All Posts Tagged With: "First Year Survivor"
From Pong Flu to the Cinnamon Challenge
University sounds tame enough, but it’s actually a dangerous place. I’m not talking about Charlotte Simmons’ loss of innocence on the sex-crazed, alcohol-laden, fictional campus of Dupont or even the food fights and public urination in National Lampoon’s Animal House. I’m not talking about the obvious things either, like drinking way too much. I’m talking about the activities students think are innocent enough, but that can, surprisingly, lead to early graves. Here are five examples.
1. Pong flu
According to a recent Clemson University study, the ping pong balls used in beer pong games are rife with bacteria. That’s not surprising considering they often come into contact with the floor. When they are successfully tossed into cups of beer, players chug the contaminated brews, unaware or dismissive of the offending bacteria. Luckily, the potential danger of the game doesn’t mean you have to stop playing altogether. An alternative that many health-conscious—and germaphobic—students are resorting to involves replacing the beer with water and drinking clean beer instead.
I thought there would be more maturity in university
When I got out of high school and enrolled at the University of Alberta, I was particularly excited for one thing: the end of the dreaded group project.
In high school a number of different things led me to hate working with others. We would prepare arbitrary presentations and our peers wouldn’t listen to them anyway. I thought that studying English and Comparative Literature in university would mean never having to collaborate for meaningless group assignments again.
Boy was I wrong. In fact, I seem to be doing more group projects than essays lately.
When I first saw all the group assignment descriptions on my syllabi at the beginning of the year, I decided to be as positive as possible. Perhaps the maturity level of my groups would be higher in university. Boy was I wrong again. Group work only seems to get worse in university, and I can safely say that the biggest source of my school stress has come from working with my peers.
But instead of letting it get me down any more, I’m going to relive the worst group project I have ever been a part of and hopefully my misfortune will at least brighten your day.
Students are staying longer for a variety of reasons
When Michael Prior came to the University of British Columbia in 2008, he expected to spend the standard four years at the school.
Now in his fifth year, he realizes his original plan was unrealistic. The 22-year-old English Literature major has funded most of his own education, so he works for pay about 20 hours a week. That requires a lighter course load.
Prior is hardly alone. In fact, graduating more than four years after starting may be the new standard. A recent study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reports that less than half of Ontario university students finish in four years.
Hannah Talbot, a first year Arts student at UBC, was surprised. “I always thought that it was a four-year deal until I came to university and realized a lot of people were in their fifth or sixth year.”
What I learned from Princess host Gail Vaz-Oxlade
After years of watching her TV shows Til Debt Do Us Part and Princess, I got the chance to listen in person to Gail Vaz-Oxlade discuss her Money Rules earlier this week on campus. Moneyaftergraduation.com and the University of Alberta’s Student Financial Aide Office hosted the free event. After an hour and a half, I felt less afraid of the sometimes ruthless world of money. I’d like to share five rules that stood out for me.
Rule 1: “Don’t pay the bullsh*t.”
By “bullsh*t,” Vaz-Oxlade means your monthly minimum credit card payments. Every credit card owner should pay more than the minimum. Those seemingly low payments required each month are meant to keep you in credit card debt for as long as possible, so you pay more interest overall. Oh, and the same go for student loans. “Aggressively pay down your debt”, says Vaz-Oxlade. She says students in debt should only worry about savings after they’ve paid off their loans.
Rule 2: Take on no more than one year of your future net income in student debt.
Vaz-Oxlade says this is a well-known rule of thumb, but I’d never heard it. Apparently every student should try to graduate with less student debt than their projected net income in their desired job. So if your career starts out paying $30,000-a-year after taxes, you shouldn’t have more student debt than that. (Law students, for example, can borrow more because they will make more.) Otherwise it eats up too much of your income, “and you won’t have a life for a very long time.”
Former top banker on his days at Queen’s
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, David Dodge, former Governor of the Bank of Canada and Chancellor of Queen’s University, looks back on his days in university.
I graduated with a B.A. in economics from Queen’s University and later a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. It was a very exciting time: neither of my parents had been to university, and I was going down the highway from Toronto to Kingston. I thought I was going to do mathematics and chemistry but I ended up studying economics. Out of high school you know some things, you don’t know others. At that time at Queen’s—it is fair to say it is the same now—you had to take a pretty broad range of things in first year. I took economics. It was relevant to the world, whereas seeing OHs run around the page in organic chemistry didn’t seem quite so exciting.
University for me was a formative period. I was lucky enough to be able to live away from home. You learn a lot about yourself and about the world when you are out of the environment in which you have been comfortable. There is a tremendous advantage, I think, to going away to university. Queen’s had an advantage too in that you were in a relatively small town—Kingston. I lived in residence and you got to meet different folks.
