Keeping Up With Academic Goals



September is practically gone, but it’s never too late to remind yourself that schoolwork now is crucial — especially considering extracurricular activities you may have committed to this fall. Make sure to keep up with all of the reading(s) and homework for classes. The longer you put them off, the harder it is to catch up, and the more likely you will become overwhelmed the night before a test or due date. Bad grades at the beginning of a course are very hard to bring up at the end. Here are some tips to help you keep going:

  1. Use a planner and wall calendar. Put the dates of assignments and school-related work on it and the amount of time you’ll need to study/work. Put work times and medical appointments on it. Look at it at the end and beginning of each day. Really look at it.
  1. Spread the schoolwork evenly throughout the rest of the semester — especially if you have any large papers or projects. Do not wait until the last minute. If the project or paper seems overwhelming, break it into parts and set deadlines for each.
  1. Refresh your connections to contacts in class. If you get sick and have to miss class, having people to get notes from will help you catch up.
  1. Form or find groups with which to do your schoolwork. Study groups offer one of the best ways to prepare for tests, whether you are doing well in a class or not. Learning from a peer can be easier than trying to increase your understanding alone. And helping others learn is the best way to retain and understand material yourself.

Whatever your strategies, don’t let other fall obligations lull you into inaction. That way finishing on a positive note won’t seem impossible later!


Summer at Texas State

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by Texas State SLAC

Parking’s closer. Traffic’s lighter. You can turn left without a car bearing down on you or a bicyclist whizzing past. The river and its banks are less crowded. You can park at the Square! On campus, you can walk without dodging skateboards. Classrooms seem bigger: You don’t trip over backpacks as you squeeze between desks. If professors don’t mind, you can prop up your flip-flops.

Only one problem: schoolwork. Some papers are due each week (or two), there are tests on Mondays, and there’s homework every night — because you have 4 1/2 weeks to accomplish 13 to 14 weeks of work.

But intensity has pluses. You are working with focused students with broader age ranges and experiences; some will be returning professionals honing skills or redirecting careers. As a result, in-class discussions can be more interesting. Study groups can draw from the variety of students’ backgrounds, so use each other’s strengths. Also, motivated students in small classes can mean accessible, involved professors.

And campus study and recreation resources are still available: The Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC), the Writing Center, Math Lab and many other tutoring labs are open for the summer sessions ( In addition, the Alkek Library, LBJ Student Center and Rec Center are not only open but also, hopefully, far less crowded than during the fall and spring semesters.

Summer school equals work — but it can give you a great introduction or a refreshing return to one of college’s best experiences!

Preparing for the Future


by Texas State SLAC

“The future depends on what you do today.”

Mahatma Gandhi

So many times we are reminded to live in the present, but we still need to prepare for the future. And if you are reading this, you have a future. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, listen well: it’s never too early or late to have a game plan. How to prepare? In “Advice for Students: Start Planning Now for Life After College,” Dustin Max tells students not to view college as a break from real life but to start seeing it as a stage of real life. Here’s how:

  1. Network—start making connections by talking to potential employers, attending conferences, joining or creating campus groups that deal with topics that excite you, and, most important, get your name out there.
  2. Do your research—make sure that you have a profile set up with career services. Talk to them about your résumé to make sure it appeals to possible employers. If you see an unusual job title, look it up, and see if you’re interested in it. Research companies you might want to work for, and make your résumé appeal to them.
  3. Craft your online persona—censor information about yourself on the web. Don’t post anything that might make employers shy away. Employers research potential employees, so assume that what you post online will be available to employers, clients, or investors.
  4. Pay attention to work—think of your current job, summer jobs, and internships as extensions of your education—no matter where you decide you want to work. Whatever your stage in your academic career, check out Texas State’s Career Center at At work, listen to what your boss tells you, and learn as much as you can from it. Listen to coworkers because they can give good advice, and develop skills by taking on responsibilities or being innovative.
  5. Don’t forget your financial status—your ability to go to school and to survive after it depend on having money. Apply for scholarships, grants, and loans when needed. Go to Financial Aid and Scholarships for information ( C. Kellam, Suite 240, 512-245-2315,, and check with your major department every semester as scholarships they offer vary from semester to semester. Also, ask friends, employers, and contacts for leads: some organizations and churches offer scholarships. Keep in mind that scholarships can be an asset to your résumé! For on-campus jobs for all Texas State students check with department offices in person and check online at Jobs-4-Cats (also under the Career Services website). And don’t forget to see whether or not your family can help you reach your goals
  6. Polish up your writing skills—remember that, whatever your field of interest, writing skills will get you further than almost any other competency. Employers want to know that you can communicate effectively in writing, which reflects on all of your communication skills. Visit SLAC or the Writing Center to get help.

