Glossary: Canadian University Vocabulary

University has its own language and not knowing the terms can make it difficult to navigate the campus. Here are some terms you might come across, and hopefully the definitions will help!

This list is organized alphabetically, but Ctrl+F can help you find a particular word!

Teal and pink word cloud on a white background. Words are transferable skills: Critical thinking, communication, management, problem solving, analysis, presentations, leadership, listening, public speaking, adaptability...
Word cloud of transferable skills: Critical thinking, communication, management, problem solving, analysis, presentations, leadership, listening, public speaking, adaptability.
  • Academic Advisor: This is a person whose job is to help you navigate your degree and make sure you get all the right courses so you can graduate. They can help you navigate various university regulations like deadlines and procedures. Depending on the institution, they may also provide advice about picking elective courses and picking the right program. They may be centralized or in your faculty specifically.
  • Bachelors Degree: A four-year degree in post-secondary, usually at a university but some colleges have degree-granting ability.
  • Board: Many universities are overseen by a board and a senate. The board handles business decisions, and the senate handles academic decisions.
  • Bursary: This is a financial gift for a student that is based on need. Need can be determined in different ways, but typically a student will have to prove that their own or their family’s annual income is below a certain amount. There may be other requirements (certain grades, program, hardships, etc), but this is a financial amount given to a student that does not require repayment.
  • Career Advisor: These advisors are like career counsellors – they can help you explore different career options for your degree and plan to reach those career goals. They can probably also help you with your resumes and cover letters.
  • Certificate: Some universities have certificate programs – these are typically interdisciplinary, which means they involve courses from a variety of programs and/or faculties.
  • Chair: Also called a Department Chair, this is the faculty member who is the highest-level administrator in an academic department.
  • Co-operative work term: AKA co-op. This is a full-time work term that is organized through the university. Organizations hire students to help them build their work experience.
  • Cramming: Studying intensively for a short period before an exam. Cramming is not recommended! organize your semester so you are caught up and have ample time to study.
  • Credits: See “Units” below.
  • Dean: The faculty member who is the highest-level administrator in a faculty is the Dean. The Dean and their delegates will represent the faculty to the university and to any external stakeholders (such as in the community or to accrediting bodies).
  • Declare: In some programs, you have to declare your major at some point. You may start as an “intended” major, or you may be in a general program, and then at some point you will have to go through a process to indicate to the institution what your major will be. Some majors are competitive and will require that you apply, and some you just declare. If you’re not sure, an Academic Advisor may be able to help.
  • Degree: A university degree is typically a bachelors degree. In Canada, this is a four-year degree that you complete after high school. You can also complete a masters degree or a doctoral degree.
  • Double major: Some universities allow you to complete two majors – that would be a double major. This may require you to complete more than four years of studies. Check with your academic advisors.
  • Elective: This is a course where you get to choose what you take. You might be given a list or specific requirements (such as one science and one arts), but this is where you have some freedom to pick the courses for your degree.
  • Faculty: Canadian universities tend to be divided into faculties. These are the different parts of the university: Arts and humanities (which may have many names), Engineering, Business, Science, etc. These are administrative divisions, and they are often further divided into academic departments. For example, an English or Literature department would usually be within the Arts and Humanities or Social Sciences faculty, and a Mechatronics department would be within an Engineering faculty, etc.
  • GPA/Grade Point Average: This is the average of all your grades. Universities use different scales (a 4.0-scale, a 4.33-scale, percentages, etc), so you should take the time to look up what your university uses. There are also different GPAs that may be used: upper-division GPA (all your third & fourth year grades), program-specific GPA (just the grades for the required courses in your program), etc. Your specific requirements should be available on your university’s website.
  • Graduate/grad: Masters and doctoral (PhD) degree programs are referred to as graduate or grad programs, and students in these programs can be referred to as graduates or grads. This is in contrast to undergrad programs (bachelors degrees).
  • Interdisciplinary: A discipline is an area of study (like a faculty, program, or major), so interdisciplinary is when these groups work together and offer a program that has courses from different areas, it is interdisciplinary (for example, a business and science joint program would be interdisciplinary).
  • Internship: This is a work experience opportunity that is less structured than co-op. Some provinces require these to be paid as they don’t allow unpaid work, but some provinces allow unpaid internships. There are industries where these are standard, but make sure you do your research and don’t accept an unpaid internship if you have better options.
  • Joint major: This is when two majors are combined, and fit within a single degree. You are not completing two majors, so a joing major can be done in the same amount of time as a major.
  • Library: You know what a library is, right? The place with books! But university libraries can also help you with your research resources and conducting university-level research. Definitely check out your university’s library website to see what they can help you with – it’s a lot more than just giving you a book!
  • Major: This is the main part of your degree – the focus. This is what you will study for most of your degree, and it will depend on your degree. If you do a Bachelor of Arts, you might major in English or Sociology. In a Bachelor of Science, you might major in Biology or Physics. In a Bachelor of Commerce, you might major in Accounting or Finance. Each university has its own set of faculties, degrees, programs, and majors.
  • Masters degree: This is usually a 1-2 year university program that has a bachelors degree as a prerequisite. Some careers require a masters degree.
  • Minor: This is a small part of your degree that can complement your major.
  • Ombudsman/Ombudsperson: This person is a neutral party who can support students if they encounter issues while dealing with the university. You can go to them if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly and they can liaise between you and different offices of the university to ensure that an appropriate and fair protocol was followed (or support you to follow up if it was not).
  • Part-time work: Many students work part-time to gain experience and help pay for their expenses. If you will be working part-time, there may be on-campus options available.
  • Pomodoros: Study technique where you work for a timed period and then take a timed break. For example, you might work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
  • Prerequisite: This is a course that you have to take before another course. If a course is listed as a prerequisite, you have to take it before you go into a higher-level course.
  • President: The university president is responsible to the board and oversees the university senate. Each president will take the role on differently, but basically they are the university leader.
  • Professor: There are different categories and levels of professors. There are sessional instructors, visiting lecturers, assistant professors, professors, professors emeritus… Make sure to check the appropriate title for your instructor so you can address them properly.
  • Program Assistant: Some programs have a Program Assistant who helps students instead of an Academic Advisor. This is the person who will respond to questions about course selection and enrollment as well as other administrative questions. This would usually be in smaller departments or faculties.
  • Recruiter: Universities often have recruiters who visit high schools, attend university fairs, and meet with students to tell them more about programs. In Canada, these people do not receive a commission or bonus for recruiting more students, so they will usually be upfront in providing information about the university they represent. These are not the same as agents, who are not usually affiliated with a specific university and charge money to help you with your application.
  • References: If you are applying for graduate school, jobs, scholarships or bursaries, and sometimes for exchange, you may need references from your instructors. This makes it important to build relationships with your instructors so that they get to know you well enough to provide references.
  • Registrar: The registrar is a staff member who has to sign off on your final degree. The registrar’s office may also be responsible for grading and graduation processes.
  • Scholarships and awards: These are financial prizes for students, based on different kinds of merit. Typically, scholarships are based on high grades, and awards are based on other experiences or requirements, such as community service. These can be quite prestigious and you can add them to your resume to indicate that you have excelled in university. Some will be provided through your university, but there are also external scholarships available.
  • Senate: Many universities are overseen by a board and a senate. The board handles business decisions, and the senate handles academic decisions.
  • Sessional instructor: This is an instructor, often from industry, who is hired on a semesterly basis. They are a contract employee of the university, and may or may not be continuously teaching. If you want to make connections in the industry you are studying, these people may be helpful connections!
  • Student loans: These are special loans administered through the provincial government (or delegated to another organization) that are specifically for students. They usually have lower interest rates and some other benefits for students (compared with a traditional bank loan or credit card). Canadians usually access student loans through their home province (even if they are attending university in a different province).
  • TA or Teaching Assistant: These are students who support the instructor of a course. They might help with marking assignments, or they might lead labs or tutorials. They are typically graduate students (masters or doctoral students), so you can expect them to have some higher-level knowledge to share.
  • Transferable skills: These are general skills that you can build in pretty much any undergraduate degree. Employers value these highly because they are necessary for almost any job you could go into, but are harder to learn than the technical details of how to do a particular job.
  • Undergraduate/Undergrad: A bachelor’s degree is also called an undergraduate degree, so students in these programs can be referred to as undergraduates or undergrads. This is in contrast to graduate programs (Masters and PhDs) and graduate or grad students.
  • Units (or Credits): A univeristy degree is typically broken down into units or credits. Each course you take is normally worth a certain number of units. Your degree may have requirements like “3 units of qualitative courses” or “25 units of electives” so make sure you understand how to calculate these and meet the requirements.
  • University Calendar: This is the formal document for most universities – the “bible” of regulations and programs. Basically, the university has to have a published document so you know which requirements to follow. The academic advisors can help you navigate this.
  • University senate: See “Senate.”

What is Grad School, anyway?

I had pretty much no idea what grad school was when I started university. Even when I finished my bachelors degree, what exactly grad school meant was pretty murky. So today we’re going to find out, what is grad school? What’s the difference between an undergraduate and a graduate degree?

What is grad school?

In Canada, a bachelors or undergrad degree is typically a four-year degree (although it may take longer if you are studying part-time or not taking a full course load, or if you change programs or institutions). Once you finish the bachelor’s degree, most higher-level university programs are referred to as “Grad School.”

