All Posts Tagged With: "university advice"
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.
Advice from the 38-year-old New Democrat MP
Young Canadians everywhere have butterflies in their stomachs as they pack to head off to university for the first time. If they’re at all normal, they’re scared to mess up the opportunity.
That’s why First Year Survivor is gathering advice from Canadians who were in that same boat not long ago, but who swallowed their fears, went to their classes, graduated and then thrived.
This week, Megan Leslie, environment critic of the New Democratic Party of Canada, MP for Halifax and social justice advocate, shares her list of five things she wishes she’d known in first year.
10 ways to study effectively without falling apart
Exams, assignments and anxiety: for university students, the end of classes in December is just the beginning. Fortunately, there are ways to make it through without sacrificing your well-being. Here, in no particular order, are 10 tips for surviving and thriving during exam season.
1. Embrace list making. Jot down your exam schedule, assignment due dates and important reminders on a calendar. Make a study schedule and stick to it, but don’t forget to pencil in breaks.
2. Find the right study space. Whether you prefer a bustling coffee shop or the library’s silent floor, find a proper chair and pick a well-lit space. Steer clear of the ultimate temptations: television and chatty roommates.
3. Triage. Let’s face it: you can’t properly analyze an entire Shakespeare anthology in three days. Time is limited, so study the hard subjects first (when you’re most alert) and prioritize material based on urgency and relevance.
Many students don’t really know what’s going on around them… until it’s too late.
With the recent flurry of new bloggers and introductory posts, it occurs to me that folks may not know where I’m coming from. I give a lot of advice around here. That’s kind of my thing. And I have very strongly held views on the subject of university. Those views, however, are not based solely around my own experiences and opinions. I’m not a typical student. The advice I give has far more to do with the students I’ve worked with over the years.
I wrote and published a book about What’s Wrong With University: And How to Make It Work For You Anyway (shameless plug). I guess that’s my major claim to credibility. But I didn’t wake up one day and decide to write a book about university. I just cared about the quality of my education and as a result I got interested in academic advocacy. I got myself elected to the board of my students’ union. For one year I was a department rep and for two further years I was Vice-President Academics – a full time executive position.
Something unexpected happened midway through my “career” in student politics. I thought academic advocacy would be about abstract issues – study space, rules and policies, the course calendar, and so on. That was part of it. But a lot of the time it was just students with problems. Sometimes individual students would come to me with their crises. Sometimes groups of students would approach me with shared concerns. Even policy debates are just about students and their problems. If we’re going to change the rules on probation and suspension, for example, what we’re really talking about is all the students who are in academic trouble, how they got there, and what we could do differently to help them dig their way out.
For the better part of my university career this is what I spent a lot of my time doing. I talked with a lot of students who were having a very bad time of things and I did what I could to help. Some ran afoul of academic misconduct policies – in other words they were accused of cheating. Some were failing courses, getting hoofed out of programs, or risked expulsion. In the case of international students that might even mean deportation. Some were merely struggling and were frustrated with their grades and performance. Often all students wanted was a quick fix that would stave off their most immediate problems. But even though a quick fix might be part of the solution there are still the underlying issues.
Every problem, every consequence, has its roots in some earlier cause. The students who are cheating either don’t understand why the rules matter or think the whole thing is a scam or else they’re in such deep trouble in school they believe they have no choice. The students who are failing often hate their programs but feel, for various reasons, like they have no other options. I listened to students who were convinced, against all logic, that what they really needed to do was defer all of their exams for the third time in a row and somehow four months later it would be okay. Time and again I talked with students who couldn’t even be honest with their families about their struggles in school, so instead of finding support at home they only found more stress. I met a lot of students feeling frustrated, even angry, about their situations. Maybe they couldn’t put it into words, exactly, but they felt like something had gone wrong and they’d been misled. And I think that’s often true.