I was in the Naval Reserve Officer Training program. It wasn’t like a job but it took six to seven hours a week. I worked on the student newspaper too. We had ancient Underwood typewriters and the paper was still produced on hot type downtown. That was quite an experience.
As told to Julie Smyth
Leader recalls great teachers, friendships and… manure?
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here’s advice from Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario and interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I came to University College, University of Toronto, in the fall of 1966, studied modern history, and graduated with a B.A. in 1969. In the first week I was assigned by the seniors in residence late one night to find a bucket of horse manure, which meant figuring out where the police stables were.
Andrew Scheer’s university advice
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here’s advice from Andrew Scheer, the 33-year-old Member of Parliament for Regina—Qu’Appelle and Speaker of the House of Commons.
I always had an interest in politics, so I took several political science courses while pursuing a history degree at the University of Ottawa. I moved to Regina to get married (my wife had moved back home there), and I took my last few credits at the University of Regina.
I really enjoyed first year. In university you get to meet hundreds of other young people with similar passions. Solving the world’s problems in the campus pub, volunteering during provincial or federal elections and participating in student associations were not only fun, but very educational.
What I learned from choosing the wrong university
After years of research, tours of Dalhousie, Mount Allison, Queen’s, Carleton, and McGill, and multiple family discussions, I selected my university. It was a well-considered and entirely reasonable decision, and it was completely wrong. I’m officially a first semester drop out.
Since the end of September, I’ve been at home in Toronto trying to figure out a new vision of my future. As any student knows, the age-old question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
For a while, I had it all planned out: political science, then law school. I accepted my offer to Carleton University for their difficult-to-get-into Global Politics program in June and started in September. I left after three weeks.
Prof. Pettigrew’s five tips for avoiding failure
Distinctions among university students appear starkly at exam time. You can see who has been following along and who has been sleeping through class, who has been doing the reading and who thought the book was too big and expensive to bother.
As winter exams approach, I hope you are one of the organized types. I hope you have been diligently attending every lab, organizing every note, and completing every bonus assignment. If you are, you really won’t need any advice on surviving this semi-annual ordeal.
So let’s imagine that you’re not one of those types. By this point, it’s too late to go back and do everything you should have done to ace your exams. Instead, your best hope is to try to avoid a worst-case scenario. Here are some ways to do that.
1. Be sober.
The labour minister on ’80s hair and staying close to home
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt offers her advice.
I graduated from an all-girls Catholic school and I decided to do a year—before I moved away—at University College of Cape Breton, now called CBU. At the time they were not allowed to give full science degrees in what I wanted to study, which was chemistry, so I knew I would do one or two years there then transfer.
My first year, I worked at our local Dairy Queen and I lived at home so it was very much like being in high school but the academics were a lot more difficult. One embarrassing thing: first-year university, here I’m going to be in class with boys for the first time and I get the worst haircut and perm you can imagine. It was absolutely horrendous. In the ’80s we did the perm thing and I was like Olivia Newton John on steroids. It took me a long time with that bad hair to get a boyfriend in university and I’ve been terrified of getting my hair cut ever since.
Prof. Pettigrew has some last minute advice
There’s an old joke to the effect: “Thank God for the last minute, or I’d never get anything done!”
This bon mot could be a motto for many students. And yes, the last minute is a valuable resource. But like all valuable resources, it must be used wisely. Here is some advice regarding how to use the last minute well.
Of course, the last minute should be the last resort, when your best laid plans have gone awry. There are just too many things you can’t do at the last minute, or, at least can’t do well. So if you are finding everything is being left to the last minute, you’ll need to become better organized.
Still, everyone slips up once in a while and needs to scramble. If you have to get something done at the last minute, how do you proceed?
I was jack-of-all-trades and master of none. But it worked.
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians, and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their responses are a perfect addition to our First Year Survivor blog. Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio’s Q, shared his wisdom—and opinion on tuition—with Julie Smyth.
I went to York University and I partly did that because I didn’t want to stray too far from Toronto. I was already playing in a band. My first intentions were to go for theatre but I had a passion for politics and history and that is what I ended up doing—pursing a political science and history double major that turned into a political science major/history minor with women’s studies as a minor as well.
I did all of this with some trepidation. I desperately worried throughout university that I was a jack of various trades and master of nothing. At the same time, I was a student activist and I was really involved in theatre and music and I had started this band, Moxy Früvous.
Back up your files. Here’s how.
It’s 11:00 p.m. You’ve been working for a month on a term paper that’s due tomorrow and it’s almost finished. Suddenly, the music you’ve been playing in the background starts screeching and your screen is filled with blue and white text. Doubt and panic set in. You restart and pray to the god of zeroes and ones that the computer starts working again. Fingers are crossed. Breath is held.
Nothing. Your computer crashed and decided to take your term paper with it.
