5 tips for a successful semester

Success coach Ronay Lyons offers five practical ways students can achieve their goals

Ronay Lyons is the UC College of Allied Health Sciences success coach. She was born and raised in Cincinnati and graduated from Cincinnati Public Schools. In 2022, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor's degree in public health and has worked in higher education for over a year. The College of Allied Health Sciences is lucky to have her perspectives and insights. As a UC graduate and Cincinnati native, she can understand and empathize with the needs of the students she serves. 

As a Cincinnati native, Ronay loves the beautiful parks, museums and murals this city offers and is a huge Cincinnati Bengals fan. When she's not working, you can find her exploring new restaurants, enjoying live music and going on adventures with her pit-lab, Pain.  

As a success coach, her focus is on helping students succeed academically, achieve personal goals and deal with outside influences that could make being a college student more challenging than it should be.

Ronay knows that the start of a new semester can bring exciting opportunities and new challenges for students. Here are a few tips she hopes will help students ease into this semester and excel.

Ronay skips around the outside of the HSB with UC's mascot.

Ronay with UC's mascot, the Cincinnati Bearcat.

1. Get plugged in 

Involvement on campus offers many benefits beyond the classroom, such as personal development, community building, networking opportunities and educational enrichment.

The University of Cincinnati is home to over 600 organizations. Campus Link is a helpful tool to find organizations that interest you.  

Student organizations often provide ways for students to connect with like-minded peers, providing needed breaks from curricular obligations. Involvement and demonstrated leadership in organizations are great ways to build your resume while having fun. 

There are also opportunities to get involved In the different campus support offices. Select a few that interest you most, ask to be added to the email list or subscribe to their newsletter to get notified about semesterly programs and free opportunities.

There are events in those offices geared towards specific student groups. Students can often anticipate free food, swag, services and advice. Many offices host student-led volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Those volunteer hours can be used to fulfill service hour requirements for scholarships and student organizations. Campus support offices also provide a safe space for collaborative study and relationship building. 

2. Implement beneficial study habits 

Establishing effective study habits enhances academic performance while cultivating discipline, time management skills and a foundation for lifelong learning.

Your environment matters. Experiment with different locations and atmospheres while you study. Note factors that help you focus. Do you retain information best in loud, relaxed environments, rigid ones, or something in between? Seek out or implement environmental factors that produce the best results for you. 

Although taking a break when you get into a study groove sometimes feels counterintuitive, taking time to eat can improve your focus and ability to retain information. A growling stomach can be distracting. Bearcats Pantry and Resource Center is an excellent resource for students seeking a quick refuel without breaking the bank. The Stratford Heights Building location and several other satellite locations, including a new location on UC's medical campus in the Health Science Building, offer free food to keep you energized and focused on your academic endeavors.  

When you’re studying a new concept, try teaching it to your peers. This will challenge you to understand the concept so well that you can teach it to yourself or others. Students can join study groups through the Learning Commons, an academic resource available to all UC students. They offer one-on-one and group-based tutoring, workshops, learning assistants and more. 

Learning to study at a college level takes practice and effort. If you are struggling, seek advice and support. Allow yourself time to figure it out.

3. Optimize your sleep routine 

Balancing extracurricular activities, assignments, work and your class schedule might leave you feeling like you need more time in a day, but this is not an excuse to skip out on valuable sleep. Sleep can allow the brain time to restore and regulate. Rest plays an integral role in academic performance.   

Living with roommates means you might not always have control over the environment you fall asleep in. Loud noise and lighting make it difficult to get to bed on time. Blackout curtains, sleep masks and earplugs are examples of tools that can accommodate your criteria for getting good rest. 

Other factors, such as caffeine, naps and a lack of exercise, might contribute to damaging sleeping patterns. It's best to avoid caffeine several hours before bed. Limit daytime naps to 60-120 minutes, and try not to fall asleep close to your ideal bedtime. Sleeping excessively during the day can cause you not to feel tired when it's time to sleep, perpetuating irregular sleep patterns. Lastly, at least 30 minutes, regular exercise can help dispense any residual energy from your day and help you get a shut-eye at night. The Campus Recreation Center offers a wide variety of equipment and exercise classes. There is even a location on UC's Medical Campus, the Fitness Center at CARE/Crawley. 

4. Source inspiration: Reflect on your 'why'

College can be stressful, and it can be easy to forget, at times, why your hard work truly matters. 

Identify and write down your "why" for being in college. This makes it easier for you to see how your short-term goals, like finishing a paper or taking a test, propel you closer to your mission while in college. 

Additionally, finding sources of inspiration to draw from later, such as quotes, can provide external sources of encouragement. Here are a few of Ronay's favorites:  

  1. “In the face of uncertainty, remember that you possess the courage to pioneer your path to greatness.”
  2. “Cherish every obstacle, for they sharpen the blade of your resilience.”
  3. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more helpful tips:

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A new edition of "Ronay's Uplift and Update" will be sent to students each month, including helpful tips, tricks and exclusive info about her puppy Pain's latest adventures.

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