7 ways to avoid the ‘Oh no, what happened?’ moment

Another school year is under way, and everyone is settling into a routine. Some routines, however, are likely to be more successful than others.

In about four weeks, Mary Ann Slanina, Western Dakota Tech’s Academic Services Coordinator, expects to see at least a few WDT students arriving at the Student Success Center in dire need of help with classes. The center staff will be glad to help those students get back on the right track, but there is an easier way, Slanina says.

Consider these tips for starting the school year off on the right foot and avoiding that four-week “Oh no. What happened?” moment.

Planning

We all know that planning can be a drag, especially if you tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person. But a little planning upfront makes a huge difference in the long run. After all, the average WDT student works at a job at least 20 hours a week. Many of you also have families and other obligations. You’re busy folks.

So try this little trick. After the first week of classes, sit down with your class schedule and your calendar or smart phone. (If you don’t have either, it’s time to stop at the store to pick up a simple paper planner. If you live by the calendar on your smart phone, use that.)

Go through each class. Log the date of each test, project, and homework assignment into the calendar. It might take some time, but that calendar will be a lifesaver down the road when things get crazy busy.

Putting the schedule down in black and white also sets the tone for the school year, says Slanina. “You need to start working a schedule right away. Have a plan. Talk to your boss. Talk to your family. Make sure you’re all on the same page.”

Get to know your instructors

Don’t be that student who sits in the back of the classroom and barely gets noticed. Make a point of introducing yourself to your instructors. Ask questions in class, participate, and get to know your fellow classmates.

If you don’t understand something, ask your instructor, either after class or during office hours. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn in those outside-of-class minutes. An added benefit–your teacher will see that you care. That goes a long way.

“Probably the most underutilized resource is their instructors,” says Slanina.

Schedule time for homework and studying

In the first couple of weeks of classes, pick a regular time of the day when you almost always have some downtime. Maybe it’s 6 a.m. Maybe it’s 6 p.m. Maybe it’s 10 p.m. Whatever time it happens to be for you, find a slot during the day when you can put in a little study time. Then put it on your calendar. That’s right. Schedule it, just like you would schedule a test or a meeting. Just having it there in black and white helps you get into a good study habit.

Pick a study buddy

“It’s like an exercise buddy,” says Slanina. “It’s that accountability. If I make an appointment to study with a buddy, I’ll probably show up.”

So find someone from class or a friend. Pick the time and place. Again, write it down. If you set aside time to study for a test or work on a project with a fellow student, it’s a whole lot harder to procrastinate. Someone is counting on you.

Get some sleep

Don’t forget how important a little shut eye is to having a successful school experience. Sure, there might be some nights when you subsist on four hours of sleep, but don’t make it the norm.

The average adult needs somewhere between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep a night. But the reality is some people function just fine on 6 hours of sleep and others really like 9 hours.

Find what you need and get it. You’ll stay awake in class, absorb more, and stay healthier.

Show up for class

It may sound simple, but showing up for class is something a lot of students fail to do. Borrowed notes from a friend just aren’t the same as interacting with an instructor in the classroom.

Get involved

Join a club or a study group. Make friends and engage with other students. Higher education is about more than just a diploma. You will make lifelong friends during your time at WDT, and the happier and more engaged you are, the more likely you are to care about your education.

So what if you do everything right and you still find yourself in a bind? There’s good news.

WDT’s Student Success Center has academic and peer tutors, study groups, workshops, and more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s what the center is there for, says Slanina. You can find the Student Success Center on the second floor of Wanbli Hall or you can contact Mary Ann at maryann.slanina@wdt.edu or (605) 718-2426.

Have a good and well-planned year.

Surviving school during the flu season

As the long, cold days of winter set in, so do germs and viruses. In the United States, flu season begins in October and ends in May, usually peaking in February. This is bad news for students, as it runs parallel to the school year. Rather than living in a bubble for a few months of the year, taking a few precautions can increase your chances of getting through the school year on a healthy note. woman sneezing_blowing nose_sick

Wash your hands: Simple as it sounds, it is an easy way to dodge the flu. The virus can live on some surfaces for as long as 48 hours. The flu can be spread by touching your eyes or mouth after touching a contaminated object, or by shaking hands with someone carrying the virus. Washing your hands or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer often is a great way to stop the spread of the virus.

Get some sleep: A lack of sleep suppresses our immune system’s ability to function properly and fight off illness. The amount of sleep each individual needs varies, but eight hours is the recommended amount for most. It is also important that sleep is uninterrupted in order for your body to complete the sleep cycle. About thirty minutes prior to bed, turn off electronic devices and try sipping a hot cup of tea which will allow your mind to begin the wind-down process.