All of these points can help you end up where you want to go. Don’t settle for a job. Work toward your dream job now. It’s never too soon, and it’s never too late to start.

Spring Break Study Tips


by Texas State SLAC

Spring break is here at last. Unfortunately, work doesn’t always end when a college student’s vacation begins. Learning to keep up with academic work while enjoying your time off is an essential skill for college life and beyond!

Make a plan.

Since your brain is still in college mode, take advantage of it. Just as in the regular semester, put what you have to get done and related deadlines on a calendar and make a schedule to be sure you study some each day and more on days you aren’t actively involved in extracurricular fun. Making a plan now will prevent stress later and keep you from completely losing the rhythm of academic life.

 Tell your family, friends and roommates that you will have work to do over the break. Letting people know in advance that you must do some homework over the break will make it easier for you to get it done. This way you won’t have to deal with others’ disappointment when you can’t do everything they have planned. Also, they’re more likely to help by reminding you of your plans and giving you space and time to stick to them.

Keep up on your sleep and nutrition, and avoid ill people if possible. First, who wants to get sick during spring break? More important, you don’t want to have to make up for losing a week of classes after coming back from a week off and get that much further from your college work and world.

Use a coffee shop or city library if you need somewhere quiet. Working at home, or wherever you’re spending break, may be difficult. Coffee shops offer quiet places to eat and work, online if necessary, and city libraries are almost everywhere.

Use time waiting in airports, on long car rides or during bad weather days to study. Even intermittent studying will help your retention and processing and make returning to academic life easier. Use earplugs to block noise, or if you feel like you might need a disguise to avoid being forced to converse, wear earbuds, take an iPod and pretend it’s on when studying in a public place.

Just as important as studying regularly and using downtime to work is making backup copies of your materials. Carrying notes and computers entails the possibility that they may get lost or damaged. Make backup travel drives, e-mail work, photocopy or scan in notes, and, as always, save your work in at least two places.

Finally, if this is an appropriate time in your academic career to gain real-world experience, consider alternate spring break trips that focus on volunteer work for well-known organizations. These may include working with local entities such as Habitat for Humanity or domestic violence shelters. Some trips could involve living on and working at a camp for the disabled, a Native American reservation, a nature reserve, or going out of the country. Regardless of where you go, volunteer work can broaden your perspective and shape your goals.


Who said it? Frank Underwood or LBJ?


Executive Producer of Netflix’s House of Cards Beau Willimon described the show’s main character, Frank Underwood, to TV Guide as “Two scoops of LBJ with a dash of Richard III and a pinch of Hannibal Lecter.”

There is no question that the character of Frank Underwood was heavily influenced by Texas State’s most famous alumnus. He even has a photo of LBJ in his office!

Not convinced? See if you can tell who said each of the following quotations. LBJ or Frank Underwood? Answers at the bottom of the page.

  1. If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.
  2. I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it.
  3. I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful of men on their backs.
  4. Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.
  5. Sometimes I think the presidency is the illusion of choice.
  6. There are two types of vice presidents – doormats and matadors.
  7. I want to make a policy statement. I am unabashedly in favor of women.
  8. I seldom think of politics more than 18 hours a day.
  9. Proximity to power deludes some into believing they wield it.
  10. You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.




LBJ: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10

Frank Underwood: 3, 5, 6, 9

In a Semester Slump Already? Get Back on Track in Spring.


by Texas State SLAC

  1. Reconnect with other students.

Seek out students from the previous semester’s classes, organizations, living arrangements and work. Building upon acquaintances can lead you to form study partners and future friendships. Plus, being socially involved gives balance to a stressful life. And don’t hesitate to talk first to those you recognize on campus. It is easier to speak the first time you see someone than the next.

