Academic Learning Center (ALC)


Looking to improve your learning and teaching skills or your academic experience? These resources may be helpful.

Helpful Handouts

If you want to be a better student and get more from the reading, writing and study work you do, these resources may help you be a more effective and efficient learner.

Getting Started at St. Cloud State University

Before classes begin

  • Buy your books. Once you have set your course schedule, you can find out which books you need on the bookstore’s website, or print your course schedule and take it in to the bookstore. While you are there, pick up a copy of the Link, a planner that includes important information about St. Cloud State University. Once you have your books, spend some time exploring them. Look for features that will help you learn such as the glossary, index, appendixes, study guides, on-line resources, etc.
  • Attend as many orientation sessions as you can. You'll get to know the campus, professors and other new students. 
  • Create a weekly schedule. Copy your course schedule into your planner. Include the name of each class, the professor, and the room where it meets. Then plan how you will use your time. Write in class times and other fixed commitments such as athletic team practice. Then block out time to study for each class. Sticking to a study schedule will reduce procrastination and its stress. Plan to spend two hours studying for every hour spent in class.

First day tips

  • Arrive early to class. Sometimes room assignments change at the last minute. Give yourself extra time to find your classes.
  • Find a seat toward the front.
  • Introduce yourself to other students. When you feel comfortable, exchange contact information with a couple of classmates. Call them if you miss class or have a question on an assignment. Or, set up a study group!
  • Listen closely, ask questions, and take notes. Typically, professors will provide the course syllabus on the first day. It should include important information about the course, and often the due dates for assignments and readings. Many professors will not remind you of due dates if they are on the syllabus. Take notes. This might be the only time that the professor will cover this information. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Also, be prepared to begin covering course material. Most professors use all of the class time available, even on the first day.
  • Make sure you have all of the texts and course materials.
  • Write down the professor’s name, e-mail address, phone number, and office hours and location if it's not on the syllabus.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Atwood Memorial Center has an information desk.

Once classes have begun

  • Review your syllabi. Be sure that you understand the grading system, attendance policy and assignments. Write down questions to ask your professor later.
  • Try to find something that interests you about each of your courses. Even if it is not your favorite subject, you will enjoy the course much more if you find something interesting about it.
  • Use your planner or calendar. Fill in test dates and assignment due dates from each class. Include campus events and personal appointments. The Academic Calendar lists important dates.
  • Develop a system for keeping track of readings and assignments. Create an assignment checklist or use your planner. Break larger assignments into smaller chunks so you can start early and make regular progress. The assignment calculator can help you get started. 
  • Evaluate your weekly schedule. Add any student organization meetings, work hours or study group meetings. Try to stick to your study schedule even if you don’t have an assignment due. Spend the time reviewing. 
  • Check for on-line materials. If your professors use D2L Brightspace, explore their pages. Many professors include helpful links and class reminders. 
  • Get to know the library. Explore the Miller Center, and its website. Ask questions. Sign up for a library orientation session. You can also sign up for technology training.
  • Find a good place to study. Choose somewhere quiet, well-lit, and free from distractions.