Published: Sept. 22, 2023

students in a computer labLike sports coaches, academic coaches help you develop winning strategies and keep your motivation high to ensure you succeed.

At CU Boulder, academic coaches and advisors work together to support students in and out of the classroom. They can advise you on goal-setting, study habits, test preparation and more.

As you begin a new semester, here are five things academic coaches want you to know.

Keep your space and schedule organized

Research shows that physical environments can impact our emotions, relationships and behavior. A 2019 Environment and Behavior study found that workload stress correlates significantly and positively with cluttered workspaces—a finding that many studies have since echoed.

Keep your desk clean by organizing your learning supplies and environment for at least 10 minutes per week. Keep your schedule in order by maintaining a physical or digital agenda with your project and exam deadlines. Working in a tidy space with clear deadlines can boost your productivity and keep you focused. 

Repeated exposure is critical

Cramming and dumping may yield short-term successes, but continuous practice is far more effective for long-term retention. Spaced-out study strategies can make it easier to recall information months later, leading to better performance in the classroom.

Regularly revisit your past lectures, notes and readings. When you finish quizzes or exams, review your missed points and incorporate those topics into future study time.

 Sign up for academic coaching

Academic coaching is available to students in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and Applied Science, Program in Environmental Design, and Program in Exploratory Studies, as well as for students registered with Disability Services.​

Find academic advising resources for other colleges and schools on campus.

Go beyond memorization

Focus more on critical thinking than rote memorization. Once you learn a new concept, try explaining it aloud in your own words. Then, find examples of real-world applications and draw connections to other course material. This study strategy can bring new meaning to your learning and challenge your thinking.

Maintain academic work-life balance

Your well-being matters. Be balanced by eating three meals a day, getting at least seven hours of sleep every night and engaging in some form of exercise.

If you can, maintain work-life boundaries by studying and sleeping in separate spaces and managing your screen time. Get additional support for your physical and emotional well-being through Student Affairs.

Learning is messy

Remember that a lot of learning is trial and error. In fact, more cognitive effort in the learning process often leads to better subject retention.

Taking a holistic approach to your academics can help you establish habits that will support you now and in the future. And remember, it takes time to fully master a concept. Keep your spirits up and enlist the support of academic coaches and advisors when you’re stuck.