  1. Make sure you’ve gotten in touch with professors you enjoyed.

E-mail or stop by during their office hours to thank them. Let them know specifically what you liked about their classes. This helps them recall you if they write recommendation letters for you later, and makes it more likely that they consider you for research positions, internships or other jobs. Also, having a faculty friend can help negotiate academic bureaucracy!

  1. Continue reading your books (or start)!

This helps prevent you from being overwhelmed by readings you haven’t done yet as tests, projects and papers are given.

4. Manage your academic time.

If you find that you’ve missed some assignment due dates already or not prepped well for tests, consider creating two calendars: one with short- and one with long-term assignments. Using syllabi from your professors, record weekly and semester assignments. Get one wall calendar with all 12 months on it so that you can keep long-term assignments, due dates, registration information, organizational commitments and other important dates in front of you. After this, use a monthly planner and assign each piece of homework to a certain day each week. This will help you visualize and anticipate your workload and plan ahead for weeks when you are balancing weekly assignments with term projects. Also utilize electronic calendars, such as the free Gmail calendar feature. This allows you to color code events by class, amongst other things — another helpful way to picture what you need to do.

5. Redo your weekly schedule if you find you haven’t been following your earlier one. 

On this put all of your classes, work, study times, organizational commitments, meal times and even breaks — plus whatever you forgot to add at the semester’s onset. Then stick to this schedule as closely as possible to bring stability into your life. The “SLAC Daily Schedule” on the Student Learning Assistance Center’s Time Management page can help you do this.

6. Go back over your finances to make sure they are in order.

Check again to ensure that you have enough money to finish the semester. This will lighten your stress as school becomes increasingly difficult.

7. Start getting help now.

In case you need tutoring, physical or mental health assistance later, find out where those services are on campus. Look at the academic services offered at SLAC by visiting our website at Then, check out SLAC’s list of other campus academic services at On Texas State’s home page,, look under the drop-down menu for Current Students for information about other services, including medical, financial and recreational. Finally, look at for information on obtaining counseling should you need it.

8. Locate healthy outlets for fun and relief from stress.

Joining a student organization related to your interests can help, as can visiting the campus recreational facilities. Look again under Current Students on Texas State’s home page and on other drop-down menus there for hints about where to find these things and what’s new to do at Texas State. Venture off campus, too, to see movies, eat out and find activities that take you beyond the world encompassed by the university!

9. Set goals and make commitments.

Doing this makes you far more likely to achieve what you came to college to learn to do in the first place! Remember to make your goals SMART: specific, measurable, realistic and time-oriented (with concrete short- and long-term deadlines).

And have a great rest of the spring semester!



Don’t Look Now – #Zika is in Texas!


By Dr. Rodney Rohde

Well Bobcats, it seems like we just moved past the Ebola stories from last year to look up and hear that another virus with another strange name is invading our shores – even right here in Texas. The World Health Organization declared the Zika (ZIKV) virus and its suspected link to birth defects an international public health emergency. The declaration signals the seriousness of the Zika outbreak and gives countries powerful new tools to fight it.

One of my primary goals as a scientist (public health and clinical microbiologist) is to deliver balanced and accurate information in regards to infectious disease outbreaks. As with any “new” emerging infectious disease, it is critical for global, national, state and local public health officials to report correct information in regards to any significant health threat to the general public. One doesn’t need to look that far back to see how the introduction of Ebola to the U.S. created unnecessary panic in many people. Zika, like other arboviruses, does pose some health threats and risks, but we should be careful to not create public health hysteria by adding any material for sensationalized headlines. Facts, along with common sense advice and concern, are all that is needed in this latest “threat” to our shores. Those of us in the realm of the medical laboratory, public health and healthcare should offer a consistent message, one of instruction and caution, but not of panic.

Zika – Who are you and What Should I Know? 

The Virus

ZIKV is in the Flavivirus genus of viruses in the family Flaviviridae. This genus includes the West Nile Virus, dengue virus, tick-borne encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, zika virus and several other viruses which may cause encephalitis. The virus was first documented in the late 1940s, and outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.

