to make, the more energy you have.”

Weigand said that the program will also help students hone their academic skills, which include skimming, note-taking and studying for tests.

“Skimming is a skill that is not taught commonly enough, and it’s so useful. Note-taking, basic studying and test-taking itself has its own set of skills,” Weigand said.

TM&SS consultants can also assist with improving a student’s well-being in all areas of their life, according to Weigand.

The program serves all matriculated students in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, including graduate, certificate and post-baccalaureate students.

“We serve any matriculated student in Arts and Sciences or Engineering because the [ARC] is funded by the tuition from Arts and Sciences and Engineering students,” Weigand said.

Usage of TM&SS consulting  varies across student years. According to Weigand, roughly 30% of users are first-year students, 20% are sophomores and 15% are masters or doctoral students.

Each semester TM&SS conducts a feedback survey. Data from the fall 2019 responses show that the number of students using the program has increased. In 2009–10, the program served 88 students. Last year, it served 414 students and last fall alone, the program served 324 students.

Weigand noted that TM&SS is designed to complement existing counseling services that support students at Tufts. TM&SS can't help students in all aspects of their academic or emotional well-being, but it can help students find the resources they need.

"We give a lot of referrals to the career center [and] study abroad. We just help connect students to other resources,” Weigand said. 

Students can choose between two different options for TM&SS consulting. One of them is a one-time triage session, where a student will be randomly assigned a consultant to address their needs, according to Weigand.

“We have one-time triage sessions and those are available on Tutor Finder. The consultants just post when they have times for those and students reserve them and you meet up and do it. Students are allowed two of those per semester,” Weigand said.

A student can also request ongoing consulting by filling out a survey on desired qualities or shared life experiences they want a consultant to have, Weigand added.

“We also have [ongoing consultant] if you want more than one session, if you want to build a relationship with a consultant, have some habit change on a regular basis and accountability,” Weigand said.

Weigand said that the TM&SS consultants are comprised of Tufts graduate students from a range of departments in the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

“[The consultants] as a group have a diverse set of life experiences and identities. I’m lucky to get a very diverse applicant pool. I look for people with strong social skills who are pretty grounded, so ... you feel comfortable talking to them,” Weigand said.

Weigand believes that having graduate students as TM&SS consultants adds value to the program.

“Students say how much they like working with another student who understands the day-to-day stress ... in that it’s easier to talk to someone who’s in a ... similar phase of life to where you are,” Weigand said.

Meghan Butler, a TM&SS consultant, said that the experience of working with students has been rewarding.

“One of my favorite things of being a consultant is I have all these skills that I can teach ... [and] just being on someone’s team and being their cheerleader through the hardest parts of the semester,” Butler, a second-year graduate student, said.

Butler said that students come in with a range of concerns about leading a balanced life.

“There are so many things that you can bring to a time management consultant that we can support you with. Most of my students definitely use it more for planning and organizing with setting weekly goals, checking in about those goals and setting daily plans for work. But I also supported students with how to balance the four clubs they’re in with their full course [load] while still maintaining some semblance of social life,” Butler said.

Amy Schlegel, another TM&SS consultant, said that the program can be helpful to many different types of learners.

“I think part of it is students feeling comfortable to seek out these resources. I’m sure there are people at Tufts who would benefit from this but don’t feel comfortable reaching out for whatever reason,” Schlegel, a second-year graduate student, said. “I’m working long-term [with] a grad [student] who’s working on their thesis, so it’s not necessarily the students who are struggling with their classes. A lot of times it’s the higher-achieving students who want the accountability of some kind.”

Students are able to receive personalized attention that may not be available in their day-to-day lives, and consultants also benefit from helping the students achieve their goals.

“I’m deeply motivated in this job by the meaningful work of helping students feel empowered [and] ... reach their goals," Weigand said.