Friday, December 12, 2014

How can I avoid all-nighters? What do I talk with my professor about during office hours? What if I have a learning disability?

Northeastern Illinois University’s professors have the answers. In a yearlong partnership with The Mash, the Chicago Tribune’s publication for teens, our faculty members addressed the pressing questions posed to them by high school students who want to know what to expect at the next level of their education.

“Study continually, keep up with the class, and prepare and read before each class,” Accounting Professor Alireza Dorestani advised students in the debut advice column. “Students who spend 30 minutes studying every day will perform better than those who cram for five hours on a weekend. And even better: Those study habits mean no all-nighters!”

Here are the Northeastern professors who were featured, and the questions they tackled.


Alireza Dorestani, associate professor of Accounting

  • I have no idea what to expect from a typical college class. What kinds of big changes can high school students expect in the classroom?
  • I’ve often heard that college professors are cold and indifferent when it comes to building student relationships (no offense!). Is there any truth to that?
  • What’s the biggest mistake you see new college students make when it comes to studying for midterms and finals? As a professor, do you have any practical study tips that don’t involve Red Bull and all-nighters?


Francisco X. Gaytan, assistant professor of Social Work

  • I’m a first-generation college student, so my parents really don’t know what to expect. It’s hard to relate to my friends whose parents are helping them prepare for everything. When I get to college, who can I go to for real advice and guidance?
  • A lot of my classmates focus on college rankings—top party schools, best liberal arts colleges, etc. How important are rankings when it comes to deciding on what colleges I want to apply to?
  • My parents are always complaining because my older brother never goes to his college classes, but he isn’t failing or dropping out. Can you really skip class in college and still pass?


Qiumei (Jane) Xu, associate professor of Management and Marketing

  • I’m thinking about taking a gap year after high school. How do you think that will affect the rest of my college experience?
  • My parents told me I’ll need to get a job in college to help with tuition. I’m just worried about my work-life balance. Do you have any tips for students who have to work?
  • I know professors have office hours when students can visit. What kinds of problems or questions are OK to bring to office hours and which ones aren't?


Nicole E. Holland, professor of Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Studies, and African and African-American Studies

  • Most of my friends want to go far away for college, but I’d rather stay nearby. Can I still get the full college experience while living in my parents’ home?
  • I have some ideas, but I don’t know what I want to major in just yet. Do I need to declare my major as a first-year student?
  • I have a learning disability, but I’m still determined to earn a college degree because my dream is to be an engineer. Do colleges have resources for students with intellectual disabilities?


Timothy Scherman, associate professor of English

  • I have decided to go to a large university in the Big Ten, and I am worried about getting lost in the crowd. How can I make a big school feel small?
  • I have no interest in the Greek system or partying. How can I have an “authentic” college experience without red Solo Cups every weekend and wearing letters?
  • I struggle with writing papers, and I know the grading will only get tougher in college. Do you have any tips for me to improve my writing skills?

March column

Ann Aviles de Bradley, assistant professor of Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Studies

  • When I start college, my parents won’t be as involved in my daily studies. How do I stay motivated?
  • I earn pretty good grades in high school. In your experience, does that mean I’m likely to get good grades in college?
  • In high school, I call my teachers “Mr.” or “Mrs.” In college, should I call my professors “Dr.”? Or use their first names? I don’t want to make a bad first impression!


Richard Kilpatrick, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Business Law and Finance

  • When should I start thinking about pursuing an internship?
  • Do professors pay attention to what students write on Twitter?
  • Is there an important difference between going to school in a city or in a “college town”?


Travis Heath, Associate Professor of Music

  • I love to play music, but some people have told me a music degree is "worthless"? Is that true?
  • I’ve heard that students receive academic advisers in college. How does that relationship work?
  • I'm not comfortable speaking up in class. Is that going to be a problem in college?


Jennifer Banas, Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics

  • I know a lot of people who cheat in high school. Is that common in college too? What are the consequences if you’re caught?
  • Everyone is talking about safety on college campuses. What do students need to know?
  • My parents sometimes call my school to complain about grading. It's embarrassing. What's going to happen if they do this in college?