Grad school typically involves a Masters and/or a Doctoral degree. The Masters degree typically comes first, after you finish your undergrad (aka bachelors) degree, and then you can continue on to a Doctoral degree after your Masters. While this is the typical path, there are definitely exceptions! But I’ll get into that in the sections below.

Both Masters and Doctoral degrees can be professional or academic. A professional degree is typically more applied – it is focused on what you do in your professional role (your job or career), rather than on contributing to the existing body of academic research (even though you can definitely do both).

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Masters Degrees

Grad degree programs vary a lot, so it’s really hard to make generalizations about what they are. Basically, a Masters comes after your undergrad, but before a doctoral degree.

Personally, I have an M.Ed. or Masters of Education, which is a professional degree. This means the research that I did in my Masters was related to my work at the university. I used data from our student body to look at how our policies impacted students and then drafted and proposed new policies that would be more beneficial for the students. While others working in universities might find that research helpful, it was very specific to my role and institution.

If I had chosen to do a similar degree that was academic instead, it would have been a Master of Arts in Education, and my research would have likely been more theoretical. Although those working in universities could use it to guide their work, it might not have been as directly applicable in their contexts.

A Masters degree can involve course work, a thesis, a research project, a practicum… there is a lot of variety.

Course work at the Masters level is an extension of what you did in your undergrad. It is higher level, although not necessarily more difficult because you already learned a lot from your bachelors degree. The expectations at the Masters level are higher – you will usually have to do more research and better synthesis.

Most (if not all) Masters programs will require you to do your own research, as well. This means you’ll be conducting your own research project, rather than just using the work of others to build an argument (although you’ll do that, too). The research project may result in a thesis, which is a particular way of writing up an academic research project. Many Masters and Doctoral programs, especially academic ones, require theses.

It is sometimes, but very rarely, possible to do a Masters without an undergrad. For example, in my M.Ed. program there were students admitted because they had so much practical experience on the topic, even though they hadn’t done a bachelors degree. This is much more likely to be possible in professional programs, but it’s still not very common at all.

Doctoral Degrees

A Doctoral degree is what is known as a terminal degree. This is because it should be at the end: bachelors, then masters, then doctoral. However, some people really love to study and get more than one doctoral degree!

Like the Masters, a Doctoral degree can be professional or academic. The professional degrees I’ve heard of are called Doctorates: Doctorate of Education, Doctorate of Business Administration. Academic degrees are called PhDs, which stands for “Doctor of Philosophy.”

Side note: the term “Doctor of Philosophy” is a historical term and doesn’t mean that someone studied philosophy specifically. You could get a PhD in Chemistry, Biology, Education (like me!), English, History, Humanities, etc.

Like Masters degrees, there’s no common format for Doctoral degrees. There may be course work, a practicum, independent research, teaching, exams… The majority of Doctoral degrees, whether they are professional or academic, will require a thesis.

It is also possible to do a combined Masters-PhD program at some universities. This is more common in the U.S., but some Canadian universities do it, too. These types of programs condense the two degrees so you can complete them in less time.

My own PhD program

Just to give an example, I’ll share how my own PhD program is structured. Just remember that this is specific to my program – even other programs in the same department look different! As well, this is a social sciences degree, so a PhD in engineering, sciences, etc could also look quite different.

In our first year, we have to take courses. In my program it was 6 courses, but that can vary. The courses are not unlike undergrad courses, but at a higher level. We direct more of our work and research so we can focus on our research areas (that we will write our theses on).

In our second year, we write a Comprehensive Exam (which we just call “comps”). For me, this was a three-hour, closed book exam where we had to write three papers on topics provided by our supervisor. This means you have to really know the topics, as well as previous research so you can cite it. I did my comps at the end of second year because my supervisor wanted me to take a couple more courses first (in addition to my first year of 6 courses).

After comps, you start working on your thesis proposal. This is the proposal for the research you’ll do for your thesis. You work with your supervisor and your thesis committee to improve it until they approve it. Once it’s approved, you become a PhD Candidate, instead of a PhD Student. This step, becomeing a candidate, happens at different times in different programs.

Then, you spend third and fourth year doing your research and writing your thesis. PhD programs can be varying lengths. Mine is 4-6 years, I’ve heard of students taking 7 or 8 years. If you’re in a professional doctoral program it could take longer because you’re also working full time while you do it.

Once you’ve done your research and written your thesis, you have to defend it. This means you sit in a room with your thesis committee and they ask you a bunch of really difficult questions about your research. Hopefully you’re prepared, though, becuase you’ve just spent 4+ years working on it!

What do I need to do in undergrad if I want to go to grad school?

Academic References

When you apply to grad school, you’re going to have to provide academic references. This can be really challenging because you can’t go back in time and build relationships with your profs!

Make sure that you’re making yourself known in your classes. Go to office hours to ask questions so you can level-up, even if you already have a good grade, and get to know your professors.

This is something that so many students don’t think about until they graduate and want to apply to grad school, and at that point, if you haven’t already made the connections it may be too late. I’ve worked with students who had to go back and do extra courses just to build the academic references, and this is also something I did before my Masters.

Find out how to request a reference letter from your professor in this post:

Competitive Grades

Every program will have a different requirement. Some look at your total GPA (grade point average), some look at your GPA in the last half of your degree… but all grad programs want to make sure that you are capable of challenging academic work. They look at your past academic performance to determine that you are capable.

You don’t necessarily need a 4.0 (straight A’s) to get into grad school, but for some programs you might. So if you think you might want to continue at university, you’ll want to have the highest grades possible.

Research Experience

If you plan on pursuing a Masters and/or Doctoral degree, you can make your application more competitive by gaining research experience in your undergrad. It is not the most common for undergrads to work on research, as most professors work with grad students as their research assistants. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Ask your professors whether they know of any opportunities, so they know you are interested. Go through you university’s website to see what’s posted. Ask other students, ask your academic advisor, ask your TA’s.

Writing Sample

Many grad programs will ask you for a writing sample. Writing is a huge part of what you do in grad school, no matter what the topic. One of the ways you earn prestige in your research area is by publishing in academic journals, which requires you to write well.

You can use a paper from one of your classes for your writing sample, but it has to be good enough! And then you have to go through and edit it to make it even better, and make it the length that’s required for your application.


Depending on your program, there may be other requirements for grad school. For me, because I did a professional Masters, I had to have quite a bit of work experience in my field. I wouldn’t have been admissible right when I finished my undergrad.

My suggestion is that you do a little research just to keep your options open if you want to have the option to go to grad school later. Have a look at the requirements for a couple of potential programs so you can try to meet them. That way you’ll have some idea of what you should be aiming for.

What other questions do you have?

Did I miss something? Do you still have questions about grad school?

Comment below or send me a message at – I would love to hear from you!

Writing Papers in University

The essays (papers) you wrote in high school won’t cut it anymore in university! Writing papers in university can be a challenge. Read on to find out how to write great papers for your university (or college) courses.

Making an Outline

In order to create an excellent university-level essay, always start your paper with an outline. The outline allows you to clarify your thoughts and the organization of the paper. It’s also much easier to fill in an outline with full sentences than to rework sentences that have to shift to new parts of a paper.

If you’re not sure what sections should be in your paper, you can use the academic papers you read for your courses. In different fields, papers may be presented in different styles. However, most of them will have similar sections.

If you want to learn more about how to read academic papers (including more details on the sections of a paper), you can also read this post:


An abstract is a one-paragraph long summary of your paper. It will include information about your research and your findings. It does not replace the introduction because it does not have as much background information. The abstract will just have 1-2 sentences about your project or research, 1-2 sentenced on your methods (or what you are doing in the paper) and 1-2 sentences about your findings.

Normally, if your professor wants you to include an abstract they will specifically ask for it, but you can definitely ask to be sure!


This is a short introduction to your topic, including what will follow in the paper. I like to write my introduction at the END, once most of the paper is finalized, so I can summarize it clearly.

You will include a very small amount of very relevant background information that links to your research and findings in the introduction, which is what essentially what differentiates it from the abstract.

If your paper answers a question, you can definitely include that question towards the end of your introduction. Something like, “My research seeks the answer to… this question.” As you read more academic papers, you are likely to see some examples of this.


Typically, in the social sciences at least, the next section will be the background. It’s not always labelled as “Background.” Often, the headers in this section will be the various relevant topics of your paper. For example, because I research equity in higher education, I might include sections on whiteness in universities, equity policies, and demographic changes. You will include the topics that you have researched to better understand the topic of your paper.

In undergrad, you may not have three sections like I’ve listed – it is likely you will only have one section in your “Background.” Do not worry if this is the case! It will really depend on your topic, and what is relevant before you begin your arguments.

The background section (or sections) will start to spell out the story you will tell about your findings. Whatever you discovered (the topic of your paper) has a whole background to it. What will set your reader up to understand your discovery? What information do they need to understand your main arguments?

When I’m making my outlines, I like to use bullet points of what I am finding in my research. Typically I will use direct quotes, and then when I’m doing my writing I’ll put them into my own words. Using summaries are also helpful (instead of quotes) because a lot of the time in the background you will make a more general statement and then you might cite one or more authors to support that point.


In a paper describing primary research, the methods section will be extensive. For a paper in undergrad, you will typically be comparing and contrasting different ideas, summarizing and synthesizing the research you are reading. This means you may just have a couple of sentences on methods. You may not need a whole section. If you just have one or two sentences, you could merge your methods section into your findings.


This is where you share what you learned. If you are researching an event in history, what are the differing perspectives or the “unknowns” that researchers are looking at? If you are researching a social phenomenon, what have researchers said about it so far? In literature, what has been discussed about the work you are looking at, or the works you are comparing?

