University Success Skills Portfolio by: Bryan Hazel

Self-management strategies

The following is a series of self-management strategies designed to better college student course outcomes. Designed by a college student for college students.

My name is Bryan Hazel and I go to Clemson University. I am a sophomore studying Architecture. I have created this page to help college students who are struggling to find their groove in school.

The following are the topics of each exhibit.

  1. recognizing fixed- and growth-mindset perspectives
  2. time-management strategies
  3. new strategies for learning and critical thinking
  4. post test analysis
  5. collaborative and interpersonal skills.
  6. short-term and long-term goals

Self Reflective Essay

This portfolio was one of the most unique projects I have ever had. What struck me the most was the amount of freedom there was with this assignment. There were a lot of guidelines regarding each exhibit but once all the questions from the rubric were answered it was really up to the student to determine what to do with it. As a college sophomore I look back at my freshman year and wish I had taken this course then. My studying habits were horrible, I did not know how to communicate with professors, and I definitely did not know how to budget and save my money. This is why I tried to create a “college 101” portfolio that would guide students in their academic journeys.

This portfolio tries to help college students by using my crazy academic life as an example. I tried to include my victories and shortcomings in this assignment. My goal was to have college students read this and be able to take a deep breath and say “wow I thought I was the only one with these problems, but now I think I can handle it. ”

Personally this portfolio really opened my eyes to the decisions and purchases I have been making through my college experience. Previously I felt that me not doing so well in school was because I had a difficult major and teachers did not care. Now I realize that the problem was more intrinsic. I caused my problems by not studying or deciding to go out, or spending too much money on food. The tools such as covey’s quadrant and the value/ morals activity really help me prioritize my life to the point now where I almost feel stress free. If I were to put a percentage on how much my stress has declined it would have to be around 100%. I cannot stress enough how many sleepless nights I had worrying about passing. At this point in the semester I would have to fail every single test I have left to even come close to failing. This portfolio had many advantages but there were also a few disadvantages.

One of the biggest complaints I have is the fact that we had to submit this project digitally with spark. I do not dislike spark but there are also a lot of cool programs that have the same effect and are less restrictive. Secondly I did not like that it had to be submitted digitally. This may just be a personal problem but I enjoy making hand made projects I do it all the time in Architecture and it would have been nice to create a collage or board for a couple of these exhibits. I know I could have made them and taken photo but it is not the same effect. If I were to have created a 6 foot by 6 foot diagram with many intricate details it would get lost on the screen of the computer just due to its scale. My complaints are very minute and picky I feel overall that this is a successful assignment.

This class has been extremely fun and I have learned a whole lot. I feel that my college experience will benefit greatly from this class. I also feel that this class should be a requirement for freshman alongside Title 9.

Recognizing fixed- and growth-mindset perspectives

What is a fixed-mindset? It is a mindset where people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are pre-determined and can not be changed.

What is a growth-mindset? It is the opposite of a fixed mindset. This is where people believe there traits and intelligence are developed and learned through different life experiences.

According to Robert Sternberg, author of Successful Intelligence having a fixed-mindset can hold back human potential.

Brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

-Robert Sternberg

Identifying Three Different Inner Voices

Sometimes our inner voices can hold us back from having a growth mindset.

Here are a few of my real life examples of fixed vs growth-mindset and how to overcome them.

1. Inner Critic: “My major is to hard; that’s why I can’t do it.”

• Definition: The Inner Critic judges self, blames self, complains about self, and demeans self. Its positive intention is to protect self from failure, but the actual result is either a partial attempt or no attempt at all.

• Identify: Due to an architecture project that took me until 4 am to finish I am exhausted and do not want to go to English at 9 am. Architecture is too time consuming and does not give anytime for other courses.

• Revise: Architecture is hard but I have made it this far. Half of the kids from freshman year have dropped and I am still here. I must be doing something right.

2. Inner Defender: “I would’ve done my homework if my English professor told us to do it!”

• Definition: The Inner Defender judges others, then blames them before self-assessment takes place. Once blaming an external takes place, complaining about the external and demeaning the external replaces problem-solving and escape occurs. Its positive

intention seems to be fending off criticism and punishment from others.

• Identify: After just returning home from an architecture review I was planning on sitting down and relaxing. As I was getting in bed I wanted to check on a grade that just posted. That is when I realized from the To Do list that I had to read 100 pages by tomorrow morning.

• Revise: I can read half of the 100 pages before I sleep and wake up a little early to finish the rest.

