Registration: Patience – Don’t Panic


By Dr. Eileen Wirth

            OMG! It’s time to start registration advising – and this year’s watchword is PATIENCE with all caps.  Help!!!!

With lots of faculty advising in the Magis core for the first time plus trying to fit students into Classic Core courses, things will likely get tense but they’ll all work out somehow.

The new Magis core benefits students with its reduced size and increased flexibility but     in the short run it will be harder than telling you to take God and Persons or pick a Non-Western history course. Faculty are adapting to new terminology, new requirements and new ways of locating courses to fulfill those requirements. We need a little time and practice to get used to the changes but we will.

Your four-year plans may be a bit sketchy because faculty are still writing courses for the new core but you’ll see a lot more courses even by next fall. Transitions just take time – and PATIENCE.

Even if your planned major doesn’t overlap much with core you should be able to complete it and the core in four years if you focus on requirements. That’s always been the case and should be easier now with the smaller core. Discuss your fears with your advisor to get an approximate idea of how things will lay out.

Upper class students may have to substitute some courses for other Classic Core requirements but everyone I know is committed to helping you graduate on schedule. Don’t panic – work with your advisor to make things work just as you always have.

Even I who love registration advising am a little nervous about the coming few weeks. I’ll probably have to refill my candy dish a couple of times but we’ll all make it.

Good luck and just remember that this too will pass.


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Rebounding from a Bad Midterm

By Dr. Eileen Wirth
You knew something was wrong when you got a C in a course at midterm instead of the B+ you expected. So this week you find out what happened.
When your professor hands back the exam, you glance at the 45 and stick it in your backpack. After class you grab your cell phone and complain to your mom or your buddy about how unfair the test was.
Not very helpful strategies.
Let’s rewind this scenario starting with your first glance at the grade. Painful though it be, look through the test then make an appointment with the professor to discuss it. Your goal for the meeting is an action plan for improvement.
I always urge students who got less than a C on an exam to meet with me but it’s amazing how many don’t. Such sessions aren’t much fun for faculty members if you are in attack mode but deeply satisfying if we can find a way to help you improve. Most of us WANT you to succeed.
I suggest you approach such a visit by:
•Asking your professor to explain where you went wrong. If the test was objective your score will remain your score but if there were essay or short answer questions, you might pick up a few points from a second review.
•Asking Professor X how to prepare for his or her exams. Can he or she suggest a tutor?
•Giving respectful feedback on what is happening with you and the course.
Two of my all time favorite students and I bonded during such sessions. One helped me see how I could help the entire class by distributing my study guide earlier. The other learned how to write short answer questions. I was so impressed with her maturity and sincerity that we remain in close email contact several years after graduation.
Both got B’s in the course. With hard work and the right approach, you might pull your course out yet. Good luck!

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Midterm Stress Relief

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

As soon as I finish writing this, I’m headed for the kitchen to bake brownies for our department’s popular “Puppies and Brownies” midterm week study break Monday afternoon. Gooey homemade brownies that would sink a ship and cute dogs supplied by faculty and staff—stress relief doesn’t get much better!
But even if you aren’t in a department that embraces its students in this manner, spoil yourself to survive a week that all of us regard with irritation at best and loathing at worst.
What’s your pet guilty pleasure that won’t get you arrested for underage drinking?
This is the week to take an hour and watch something mindless like “Guy’s Grocery Games” or an ancient episode of “Mr. Ed” on cable TV. You’ll be so bored that cramming for that Foundations philosophy midterm won’t seem so bad.
An hour at KFC or the Rasmussen Center will do wonders for you mentally and physically – even a brisk walk up and down the Mall can help if it feels more like March than January outside.
Of course nothing beats coffee if you need a dose of Substance Alert. However coffee may be more helpful if you are studying early in the morning than late at night when it tends to interfere with badly needed sleep.
On Saturday I noted a larger than usual student contingent at 5 p.m. Mass at St. John’s. Prayer never hurts, especially if it soothes your nerves and helps you study. Dropping by St. John’s during the day to meditate for 10 or 15 minutes can make you feel like a new person. Let its quiet and beauty capture your spirit.
Best of all, remind yourself that by Friday, you’re headed to Spring Break!
Best of luck with exams and have a great break.