Your findings will be related to the question you asked in your introduction. They will also be related to the assignment provided by your professor. In the findings section, you will include all the findings – everything you have learned.

As with the background, I build my outline out of bullet points that are either direct quotes (with citations!) or summaries of what I have found.


This is the part where you get to use your brain! How fun!

The discussion section is where you will synthesize the ideas from your findings and turn them into an argument to answer your question.

What is synthesis in an academic paper?

This is about comparing and contrasting all your findings, and figuring out what the main ideas are in all your research that will support your argument. You need to take everything in your background and findings, and distill the key argument or idea that comes from it.

When I am writing an essay/paper, I will build my discussion outline out of bullet points as I come up with the conclusions that I am drawing from my research.


The conclusion will be similar to the introduction, but you will use it to emphasize your findings and link them to other research. Now that you did this research, what would you research next that would be relevant? Or what did you not find when doing your research that would be helpful? You also need to emphasize the importance or relevance of your findings. What can we do with your discovery? Why is it important or helpful?

Writing the Paper

I recommend starting with your outlines of the background and findings first, and then get to the discussion. The introduction, conclusion, and abstract (if required) should be done at the end when you know exactly what your paper will be about.

If you have used bullet points to build your outline, your first step will be to look at whether they are all relevant. Should any of your bullet points be moved to another section? Do any need to be removed/deleted?

The next step is grouping your ideas together into what will become the paragraphs. Put similar ideas together and start to think about how you can best explain how they go together.

Once you have grouped your ideas together, reorganize them into a logical order so you can build them into paragraphs.

When you start writing, if you get stuck trying to write a “better” sentence, just write it and then go back to edit it later. I find that spending a lot of time on being a perfectionist in the initial writing phase is not worth it, because as you edit you may end up moving things or deleting things. When this happens you have to rewrite whatever is there, so it’s not worth spending too much time on it at the outset.

There’s a saying that “it’s easier to edit than to write,” so just keep writing and doing your best as you go. This may also give you more time to spend on editing later on!

Deleting your work

When you have spent hours and hours on a research project or outline, it may be very difficult to delete your work, even if you don’t need it.

If you don’t want to delete something, you can always save it in another document or at the very bottom of your paper. I have a section in each of my working drafts where I will move sentences or bullet points that I am either nervous to delete or think I might bring back later.

Sometimes you might spend ages on a specific sentence or paragraph, or maybe you did some of the most beautiful writing you’ve ever done, and you can’t bring yourself to delete it. This happens to me! If I’m particularly proud of the flow of a sentence or a couple of sentences, I don’t want to just hit DELETE! Saving these sentences at the bottom of a draft allows me to look for ways to use them somewhere else, or just keep them and be proud of my writing.

Saving your work

I always save a few versions of my papers just in case I want to go back and check anything. I’m not sure I even need to include this advice, but I recommend saving a copy every time you make significant changes. You’ll probably want a copy before you move from outline to writing, and then every once in a while as you do your writing, and then even as you do your final edits.

Citations & Reference List

Proofreading & Editing

Do not skip these steps! I have been guilty of this many times – finishing the paper just in time to submit it, and then getting it back and seeing all the marks I lost for typos and other issues that could have been found in a good proofreading process!


Here’s some different ways to just read over your paper to look for typos, weird sentences, etc:

Its important to review at the sentence level. Is each sentence clear and well-written? Are there grammatical errors?

Read each paragraph individually to make sure it makes sense. You can do this by randomly picking paragraphs or reading them in reverse order. Are the sentences in the best order? Are they clearly connected to one another? Have you used a variety of sentence structures and connectors between sentences?

Check to make sure your paragraphs are clearly connected and in the correct order. Do the ideas flow into each other clearly?

Reverse Outline

The reverse outline is a great way to check the organization of your paper. Basically, what you will do is make sure that your paper still follows an organized outline.

Here’s how you do it: Go through the body of your paper. Summarize each paragraph in one sentence. It doesn’t have to be a well-written sentence, but it should be one simple sentence. This sentence is the topic of that parargraph.

Now, look at everything in that paragraph. Does everything in that paragraph fall under the topic you have in your sentence? If not, it either needs to be deleted or moved to another paragraph.

Most Common Mistakes

When you get your papers back, make sure you look at the feedback. If there are specific pieces of feedback that you get more than once, use this as a lens to correct your work. You may also be able to take your paper to a writing centre at your university to get some feedback, which can be useful.

For example, if you have gotten feedback that you have a lot of run-on or incomplete sentences in your work, go through your essay and just look for these.

If you are making the same error multiple times in one paper, just fixing that one error can have a big impact on your grade. I have seen students who struggle with grammar have huge success with this! Giving a student feedback on errors in subject-verb agreement helps them go through their paper and fix many of the same error, which improves the final product greatly.


Your university very likely has a writing centre or learning commons that can provide help with writing. Make sure you check it out! This is a service that’s included in your tuition so you may as well take advantage. They won’t typically proofread your whole paper, but find out how they can help you!

The University of Toronto has a great set of writing resources for students, check it out here.

Raul Pacheco Vega is a professor who shares lots of research and writing tips on his blog. His writing resources are all listed here. When you have some time, definitely take a look at his other resources as well!

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How to write a paper in university by @ChooseYourUni_ca

How to Study in University

Below I’m going to share information on study strategies and then methods and techniques, which will help you learn how to study effectively.

The study strategy is your overall plan for success, from selecting your courses each semester to setting up your study schedule and managing your time.

Study methods or techniques are the different ways to execute your strategies. These are the actual steps towards studying effectively.

As you’re studying, think about how well different methods are working for you. It’s an important learning skill to be able to evaluate what is working and what is not and make adjustments. Are some methods more efficient than others? For example, if you spend hours and hours re-reading your textbook and reviewing your notes, are you retaining a lot of it? Or is it more effecitve to quiz yourself or try an active method?

Learning How To Learn

One of the hardest parts of going to university is that you have to take more ownership of your own learning. In elementary school, and even in high school to some degree, teachers are usually trying to help you learn. Now that you’re in university, it’s more like they provide the key information and concepts and you have to do more of the actual learning on your own.

While you’re at university, and particularly in your first year or so, focus on your learning skills. Try different things to see what works for you. Try different schedules, new strategies and techniques. Go to any learning resources at your university, whether they offer consultations or workshops.

Study Strategies

As I mentioned above, your study strategy is about setting yourself up for study success. We’ll look at how to do this before we fill in the specific techniques to study well.

Course Selection

Sometimes, you won’t have a lot of choice when it comes to course selection. But when you do, here are some tips!

Spread Your Courses Out

It can be tempting to stack all your courses on one day so you only have to go to campus once. The first reason I would not recommend this is because it means all your due dates will probably be on that day, all your midterms will be on that day, etc. Having your classes spread out gives you a bit more space in between assignments.

It’s also important to make sure you do any pre-reading and review for your class, and then spend some time after class reviewing so you can lock the information into your memory. When you have all your classes on one day, this will become more difficult and could even be overwhelming.

Additionally, when all your classes are on one day, it means you have to much more diligent on the other days to remember that you are a student and should still be studying. For some students (and I include myself!), having classes on one day makes us feel like we then have 6 days off. But we don’t! We still have to stay on top of our studies for those other 6 days.

Course Times

Make sure your course times work with your own internal clock, as much as you can. If you’re not a morning person, try to avoid those 8am classes. Are evenings better for you? Pick those! But if you are brain-dead after 3pm, stick with the mornings.

It might take some time to see what works for you, and I know that sometimes you don’t have all the options. But when you can, work with your own natural clock to leverage your best times.

Study Schedules

Building a study schedule is really important to make sure that you have enough time set aside to study. For some students, this is a strict daily schedule with specific times dedicated to different topics.

For myself, I pick 1-3 priorities each day and then make sure I focus on those. I don’t plan hour-by-hour and just make sure I work on those things through the day. I also like to do my writing early in the morning while I have my coffee, so I save some of that work.

Find what works for you and maintain it! If the best way for you to review is going to the library for a couple hours after class, then keep doing that.

Time Management & Prioritizing

I have written a lot about time management and prioritizing your work in previous blog posts, so here I will just say that it’s important to stay organized and continuously prioritize your work so everything gets done by the due dates.

Read this post for a lot more on time management & prioritization:

How to Study: Methods & Techniques

The methods and techniques are the ways that you’ll accomplish your study strategies – the actual “how-to” of studying. Once you’ve built your course schedule, set your priorities and created a study schedule, you have to actually do the studying.

Pre-Reading and Review

Make sure you do any required readings ahead of each class. Make a note of anything you don’t understand so you can try to pay extra attention or ask a question in-class. Doing the pre-reading will usually give you a good idea of the topics of the class, making it easier to take notes.

In-class, take notes in your preferred way. It can be difficult to find the balance between taking too many notes and not taking enough notes. Use your pre-readings to guide you, and if you have access to your prof’s slide before class that may also give you some headings you can use for notes.

After class, take a bit of time to review. This can be pretty quick. You should be able to remember what the main topics covered were, and just a couple points about each. This is an ideal time to use active recall “braindumping,” which I describe below.


One of the big changes I noticed from high school to university was that it required so much more work outside of class. In high school, I just had to show up every day. I didn’t have to do much outside of class. But at university, regular review outside of class is so important!