3. Inner Guide: “This is my project and I need to get it done.”

• Definition: The Inner Guide offers an objective and wise perspective about ourselves and others. It doesn’t self-demean; it doesn’t attack. Our inner guide tells us the absolute truth and allows us to be more conscious of reality, other people, and ourselves.

• Identify: It is 11 pm in studio and I just finished my architecture project. Now I have to put that aside and begin to study for Spanish.

• Don’t Revise! Instead, reflect on how this type of self-talk resulted in positive behaviors and outcomes.

At the time I was just feeling somewhat relieved to finish a weeklong project and did not want to dive right into a new subject. Once I settled down I began to realize that I did not have to wake up early the next day and I could put in a good hours worth of studying before catching a few winks of sleep. The thought that there may come a time where I truly will not have enough time to finish a project came to my head. I did not want one poor grade to become 2 just because I was lazy. In addition I had already been previously studying so it was more like a review that I felt very comfortable with. I ended up receiving a 95% on my Spanish quiz and was told by my professor that that was one of the highest grades in the class. A momentary feeling of exhaustion could have easily cost me a full letter grade in the course. This taught me to not worsen that feeling by sitting there and staring at my work rather getting up finding a quiet location and just doing it. I know it sounds like a NIKE add but it truly helped me.

Time Management

Time management is a fundamental part of any employee or student's life

The first step in having good time management is making a schedule

It also helps to make 2 one for daily activities and one for more long term events.

Your Daily activity schedule should be in detail. No detail is to small, be specific this schedule should take the burden of trying to remember everything off your mind.

I suggest organizing your schedule using covey's quadrant.

"The Covey time management grid is an effective method of organizing your priorities. As you can see from the grid below, there are four quadrants organized by urgency and importance."

-Department of employee and organizational development

source: Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Below is an example of my daily schedule

Below is an example of my month schedule

Below is an example of my weekly scheduled

Studying Techniques


There are numerous ways to study and it is important to find a few ways that suit you and to stick to them. If you study better in a quiet place with some flashcards do that, If you study better in a group do that because you solely will be taking the test so why not study the way that best benefits you.

Here is a list of just a couple studying techniques:

a. Flash cards

b. Quizlet or another self-quizzing app

c. Mnemonic devices

d. Mind maps (creating from memory as study)

e. Recite and record

f. Mind palace/memory palace

g. Self-testing

h. Group quizzing

i. Draw out diagrams

I have chosen 3 examples and have tested them out first hand. Here are the results I hope they help with your search of a study technique that suits you.

Personally I felt that quizlet was the most effective tool. Just because there are so many different ways to study(Flashcards, learn, spell, test, match, gravity). In addition typing the definitions within the program helps with memorization as well. I used this as a tool for my Spanish interpersonal speaking and received a 94% on it.

Spanish Test Quizlet

Secondly I found Drawing out diagrams in my sketchbook was very effective when it comes to memorizing for a review (a review is a 4-5 min speech where I present my project and afterwards get critiqued by my professor). The diagrams helped because they organized my thoughts on paper so when I say it aloud the hard work is already over.

Sketchbook Measurements and diagram

Lastly I felt Mnemonic devices were the least useful tool. I felt that they were more of an aid to flashcards or another studying method not really a useful tool when it is solely used. I used this for English to help me remember what each character in the novel Mr. Fox did. I received a score of 80% on my last quiz.

Mnemonic devices


These studying techniques I feel will be beneficial far beyond my years in college. There will always be something new to learn and these devices are the best way for me to learn them. I know architects and pilots have to get tested avery certain amount of years to keep them up to date with the new technological advance in their fields. In college I will continue to utilize these techniques, I have been choosing 3 techniques I feel that will help me learn the allotted material and have started studying for my tests a week before I usually would. My grades are far better this year and at this rate I will finish my semester off at a 3.5 for the first time in college.

Post Test Analysis

This exhibit unlike the previous ones focuses on what to do after you take the test.

It happens to everyone you study extremely hard for a test feel that you are prepared until you take the test and end up doing poorly on it. If this happens relax, take a step back and begin to review your test, find out what you really didn't know vs what you carelessly answered. If more help is needed go to your professor and get his or her help, chances are you will learn more in this one on one session than in the actual class setting.

Below is a form you could use to organize the material on the test.

The next step is to write up a study and test-taking plan for your next test in this course. Write down what new studying techniques you could use and when you will start studying. Also seek outside help if necessary.

Last test I started a week before and relied heavily on quilt and mnemonic devices. This time around I will start a week and a half earlier and I will use the extra time to go to office hours and create flashcards that I will use to quiz myself and a friend. I will continue to use quilt and mnemonic devices but I will utilize other test taking strategies this time around.