Eat a well-balanced diet: As a student, it can be hard to find and remember to eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables every day. Always on the go, it is easier and cheaper to eat fatty, convenient foods. Planning is key, especially on a trip to the grocery store. Try to shop the aisles on the perimeter, as that is where most of the fresh foods are located. The center aisles hold the foods that tend to be packed with preservatives. On the weekend, take ten minutes and plan your meals for the week, even if it includes packed lunches. Splurging every once in a while is fine, but if you get into the daily habit, it can be very hard on your body to process.

Take time for yourself: Between class, school activities, work, family, and friends, there isn’t much time left for you. However, it is important to find a way to de-stress your system by doing what you enjoy, even if only for short periods of time.

A little bit of exercise goes a long way: If you have the time to go to the gym, by all means, go! However, most students are busy juggling numerous priorities and simply don’t have time. It’s easy to incorporate exercise into your day. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park your car further away from the building. Walk the dog around the block. All of these simple ways to get your body moving will help keep your immune system strong.

Going to school during the flu season is almost unavoidable. However, it is not impossible to go through it without catching the flu. If you do end up with influenza, minimize risk of contaminating classmates by staying home. Upon the onset of symptoms, the virus can be contagious for up to seven days. Stay in touch with your instructors during this time, doing what you can to not fall far behind in class.

Gourmet meals on a budget – for students!

Is it possible to create gourmet meals on a budget? With a bit of creativity and a few simple ingredients, even a busy student can enjoy flavorful and fun meals that do not break the bank. Read on to discover a few recipes that will save time and money, without compromising your taste buds!Cut Mushrooms

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto (courtesy Familycircle.com)

Ingredients:

• 2 14 1/2ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
• 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup diced sweet onion
• 10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 cup arborio rice
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
1. Warm broth in a small, lidded pot over low heat.
2. Crumble sausage into a large, nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Brown 5 to 7 minutes, breaking apart meat with a wooden spoon. Transfer sausage to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.
3. Pour oil into the same pan. Add onion and saute 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; saute 5 to 7 minutes until they are browned and soft. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Transfer mixture to bowl with sausage.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add rice; toast 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup of the warm broth. Scrape brown bits from bottom of pan. Bring to a very low simmer. When liquid is almost absorbed, add another 1/3 cup of broth. Continue adding broth 1/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until it is gone and rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Stir in cooked sausage-vegetable mixture, salt, pepper, cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Ramen Meat Pie (courtesy budget101.com)

A lasagna style layered Ramen dish that is cheesy, hearty and quite filling.

Ingredients:

• 2 packages beef flavored ramen noodles
• 1 can Hormel chili with or without beans (25 oz. can)
• 1/4 bag of nacho cheese tortilla chips
• 1/4 cup diced jalapeno pepper
• 1 T chili powder
• 7or 8 thin slices of Velveeta cheese

Directions:
1. Boil about 3 cups water, add noodles and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice until noodles are tender. Drain the water, add seasoning packet to noodles and set aside.
2. Heat chili in small sauce pan just until hot.
3. Crush tortilla chips and add about 1/4 to the bottom a lightly buttered pie pan until bottom is covered.
4. Add about ¼ of the noodles to cover the tortilla chips. Layer next with the chili mixture, and a few slices of cheese. Repeat until all of the ingredients are gone making sure cheese and tortilla chips are on top.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers (courtesy thecheapgourmet.com)

Ingredients:

• 2 small Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 teaspoon Sunflower or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 6 medium Green Onions (or Scallions), white and green parts cut into 1-inch strips
• 1 15-ounce can Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup Ketchup
• 1/4 cup Sunflower seeds, toasted and ground into a coarse powder in spice grinder or blender
• 1-1/2 cups plain Bread Crumbs
• Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions:
1. Add 3 to 4 inches of water to a large saucepan. Add potatoes to a steamer basket, cover and bring water to a boil. Cook until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes and transfer to a small bowl. Mash with a fork.
3. Transfer 1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes to the work bowl of a food processor.
4. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until limp, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add scallions, chickpeas, ketchup, and ground sunflower seeds to food processor. Pulse on and off several times until ingredients are well blended.
6. Transfer mixture from food processor to large bowl. Add bread crumbs. Mix by hand using a large spoon until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
7. Season with salt to taste. Mixture will be moist, but should hold together well.
8. Divide and shape mixture into eight patties approximately 3-inches across and 1/2-inch thick. Add extra bread crumbs if patties don’t hold their shape.
9. Prepare grill or preheat broiler.
10. If using a grill, place patties on vegetable grid to avoid sticking. If using the broiler, place patties on a broiler pan or large cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil.
11. Grill over medium-hot coals or broil 3 to 6 inches from heat until lightly browned, approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side.
12. Check often to prevent burning. Remove from heat. Transfer to serving platter and serve with favorite toppings and condiments.

These three recipes are just a few samples of many different options. Planning is crucial to staying on a food budget, so be sure to plan meals and shop for groceries accordingly. Not only will this keep your wallet in check, it will decrease your stress level overall, allowing your mind to focus on other areas of your life, including your family, schooling, and work.