The semester is not that long – depending on your uni, it’s probably around 10-14 weeks (or shorter if you’re taking summer courses!). You probably only have each class once a week, so this means you have to really learn everything each week on your own so you can move on to the next topic in next week’s class. There’s not going to be much in-class revision time.

Some of your study time will be spent reading, some will be for writing papers and completing assignments, and some might be practicing calculations or problems. Make sure you are also planning some time for revision so that you will be caught up at exam time and won’t have to cram.

Of course you should study more at exam time, but by setting aside time each week to review what you’re learning, you will be able to retain more of it over the semester.

Active Recall Methods

Active recall methods are any that require you to actively retrieve information from memory. These methods are shown to be more efficient for learning than just reading and re-reading your text and notes. There are many ways to do this – anything where you have to remember the information on your own falls into this category. Two of the active recall methods I recommend are self-quizzing and braindumping.

Braindumping (aka “blurting”)

This is a great method to review after a lecture or after you read a chapter of a textbook. Basically, you just write down everything you can remember (even if it’s not very much)! Then, use the textbook and/or your notes to add all the things you missed in a different colour. The act of correcting your notes is a form of review, and this also shows you what you need to review (the new colour).

After you’ve done more review, you can repeat this process. Don’t spend a lot of time on making the notes pretty, because you’re going to make new ones. Each time, you should have retained more of the content and had fewer corrections. And each time, using a new colour for the corrections will point you towards the things you should spend more time studying.


There are many ways you can self-quiz! Self-quizzing basically means that you answer a question or problem, and then check your answer against your notes to see if it’s correct.

In a quantitative course (ie one with calculations, such as statistics), you could self-quiz with practice questions taken from your text or class content. Try to complete them on your own. This forces you to try to remember how to do it. Then, correct your work with the notes, textbook, or other resources available to you. Correcting your own work will show you where you made errors. Use this information to guide your studying – correcting your work will highlight the things you don’t know yet so you can review them and then do more practice questions.

In a course with more qualitative work, such as history, you can self-quiz with cue cards (aka flashcards). For example, if you were taking a Canadian history course and wanted to remember who all the key actors from your readings were, you could make a cue-card for each person. These can be paper or digital – there are tons of flashcard apps out there you can try!

On one side of the card, put the person’s name. On the other side, you can add the key dates and facts about that person. What were they known for? What was their contribution in history? Keep it as short as possible – just the things you need to know.

Quiz yourself with these cards by reading the name, and then without looking at the answer, recite everything you know about that person. I do this out loud because I find it helps me focus, but of course you can do it silently as well.

Flip the card over to check your work – did you miss any of the key points? Highlight them and spend some time reviewing before you quiz yourself again!

This is also really helpful for preparing for presentations – for each slide, what are the key points you have to make? I find this more helpful than memorizing a script because if I lose my place, I can ad-lib more easily because I know what points I need to make even if can’t remember the exact words I planned to use.

“Study With Me”

You can find a study community on any social media platform: Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and probably TikTok (I’m just not sure because I don’t have TikTok!). Students on these platforms will host or post “Study With Me” videos, where you just tune in and study at the same time. They might play music, or it could be silent. They might also set times or use pomodoros. Find the ones you like and find motivating and stick with those.


Pomodoros are a method of timing your work in short bursts so you can focus on just one thing, and then taking a short break. I think the traditional timing is to study for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, and then take a longer break after a couple of hours of this. I have also been in study groups where we work for 45 or 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. The pomodoro is very customizable to you.

I have mixed feelings about pomodoros myself, because if my work is going well, it can be very distracting for a timer to go off and then force you to take a break. I think it is really important to take breaks while you’re studying, but when you’re in a good study zone the breaks often come naturally when you get hungry or thirsty or need a bathroom break.

The one thing I find pomodoros super-helpful for is when I am having trouble getting started, or having trouble focusing. Then, I will force myself to study or work for just 20 minutes. Then I take a 20 minute break, and go back to study for 20 more minutes. In the best case, I’ll get into a better flow of studying and just keep going beyond 20 minutes. But in the worst case, I’ll at least get some work done in those 20-minute intervals.

Study Groups

Not everyone is a fan of study groups. I get it, they don’t always work out perfectly. But if you can find the right people, a study group can make a huge difference, especially in a challenging course.

Study groups can be really helpful for accountability. You might just set a weekly time to study together, and then show up every week. I find this really helpful – I have been in study groups in my undergrad, masters, and even my PhD.

When you meet, you can set some time aside to discuss challenges and/or just have quiet study time together.

The study group is helpful because if you are all at least trying, you have probably each captured different components of the course. When you get together and share what you’ve learned and understood, you can all help each other. Plus, explaining things to others is an excellent form of revision, and helps you to understand it better as you try to explain.

When you don’t understand something, you can get together and try to figure it out. Sometimes, having a few students to try to figure it out will get you there. It can also be really reassuring to know that you have the same questions as other students.


Your University

Your university very likely offers resources to help you with studying, as well as with research and writing. At different universities they may have different names: Student Learning Centre, Learning Resource Centre, Academic Success Centre, Learning Commonsetc .

These centres offer things like in-person and online (non-credit) courses and workshops, resource lists, and other web resources. They may offer study or accountability groups (in-person or online), tutoring services, and other services to help you succeed at university.

Don’t shrug these off as a waste of time – you can probably learn some valuable tips from them.

Other Universities & Colleges

If you attend a smaller university, or if you just can’t find what you’re looking for through your own uni, you can also look at others! If you are searching on Google, a lot of these will probably just show up in your results.

Unfortunately, some of the resources may require a log-in or only be available to students from that university, but a lot of resources are open to anyone on the web.

Try These:

The University of Toronto has a resource library that has PDFs for pretty much every skill you’ll need when you start uni and a set of PDFs for every aspect of writing imaginable!

UBC’s Learning Commons has resource guides on pretty much every topic imaginable, from studying to writing papers and more.

More Resources

Raul Pacheco-Vega is a professor who blogs about study skills (in addition to his own academic research). He has resources on note-taking, specifically for undergrad students, and on reading strategies. Definitely worth checking out! I’ve used many of his research and writing blog posts for help during my PhD.

If you prefer to learn by listening, the Chloe Made Me Study podcast is great. Her episodes are usually short, and she goes over one study skill or hackthat you can try. Episodes are available on all the usual providers – Spotify/Apple, etc.

I’ll continue to add more resources as I find them – if you know of any I’ve missed, comment below or send me an email!

Which University Should I Go To?

Two of the biggest questions you’ll need to answer as you research and apply to universities are What should I study? and Which university should I go to?

I usually recommend tackling the first question… first. Choosing your university program and what you want to study can impact your university choices. In order to choose what to study at university, check out this blog post:

Ultimately, you’ll have to make the decision about which uni is the best for you. Lots of people will have advice. Parents, teachers, and friends will have very good reasons for telling you to go to particular universities. In the end, though, you should do your own research before making a decision!

Decision Criteria

Your first step towards choosing a university is figuring out which decision criteria are important to you. I’ve outlined several important ones below, but you may have others you will add!

Go through each of your criteria and figure out exactly what your requirements are. You can also rank them – which of these criteria are most important to you, and which are not so important? What other criteria do you need to add to your list?

Light blue background with pink, coral, and dark teal circles that surround a white circle in the centre. In the white circle it says "What are your decision criteria for university?" and then the coloured circles list suggestions: Budget - how much will your costs be? Location - where should your university be? Programs - can you study what you want? Rankings - what is important in rankings? Admission - are you admissible? Funding - can you get more scholarship money? Network - where are your friends going?
What are your decision criteria for choosing a university?

Programs Offered

There are two parts to this: first, make sure your university choice offers the programs you want to study, in terms of the degree and major.

The second part is optional: if you’re not certain about your major, check how easy or difficult it is to change it once you’re at uni. One-third of students change their programs while they’re at uni (CUSC, 2021), so it’s not uncommon to switch your program. If this might be you, it’s helpful to do some research as early as possible to make sure it’s possible.

I worked a lot with students who wanted to change majors when I was an academic advisor, and many of them were devastated to learn that they would have to study for an extra year in order to cover all their courses because they didn’t find out how to change majors until second or third year. Doing some research ahead of time may help you avoid this!

If you want to know which Canadian universities offer your program of choice, you can search on the programs page.

Admission Requirements

This is an important one – you’re not going to be able to go to a uni if you don’t meet the admission requirements!

In my first year of uni, I decided that I wanted to switch from SFU to UBC, but I was one grade 12 course short and didn’t have enough university credits to do a transfer. I spent the first summer after I started uni taking the extra grade 12 course, and then decided not to change universities after all. What a waste of time!

If I had done my research in grade 11, I would have known that I needed the additional course and I could have taken it in grade 12. Then I at least would have had the option of applying to UBC. As it was, I could only apply to smaller universities or go to a community college and transfer. These are also good options, but research would have given me more choice in the matter.

Ideally, you should be doing some research in grades 10/11 so you have somewhat of a plan. If you think you want to go to uni, check into a few to see what the requirements are to give yourself some options.

And remember that you also have to meet program admission requirements. Getting into a Bachelor of Arts will probably have very different requirements than a Bachelor of Engineering, no matter which uni you’re looking at.

If you’re having trouble figuring out the requirements for the program or uni you want, reach out to their recruitment or admissions office – they are there to help!


There are three things you want to consider here: where is your uni, where will you live, and what will your commute be like.

