Fourteen Ways to Stay Calm When You’re Starting School

Fourteen Ways to Stay Calm When You’re Starting School
1. Breathe. Look around and enjoy where you are right this minute. -Tracy Mendham, Coordinator of Learning Assistance, Center for Academic Excellence
2. Choose just a few important activities your first year. Don’t take on too much at once or overextend yourself. Kirsti Bogaard, Graduate Assistant, Fitzwater Center
3. Don’t worry about not knowing anyone – neither does anyone else. -Jeff Ogden, Coordinator of Student Accessibility Services, Center for Academic Excellence
4. Don’t be quick to follow the crowd. Choose your own path. –Doug Carty, Director, Campus Recreation
5. Find out who your academic advisor is and when you should talk to them. -Terri Downing, Coordinator of Advising, Director, Center for Academic Excellence
6. Get enough sleep. Jill Wixom, Circulation Manager, DiPietro Library
7. Get into a schedule or routine so you don’t get overwhelmed. You may want to continue your high school schedule in college. –Brittany Nyzio, Graduate Assistant, Fitzwater Center
8. Get off Facebook and do your work! -Patti Vorfeld, Coordinator of Academic Support Programs, Center for Academic Excellence
9. Go to a quiet place like the Spiritual Life Center, walk the campus trails, sit by the water, connect with trusted people. Bill Beardslee, Associate Director for Student Involvement and Spiritual Life
10. Lay on the grass in a quiet place and feel the sun and the breeze and just listen to the birds. -Rebecca Weidner, Administrative Assistant, Center for Academic Excellence
11. Make your room a more comfortable place to work and relax—a good light, good chair, nice art and plants. –Ross McKinley, Student Manager, Center for Academic Excellence
12. Save everything to the cloud. Skydrive is your new best friend. Stephanie Loiselle, Library Assistant, DiPietro Library
13. Stay organized. Be prepared. -Maureen Baptiste, Language Skills Specialist, Center for Academic Excellence
14. Use a planner for your homework, upcoming tests and projects, school events, work schedule, and vacation times. You’ll never forget a thing! -Meagan Shackelford, Tutor, Student Manager, Center for Academic Excellence


Writing Help by Phone with

Tracy Mendham Banner Image

Yesterday I had a successful writing help session with a student over the phone using a screen-sharing program called With I could show the student what was on my screen just by emailing her a link for her to click on. Following the link, she could see my computer screen in her browser window. I brought up the Word document she had emailed me, and I could scroll around in the paper so we were both looking at the same thing at the same time as we discussed possibilities for global revision of her paper.

Screen sharing was even more helpful when we were discussing mechanical issues like in-text citations, reference lists, and headers. If a picture is worth a thousand words, live video is worth a million when you’re trying to talk where you’d put a signal phrase, format a citation, or have Word automatically insert…

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How Secure is Your Password?

Imagine how much this would stink: someone hacks your email and changes the password. Ten years of personnel correspondence on your is lost forever.
Having a hard-to-guess, hard-to-hack password is one of the first keys to online security. The How Secure Is My Password? site at will tell you how long it would take a PC to guess your password. It’s fun, fast, and recommended by our friends at LifeHacker.

How Secure is My Password?
And to all the info pirates out there, it will take your little desktop computer with the skull-and-crossbones screensaver SIX THOUSAND years to guess my new password.

The roses by the tennis courts at Franklin Pierce campus

Beautiful sweet-smelling flowers on a beautiful summer day



Here are my notes for a presentation I give on citing sources in college writing.
Son of Citation Machine, Easy Bib and More Web and Old-school Tools for Citing Your Work
-Academic discourse and research
-Current cultural climate of plagiarism
-Changeover from printed texts with physical locations to disembodied etexts
-Competing interests between academic disciplines
-However, it doesn’t need to be so hard anymore! Use one of the systems on page 2 below to make your life easier.
1. Clearly mark in your writing the beginning of any words, ideas, or sequence of ideas that you borrow from someone else; use signal phrases and quotation marks
2. Mark the end of borrowed language/ideas with an in-text citation (APA or MLA) or footnote (CMS), which briefly identifies the source, and when appropriate closing quotation marks
3. Put a list of references at the end of the paper that tells the reader everything they need to know to find your sources.
Use a particular style of format and stick to it through the paper: APA, CMS, MLA, or another
APA American Psychological Assn In-text citations include author’s last name and year, and the page number for quotes: At least one writer (Mendham, 2010) has complained that APA style “makes her brain hurt” (p. 1)
CMS Chicago Manual of Style Raised (superscript) numbers to refer to footnotes or endnotes. Tracy Mendham says “Chicago is the mob boss of documentation systems.”2
MLA Modern Lang. Assn In-text citations include author’s last name and the page number. At least one writing specialist claims that “MLA style rocks” (Mendham 3).

