Study and Life Skills Syllabus

Welcome! Our goal in this course is to offer you one of the most valuable learning experiences of your entire life. And we need your full cooperation to make it work!

Course Purpose

This course is designed to help you create greater success in college and in life. In the coming weeks, you will learn many proven strategies for creating greater academic, professional, and personal success. We will use guided journal writings to explore these strategies, and as a bonus, you will learn to express yourself more effectively in writing. You may never again have an opportunity quite like this one to discover how to create a rich, personally fulfilling life. We urge you to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity! If you do, you will dramatically change the outcome of your life—for the better!

Course Materials:

On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life, Study Skills Plus, 3rd editon, by Skip Downing. ISBN-13: 978-1305397484 Copyright 2017
The Cover of the Textbook

If you chose to order this book through the BYU-Idaho University Store, you may do so by going to: BYU-Idaho University Store selecting the Textbooks tab and Order Books. You can then purchase either an e-book or a used rental. You can also purchase this textbook online.

Course Objectives:

In this course, you will learn how to:

  1. Take charge of your life. You will learn how to take greater personal responsibility, gaining more control over the outcomes and experiences that you create both in college and in life.
  2. Increase self-motivation. You will learn to create greater inner motivation by, among other things, discovering your own meaningful goals and dreams.
  3. Improve personal self-management. You will learn numerous strategies for taking control of your time and energy, allowing you to move more effectively and efficiently toward the accomplishment of your goals and dreams.
  4. Develop interdependence. You will learn how to develop mutually supportive relationships with people who will help you achieve your goals and dreams as you assist them to achieve theirs.
  5. Increase self-awareness. You will learn how to understand and revise your self-defeating patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion as well as your unconscious limiting beliefs.
  6. Maximize your learning. You will learn key research on how the human brain learns. You will apply this knowledge to develop your own learning system, giving you the keys to learning important course content in college as well as becoming a more effective lifelong learner.
  7. Develop emotional intelligence. You will learn effective strategies for managing your emotional life, decreasing stress while increasing your inner sense of well-being.
  8. Raise your self-esteem. You will learn how to develop self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-respect, self-love, and unconditional self-worth.
  9. Write more effectively. You will learn how to improve your writing skills through the extensive writing practice offered by your guided journal entries.
  10. Improve creative and critical thinking skills. You will learn how to enhance the thinking skills that are essential for analyzing and solving problems in your academic, professional, and personal lives. You will also develop reasoning skills that will help you to both construct persuasive arguments, and deconstruct illogical arguments intended to persuade you to think or act against your own best interest.
  11. Master effective study skills. You will learn how to improve your grades in college by improving essential skills such as reading, note-taking, studying, memorizing, and taking tests.
  12. Manage your money. You will learn helpful techniques for increasing your income (including gaining more financial aid for college), and decreasing your expenses.

METHOD: By reading On Course (our textbook), you’ll learn empowering strategies that have helped others to have great success. By keeping a guided journal, you’ll make note of the key concepts and main ideas discussed in the readings, as well as discover how to apply these success strategies to achieve your own goals and dreams. By completing academic skills plans, you’ll design a personalized learning system that will allow you to create deep and everlasting learning, and improve your grades as a result. By participating in weekly Teach One Another activities with family, friends, teachers, and fellow classmates, you will further improve your ability to stay "on course" to your success. Once you make these new strategies your own through application, you’ll have the ability to dramatically improve the outcome of your life—academically, professionally, and personally.

COURSE RULES FOR SUCCESS: To create the very best environment for supporting your success and the success of your classmates, this course has three important rules. The more challenging these rules are for you, the more value you will experience by adopting them. By choosing to follow these three rules, you are choosing to be successful not only in this course, but in your life. These rules will support your success in every goal you pursue!

  1. Show up! To support my success, I choose to read/view all content in its entirety.
  2. Do the work! To support my success, I choose to do my very best work in preparing all of my assignments and handing them in on time.
  3. Participate actively! To support my success, I choose to stay focused and involved, offering my best comments, questions, and answers when appropriate.
In addition to these primary rules please consider the following:

Grading Policy

Percentage Range Letter Grade
100% – 93% A
92% – 90% A-
89% – 87% B+
86% – 83% B
82% – 80% B-
79% – 77% C+
76% – 73% C
72% – 70% C-
69% – 67% D+
66% – 63% D
62% – 60% D-
59% – 00% F

Course Projects:

Syllabus Quiz and Word Document Submission 15
19 Success Journals (10 points each) 190
6 Academic Skills Plans (5 points each, 5 points for your application of each) 60
13 weekly Teach One Another activities 130
1 Final Essay 50
Total Possible Points 445

Each of these components of your grade is explained below.