University Location

In American media, we see a lot of students leaving home to go to university and living in campus housing, so sometimes this is what we think university is “supposed” to be like. In Canada, it’s actually much rarer for students to leave their hometown to go to university, so this is far from the typical experience!

But that’s not to say that you can’t go to a university away from home! If that uni meets your criteria for cost and programs, then by all means… go for it!

There are many valid reasons to go to a university away from home. They may offer a program or experience that’s not available elsewhere. For example, there are many government and politics experiences that will be most readily available to you in Ottawa, so if these are of interest you might consider a uni there. However, you can also take on a work experience for a short-term and travel to Ottawa while attending a uni elsewhere.

Similarly, there are likely programs or program combinations that are only available at particular universities. Some universities also have very highly ranked programs (Waterloo Engineering, right?) that are of interest to you.

You might also be like me: just wanting to go to a big university with a beautiful campus on the Pacific Ocean (UBC). Although I will add that it ended up being cost-prohibitive because I couldn’t live at home and go to UBC, so I didn’t go there.

Your Accommodations

Where do you plan to live while you’re in uni? Many students want to live on-campus so they can have the total university experience, but as I mentioned above this is actually not the average experience. It can also be too expensive for a lot of students to afford. University residences also can have limited spaces, so if you are considering this option make sure you meet all the deadlines.

Half of graduating students in 2021 were living with their parents or family (CUSC, 2021). (Note: This number might be higher than other years because of the pandemic.) Typically, living in your family home is going to be the most affordable option, but there are also numerous reasons it might not be an option.

Additionally, there can be a huge value to having your family around you while you’re a student. This is something we don’t talk about as much, but they can provide so much support! University is hard, and being surrounded by those you love can be such a great help. Plus, you might have the benefits of mom’s home cooking and laundry services. There’s no shame in that!

Maybe you also help your family at home: contributing to bills, looking after parents, grandparents, or siblings, supporting with housework. You may prefer to continue living with your family so you can support them.

Many students don’t have the option of living with their family. If living in university residence is not an option for you, you may also decide to get your own off-campus housing, either by yourself or with roommates.

No matter which of these you pick, you’ll want to consider the costs and benefits in your decision.


Not everyone would include this, but I actually think this is really important. How long will your commute be, and what will it look like?

In my first semester of uni, I took an 8:30am course, and because the express bus on my route didn’t start running until 9am, I had to leave home at 6:30am on those days. It was a first-year humanaties course in a large lecture hall, and I would often fall asleep in the back! My commute was very long, and very early, and it was not a good learning experience.

As students, your time is precious. Spending two hours on a commute several times a week adds up to a lot of time! Maybe it’s possible for you to study on your commute, but for most this is not a possibility. I was always holding a pole so I wouldn’t fall over with one hand, and using the other hand to carry the things that didn’t fit in my backpack (usually gym clothes or a packed lunch). I couldn’t also hold notes or a textbook.

There’s also an energy cost to commuting: I was already exhausted after my two-hour commute for those 8:30am classes, and I still had a full day of studying ahead of me.

And don’t forget, if you are going to a university further away and you have to bus/train/fly home on breaks, this is a cost consideration as well.

You may not have a lot of options around your commute, but this is definitely something to be aware of while you’re doing your planning!


This is the big one, and it really overlaps with a lot of the other decision criteria I’ve listed here.

You will need to figure out the cost of your tuition plus additional fees at your uni (there are always additional fees!).

Most universities have their tuition amounts listed on their websites, to make this a little easier. Some of them even have handy calculators for you! Make sure you check whether the student fees are included in these amounts or not, and if there are differential tuition amounts. For example, at most universities, tuition for arts and social science programs will be cheaper than engineering programs, so different programs and courses can have different costs.

Some universities charge tuition per-semester or per-year, and some charge per-credit. What this means is that at some unis, you’ll pay a full-time rate for the semester or year, regardless of how many courses you take (although there will be course minimums in order to maintain full-time status). At other unis, you’ll just pay for the number of courses (or course credits) you enroll in.

Not sure what “credits” are? Check out the glossary for this and other university terminology:

Living Costs

Don’t forget to also think about other costs: food, transit pass/car, rent or housing fees, textbooks, etc.

Food costs vary a lot. When I moved from Vancouver to Toronto, I was shocked because the groceries were much cheaper in Toronto (I don’t know why!), so I saved money there. You can also save a lot of money by batch-cooking meals and freezing them, not eating out, and taking advantage of student deals (both unis I’ve attended have offered a $5 lunch once a week).

If you live in residences, you may either have access to a kitchen or it could come with a meal plan for a dining hall – check the costs and options with these.

Many, but not all, urban universities include a universal transit pass (U-Pass) in their fees. Basically, all students must pay for the pass, which makes it much cheaper. Sometimes there are exemptions – for example, if you live outside the transit service area, you may be able to apply for an exemption and get a refund. But you can’t just get a refund if you have a car and prefer to drive. If this is not included in your tuition, you may need to budget in a transit pass.

You may also have to pay residence fees or rent for an apartment, or you may need to contribute to the costs in your family home. Regardless of what you have to pay for, make sure you include this in your cost predictions.

Many universities list an approximate textbook cost on their tuition calculators. If the university you’re looking at does not include this, have a look at a uni that does. Keep in mind that there are often cheaper textbook options: buying used, getting from the library, or electronic options.

Cost Examples

Here’s an example from UBC. This is the domestic student tuition for some of their undergrad programs for the 2022-23 academic year. You can see that it is assessed per-credit, but they calculate the total for you if you do 30 credits (one year full-time). For an Arts program, it’s $5,729.10 for the year.

But this doesn’t include the fees. There’s a link from the tuition page to the student fees elsewhere, and you have to link to two pages. It’s quite complicaqted. Here is one set of student fees. Undergrads will pay the amounts in the second column, but it looks like there are ways to opt out (if you’re a UBC student, make sure you check the website, there are so many notes about all these fees!).

And then there are these student fees as well. Now’s the time to get out your calculator!

It can be quite difficult to figure out how much all your fees will be, so make sure you’re reading carefully. Some universities will combine all this information so it’s easy for you to access. Even UBC provides a simpler way to calculate all your fees on their recruitment website: How to plan first-year costs. Try googling your university name and “tuition calculator” to see if they provide an easier layout than what’s above.

UBC’s recruitment site actually gives you this calculator and a guide to what you should include. Don’t just search for the tuition amounts, search for a calculator or more detailed information.

Scholarships & Funding

There are many ways to pay for university. Of course you can apply for scholarships and student loans. In Canada, student loans are provided by your home province (the one where you lived before you started university if you are going to uni in another province). There are usually also bursaries available from the province, and the application is the same.

The universities you apply to will also consider you for their awards and scholarships. This is typically where students could get “full-ride” or other high-dollar-amount scholarships. If you get admitted to multiple universities, you may see more funding from one or the other – this may be an important consideration when you are making your decisions.

Your university will also offer scholarships that you can apply for (that you may not be automatically considered for) so make sure you review their financial aid website and reach out with any questions.

There are also “external” scholarships – which are from external sources (not from you university or the provincial funding organization). These could be from businesses, from your high school or school district, unions, charitable organizations… the list goes on. For more help researching and finding these external scholarship opportunities, check out the blog post below. It provides a list of where to potentially find scholarships and suggestions for how to research them, and also links to a free scholarship tracker that’s pre-populated with 75+ scholarships for Canadian students!

University & Class Size

When we think of Canadian universities, we usually think of the big ones: the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto. You probably are also familiar with some of the other ones in your own province. Big universities can be great, but so can small universities! Don’t overlook them.

For example, the University of Toronto has a lecture hall that holds nearly 2000 students. What do you think it’s like to be in a class of nearly 2000 students? The size and anonymity might be a relief, because it’s unlikely you’ll be called on in a group that large. But it also makes it really difficult to put up your hand and ask a question, and it makes it difficult to get to know your classmates or professors.

Now think about what it might be like to take a class with only 25 other students. Sure, you might face the stress of being called on in class, but it would be much less scary to speak in front of 24 classmates than in front of 1999! And it would be much easier to raise your hand and ask for clarification during the class. Plus, your professor might even remember your name!

Of course your class sizes will vary not only depending on your university but also depending on your program and major. I took classes as large as about 200 students, and as small as about 12 students when I did my undergrad. I went to a medium-sized university that had larger classes, but my department was tiny. Once I was in 3rd & 4th year and just taking courses for my major, most of my classes were 10-20 students and we got to know all the professors.

Think about what is going to help you learn best and do some research on how courses are run at your potential universities. Some students do much better with smaller classes and a bit more 1:1 time from your instructors, so if that’s something you want make sure you seek it out!


Are you ready to go to a university where you don’t know anyone? Or do you need the support of a friend who is going the same place as you?

I wouldn’t recommend that you pick a uni just because your friend is going there! However, this might be one of your considerations. Although you will meet lots of new people and probably make new friends at uni, it can be scary to go somewhere you don’t have any supports. If that’s overwhelming for you, you may consider going somewhere that you will already have some connections.

University Rankings

There are several different university rankings, but here I’m going to focus on Maclean’s and the QS University Rankings.

With any ranking, you want to look at how it’s determined. Are they measuring things that are relevant or important for you? There are some rankings that are based on research productivity and research funding – but these are usually much less relevant when you’re choosing an undergraduate program. No matter which rankings you choose to look at, make sure to check out their criteria.