-Easy Bib: for FPU free account or for MLA-only
-Microsoft Word 2007 and later:
-Son of Citation Machine:
I always show students how to use Easy Bib if they’re struggling with sources. You can paste in a website to autocite or enter info manually. Easy Bib can will save your references—if you find out you have to write about the same book again, or use a different format style, Easy Bib or
Son of Citation Machine is similar and popular with some students:
This will make your life so much easier it should be worth the $35 the student edition will cost from IT and the time it will take to learn to use it.
A short YouTube tutorial:
Zotero needs to be downloaded and added to your Firefox browser, but it is plain awesome for collecting sources when you are working on more than one computer and it will “grab” information off Amazon web pages about book info and journal info from online databases. It will also automatically add items by ISBN or DOI.
Here’s a demo video:
The Cite feature in EBSCOhost and the good old Diana Hacker Writer’s Reference. I mark the pages I use most and now it’s faster than a website for tasks I do most often.
Come to the Center for Academic Excellence or use the Wensberg Writing Center for more help with writing or to learn to use the tools in this handout.
The Center for Academic Excellence
DiPietro Library, 1st floor,

Parent Hopes and Concerns, July 15 STEP Day

On our July 15th STEP Day the Center for Academic Excellence asked the parents and family members of the Franklin Pierce University Class of 2015 to write down hopes and concerns they had about their student’s first year at college. We share them with you below in recognition of the important sacrifices and support families give their students sending them to our university. Thank you, families of the Class of 2015!

Wordle: Parent Hopes 7/15, Class of 2015

An appreciation of the importance of factual knowledge.
Be able to schedule time effectively.
Confirm what he wants to be
Expectation- graduate in 4 years
Find a career that she will be happy and successful in. Learn to mature without depending on me.
Find-self confidence- to feel comfortable asking for help.
For him to achieve all that he can academically, socially, and mature through his experiences.
For success in processing those “growing” experiences
Happiness and success
He belongs, he accesses support and help if he needs it.
He will become a well-rounded independent person able to care for himself, his family and his community.
Hope child matures.
Hope for her to be comfortable and involved with her days here. And to do things and activities that are a chance of a lifetime.
Hope for my son to enjoy learning and achieving his goals throughout his college experience. Both academically and in sports.
Hope for support if grades start to slip.
Hope for: Easy transition. The ability to acclimate herself to the different lifestyle and gain much more independence.
Hope he grows into the person he wants to become.
Hope he learns to prioritize + organize as well and not be fearful to ask for assistance when/where needed
Hope she gets involved.
Hope someone looks over him to make sure he is on track+ not overwhelmed- he is an athlete.
Hope that my son takes advantage of all the opportunities available to him here.
Hope that our son has the maturity to focus on school work and balance his social life.
Hope that she will be happy, well educated and accepting of others.
Hope that they take full advantage of all that is offered.
I am hoping that he gains confidence in himself.
I am thankful that FPU is offering days like today and pre-orientation, so my son can connect with others before he comes in August.
I guess my hope is that my son develops life experience and independence that lead him to be a more well rounded man.
I hope he graduates in 4 years and enjoys himself with healthy activities and lifelong memories.
I hope my dtr. enjoys college life while doing well academically
I hope my son will be able to successfully do his sport and do well in his studies. Also I hope he feels compelled to ask for help if he needs it.
I hope she makes good choices with good guidance. Thanks!
I hope that my son takes ownership of his education and asks for help if he needs it.
I hope that she can not stress herself out adjust to dorm life.
I hope that she discovers herself + follows through on her studies.
I want for my daughter to enjoy her experiences here at Franklin Pierce and get the most out of her experiences & education.
I want her to be the best she can be and be able to know how to do that or learn how to do that.
I’d like to see my student get involved!
More independence, responsibilities, and knowledge. Make friends that will last forever and find herself.
My hope is my daughter will get organized and become a self starter.
My hope is that she continues to thrive and grow as she had in high school, and has an awesome experience here!
She gets involved in the world around here and takes action to make it better.
Social relationships and activities other than academics
That my son will feel knowledgeable + comfortable accessing the resources that are here for him.
That our daughter will fit in socially and academics she will be able to keep with workload
That she finds an area of study that she is passionate about. That she will learn how to organize her schedule + develop better study habits.
To continue to become independent while maintaining a sense of family support. To try out new things and get out of the comfort zone. TO have FUN while learning.
To get the absolute most out of the 4 year experience and take advantage of the great opportunity.
We hope she will grow emotionally.
We hope that he gains independence, maturity, and he graduates.
What I want: To continue to figure out who he is, make new friends. He is very quiet, maybe to be a little more outgoing.
What we want for our daughter is success. She has the dream to make a movie/write a book and work for Disney.
Will enjoy the college experience- find his passion + get a job with this + make a decent living-