Halloween is coming, but that’s not why I’m trying to scare you. Computers can be fixed, applications can be reinstalled, but the only picture you have of someone important can’t simply be retaken, and that term paper can’t easily be rewritten.
You need to start backing up your files.
One woman reflects on her high school torment
When I read about Amanda Todd’s suicide, I was affected, not only because someone so young decided to take her life, but also because of how it reminded me of my own adolescence.
To the right is a photo of me at Todd’s age. By the time that picture was taken, I had been bullied practically every day for five years. It started with some older girls who thought my name, Ravanne, sounded funny. They would chase me, scream at me, and throw food at me. Although concerned classmates stood up for me, it never stopped.
As early as sixth grade, I was depressed and socially anxious. When I entered junior high school, I was afraid to talk to new people out of fear that they too would laugh at me. I did make some friends, but for every friend I made, at least two people would obsessively bully me.
Struggling is what teaches you the habits of success
As you cram for midterm exams and freak out about November’s essays, consider this story from the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. You’re not the only one who is struggling.
In the late summer of 1999, I drove with a friend from Calgary over the Rocky Mountains to Victoria, where I was to start university that fall. I was 18 years old. My hair was tipped blond and I had the collected works of James Joyce in my suitcase. I hadn’t read any Joyce at the time. But I wanted to be a writer. And I thought his collected works were the kind of thing a writer should have when he goes off to school.
Writing novels—being a novelist with a capital “N”—was what I had always wanted to do. Reading defined me as a kid. It was what I did better than anyone else. What I didn’t do back then, at least not outside essays, was write. No short stories. No plays. Nothing to indicate a budding creative talent. And once in university, my dream of becoming a writer lasted all of four weeks. After nurturing the vision through a decade’s suburban childhood, I gave it up after less than 30 days of actual work. What happened was this.
I was enrolled in the University of Victoria’s creative writing program. In first semester, that meant one creative writing class. One night, not long after starting, I sat on a landing in my residence building grinding through an assignment. What I had written was a mess. It was supposed to be an excerpt from a short play, but it had no characters and no plot. It was just awful dialogue about nothing. So I dropped it. Not just the assignment: the whole class—and program. My first piece was terrible and so, I figured, was I.
Save time for what really matters
From grabbing notes for that class you missed to citing an essay to organizing your drinking schedule, being a new university student isn’t easy. Luckily, there are three amazing web sites—Google, Workflowy and CiteMe— that will help you keep up with your studies. Learning to use these sites will make your life as a student much easier.
This may seem like an obvious choice but it’s one of the most robust, useful applications on the web and most people use it just to search. Google is your best friend and it has grown into one of the most fully-featured web applications around. With resources such as Google Docs, Books, Maps, Calendar, Gmail and their newly launched Google Play store where you can buy ebooks, apps and more, Google is a student’s best friend. Clicking the top menu bar at Google and diving in to any of these useful applications will guide you in the right direction for an organized school year.
Including the unexpected place sugar is hiding
A team of Ryerson University Journalism students took advantage of the nutrition and fitness experts on their Toronto campus to find out how students can eat healthily. What they got weren’t your typical ‘follow the food guide’ responses. There are few tidbits that may surprise you, like the unfortunate place sugar is hiding, plus the frequency and size your meals should be. The video is courtesy of Melinda Maldonado, Ryan Kohls and Joshua Rapp Learn of RBNonline. Check it out:
10 tips for university success from Prof. Todd Pettigrew
Across the country students have either just begun or are about to begin their first week of classes. If you are a first year student, it may be a surprise to you how fast things move at university. In fact, if you play your cards right, you can lay the groundwork for a successful semester in the very first week. Here are ten ways to do just that.
1. Make sure you’re in the right classes. Partly this means that you should make sure that when you tried to sign up for psychology, you didn’t actually sign up for physiology instead. Similarly, make sure that the course is what you think it is. I once had a friend who took a course called “The Art and Craft of History” and sat beside a confused kid who couldn’t understand why the prof wasn’t talking more about arts and crafts. Finally, make sure that the course is right for you. Many courses — such as language courses, for instance—expect a certain level of competence in the subject. Don’t fake it: you won’t make it.
A timeline of injuries, deaths, scandals and crackdowns
Graphic by Jessie Willms. Text by Josh Dehaas.
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Researcher offers four tips for worried students
Students are more likely to procrastinate when they feel others expect them to be perfect, according to research from York University psychologist and Canada Research Chair Gordon Flett. His work will be published in the Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy.
[Flett] found related patterns of negative ruminations among procrastinators focused on perfectionism, fear of failure and guilt. These negative thought patterns contributed to an increased stress level in students and delay in accomplishing tasks, findings that are similar to a previous study by the same research team showing that perfectionistic professors produce fewer published articles. So how can students move past the negativity and become high achievers?