Maclean’s University Rankings

Maclean’s magazine (which, for reference if you’re not Canadian, is kind of like Time magazine in the US) puts out an annual university ranking. You can purchase it as a special edition of their magazine, and they also publish it onlinein their Education Hub. The Education Hub also houses a variety of other resources and articles that are likely to be helpful for students, as well as profiles of universities across the country.

There isn’t one specific Maclean’s ranking for you to look at. They publish several different categories. The important thing that you should be checking is how they determine each ranking. For example, they rank the best “comprehensive” universities – but what does that mean? Is it relevant for you? You can also look at the universities on a particular list – if they are all ones that are of interest to you, then you will probably want to investigate further.

QS University Rankings

Typically, when folks are talking about university rankings, this is the main one they’re referring to. While you can definitely check it out, it’s much less relevant for undergrads because it focuses on research outputs and funding.

If you’re going to use this ranking, make sure you read about their methodology so you can see what they are measuring and think about how it might be relevant for you.


CUSC (2021). 2021 CUSC Graduating Student Survey.

Tips for University Success

If you’re a first year student at university, or about to start university, this post is for you! I’m sharing all my best tips for university success!

If you’re wondering, “How can I be successful at university?” keep reading!

I have been a student for many years, as well as spending 13+ years as an Academic Advisor for undergrads, and below I’m sharing my best strategies for success at uni. I’ve worked with many successful students as well as supporting numerous students who were struggling to figure it all out, and I also pull from my own experience as an undergrad and grad student.

The tips below are not specifically about studying. For more on study skills for university, check out this post:

Tips for Success

Green background with text that reads NEW POST: Tips for University Success. There is a brown cartoon desk with some pink and blue books, a coffee cop, a laptop, and a calendar.

Attend Classes

I bet you’re wondering what kind of student advice this is. Attend classes? Of course!

But once you get to university, many of your classes will be recorded and your professors often won’t take attendance, so it can be really tempting not to go! But when you push attending lectures lower on your priority list, how will you make watching the recording or catching up a priority?

Having set class times and following them gives you an increased accountability: you have to do the readings before class, finish your assignments at the correct time, etc. Yes, some people can do this on their own but for most students it’s difficult to maintain this kind of self-discipline on their own.

Plus, as a uni student, you have so many competing priorities that you will always have an excuse to skip a class, and you will always have other work to do instead, so these are not valid reasons not to attend.

Ask Questions

Most of your professors and TA’s (teaching assistants) want to help you! If they can see that you are putting in the effort, they will usually reciprocate by supporting you.

Of course, you should always try to find the answers to your questions first. But if you can’t figure something out, just don’t understand some of your class content, or want to make sure you’ve understood properly, go ask!

If you’re nervous about going to office hours, you can also ask another student. This is why it’s so important for you to get to know at least one other student in each class – you and this person can support each other.

There are other benfits to attending office hours: This is a great way for your professors to get to know you. Next time you need a reference letter or academic support, you’ll have someone you can turn to!

Get Involved

Join a club! Participate in your student government! Find a job on campus!

There are so many ways you can get involved on campus. But what are the benefits?

  • make friends
  • build your network
  • have fun
  • gain practical work experience
  • feel connected on campus

Understand the Expectations

A lot of the expectations at university are unspoken, and you’ll probably spend some time figuring this out in the beginning.

For example, there are loads of rules around writing a paper. How should it be formatted? What the heck are APA and MLA styles and how should you use them?

What about office hours? How often should you attend? What is it okay to ask, and what should you avoid asking?

And research? What is the difference between academic research and using Google? How can you know what research is okay to use and what is not?

Attending your university’s orientation, talking to other students and your professors, reading your course syllabus, and just observing how other students do things will all help you with these. I share a lot on these topics on my blog, social media, and weekly email newsletter:

Learn How to Navigate the University Environment

Navigating the university is not just about finding your classes at the right times – although you want to be able to do that, too! It’s embarassing to have to walk down to the front row when you’re late and there are no other seats. Trust me, I’ve done it! 😳

Navigation is also about figuring out who to ask for different types of help, and how to access all the resources that your university has to offer. Did you know that Canadian universities offer supports like these:

  • counselling and medical centre
  • accessibility office
  • orientation and supports to get to know your campus and program
  • tutoring and academic support
  • writing and research support
  • career services that help with job searches, resumes, cover letters, and interviews
  • student life offices that work with clubs and other campus opportunities
  • mentorship programs
  • student government opportunities
  • academic advising

But when should you go to each of these services? It can be hard to figure it out! When do you go to office hours and when do you go to your academic resource centre? Should you go to both? What about the academic advisor? What do they do?

Attending any and all university orientations that you are invited to is the best and easiest way to find out what services are available on your campus and when you should access each one.

You can also check out this post on the top 5 people to know on your campus:

Advice for First-Year University Students

The top piece of advice for students starting university is to attend ANY and ALL orientation programming you are invited to. This is where you’ll meet your first classmates, and you’ll also learn all about your university specifically.

I skipped my university orientation because I thought it was just a campus tour and some ice-breakers. Yes, you might have to do some ice-breakers, and there may be a campus tour, but they will also acquaint you with the campus services.

I had no idea that there was an academic support office in the library! They could have helped me make outlines and plan my first papers, as well as showing me some tips and tricks for better writing and proofreading! I did eventually figure it out, but I could have been much further ahead if I had just known to go and get some help!

I also didn’t know there was a career support office that could have helped me do some career exploration and planning. If you read my origin story post, you know I felt so lost career-wise when I graduated, and it took me a number of years to find my path. Could I have avoided all of that by going to the career office? I’m not sure – I think I needed to do more exploring before I figured it out, but I could have been even a step or two ahead and that would have been useful!

What do you need to feel ready for success?

Whether you’re about to start uni, or already a couple of years in, I’d love to know what helps you succeed, or what you think will help you succeed! Send me an email ( or comment below!

Best Side Hustles for University Students

Back when I was an undergrad, I had NO IDEA what a side hustle was. But now we are living in this amazing time where you can create your own part-time jobs that work around your schedule. Let’s talk about some of the ideal side gigs for university students. I’ll start by talking about my own side hustles, and go on to highlight some others that I think would be great for students!

My Side Hustles

Rover Pet Care

I became a dog sitter in July 2021 and I love it so much! I provide dog boarding and daycare services in my home, and you can also sign up to walk dogs, to play with dogs, or look after cats. You can also house and pet sit, which allows you to stay in the pet owner’s house while you watch their pet.

I have a couple of dogs that I look after during the week while their owners are at work, and I board dogs occasionally when their owners are out of town. Because I already have a dog, the time commitment is minimal, and I enjoy it. Because my classes and work are all from home, I just build my schedule around meetings and dog walks!

I have always enjoyed looking after my friends’ dogs, but this way I get paid for it! You can sign up at (if you use this link, I get a referral fee). You just have to do a criminal record check, which costs $20, but in my experience, I made that back quickly.

The amount of money you can make really depends on how often you take on pets, and what services you provide, but if you are in a city you can generate a consistent income.

In terms of risks, you are working with pets, so there are some challenges. My own dog had to spend one night on the kitchen counter because I took on a big puppy that was very energetic and didn’t understand that she didn’t want to play, but we sorted it out and now I don’t take on puppies very often.

If you’re bringing your dogs into your home, make sure it’s okay with your family or landlord. I am grateful to be in a pet-friendly building, and I look after a lot of the neighbours’ dogs when they are away, so nobody seems to mind.

I also just listened to this podcast episode from the Side-Hustle School about a woman who travels by booking Rover house & pet-sitting gigs in her destination cities. So she gets paid for her vacations AND gets free accommodation, and just has to look after dogs and house-sit.

Pink background with an image of a woman holding a dog while she's on a laptop, and teal text that reads: "New blog post: Side Hustles for University Students. NEW NEW NEW. @ChooseYourUni_ca

Etsy Store

I started an Etsy store in 2021 and it has been fun! I make adult colouring pages. I draw them by hand and then scan them to make PDF colouring pages to print at home. I also created a vision-boarding guide, which has been slightly more successful than my colouring pages.

If you have a creative passion, you can definitely set up an Etsy store. But make sure you have a look at products similar to yours to see what others are charging, and determine whether that’s worth it for you. Also, Etsy takes fees from each listing and sale, so make sure you familiarize yourself with those.

You also need to think about how you’ll market your products, no matter what they are. Although a few exceptional folks get all the traffic they need through the Etsy platform, that may not be enough. Many people have additional websites, blogs, or social media accounts to sell their Etsy products. I created an Instagram account for my colouring pages, and it has actually been a lot of fun connecting to other artists that way.

Online University Advisor

I created in 2021 after thinking about the idea for ages. I host webinars and online courses, as well as publishing this blog and posting on social, all with a goal of helping current and soon-to-be university students.

You can read more about why I started this here, but basically I know a lot about university and thought it would be helpful to share what I’ve learned.

I earn money when students sign up for my webinars and online courses. My goal has been to keep everything affordable for students, but to be compensated for the work I put in.

What skills or knowledge do you have that not everybody does? Is there something you could help people with? You may be able to build an online course or do some online coaching around that topic!


I started the ChooseYourUni blog almost a year ago, and up to this point I have not actually monetized it. But that’s a choice I made – it is definitely possible to monetize a blog! You can do advertising or affiliate marketing.

You can add ads to your blog, and then you get paid from the advertising companies when people view your ads.

Affiliate marketing is basically when you promote a product or service and receive a commission. When you have a blog or website, you can sign up for different affiliate programs depending on the type of products or services you want to promote. There are some, like being an Amazon affiliate, that will earn you a small commission for a broad range and number of products. You could also arrange a very specific affiliate program with a partner and get a larger commission. It really varies depending on the agreement.