Wordle: Parent Concerns Class of 2015

Ability to manage time and responsibilities
About her academic situation
Afraid he won’t get involved with campus life
Asking for help when needed
Balance school and social activities
Being encouraged to ask for help if she is struggling with anything
Biggest problem-time management and organizational skills
Can my son reasonably expect to keep a good academic performance and play a sport at this level?
Can there be a roommate “switch” if the 2 students find they are not compatible
Concerned about toga parties, drinking.
Concerned that he might introvert + miss out
Concerned that she may close herself off and not interact with people
Concerned: whether he will eat enough. He is very thin + picky
Counseling services available any stigmas
Difficulty managing academics with sports
Do the students receive the same type of light, yet very candid message from the staff that the parents do?
Does this environment help the student mature and remain focused as each year the studies become more involved and challenging
Easily distracted. Very verbaly opinionated.
Fear is boyfriend influencing her + making her homesick
Getting work done on time. She tends to be a perfectionist and spends too much time on papers/homework
Going to class
He will get overwhelmed academically and shut down instead of reaching out for help
Her adjustment to being independent
His “internet community” is really important to him–don’t want him to ignore the “real community”
How do we ensure safety and what can we do to make sure she is safe
I am afraid that my child will not ask for help because they are afraid to ask.
I am concerned about her fitting in, making friends + allocating her time.
I am concerned that he will struggle with finding a way to organize his time on his own
I am concerned, because he is very quiet and shy, that he will not seek academic or other help when he needs to.
I certainly hope he keeps his experiences all in perspective
I have heard that there is a lot of underage drinking that goes on—how is this controlled/dealt with?
I worry that my son will fall behind in his classes and not seek help.
If he has a hard time in a class is help easy to find
If he is not “engaging” in academics we will be informed
Is there an advisor on each floor? Upper classman
Loosing touch with daughters progress and her
Maybe too much partying
My biggest concern is did I instill a good enough work ethic in him to get it done w/o my constant prodding
My biggest concern is that the roommate my daughter gets will not be a good fit for her and she will be too embarrassed to ask for a change
My child can sometimes be shy + nervous. I worry he won’t ask for help
My concern is anxiety and her thinking she’s not “living up” to all the expectation
My concern is she is shy + I’m afraid she will be scared to get involved with things she loves.
My concern is that he feels he doesn’t fit in
My concern is that my daughter will make socializing her first priority
My daughter is a bit of a “social wild child”
Only children sharing space
Organizational time management doing too much at once.
Our concern is that he seeks extra help when he struggles
Overwhelmed with being “on her own”
Peer pressure, academic pressure, home sickness, financial stress. Possibly not open up to others.
Roommate issues
Security-safeness on campus
Shuttle service- she will not have a car-how dependable is it
Son and two friends will all be freshmen. Hope they support each other rather than hang.
Student organizational skills
Students understand the expectations to attend + have books
That being 18 does not mean they know it all-that parents are still there to help
That she won’t advocate for herself if she has issues.
Time management
Time management btwn-academics, sports + activities
Time management not asking for help
Time management now that I am not pushing
Time management organizational skills
Underage drinking 1) what does the school do to prevent + what are the disciplinary measures after the fact. 2) Health + security
Video games!
What supports are avl. for students with mental health issues?
Worried about her struggles with math and her not asking for help until it’s too late

Using and Citing Sources in Your Writing

I was pleased to be back in the classroom today visiting an ESL class to talk about using and citing sources in MLA style.  I am especially enthusiastic about the fact that the References tool in recent versions of Microsoft Word and sites such as EasyBib free students from some of the mechanical labor of citing, so they are free to focus on more important issues of voice, style, and academic honesty.  My handout is at, and if it is useful to you, please feel free to use it in your own.

