Academic Success Program is back

VCU Counseling Services begins its Academic Success Program workshop series today. The ASP workshops, which are open to all VCU students, will take place in the University Student Commons’ Forum Room.

This semester’s workshops include presentations by several staff and faculty members about improving learning skills, which lead to better performance in college. During the hour-long programs one or more presenters will give speeches and discuss with students how they can achieve academic success.

The workshops will cover a variety of topics such as identifying learning styles, listening and note-taking skills, memory and concentration, time management and critical thinking skills. In addition, professors on the presentation teams use practical examples to teach students how to implement these skills.

“We have been around for quite some years, so we feel like we really have some good credibility,” said Joy Bressler, founder of ASP and the assistant director of university counseling services.

Bressler founded the program during the 1993-94 academic year and now serves as its coordinator.

“Every semester since 1993 we (have) had the program, and what we do is we don’t have the same workshops each semester,” she said.

The topics for the workshop, Bressler said, depend on the feedback she receives from students and faculty.

According to Counseling Services’ statistics, the Academic Success Program started with 132 students. In 2001, attendance rose to 767 and last semester, more than 800 students participated in the ASP.

Students who come to the workshops this semester will hear presentations from staff members such as Martha Ann Spruill, assistant coordinator of ASP. Spruill joined the program in 2000 and has given presentations about topics such as identifying learning styles.

She helps students identify their learning styles and gives them tips on how to use them on a daily basis. For example, if somebody had a tactile learning style, “they might study well by riding on an exercise bike and looking over their book,” Spruill said.

“Most of our students are freshmen or juniors,” Bressler said.

While students who attend the workshops are usually new to VCU, they do not all have the same skill level. She also said a lot of the students who attend “come via encouragement from the faculty.”

Alan Briceland, associate history professor and presenter at the workshops, said he gives his students extra credit for attending ASP.

But Fahad Al Qassab, an undecided sophomore, waived his chance to attend any of the presentations.

“I think it could help to know study skills,” he said, “but I am not really sure I am going to be using it.”

Students like Al Qassab do not surprise Briceland, who suggested that this workshop is for people “who take this study business seriously.”

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