14. Academic Help and Survival Tips

There are a wealth of places around the university to get academic help. Here are a few:

  • Office hours: students are encouraged to go to TA and professor office hours as soon as they have questions in a class (do not wait until the last minute!).
  • Study groups, clubs, etc.: Many students find that forming a study group or joining a club such as the university student chapter of the ACM helps them in studying for their classes.
  • SMART Learning Commons: The University of Minnesota offers tutoring for many introductory courses, including technical courses like math, physics, chemistry, and sometimes computer science through the SMART Learning Commons. SMART has many locations, but the main office and most tutoring takes place on the 2nd floor of Walter Library. A test bank of old exams is also available to students to use for preparation purposes.
  • The University's Student Academic Success Services offers workshops and classes on topics like improving your study skills, time management, and test taking.
  • Center for Writing: Student Writing Support provides free writing instruction for all University of Minnesota students—graduate and undergraduate—at all stages of the writing process. In face-to-face and online collaborative consultations, they help students develop productive writing habits and revision strategies.
  • Advising: students are welcome and encouraged to talk with a college or CS advisor if they'd like to discuss their academic progress, how to do better in classes, etc.

Here are some other study tips:

Most courses in Computer Science require a significant amount of time outside the classroom. Some of this time may be in a computer lab. Be forewarned that the labs get very busy during the last weeks of the semester when all your assignments are due. Usually, due to the workload, this is also the time the computer systems experience increased failures. Plan ahead and start your assignments early.

Many labs also allow modem and network access. The obvious advantage is that you don't have to sit in the lab all the time. The less obvious disadvantage is that the lab assistants and other students aren't available to help if you need help.

Get to know people in your classes. One proven method to being a successful student or professional is obtaining knowledge that travels only by "oral-tradition". It is also good to participate in study groups for your classes.

Information about computers and software packages is available online through the University Office of Information Technology (OIT) website.