Tracy Mendham  –  Center for Academic Excellence Franklin Pierce University  –  April 14, 2011  –  Online version of this document at

Using and Citing Sources in your Writing

What is citing and why should students do it?
As you move forward in college, you will be asked to use sources in the essays you write, and to document those sources. Using sources means supporting your ideas with the use of a source–something another person has said or written–and documenting sources means giving credit to that source using a system recognized by your academic discipline. The system you will learn first is called MLA style documentation, which was designed by the Modern Language Association.

Reasons to document:

  1. To show that the material is not your own
  2. To give credit to the original author and show respect for their work
  3. To allow a reader to find a source you have used 

(Citing sources is another word for documenting sources.)

Important: In US academic culture, your readers will assume anything you write consists of your own, original thoughts and words unless you specifically indicate otherwise by citing your sources. To fail to cite will mislead your reader and is considered academic dishonesty (that is, plagiarism or cheating).

What is the process for citing sources in your writing?
Whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source, you must take three main steps:

  1. Indicate where the cited material begins and ends (using quotation marks and/or a signal phrase)
  2. Put an in-text (or parenthetical) citation after the material you have cited which gives the author’s last name and if appropriate, the page number
  3. Whenever you cite a source, provide a corresponding entry in a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. Follow the MLA style to organize the information properly for each entry.

An in-text citation includes the author’s last name (unless it has already been made clear in the sentence) and the page number where you found the words, ideas, or facts. If you have an online source that does not provide page numbers, just leave that part out. If the author is unknown, you can give the title of the work instead of the author’s last name.
What are some examples of correct in-text citations in sentences?
Granny D, also known Doris Haddock, describes walking across the country through harsh conditions (Haddock 4).
As Doris Haddock says, “One can consider things more creatively at such a distance. And old age is no shame in the desert” (4).
On a blog called HackCollege one student writer explains how to communicate correctly with a professor during a crisis: “Make sure that when you are communicating your needs, you completely understand what will be required of you (and of your professors!) when he/she makes an accommodation for your situation. Ask questions if you’re unsure” (Breedlove).
What does a correct Works Cited list look like?

Works Cited

Haddock, Doris, with Dennis Burke. Granny D: You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell. New York: Villard Books, 2003.

Eric, Breedlove. “Guest Post: Communicating Your Crisis.” HackCollege – Student-Powered Lifehacking. 5 Apr. 2011. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.

Where can students find out more information about citing sources correctly?
The Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide webpage at
Researching writing guide books such as A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker
Go to and search for a MLA style tutorial:

The math help you need, when you need it

Khan Academy is a terrific and huge collection of short YouTube tutorials on all sorts of math problems, from refreshers on multiplying by fractions to quadratic functions to calculus.  Check it out if you’re struggling with a concept or homework problem!

Screen shot of Khan Academy

Salman Khan's explanation of multiplying fractions

The Annex is OPEN!

The Center for Academic Excellence is proud to announce the opening of a new study space located in first-year housing at the College at Rindge.   Through the collaboration of the Center for Academic Excellence and Residential Life, The Annex provides support services and resources at night and on the weekends to help new students transition to academic life at Franklin Pierce. Staffed by student leaders and tutors, the Annex is a comfortable place for students to meet, study and learn.

Drop in and see the space! The Annex is in NH 3-West and is open:
Mon: 1-5:30pm
Tues: 2-5:30pm; 6-9pm
Wed: 1-5:30pm; 6-9pm
Thurs: 2-5:30pm
Fri: 12-3pm
Sat: 10am-2pm; 4-7pm
Sun: 12-4pm; 6-9pm

Come to Our First Tuesday Tech Talk: Top Ten Free (and Mostly Free) Apps for Students

If you’re on the Rindge campus of Franklin Pierce on Tuesday September 14th, please come to the Library Instruction Room at 7 pm to hear about our favorite apps for mobile devices and tell us which ones are most useful for you and other students.

See a 30 second video slideshow  preview at