Contract Work

Since I worked full-time before I went back to uni to do my PhD, I had a number of connections in my industry. They are mostly familiar with my expertise and will reach out when they need someone to work on a project, and I can also reach out to them to see if they have any work.

This is kind of like starting an online course – think about what skills you have that might be in-demand, and then work through your network to see if there is anyone who needs that work.

Side Hustle Ideas

These are side hustles that seem well-suited to university students. I’ve thought about doing a few of these, and I think that university students are likely to have the skills needed for some of these.


Are you the one your friends turn to for help crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s in their papers? If so, then proofreading may be a good choice for you. You can set yourself up on a number of freelancing websites (like Fiverr) to find paying clients. Until you get some good reviews, you may have to charge less. But once you have had a few happy clients, you can increase your prices. There are also a number of online courses and resources to help you learn how to do this.


Copywriting is about writing text for websites or other forms of communication. If you have some knowledge of marketing and sales as well as communication, this could be a good side gig for you! As with proofreading, there are a number of online courses and certifications you could take, and then you can become a freelancer, either through your existing connections or through a freelancing website.


If you made it to university, you were probably pretty good in a few high school subjects, right? Why not tutor high school students or even early-year university students?

You can sign up with a tutoring agency, but of course they will take a cut of your earnings. You could also work through your networks! Get in touch with your high school teachers to see if they can help promote you, or reach out to younger students you know. Have a look at how much other tutors are charging – you can actually charge quite a bit!

Social Media Manager

If you grew up with social media, you have a gift that the generation before you may not have. I’ll speak for myself – trying to figure out how to use social for ChooseYourUni was a huge learning curve for me, and I’m still not getting A+ grades. But you probably already know more than me! And I know I am not the only one who feels like this.

If you have skills in design, communication, and marketing, you could manage an organization’s social media for them. You can organize photos, create graphics, and plan a social strategy with them. Reach out to smaller organizations, post your offer on a freelancing site, and look for part-time job postings.


If you can type really fast, you can be paid to transcribe audio recordings. This work can be done through a transcription agency or on a freelancing site. Basically, you would receive an audio file and you would have to type up what’s in it.

What Should You Look for in a Student Side Hustle?

The criteria for your side hustle will be up to you. One of the benefits of these types of side gigs is that they are flexible, and you can do a lot of them in your spare time, between all your other commitments. When you have limited time, it might be ideal to find something that pays the most in the least amount of time.

You may also want to consider how the side hustle will contribute to your resume and future employability. Dog sitting may be helpful for illustrating your transferable skills, like making a commitment and showing up, if you have very little other work experience. However, something with more applicable skills may be more helpful. For example, freelancing work shows your ability to work independently and manage a project, or managing an Etsy store can help you gain experience in marketing and customer service.

There are loads of side hustle and freelancing opportunities for students that I haven’t listed here. You can turn all sorts of skills into freelancing gigs: from drawing and design to programming and writing. Think about what you are good at, and what you can help people with.

You may also be interested in these posts on student work experience and career exploration:

Myths About University

What are the myths you’ve heard about university? You might not even know they’re not true!

Well-meaning teachers, guidance counsellors, parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances may all share what they know about university with you. But it may be very subjective, or opinion-based, or just plain incorrect!

Below, I’m sharing two of the beliefs that I have heard from students over the years, and deconstructing them. These are both about post-bachelor’s degree employment: Will you make enough money, and will you find a job?

How much can you make with a Bachelors degree?
Humanities - $48,800
Social & Behavioural Sciences & Law - $52,600
Physical and Life sciences & technologies - $58,800
Business, management & public administration - $63,200
Mathematics, computer & information sciences - $74,200
Architecture, engineering & related technologies - $76,800
From StatsCan – how much the graduating class of 2014 was making annually as of 2019

Myth #1: You’ll never make any money if you study something you like

Your degree and major will impact how much you earn after graduation, this is true. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t make any money studying something you enjoy! I’ve pulled some information from Statistics Canada (StatsCan) below showing median salaries for different types of degree a few years after graduation. The amounts vary quite a bit so I encourage you to do specific research for your area of study (you can use the links in the Resources section at the bottom of the page).

My purpose here is just really to show that you have options, and that it’s necessary to do some research. You might want to think about what “any” money means. Yes, there are certain degrees that make more money. But if you hate studying those subjects, is it worth it to struggle through your degree and then end up working in that area for many years? Maybe it is for you, but maybe it’s not.

We make lots of assumptions about what majors will result in the highest income. If you look below, the sciences are not that far ahead of social sciences, and there are other fields like business and management that earn more than the sciences. Yes, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degrees are the highest paid, but the social sciences are not that far behind, comparatively. Also, health subjects are way up there, even for an undergraduate degree.

Check out how much students are earning five years after getting their undergraduate degree (these numbers median incomes for students who graduated in 2014, how much they were earning in 2019, according to StatsCan). Remember that these are median salaries, so that means they are just the mid-range (not the average).

Field of StudyAnnual Salary
Social & Behavioural Sciences & Law$52,600
Physical and Life Sciences & Technologies$58,800
Business, Management & Public Administration$63,200
Mathematics, Computer & Information Sciences$74,200
Architecture, Engineering & Related Technologies$76,800
Info from StatsCan – see Resource #1 below for full details.

StatsCan actually has a really cool tool where you can see the comparative median incomes of the class of 2014 both two and five years after graduation. Click the image to head the website, and you can filter more specifically. If you’re looking for more detail on a particular area of study, click the image below to visit the site and use the filters to see different subjects.

You can also filter by province to get the most accurate information for where you plan to live and work.

Screenshot from Statistics Canada dashboard showing the salaries of students who graduated in 2014, 2 and 5 years after graduation.
StatsCan Interactive Tool: click image to visit site.

So now when somebody tells you that you’ll never make any money with a Bachelor of Arts or Education, you can give them an actual number of the amount previous grads are earning!

Remember, you should also be doing your own career research before and throughout university so you have the most up-to-date information.

Myth #2: You’re never going to get a job with a degree in THAT!

Again, the best way around this is doing career research before you start university and then while you’re a student. You can read more about this here:

But if you’re looking for some general data about post-degree employability, once again we can turn to the 2016 census. This table shows the employment rates of people aged 25-34 with bachelors degrees at that time. You can also head to the link in the Resources section below to see more specific information.

DegreeTotal in WorkforceEmployed (%)Unemployed (%)
Any1,018,275960,565 (94.3%)57,710 (5.7%)
STEM240,510225,215 (93.6%)15,290 (6.4%)
non-STEM777,765735,350 (94.5%)42,415 (5.5%)
Info from StatsCan – see Resource #3 below.

Additionally, those numbers are from 2016. However, the national unemployment rate in 2016 was 7%, and in 2021 it was 7.5%, so we can assume the numbers might be similar while we wait for the 2021 census data to be published.

Unfortunately, the table above only shows those who were participating in the workforce, and it doesn’t show how much they are working or whether they are working in a field related to their studies. This data can be found for British Columbia (resource #4 below) where they indicate that 75% of those with bachelor’s degrees are working in an area related to their studies, but there is not a lot of detail on how far out from graduation these folks are.

What should you do with this information?

My goal with providing this information is to arm students against some of the myths about university degrees that are out there. We hear things that are stated as facts by people we trust: parents, teachers, counsellors, but we need to check that they really are facts before we believe them.

You should still be researching specific jobs and careers that may be of interest to you after graduation, because the statistics above are very broad and don’t give a lot of information about the types of jobs these students end up with or the salary ranges.

But hopefully deconstructing these myths about university has been helpful for you to see how necessary it is to do your research!


  1. Statistics Canada Median Salary Info by field of study, bachelor’s degree.
  2. Statistics Canada 2016 Salary Info for particular careers.
  3. Statistics Canada 2016 employment rates.
  4. BC Student Outcomes Data.

The Origin Story

Have you ever wondered why I started Choose Your Uni? Below, I’m sharing my origin story, from lost undergrad to confident professional and PhD student!


I had every advantage possible when I did my undergrad, but I still struggled to understand what I was doing there and then couldn’t figure out how to leverage my degree into a career. It took me many years to figure it out, and now I want to take everything I’ve learned since then to help other students have a better undergrad experience.

Blue background with a status update that is from "Colleen @ChooseYourUni_ca" and reads "I realized thaqt other students have the same questions I did, but now I have the answers and I'm ready to share!"

My Undergraduate Experience

If you look at student success research (which I have), there are certain things that are connected with student success:
✅parents who got university degrees
✅going to a high school that informs students about university choices
✅getting involved on campus
✅feeling a sense of belonging at the university

I met all of these but still felt lost when I went to university. My parents had gone to university and expected me to go (this was not optional for them), and I also had friends from my high school who went to the same uni. After I picked my major, I got involved in my departmental student union, holding positions of secretary, student society rep and president, so I was quite connected on campus. My program was small, so I got to know my professors and could go to them for help, plus I saw the same people in a lot of my classes for my major. I studied a subject I really enjoyed, and even though it was challenging, I managed to get good grades.

And of course, there were challenges. I remember going to the academic advising office to ask about selecting my major, because I thought an advisor would give me… well, advice! But she told me that if I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, she couldn’t help me. It turns out her job was just to tell me the technical requirements to declare after I had chosen – not to help me figure out what I wanted to study. My mom’s advice was to “study something you enjoy,” so I did that and declared a major in French and signed up for a Spanish proficiency certificate instead of a minor. I did get to go to Quebec and France, and I eventually finished my BA after about 5 years (because I was also working part-time).