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I’m Sorry To Tell You That …

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

It’s one of the hardest words in the English language to accept and one everyone faces sooner or later. Currently a fair number of students are coping with not getting into their chosen professional school or not getting that dream internship in New York. Freshmen and sophomore may be changing majors or career plans due to their grades or discovering that their dreams have shifted.
Then there are more personal rejections like a romantic break up or even failing to get into the Greek organization of choice. The lists could go on and on.
We hate rejection but we all have to face it sooner or later. The issue is not whether we will face rejection but HOW we will handle it. We can either let it devastate us or grow stronger from what it can teach us.
Last week I watched a guilty pleasure on TV – the end of Hollywood Week on American Idol where I saw half of the 48 semi-finalists being told they hadn’t made it. The lucky 24 who did were ecstatic. However except for one person, all of them eventually will be eliminated. Their execution has simply been delayed.
I could almost tell which Idol losers would be just fine. They acknowledged their hurt, maybe even cried, but quickly shifted gears to focus on a positive future in music or elsewhere. They also had supporters present to help them through the pain.
Almost all Creighton students will lead successful lives even if those lives are different than they envisioned during Welcome Week. I remember a student who was rejected for medical school twice but today is a successful chiropractor. Is he a failure? Hardly, just someone who found an alternative path.
Whenever I face rejection, I think of the old saying that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” If you’re feeling the pain of a rejection, look for that window and go for it!!!!

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When You Have a Complaint…

 By Dr. Eileen Wirth

I’ll never forget the day that two students came nervously to my office to complain that a temporary instructor had not given them essential course information and they were worried about what to do with midterms approaching.

Some checking showed their concerns were justified. We addressed the issues and promised that no one’s grades would suffer. Everyone limped through the semester.

The lesson of this tale: if you have a serious concern, work up the courage to try to get it addressed. It can feel risky because you fear retaliation but people in authority need to know about problems in their organizations.

Always talk with your professor first to try to resolve issues because sometimes there are simple misunderstandings. After that if you aren’t sure whether you have a valid complaint that needs to go higher you might ask your advisor or another trusted professor to assess the situation.

If they suggest talking to the chair, make an appointment and come prepared with details on your complaint, preferably documented.

Chairs will give short shrift to what a friend calls “B+ whiners.”  They will not re-grade your essay or exam and may patiently explain that everyone finds Dr. XXXX’s course challenging.

However chairs need to know about such things as major violations of standard policies and procedures  (i.e. not letting students know about their expectations or grading policies or any form of racial, sexual or homophobic harassment etc. Happily such occurrences are rare at Creighton but chairs cannot fix what they don’t know about.

Sometimes it’s important to risk asking a chair to intervene as my two students did.

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Lessons from Brian Williams

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

Beware of the dangers of Facebook if you have anything to hide.

That’s a lesson that NBC Anchor Brian Williams has learned the hard way and it applies to everyone from prominent journalists to freshmen in college.

In case you’ve missed it because you don’t pay much attention to TV news (all my students get their news online), Williams has been forced to take himself off the air because of his false tales of being part of a helicopter mission that was ambushed in Iraq about 10 years ago.

Williams got away with his stories, which he has embellished over the years, until about a week ago when the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes investigated a stream of conversation on Facebook. He’s admitted his errors and apologized but the story hasn’t died so he’s off TV. He may never recover his career.

The lesson this teaches us is simple. You can’t hide anything in the era of social media whether you are a famous TV reporter or a Creighton student. I repeat,  if anyone knows anything negative about you, they can share it on social media and, like Brian Williams, your reputation may take a hit from which it will struggle to recover.

If you think you can hide something behind privacy settings, think again. Employers will  find your posts about wild parties or sexual activities.  They routinely research your social media before hiring you.

Professors also go online to find out things like whether you have downloaded a paper. It just takes running a sentence or two through Google or Sooner or later you will be caught and face cheating charges.

Almost as bad as the cheating charge, a professor who catches you will remember the incident forever and this will cost you a recommendation for grad school or a job.

Your single most valuable possession is your reputation for integrity. If you are inclined to cut corners, think about what that is costing Brian Williams.  Don’t let a moment of foolishness or laziness endanger your bright future.

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Set Goals for Spring

Dr. Eileen Wirth

            Welcome back! It’s fun to see everyone all excited for a new semester- and it will fly by before we know it.  I suggest a few things for students at each level should try to accomplish by May.


            Since you will be in college forever you still have plenty of time to change your major three times, go on a couple of service trips and spend spring break in Padre. Even so, you need to start zeroing in on your major.. This is tough if you’re debating changing your original major. Get help from the EDGE (that includes the wonderful people of the Career Center), faculty who have taught classes you particularly enjoy and upper class friends who are excited about their majors.  By May, narrow your list to two or three choices.


If you haven’t declared your major, do so within a month so you’ll have a major advisor to help you select fall classes. You can change majors again but hopefully you’ll choose well and love your field.  Also if you want to study abroad as a junior, start planning now. Consult your advisor as to whether fall or spring works better for your major and start lining up the paperwork if you will be away next fall. (Hang posters of Ireland or Spain to make your friends jealous.)


Talk to your advisor to ensure you can complete all major requirements in the next three semesters including this one. If you want to go to a graduate or professional school, be sure to cover all required courses and begin to prepare for the GRE or LSAT or MCAT.  Reduce the stress of your senior year by knowing what you need to do and how to fit everything in. Also start getting experience in your field through an internship.


Try to stay connected academically until graduation even if you have senioritis because senior grades do count. But have fun with the friends you will be leaving. Actually go to Padre or Paris over spring break. Seek help from your advisor about next steps if your plans start falling apart .OMG! You can’t really be graduating!!!! Only yesterday you were moving into Kiewit Hall.

And have a great semester everyone.

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Advice for Finals: Sleep!

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

Don’t pull any all nighters during finals! That’s my final advice for the semester.

My students are straggling in for their final exams, some looking like survivors of a death march, others clutching coffee mugs like long lost lovers or talking too loudly because they’re on a caffeine-high. They’re in for a long exam.

Half an hour later, these students are staring into space or chewing their pens, desperately searching for answers that they would know if they had gotten more than an hour of sleep. Meanwhile their better-rested friends are racing through their exams, wishing me a great Christmas as they head out the door.

Since JM&C students have access to our computer labs 24 hours a day, we occasionally come to work to find a student slumped over a book. Do they realize that you can’t learn by osmosis from sleeping on a text?

Last week one student told me he had only had an hour of sleep in the past two days. OUCH! How could he possibly function???

Don’t try to play Super Jay during finals. Study hard but study smart. Get at least four or five hours of sleep a night, exercise to release tension and gain energy and eat properly. Check out the relaxation station that you’ll find listed on the Student Health website. It sounds awesome.

We’re almost there! Good luck for a Dead Week that won’t kill you and a good finals week.  Have a wonderful holiday season and a great break. We’ll see you in January.

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Make Your Finals Game Plan

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

OK Jays fans,  it’s time to make your “A” Game Plan to win at Finals.

We’re in the last two minutes (oops! “weeks”) of  that game known as our semester and things are getting tense. But with a good plan, you’ll win.  Coach yourself to victory.

•Download the final exam schedule. Just Google “Creighton final exam schedule.”  Find out when each of your classes has its final and make a chart similar to the one you see online. Double check it then post it. Above all, don’t miss a final and trust me, it happens!

• If you have three finals in a day, some professors who teach multiple sections of a course will allow you to take the final with another section. It never hurts to ask.  A few may even allow you to take your final with another section if you ask for more time to study but don’t count on it.

•Write down all remaining assignments for each course and allocate study time to finish up papers and prepare for presentations. No one is supposed to give tests or quizzes during Dead Week but it has been known to happen.

•Ask your professors now what the final will be like, especially if it will be comprehensive. Even if the final is comprehensive, it is likely to stress material since the midterm so concentrate on integrating newer information with concepts you learned earlier.

•Review your notes for all classes then determine how to allocate your study time.

•Study for all exams. I had one student who got 5% on a test because he had spent all his time preparing for an exam he thought would be harder. I’ve always wondered what he got on it!

Creighton demands a lot but we want you to succeed. You’ll take a big step towards getting “A’s” if you organize an “”A” Game Plan to get through the next two weeks. And remember that any good game plan includes some “timeouts!”

Good luck!

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Reminders for Break

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

This blog will be short and sweet, like the week ahead – a couple of quick reminders and best wishes as we head for Thanksgiving break.

•If you’re going home, travel safely and ENJOY! You’ve earned this short but good break. Connect with old friends but don’t be surprised if you miss your new Creighton friends and realize how much you’ve changed.

•Before you leave campus, check your syllabi so you don’t forget to study for a test early next week or to work on a paper that’s due right after you return. I’m sure I’m not the only professor who is either giving a test or has assigned a paper. With finals looming, we have no other choice.

•On Thursday, say a prayer of thanks for your blessings. I’ll be thanking God for all of you who bless our Creighton community.

There’s no substitute for going home but if you can’t, join us early Wednesday evening at lower St. John’s Church for the annual Thanksgiving dinner our parish throws for you. The food is great (turkey and all the trimmings) and it’s loads of fun. The 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Mass at St. John’s is beautiful and a reminder of what we are celebrating

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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