SUCCESS JOURNALS (190 Possible Points)

During the semester, you will submit 19 journal activities. Your Success Journal provides an opportunity to capture the key concepts and main ideas from the readings, as well as explore your thoughts and feelings as you experiment with the success strategies presented in On Course. By carefully examining each strategy in your journal, you will discover which ones will assist you to create a rich, personally fulfilling life. As you write your journals, please do so for yourself, not for your instructor. Your instructor will look through your journal entries to check the accuracy of your answers and to give credit for a job well done. If you want a comment on a specific journal entry, please let your instructor know with a note in the comment area of the assignment submission.

Note: Journal A and Journal B are always due on different days of the week. Be sure to check the Calendar for more details. Not all weeks will have two journals. The naming convention of "A & B" is just to help with clarity of due dates.

Journal Points: Each journal entry will be awarded up to 10 points. Thus, all 19 journal entries will be worth a possible total of 190 points. A journal entry will be awarded the maximum of 10 points if it fulfills the following two criteria:

  1. The entry is complete (all steps in the directions have been responded to).
  2. The entry is written with high standards (an obvious attempt has been made to dive deep). Grammar, spelling, and punctuation will NOT be factors in awarding points in this journal. You are free to express yourself without concern for Standard English conventions.

ACADEMIC SKILLS PLANS (60 Possible Points)

You will complete a personal Academic Skills Plan for the following six topics:

The creation of each Academic Skills Plan will provide an opportunity for you to apply an effective problem-solving model to determine the most effective way for you to deepen your learning in college and beyond. In addition to improving your learning skills and grades, these activities will help you learn how to approach and solve virtually any problem you encounter, whether academic, personal, or professional.

Each of your personalized Academic Skills Plans can earn up to five points; thus, all six plans will be worth a possible total of 30 points. To complete each plan, simply follow the six-step process that you will find explained in each chapter, filling in your answer to the following questions:

  1. What's my present situation?
  2. How would I like my situation to be?
  3. What are my possible choices?
  4. What's the likely outcome of each possible choice?
  5. Which choice(s) will I commit to doing?
  6. When and how will I evaluate my plan?

You will implement each Academic Skills Plan for a seven-day period and then prior to learning a new study skills area, you will be given the opportunity to evaluate the study strategies that you adopted, and your application of these strategies. Each evaluation of your personalized Academic Skills Plans can earn up to five points; thus, all six evaluations will be worth a possible total of 30 points.


Each week you will participate in activities that will allow you to teach your learning to family, friends, teachers, and fellow classmates. These Teach One Another activities will take place in discussion boards, online Virtual Meetings, and Share & Discuss activities which you will hold with trusted confidants in your life.

FINAL ESSAY (50 Possible Points)

As your final project, you will choose one of the two following topics and write an essay.

Option One: "One Student’s Story"

In this essay, you will relate the story of how you used a specific On Course strategy to overcome an obstacle to your success in college or in life. Use the "One Student’s Story" essays in our textbook as models of how to write your story. If done well, your instructor may submit your story to the "On Course Essay Contest." Winning entries will be published in the next edition of the On Course text to inspire future students. Winning entries will also be awarded a $100 prize.

An “A” paper will:

  1. Explain a specific obstacle the writer faced.
  2. Describe the specific On Course strategy used to overcome the specific obstacle.
  3. Present the outcome of using the specific On Course strategy to overcome the specific obstacle the writer faced.
  4. Show a commitment to excellence in preparation, including professional appearance and a command of Standard English.

Option Two: Personal Philosophy of Success Essay

In this essay, you will present your own Personal Philosophy of Success, identifying the On Course success principles and/or strategies that you will use for years to come. This essay is your opportunity to write the script that will keep you "on course" to a rich, and fulfilling life!

An “A” paper will:

  1. Offer the writer’s personal definition of success.
  2. Demonstrate the writer’s careful consideration of three or more On Course success principles and/or strategies that he or she will use to achieve success.
  3. Contain extensive support (examples, experiences, evidence, and/or explanation) for each strategy.
  4. Show a commitment to excellence in preparation, including professional appearance and a command of Standard English.