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts

Now, here’s the embarrassing part: When I graduated, I thought everyone would want to hire me. Everyone said that if I went to university, I’d get a good job! Since I finished university, I thought someone was just going to hire me and start paying me $50K/year. I had no idea what the job was, or how I would get it, but I still expected to get it. And I say it’s embarrassing because now I can see the privilege and naïvité associated with that. Part of the reason I thought this was because my parents both had good careers after going to university. But part of the reason I thought this was a combination of my lack of experience and that constant messaging from family and high school about how “going to university gets you a good job,” without any actual tangible information about career planning. So although I’m embarrassed, at that age and with the very little (zero!) career experience I had, it also kind of makes sense.

Student Affairs Professional

After a couple of years working in a call centre, which paid very well but wasn’t very fulfilling, I found my way back to my Alma Mater and into the field of student affairs. Student affairs professionals are the university and college staff who support students but generally are not professors: they work in residence, orientation, academic advising, career development, leadership, etc.

In this field I had the opportunity to work in academic advising, student recruitment, admissions, curriculum development, course scheduling, and more. It was through these roles that I discovered that many students were just as lost as I had been. I thought I had been the only one, but it turns out that lots of students are just as lost.

I also had the opportunity to learn about career development in these roles, and through my own experiences I was able to get on my own path and figure out what I wanted to do. It was through this planning that I explored different options through volunteering and continuing my education, and also getting to do a Masters degree that was covered by my workplace.

Becoming a Full-Time Student Again

In 2020, I was admitted to a full-time PhD program studying higher education at OISE, University of Toronto, which was a dream come true. I moved from Vancouver to Toronto, and was now spending most of my time reading and writing papers, which is exactly what I wanted to do.

I also collaborated with a colleague on a research project that involved student interviews, and listening to these students’ stories also really inspired me. Many of them were first-in-family to go to university, or first in Canada, and they didn’t all get help from their guidance counsellors in high school. Their parents were supportive but didn’t have experience navigating university systems here. I was reminded of my own experience, and so many students I had worked with in the past who had questions or challenges starting university, and I knew I could do something to help.

After completing most of my course work, I finally had some space in my schedule to launch something I had been thinking about for a long time:, a resource to help students feel less lost by providing some of the information that high schools and universities don’t necessarily share with you. Because of my own experiences as a student, in student affairs, and studying higher education, I have some expertise to offer to help other students!

I built this resource to provide information to students who were lost like I was: how to pick your program and university, start your career planning, and excel in your studies. As I received more student questions, I added more: time management, motivation, organization… and I am still building!

So now, here I am, almost a year after launching! I have students regularly checking out my blog for study tips and university navigation info, and I’m offering live webinars and will be launching my first online courses in the next few weeks!

More About Me

If you’re wondering what else I do, I also work as a research assistant with my PhD supervisor, have a communications internship with a professional association, volunteer with another professional association, and am a dog-sitter through the Rover app, in addition to various part-time contract work in higher education. My PhD research is on equity policy and how universities implement change as they take up new institutional level policies at different levels.

I hope you are finding Choose Your Uni helpful, and I always love hearing from other students, so please feel free to email me with your questions:

If you want to stay in touch on social, I’m on these channels. I post study tips, career tips, announcements, and scholarship info.

If you’re wondering where to head to next, these are my most popular blog posts:

You can find my webinars, courses and events here:

I also have an email newsletter called Wednesday Wisdom. I share study tips, new blog posts, and information and announcement on upcoming events. You can sign up here:

How to Beat Procrastination

Procrastination is something we all face at some point, even though we know we should just get our work done. I am always so amazed by students who finish assignments before the deadline – I’m one of those people submitting at 11:59pm. So how can we beat procrastination? The first step is figuring out the cause, and then how to overcome it.

I was working quite a bit when I did my undergrad and masters, so it was less about procrastinating and more about trying to get my work done in the limited time I had. I didn’t necessarily start my work early – I was just constantly trying to make room on my to-do list to get onto my upcoming assignments.

When I became a full-time PhD student, this totally changed. My first year was coursework, which is not that different from other levels of courses. But now I was not working very much, and had all the time to dedicate to studying. And I procrastinated more than I ever thought possible!

To resolve this, I had to figure out what the problem was. Why was I procrastinating? Why wasn’t I motivated to study (when I was definitely interested in learning)? How could I turn myself from an unmotivated university student into a thriving, A+ studier?

Why are you procrastinating?

Procrastination doesn’t always have the same cause, so in order to overcome procrastination, try to figure out why you are doing it. This takes some soul-searching and can be challenging. If you are having trouble figuring out why you aren’t motivated to get your work done, try talking to a trusted friend, family member, or counsellor about it. Sometimes other people who know us well can see our blind spots!

Perfectionism Procrastination

This was my problem, but I had a lot of trouble seeing it. I thought I just didn’t know where to start. In reality, I just had to sit down and start ANYTHING, but because I wanted my papers to be perfect, I was waiting until I had the perfect idea or knew how to start perfectly.

All of this was just a fear of not producing a “perfect” paper. But this is counter-productive, because by not starting my papers earlier, ultimately I had less time to work on them.

This could be you if you spend more time envisioning that A+ or the gold star from your professor, but have yet to put pen to paper. This could also be you if you’re waiting for inspiration or a good idea to get started.

Beating Perfectionism Procrastination

Doing something is always more helpful than doing nothing, so my way of moving through this was just starting with small pieces. If a 30-page paper is too intimidating, take 15 minutes to review the instructions and brainstorm ideas; Take 20 minutes to read one article on your topic; Take 30 minutes to start outlining your paper.

The pomodoro method may also be useful for you in this case. You can read more about pomodoros in this post, but essentially this is where you study for a short period, and then take a short break. You can adjust the lengths of the study periods and breaks so they work for you – if I’m not very motivated, I’ll study for 20 minutes and then take a 20 minute break.

Breaking your project into the smallest steps possible may also be useful. It’s intimidating to write a 30-page paper, or review an entire semester of content! Take 15-20 minutes to organize your project or study plan and break it into the smallest pieces possible. This is much less scary and helps you to see that you can and are making progress as time goes on.

Taking a small step is better than taking no step, and is much less intimidating.

“I Work Better Under Pressure” Procrastination

When I hear this from somebody, I always think to myself “Really???” I’m a bit skeptical. Yes, I believe that you work better with a deadline. But I don’t think that’s because of the “pressure.” I think it’s because you are better at being accountable to external influences than to yourself.

I am this way, too! A lot of us are. For example, it took me a couple of years of thinking about this blog to start it. Now that it’s there, I keep working on it because I am accountable to my audience .

Building Accountability to Defeat Procrastination

If you are better at working with deadlines that are put on you by others, you can leverage this to procrastinate less by building in some external accountability yourself. This may mean organizing a study group and building a schedule together. It could mean setting a date to exchange your draft paper with a friend and give each other feedback. It could even mean asking someone you trust, like a friend or even a parent, to check in with you on specific dates and remind you that you set yourself a goal. You could also book office hours with your professor or TA and set a goal to do a certain amount of work before you go.

How can you engage those around you to help you build external accountability into your work? Who are the folks you can work with to build some support for yourself?

Procrastination Due to Overwhelm

Are you procrastinating because your brain is going to explode? Does thinking about the work you have to do make you want to throw up or cry? Does it all just feel like too much?

Sometimes we procrastinate because we need a break. As students, if we don’t plan properly for rest and breaks, our brains and bodies will take the breaks anyways.

It can seem counter-intuitive to take a break when your to-do list is a mile long. I get it! But what is the impact of not taking a break? If you’re heading into overwhelm territory, or even burnout, that’s going to make you less productive than taking an afternoon off.

Tackling Overwhelm to Stop Procrastinating

There are different solutions to this. The suggestions above may help: short periods of work with lots of breaks, breaking your work into small steps, just working for short periods, seeking support from your social group.

You might really just need a break! Think of an activity that helps you to feel rested and re-energized to keep studying. Plan that activity into your schedule – ASAP! Make sure that you are also taking enough breaks from studying to take care of yourself: eating properly, getting exercise, and socializing.

You might also feel better if you got some things off your to-do list. Are there any tasks that you can just power through and get done? Anything that isn’t important right now that you can postpone for later? Focus on the most important tasks and set other items aside for now.

More Tips for Students Who Procrastinate

Remember your end goals, whatever they are, and focus on those. What can you do today to move you towards your dream career, or towards graduation? Sometimes focusing on the bigger picture will help you remember why you’re studying at university and this may take some of the pressure off.

Take the time to figure out why you’re procrastinating. Procrastination is a symptom of other challenges, so in order to defeat it, you really need to figure out what’s going on for you. We’re all different, so although it can be helpful to look at what works for others, you will need to figure out the best solution for you.

Don’t beat yourself up. We all procrastinate at some point. I know it can feel like everyone around you has got it together and you’re the only one struggling, but I assure you this is not the case. I have it together, ut sometimes I struggle. That is totally okay!

Being a student is difficult. You are challenged regularly, whether it’s professionally, academically, or around studying skills and time management. University student life is hard. Be kind to yourself, and remember that it’s hard for almost everyone. And those people who find it easy are something else!

Check out these three posts to read more on motivating yourself to study: