More “Worthy Habits” for Undergraduate Students (Part 2 of 3)

This is the second of three posts on the topic of “worthy habits” for undergraduate students. To recap, part one of the “Worthy Habits” recommendations explored the details associated with 1) Actively Reading the Syllabus, 2) Price Checking Books, and 3) Visiting Office Hours.

What does the second part of “Worthy Habits” for Undergraduate Students cover? It covers the following practices:

4. Keep Paper Calendars

5. Use “Campus” Resources

6. Develop a Mindfulness Practice

Continue reading below for the details on each of these worthy habits!

Sample Student Google Calendar by Thomas Frank (

4. Keep Paper Calendars

Keep one portable paper planner and one large-scale monthly calendar for your work area. Your portable planner should have a weekly or daily view with enough space to mark important due dates, class dates, and appointments. You should affix the current month of a large-scale calendar to the wall in your work area at home. Write in pencil or erasable ink on both calendars!  Changes happen. Lots of crossing out and blacked out blobs will make your calendar harder to read.

a. Go through the syllabus for each class you are taking. In your portable calendar, mark down due dates, presentations dates, and homework time for each week of the course. You may also want to mark your instructor’s office hours. In your work area calendar, mark down due dates for major assignments and presentations. Your work area calendar does not need to be as detailed as your portable calendar. Once you have your quarter or semester mapped out in your calendars, make sure any presentations you are signed up for are on optimal dates. For example, if you didn’t realize that you had a Chem test on the same day as your History presentation, then now is the time to email your instructor and request a different presentation date! Do not try to “wing it” in college. Map out your semester/quarter during the first week of classes. If you are already a few weeks into the term have no calendar set-up, then start one this week! If you do not understand the scope of the work you will be required to complete, then you will end up working harder and not smarter. Schedule out your assignments, tests, presentations, reading time, and study time! And, don’t forget to leave room in your schedule for work, exercise, friends, creative pursuits and hobbies, mental health afternoons/days, etc.

b. Do you prefer a digital planner? Print the pages you need for the week so that you have a physical reminder of your schedule for the week that you cannot ignore.  Don’t have a printer at home? Search for a used printer on Facebook Marketplace or Ebay. Ink can be expensive, so sign-up for a monthly ink service, like HP’s “Instant Ink” service which starts at only $3 per month. Looking for a printer that can scan directly to your computer as PDF or JPEG, copy, print, and allow for wireless connection for printing from your cell or computer? I highly recommend this HP OfficeJet 3833 for under $50.

c. Too many planner and calendar choices? Here are the planners I recommend to undergraduates:

i. Digital Basics, KiwiPlanner

ii. Digital for the Mindful Over-Achievers, Ink + Volt

iii. Digital & Free, Calendarpedia

iv. Hard-Copy Basics, Cotton:On

v. Hard-Copy for the Mindful Over-Achievers, Erin Condren Academic Planner

vi. Hard-Copy for the Mindful Over-Achievers, Ink + Volt

vii. Hard-Copy Almost Free, Under $7

viii. Hard-Copy Almost Free, Under $10

ix. Work Space Monthly Planner, Rustic 11 X 17

x. Work Space Monthly Calendar, Paper Source 24.75 X 19.25

Meme from BoredPanda

5. Use “Campus” Resources

Becoming a new student at a university can be overwhelming. Many students attend required orientations which drop an avalanche of information and policies all at once. When things “calm down” and your course schedule is “set” and your calendar updated, spend an hour clicking through the website for your institution.

a. The campus writing center and/or tutoring center webpage should be your first stop!  Every student, even an AP level high school writer accustomed to straight A’s, can benefit from the support of a tutor.

b. First gen student or DACA student? Search for a first gen/DACA support office, group/club, or program. Many first gen/DACA groups will link a new student to a peer mentor. This can be an invaluable resource for you during your first year in college.

c. Underrepresented student? Research the groups/clubs that intersect with your unique cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender identity. Black, Chican@/Latin@, Polynesian, and Native American student groups are just some of the common ethnic groups represented on campus.

d. Politically Minded and Activism-Oriented student? Research groups like Sierra Club student chapters, Heal the Bay student chapters, and various political oriented groups from the each end of the spectrum.

e. Even universities with online instruction have student groups operating virtually! Meeting your new peers through attending their Zoom meetings is a great way to build community without access to a brick and mortar campus.

f. Looking for hotspot or electronic device checkout? Many universities in virtual or hybrid instruction this term will have wifi hotspots and electronic device checkouts available through the campus library. Use this service, especially if you are living at home and do not have wifi service, or compete for wifi bandwidth and electronic device use with parents, siblings, or children.

g. Library services are wonderful resource for students. They typically have free workshops you can register for that focus on research skills, how to use the library databases and interlibrary loan services. There are also usually librarians who specialize in specific subjects. Look at the librarian contact pages for the topics you are researching this term and email the librarian in charge specific questions that are not already answered on the website.

