Time Management, Boat by Boat

By Michele Pavitt
Advising Connections Newsletter

She gripped the crumpled paper in her fist as she climbed the steep stairs to the ferry’s upper deck on her way home to Peak’s Island. After yanking on the heavy metal door, she staggered through frigid wind gusts toward the railing. Surrounded by steel-gray, choppy seas, she pulled the paper from her pocket and scanned its distressing message: “Honors pre-calculus midterm grade, F.”

Erin*, now a second-year SMCC student, recalled that day recently when asked how she had become such a successful college student. The prospect of failing a math course, gutting her high-school GPA, and possibly dashing her chance to graduate was simply unacceptable. As she gazed at the ghostly shapes of Casco Bay islands that day, she made a surprising decision. She would miss the boat.

For the remainder of that school year, Erin followed her plan. She purposely missed the first boat to Peak’s Island every day after school, thereby forcing herself to meet briefly with her math teacher and finish some homework in the school library. By May, she had earned an A- in pre-calculus, which she considers one of her greatest accomplishments.

As an SMCC advisor, this is my recommendation to students: find a way to “miss the boat” every day. Purposely find a way to maroon yourself in a quiet place where you can focus on homework. Seek out help when you have questions from the tutoring or writing center, which offer drop-in hours as well as appointments at https://smccme.libguides.com/tutoring/home. The routine of forced attention to classwork will help you master the course material and your grades will start to rise toward one of the greatest accomplishments of your life.

*Not her real name, for privacy reasons.