"The MESA Foundation for Learning saved me!" - MESA Creator
True learning WILL happen with a strong foundation!

What is “learning”?

Learning means “to gain new knowledge and skills”.

Learning is personal – it is affected by culture, experiences, career goals, likes and dislikes. We learn naturally every day, and we learn best when we are actively engaged in the learning.

What does it take for TRUE learning?

Learning requires an awareness of what is needed for college readiness and success.
Learning requires an understanding and use of successful approaches, strategies, plans and personal strengths.
Learning requires support and tools for success.
For MESA Creators, true learning requires the MESA Foundation for Learning.  Learn it.  Own it.  Use it. Success is waiting for you!
The MESA Foundation for Learning includes the following:

Handout: Foundation for Learning (PDF)

College Readiness: First Generation College Student Perspectives (Pyramid Model)

Everything begins with the Pyramid Model: it is the base in the MESA Foundation for Learning. This tool identifies the 10 important factors that are needed for college readiness and success. These factors are based on the experiences of successful first-generation college students.
The Pyramid Model has 3 sections. Each section represents an important category with key factors for success:

Category 1: College Readiness Skills and Abilities
     1. Academic Skills: Reading, writing, technology, communication
     1a. Academic Skills: Study skills
     2. Time Management
     3. Goal Focus
         - you must have a goal and be focused on achieving your goal

     4. Self Advocacy
 - fight for yourself! "shy" is the opposite of "self advocacy"

Category 2: Background Factors and Life Experiences
     5. Family Factors
     6. Work Experience and Career Influences
     7. Financial Concerns
     8. College Preparation

Category 3: Non-traditional Student Self Concept

     9. Identity as a College Student         
        - do you see yourself as a college student?

     10. Understanding the College System, College Standards and the Culture of the College
What factors do you need help with or do you need help to better understand any factors? 
MESA tutors can help to learn more about the Pyramid Model or any tool in the MESA Foundation for Learning. Also, Personal Growth 120 can help with Category 1, and Personal Growth 140 can help with Categories 2 & 3.

Learn more, see the Pyramid Model handout (PDF)



The MESA Law is the glue in the MESA Foundation for Learning.  There are only 3 laws - all inspired by lessons learned by past MESA students:

  1. If you don't write it down, it didn't happen
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Work smarter, not harder

Always remember to follow the laws, and you will be more successful.

Handout: MESA Law (PDF)


Learning Styles

Every student must be familiar with their learning style.  This tool helps you to determine your preferred learning style (Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic/Tactile) and provides study tips for each style.  Knowing your learning style can also help you learn from professors with different teaching styles.

What is your learning style and what steps can you take to be a more effective learner? Need help understanding your learning style?

Visit the Tutorial Center for a workshop on Learning Styles.

Handout: Learning Styles (PDF)


Approach to Learning: Bullet Point Reading (BPR)

Learning must BEGIN before coming to class: every student must come to class prepared to learn.  "Coming prepared" means that you have reviewed the class material before it is covered in lecture.  "NOT coming prepared" is the first big mistake that many students make. Don't let this happen to you!
To prepare for class, Bullet Point Reading (BPR) is the best and most effective note-taking technique! BPR is a key part of the “Guaranteed 4.0 Learning System." There are two main benefits when using the BPR technique:

  1. By using bullets, BPR helps to orgainize your reading notes in a format that is simple and easy to review.
  2. BPR has a simple technique to review your notes often. This repeated review helps to transfer information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
Learn more, see the Learning Strategies: BPR webpage for a training powerpoint, bookmarker and student tips for success.

What do you do to come prepared for class? Need help to learn the BPR approach?
MESA tutors can help to master the BPR approach to learning.


Interaction with Faculty - 4, 8, 12 Week Progress Reports

Interaction with faculty is necessary for student success: it helps you to build an important relationship with your professors that will help you to be more successful in your classes. Remember, it is your professors who give you a final grade in your classes, they can write letters of recommendation for you, and they can be your mentors!
The MESA Program requires student progress reports every 4 weeks.