h. Emergency Loans: Registrar offices typically have an “emergency loan” program for students who find themselves in a difficult financial situation. Review the terms for your institution’s emergency loan program in case you need it in the future.

i. Student Health Center: Students who sign-up for the university student health plan can often use the health center services for everything from flu shots to well-woman checks to dental work. Click through the center’s webpage to find out what services are offered. Some university health centers even offer pharmacy service.

j. Student Counseling Center: Most counseling centers will provide undergraduates with a specific number of free visits per semester or quarter. Click through the center’s webpage to find out what services are offered and how to schedule appointments. Many online campuses have moved this resource to virtual-appointments!

k. Student Rec Center/Gym: While COVID-19 has closed most indoor gyms, some campuses may have outdoor yoga classes, access to tennis/basketball courts, pool access, or track access. Some student rec centers may also provide students with access to online fitness classes. Click through the center’s webpage to find out what services are offered.

l. Free Student Software: Many universities offer free student software (e.g., Microsoft Office Suite) for download. Take advantage of the free downloads/subscriptions!

Meme from various Instagram accounts (#babyyoda)

6. Develop a Mindfulness Practice

You are a whole person. While most of your time as an undergraduate student will likely be spent working and studying, you will be less likely to burn-out or fall ill if you have other areas of support and fulfillment in your life.  Here are some great resources to support student mindfulness and consciousness raising:

a. Purdue, “The (Nontraditional) College Student’s Guide to Mindfulness

b. Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation translated by Roger Ames and David Hall

c. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

d. Free Your Mind: An African American Guide to Meditation and Freedom by Cortez R. Rainey

e. Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition by John G. Neihardt

f. Headspace (Meditation)

g. “Best Practices for Bringing Mindfulness Into Schools” by Caren Osten Gerszberg

h. TED, Video Playlists About Mindfulness

From @NYGOVCuomo

I hope these “worthy habits” wormholes have been helpful to you and your peers.

Do you have an idea or resource? Please feel free to share in the comments! And, don’t forget to subscribe to Brown Metropolis to receive the third and final post on “Worthy Habits” for Fall 2020. If there is a topic you would like to read about, or a question about undergraduate life you would like to have answered, please feel free to contact me.

Note on recent events: Brown Metropolis is not created in a vacuum. Today (9/23/20), the news that the officer(s) responsible for killing Breonna Taylor will likely not be indicted has left activists, anti-racist community members, and advocates for police reform and de-militarization aghast. To be clear, Black, Brown, and indigenous Americas are not shocked. We are aghast at the constant and violent reminder that white supremacy is enacted on actual people. Just a few days ago, we learned that Brown women in ICE concentration camps reported forced hysterectomies.  This particular brand of genocide and eugenics is a dog-eared page in the colonial playbook.  Even if the doctor who performed these operations did not intend to commit genocide and practice eugenics, his actions aid these two colonial projects.  Can a US-led investigation result in uncovering the facts and dynamics at play?  Whistle-blower Dawn Wooten, a Black nurse and hero, is likely the only reason the medical professionals responsible for dehumanizing these women may be held responsible. These recent events are reprehensible. As a writer and as an indigenous Chicana scholar, I have been and will continue to be an advocate for equity across genders, sexualities, and racial constructs.  I remain committed to teaching my students about Breonna Taylor, the EMT, future nurse, sister, daughter, and lawful citizen. I remain committed to teaching my students about the legacy of forced sterilizations enacted on women from Puerto Rico, women from predominantly Black communities in the southern states, and women from Native American bands. I will continue to be an advocate for decolonizing the systems of education at work in the USA, from early childhood education to higher education.  It is my intention to continue in a long process of un-teaching the official histories which misrepresent, erase, other, and minimize the collective experiences of non-white, non-heteronormative, and differently-abled communities. When you read Brown Metropolis, and when you become a thinker who writes between the lines and in the margins of what you are reading, you become part of this communal project. Thank you for your attention and for supporting this work.

Published by Clarissa Castaneda, PhD

Clarissa Castaneda, PhD is a scholar of Latine/Chicane American literature and cultures, indigenous literatures and cultures, film/television/visual/material cultures, archive theory, and poetics. Her dissertation, Latinidades and the Repository Function of the Poetic (2020), is available via ProQuest. And, “Indigenous Libretto and Aural Memory in The Sun Dance and El Circo Anahuac” is available in Displaced: Literature of Indigeneity, Migration, and Trauma (Routledge 2020). Dr. Castaneda is a lecturer in English at Cal Poly Pomona and a faculty associate in Film & Television Studies at Arizona State University. In addition to research, academic writing, and teaching, she is a creative writer, poet, and musician.

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