Signs / Symptoms

Zika fever typically presents with mild fever, rash (mostly maculo-papular), headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, lack of energy and non-purulent (no pus) pink eye, occurring about three to 12 days after the mosquito vector bite. Only one out of five people may develop symptoms, but in those who are affected, the disease is usually mild with symptoms that can last between two and seven days. It’s rare for someone infected with ZIKV to become seriously sick or die. Zika is not thought to spread through routine, direct person-to-person contact.

How is it transmitted (spread)?

Areas of Texas, like in some other states in the southern U.S., are home to two species of Aedes mosquitoes capable of transmitting ZIKV. The Zika virus is spread primarily to people through the bite of infected mosquitos. Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact has been reported (first case occurred in Dallas, Texas, February 1, 2016). In addition, the CDC said there have been documented cases of virus transmission during labor, blood transfusion and laboratory exposure. While Zika has been found in breast milk, it’s not yet confirmed it can be passed to a baby through nursing.

Pregnancy Connection. Rarely, ZIKV can be spread transplacentally (from mother to child). This spread during pregnancy may be linked to birth defects, such as a condition called microcephaly (when a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with babies of the same sex and age). Our understanding of the link between Zika and pregnancy is evolving, and to date (February 3, 2016), there is not causal effect, which means there is no direct proof that ZIKV actually causes this condition. There is correlation (or an association) of this occurrence.

Is Zika in the U.S. or Texas?

The quick answer is yes! It actually arrived in Texas first (imported case) on January 11, 2016.  As of February 2, 2016, the Texas Department of State Health Services confirms there are a total of eight cases of Zika virus in Texas — six from Harris County and two in Dallas County (which includes the sexually transmitted case). Seven of the cases are all related to foreign travel. Currently, testing for Zika virus is done through the CDC, but Texas is working on the ability to test for the virus at its Austin lab. Remember, it’s always critical to have a medical laboratory confirmation of any infection. In fact, the Texas State CLS Program is in the business of producing those who conduct these important clinical laboratory tests. The virus will continue to be imported in to the U.S., and I would say the percentages are good for ZIKV to become locally transmitted since the two mosquito vectors are present here.

Should I be worried, and can I protect myself?

Currently there are no vaccines or treatment for Zika; the best way to protect yourself is to prevent mosquito bites. You can do this by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and treating your clothing and other items with permethrin. Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellant as directed, but not on babies younger than two months of age; instead, cover your baby in clothing and cover the crib, stroller or baby carrier with mosquito netting.

If you’ve recently traveled to an area with Zika and develop signs/symptoms, tell your doctor that you traveled to a country with Zika virus. Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to dengue and chikungunya, special blood tests may be needed.

If you get sick with Zika, make sure to get plenty of rest and fluids, and take medicines like acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain. Don’t take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. You can also prevent others from getting sick by avoiding mosquito bites during the first week of illness following the same steps outlined above, because Zika virus can stay in the blood during the first week of infection.

What is being done?

Recently, CDC issued travel notices for people traveling to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to keep changing over time. It’s important to keep up to date on CDC’s travel notices for recommendations on what to do if you travel to an area with Zika. CDC has also provided guidance, in consultation with major medical societies, to the healthcare community. Work and research is being ramped up on possible vaccine production, blood donor screening and possible links to birth defects.

For more information, please see my article and recent radio interview. I will also be interviewed by KTSW on February 4, 2016.  Remember, it’s very important to get the facts with any disease outbreak and always to keep your #perspective.

Adapted from R. Rohde article: Zika Cases Confirmed in North America: Time to Panic?Accessed February 3, 2016.

KUT and @TexasStandard: Five Things to Know About the Spreading Zika Virus

_C9A0007Dr. Rodney E. Rohde (@RodneyRohde) is Professor, Research Dean and Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program (CLS) in the College of Health Professions of Texas State University. He has been recognized with teaching excellence at both Texas State and Austin Community College. He has published a book on MRSA stories, over 50 research articles, book chapters and abstracts and presented at more than 100 international, national and state conferences. Dr. Rohde is the current Texas Association for Clinical Laboratory Science (TACLS) President and has been involved in licensure efforts in Texas since 2007.