Interviewing Professors

A great way to make long lasting connections with your professors is to find some free time and interview them. IN THE REAL WORLD IT IS NOT WHAT YOU KNOW BUT THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW so it is always great to make connections with your professors. They have already been in the field for years and have a lot of connections themselves, you never know when you may need a reference.

I interviewed my Architecture professor and afterwards I was able to find an internship through him. Here are a couple notes I wrote down from the experience.

What you get out of it

You may think you are not getting anything out of this but you actually gain a whole lot. My professor focuses on me more is concerned when I am not in class and holds me to a high standard because he knows what I can do. In addition it raises your morale in the class, I walk in to my class now looking forward to talking to my professor and learning from him. The interview helps you relate to your professor because they have already gone through what your going through and probably felt the same way you do. The most interesting thing that I learned was that my professor has a good sense of humor he said that he hustled some people out of a good sum of money in vegas playing golf. My perception of him from then on out was as the cool professor.


A college semester can be grueling with the all nighters, early mornings, and classes that always seem to be at the most inopportune times. A great way to stay focused is write down all the things that are important to you. This helps you prioritize your schedule. This is what you use when you have to choose between to activities it helps you see what should and shouldn't make the cut.

If you don't have enough time to hand write these values there is a website (link in the button) you can use that helps you organize them for you.

Below are a few examples of values people tend to strive for.

When I did the value activity these were my top ten:

  1. faith
  2. family
  3. spirituality
  4. wealth
  5. honesty
  6. independence
  7. curiosity
  8. risk
  9. recognition
  10. challenge

My number 1 choice was faith because I personally feel we can do all things through God. A close second was my family because without them I don't think I would be in this good of a position. They always have my back and vice versa. The rest I feel were needed to have a productive life of helping others and being financially stable. I discarded fame and success because I feel that being famous would not be fun without all the other values I have listed here. I also feel that it is very self centered and I would not being helping others as much as I would like to.

Self-Designed Exhibit

Topic of Inquiry (What do you want to study and why?)

Hypothesis (What do you think you will learn or what do you expect to happen?)

Methods/Data Collection/Documentation of Learning (How will you conduct your study and what kind of data will it produce?)

Type of Presentation (How will you share your findings?)

Time efficiency

As a college student the most important thing is time. Between classes, work, and extra circulars it may seem that there is no time. I have analyzed my schedule and have found a more efficient way to use my time. I have found that I have not been utilizing the time between my classes very well. I have an hour in between each of my classes that I have been wasting watching tv or playing video games.

I have found that I can use each hour to begin the homework that was assigned in the previous class. I have found that when I do this I save approximately 2 whole hours from my schedule which I can use to enjoy anyway I want.

Personally I have found this new schedule stress relieving. I no longer have to stay up until 2 to get all my work done. It also gives me more time to focus on Architecture projects. I highly recommend looking back through your schedule, find gaps within your schedule (which can be as small as 15-30 min) and just begin to cut down on the busy work and save the bigger assignments for after all your classes are finished.

Here is a comparison of my old and new schedule

Old vs New

Self Designed Exhibit

Something that every college student needs and relies heavily on is MONEY. Even though you should not strive to just make money you should strive to acquire some because you can not survive without paying for things.

You have all heard the expression I'm on a "college budget" this is code for we don't have much money.

A place where we can save some money is on textbooks. Some courses say they require textbooks but it just ends up collecting dust on your desk. A technique that I have been using for the past few semesters is to feel out the class before you purchase the textbook.

This strategy allows you to still buy the textbook if your teacher actually says you need it but if you realize you may only use the textbook twice you can ask a classmate if you can borrow there book or work on it together.

Using this strategy I have saved over $350 over the past 2 years.

Below is a graphic I made displaying how much money I saved

This semester I saved $230 which I used for architecture supplies

With the money you save you can use it for supplies, online resources, or to just go out with friends. Remember to enjoy your college experience.


Created with images by InspiredVision - "Military Heritage Plaza" • IsaacMao - "Brain" • obpia30 - "clock time stand by" • DariuszSankowski - "knowledge book library" • brianc - "Scantron" • Cydcor - "Cydcor Conference attendees" • Franck_Michel - "New York facets - Graduation day at Columbia" • davis.steve32 - "Mindset" • geralt - "agenda screen social" • DariuszSankowski - "knowledge book library" • geralt - "leave board hand" • MDGovpics - "Governor is Interviewed by Gus Prager" • sachac - "2015-02-02 Core areas -- index card #life #priorities #values #goals" • Simon Shek - "spr07schedule" • Hermann - "books education school"

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