Welcome Boot Campers


“Writing begins when our fear of doing nothing at all outweighs our fear of doing it badly.”

     ~  Louis de Bernieres

So, how about a hearty shout-out to all the members of the Spring ’17 cohort of Dissertation Boot Camp.  Whether you are at the stage of proposing, or data crunching or actually dissertating, congratulations – you’ve made it this far, and like we’d say back in the day, that ain’t nuthin’.

For those not in the know, Dissertation Boot Camp is brought to you by your Graduate Student Center.  The boot campers resolve to arrive on-site every morning for two weeks, turn off their email/social media, and get right down to it and have at it until early afternoon.  They also get the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Weingarten instructor to discuss their project, timelines and any unique challenges.  Dissertation Boot Camp has become a popular program, and has been running for more semesters than your blogger can count.  I mean, your humble blogger could count semesters, but that would require needless additional research, and procrastinating on the writing of this blog post by engaging in needless additional research would be setting a bad example.

For those of you who couldn’t do boot camp this semester, fret not, here are a few helpful hints from your learning center:

  • Inviolable Writing Time – Essential and non-negotiable, inviolable writing time is the basis for Dissertation Boot Camp and the “secret” to completing any writing project of considerable length. This means you set your weekly writing time and then you guard it ruthlessly.  Nothing and no one gets to intrude on this time.  If something comes up that needs time, steal the time from something else.
  • Log Off, Sign Out – Writing time can never be inviolable if you are obsessively checking email or social media. For three or four or five hours, you must remain out of the loop, away from everything that is not related to your project.  And let’s have none of that nonsense about multitasking; your project demands as much focus as you can muster.   Besides, in your blogger’s humble opinion multitasking is a sinister plot created by rogue elements in the human resources industry to make writers feel insecure about their “efficiency”.  Confirming this notion, however, would require additional needless research, and since we’ve already dismissed needless additional research, I’m moving on.
  • Visit Your Learning Center – Dissertation support is a popular service here at Weingarten. We can help you with managing the project or thinking through research strategies.  We provide you with a totally confidential, non-judgmental space.  Just think of us as the human embodiment of a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich – soothing.


Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor


Pre-finals week planning = The calm before the storm

The final weekend in November was a long one that left us all feeling a bit more relaxed, but, for many of us, our stress returned the minute December 1st arrived. The last day of classes and Reading Days are right around the corner, which is hard to believe since many of you still have midterms to think about. With only three weeks left in the semester, now is a great time to create a plan to get everything done!

Here’s what you can do to make the most of your pre-finals time:study-hacks-for-reading-days-fall-2016

  1. Attend our Reading Days Study Hacks workshop

Wednesday, December 7, 5:00-6:00 p.m.

ARCH 110

Thursday, December 8, 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Weingarten Center Lounge

Register here: goo.gl/3mEMzQ

Staff members from the Weingarten Center will walk you through how to create a realistic study schedule, analyze your professors’ expectations and study actively during Reading Days.

  1. Make an appointment with a Learning Instructor

If you want more personalized study tips, stop by or call us at (215)573-9235 to make a 50-minute appointment with a Learning Instructor. It’s never too late to come see us! Many of our appointments at this time of the semester focus on planning ahead and preparing for finals week. Making an appointment also helps you get things done earlier. If you have a presentation to do, we can be a practice audience. We can help you brainstorm for an upcoming final paper, days or weeks, in advance or connect you to other resources that may also be able to assist you in the final days of the semester.

  1. Stop by our extended walk-in hoursextended-walk-ins

In addition to regular appointments, we are offering extended walk-in hours through December 22. These appointments are 25 minutes long and are usually best for a specific question. In addition to hours offered at the Weingarten Center, there are also hours at the ARCH and Grad Student Center.

  1. Create a master calendar with due dates

While all of your assignment due dates and exam dates are on Canvas or your course syllabi, it is best to put everything in one place so you can have a clear picture of what to expect before the end of the semester. With all of the social events happening in the next few weeks, it is important to put those in as well to create a more realistic schedule for studying. Stop by our office to pick up a December calendar or fill one out with a Learning Instructor!

Staff writer: Cassie Lo

For Returning/Non-Traditional Students


Many students at Penn have returned to school after a break in their formal education. Some programs such as PhD, MBA, executive MBA, Dental, and Medicine have many students that have professional work experience and have not been inside a classroom for years. Below are some tips that will help for a smooth transition to student life.

  • Manage your time: Time management is one of the most important aspects of being a successful student. Getting back into “school mode” may be challenging, but if you effectively manage your time, you will maximize your chances of succeeding in the classroom. A few tips for managing a student schedule:
    • Being a student most likely is not a “9-5” lifestyle. There will be late night babiesandbooks-readystudy sessions, group assignments that keep you on campus, and dreaded paper and finals. Student schedules tend to have gaps throughout the day- make these gaps productive! For my scheduled gaps, I like to read for class, catch up with friends or colleagues, or outline a paper that’s due soon.
    • Make sure you schedule time for your personal life. Students who are a few years removed from formal education are more likely to have large life commitments, such as partners, children, pets, and jobs. The best way to make sure you are balancing your life well is to schedule time for all your commitments.
    • Understand that early on it will take longer to read those articles and write those papers. Budget longer for school assignments until you fully transition into the student lifestyle.
    • Use any form of scheduling that makes sense for you! You can purchase a planner at the Penn Bookstore, use Google Calendar or Apple’s Calendar app, or come into Weingarten for a free semester one-page calendar. You want to make this process as smooth as possible, so make your calendar work for you. Check out older posts on this blog on advice for types of planners. 
  • Seek help and advice: There are many people on the Penn campus who have returned to school after taking a significant break in their studies. Seek help and advice from your classmates, professors, staff, and advisors.
    • It is highly recommended that you build a network of friends and classmates while at Penn. These relationships will not only make school more enjoyable, but both parties can benefit from the additional resource.
    • Check out the vast services Penn offers; from academic support to health and welfare.
    • You can also schedule an appointment or drop in during office hours with a Learning Fellow at the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. We are here to help you with study tips, reading strategies, time management, technology support, essay reviews, and much more!download
  • Bring your experiences into the classroom: Use your experience to your advantage and fill the classroom with anecdotes that are related to the subject matter. This can help you understand the content more and it will help your classmates see the real-world implications.


Use these tips to start off on the right foot. If you have advice of your own, feel free to leave a comment!

Staff Writer: Victoria Gill

Free Campus Coffee & Teas

Baby it’s cold outside…” so come into the Graduate Student Center for forever free coffee!

When you need a nice and warm place to study for finals or space to concentrate so you can finally get that homework/project done, GSC is swell. Observe the festive decorations and toasty REAL fire. No, my friends, it is not a mirage. IMG_0735



How can you partake in the free coffee you ask? Easy! Just bring your own cup or travel mug and fill away to your heart’s content!




Worried that your pickiness will get in the way of getting a free cup of Joe? No worries! There are a variety of coffees to choose from so even the connoisseurs can enjoy a cup.  This week there was Pumpkin, Hazelnut, Decaf and Colombian!

Lastly, if you’re not a coffee person, there are plenty of free teas to choose from! The GSC even has inexpensive and healthy snacks (not shown in picture but they do have fruits!) for you to buy if you’d like something to accompany your complimentary drinks. IMG_0736

So what are you waiting for? Check it out and get caffeinated (or not, decaf is good too)!

Staff writer: Victoria Gill