  • The 4-week report is an icebreaker to build a relationship with faculty and learn your early progress in classes
  • The 8-week report identifies your progress half-way through the semester
  • The 12-week report confirms your class status heading into finals
Learn more about the "Benefits of Progress Reports" in the following video, featuring MESA Creator Rogelio Estrada!

Do you build relationships with your professors?  Do you keep track of your progress in classes?

Did you know? Many students don’t speak with their professors and do not know their true progress in classes!  Don’t let this happen to you.

Learn more, see the Progress Reports webpage for more information and copies of the progress reports.

“Big Picture” Approach to Problem Solving

This tool will help you do your homework and will be the key for earning an “A” on your tests! Knowing how to solve problems is a very important skill for doing homework and for doing well on tests.  Unfortunately, too many students do not know how to best solve problems, and they usually have this bad experience on tests, "The test was nothing like the homework!"

The Big Picture approach has two parts:

  1. Seeing the Big Picture: Concept, S.A.M., Variation 
  2. Solving the Problem: Come up with a Plan, Use the Plan, Think about Answer 

Learn more, see Learning Strategies: Big Picture Approach to Problem Solving webpage for more information, training powerpoint, handout and bookmarker.

Do you look for the Big Picture? Need help seeing the Big Picture?

MESA tutors are trained to work with students using the Big Picture approach.


Test Taking Strategies

Knowing how to take tests is an important skill.  You need to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally.  This tool contains key strategies to help you before, during and after tests.

Got test anxiety or need help with test taking?
Visit the Tutorial Center for workshops on test taking and test anxiety.

Handout: Test Taking Strategies (PDF)


Time Management Strategies

Knowing how to effectively manage your time is critical for success.  This tool contains key strategies to make the most of your time. 

Need help with time management?

Visit the Tutorial Center for a workshop on time management.

Handout: Time Management Strategies (PDF)
Handout: Weekly Time Planner (Excel)



You should always build from strengths, not weaknesses!  Developed by the Gallup Organization, the StrengthsQuest assessment can help you to identify your five most dominant personal strengths.  Knowing your strengths is key for overcoming challenges, working with the strengths of others for team building, and developing your leadership skills.

What are your strengths and how do you use them? Need to take the StrengthsQuest assessment?

See the MESA Director for assistance.

Learn more, see the StrengthsQuest webpage for more information and handouts.


Education Plan

An education plan is key for reaching your goals.  It is important to know which classes to take and when to take them.  Also, it is important to see a Counselor at least once each semester to review your progress and check for any changes in transfer requirements.
Need help with your education plan?
See the MESA Program Counselor for guidance.

Learn more, see the Educational Planning webpage for more information and handouts.


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (referred to as EQ) is your ability to be aware of, understand and manage your emotions.  Why is EQ important? While intelligence (referred to as IQ) is important, success in life depends more on EQ. See the videos below to learn more about EQ, and take the assessment to learn your EQ strengths. MESA Creators use their EQ strengths to create their own success!

EQ Videos:

EQ Assessment (PDF)

What Makes a Leader? (PDF) 

Early Alert

Why is Early Alert important for students?
Early Alert is a strategy for handling challenges as soon as possible to increase academic success. Early Alert steps include: 1 – RECOGNIZING challenges immediately when they occur; 2 –SEEKING SOLUTIONS to the challenges; and 3 – IMPLEMENTING CHANGE to overcome the challenges.

Early Alert is very important because GPA matters and student success depends on effectively overcoming challenges each semester. If not handled correctly, challenges easily lead to falling behind in classes, feeling overwhelmed, lower performance, and eventually failure.

Early Alert handout (PDF)
Early Alert sign (PDF) 
GPA Matters handout (PDF)
CONGRATULATIONS! Your foundation is now ready for learning.