Online Learning Success

I think in these past few years we’ve all seen the positives and negatives of taking courses online. I started my program in September, 2020 and we actually never went back to on-campus learning. As of writing this, I’ve been in my “in-person” program for two years without setting foot on campus because my faculty’s building never re-opened. Now I’m sharing my best tips for online learning success.

There are a number of benefits to studying online, but they come with some extra challenges that students have to overcome. Let’s get more familiar with online learning and find out the best ways to succeed at it! In this article, I’m going to go through different types of online course content, the pros and cons of studying online, and then some tips for you to try.

Top tips for success in online courses: Manage your time carefully, Attend online courses actively, Eliminate or reduce distractions, Take mini-breaks regularly, Create or join a study group.

Different Types of Online Classes and Components:

Make sure to check your course syllabus for the details. Instructors may choose more than one of these options, and the requirements will vary. Online learning success comes from understanding the expectations of your specific course.

Synchronous Classes

Synchronous courses happen in real time, which means you will likely have a live online meeting (such as a scheduled lecture on Zoom or another online learning platform). Not all professors record these classes, so you should definitely check into that if you do not plan to attend. The expectation with these courses is that you will attend at the specified time. There may also be other asynchronous components to the course – online discussions, videos to watch, etc.

Asynchronous Classes

These courses don’t have scheduled components that you have to join at a specified time. This does not necessarily mean that you can learn at your own pace – there may still be weekly modules for you to complete in a specific order, with deadlines. An asynchronous online course might consist of recorded lectures and associated learning activities that you complete on your own, usually within a specified time frame (ie weekly).

Recorded or Live Lectures

Some instructors will pre-record their lectures, while some will do them live. Instructors who keep live lectures may also record them for any students who missed the class, or if you want to go back and review.

One benefit of recorded online courses is that you can speed it up or slow it down, and skip or rewatch different parts of the video. On the other hand, in live classes you may be able to ask questions or for further clarification.

Personally, I know I will be much more accountable to a live class that’s at a certain time. With the recorded class, I have to have the self-discipline to watch it at a set time each week, which is more challenging.

Online Discussion

Many university courses that had participation marks when they were in-person replaced in-class discussion with online discussion posts. This is where you have an online discussion by posting short written discussion pieces and responding to one another. Instructors may want you to post and respond a certain number of times each week, or to lead a discussion one week, or something similar.

I personally find that these are usually time-intensive and I don’t find them very valuable, so I try to take courses without them if I can. But if you’re the quiet type who doesn’t like speaking up in class, this may be a good way to get your participation marks in online courses.

Group Projects

Yes, you still have to do group projects in online courses! How annoying is that?

As if trying to organize regular group projects wasn’t hard enough, when you’re in an online course you could be working with much more difficult schedules: different time zones, diverse work schedules, very different time commitments.

The first things you’ll want to establish are your meetings and methods for communication. Are you going to use a group text? Email? Whatsapp? Discord? Make sure you pick something that all of you can commit to checking regularly.

Make sure you’re clear on the requirements for the group project. I know it can seem easiest to just do it all yourself, but if there are team evaluations or requirements for each person to do an equal amount of the project, you’ll want to make sure you divide it up properly.

Pros and Cons of Online University Courses

Advantages

No commute time! You don’t have to carry all your things on the bus and then around with you all day!

You don’t have to sit in a packed lecture hall during cold and flu season!

You can wear your pyjamas all day!

It is often easier to fit online courses around your schedule, so if you are a working student online courses could be a good choice. Make sure you check the requirements of the course and make sure you can meet any meetings or synchronous components.

Disadvantages

It’s much harder to get to know your classmates and professors in an online course. If you want to get to know them you will have to put in more effort. If you are going to need a reference letter from a professor, make sure you are wroking on this so they know who you are.

Some professors are not great at online teaching and don’t make it very engaging, which can lead to boring courses. Sometimes professors try to just shift their regular course online, which doesn’t always work well.

Challenges

I’ve tried to come up with some of the most common obstacles to success when you’re studying remotely.

First and foremost, I will mention time management. I have worked with so many students who think that an online course somehow requires less time than an in-person course. This is not true! Make sure you are planning to spend as much time on your online courses as you would any other course if you want to be a successful online student!

Many students do not have a dedicated study space at home. You may be surrounded by distractions and interruptions. It can be hard to focus if you live in a shared home with family or roommates.

Some students, probably the more extroverted ones, feel isolated in an online learning environment. You might miss connecting with your classmates and chatting on your class breaks. You have to put in more effort if you want to get to know your classmates, which can be challenging. University is a key place for you to build your network, and not having the same connections can be a disadvantage.

A lot of students find online courses less motivating. It can be harder to pay attention when you’re not in the lecture hall. If you feel disconnected from campus you can also feel disconnected from your degree. This lack of connection can make your courses feel pointless, and make it feel like you’re not actually moving towards your goals.

Best Tips for Online Learning Success

Online learning success requires you to take even more responsibility for your education. Here are my suggestions on how to take charge of and be successful in your online learning.

Time Management

Manage your time well. Block out the time you need to attend any synchronous components, or the time you need to complete asynchronous components. Don’t expect an online course to take less time than an in-person course. If anything, it will take more time because you are doing more active learning.

Attend Actively

Attend your classes with the same diligence you would on campus. Sit in a chair, at a desk or table. Sitting on the couch or bed is comfy, but can lead to distractions (or falling asleep). Sitting on the floor is also an option, if you can get comfortable enough. You have to be more active and put more effort into paying attention and not getting distracted. Wearing headphones, especially noise-cancelling ones, can be really helpful to block out other sounds so it’s easier to focus.

Eliminate Distractions

Eliminate as many distractions as you can. Put your phone away, in another room or in your backpack if possible. Turn off notifications on your computer. Don’t multitask – pick one task at a time to work on. Wear headphones to block out externa noise. If you get distracted at home, try studying on campus, in a library, or at a coffee shop.

Take Breaks

Take breaks between classes and study sessions. If you were on campus, you’d have a few minutes to at least walk to a new location, so use that time. Don’t spend the full day in front of your computer. Make sure you are taking breaks and getting up to move.

Study Groups

Even though you’re learning online, you can still join or create a study group. Study groups can meet online, or you may be able to meet in-person. See if anyone in your class wants to create a study group with you. Studying with others keeps you accountable to spending time working on the course, and you can work together to master the content.

Keep Up With the Course

Remember that many online university courses are not “work at your own pace.” They will usually still fit within your uni’s semester system, which means you won’t have any advantages in terms of how long the course will take or when you can work on it. Make sure you keep up with your courses!

Improve Your Study Skills

Having strong study skills will also help you have success in online learning. Read more about study skills for university students in this post:

How to do Academic Research: A Beginner’s Guide

This post is for university students who would like some guidance on doing academic research. Maybe you’re working on one of your first research papers, or you didn’t do so well on the last one and you want to level up. Below, I’ll focus on on how to do academic research, rather than writing up your paper – that post will be coming soon.

Here’s what we’ll look at in this post:

📕 How to evaluate information
📙 Where to find sources
📘 How to cite your sources

Blue background with a palm tree shadow and white text that reads: Beginner's guide to academic research: 1. Check sources for quality; 2. Use university resources; 3. Find related articles; 4. Cite your work properly.

You can also learn how to read journal articles effectively in this post:

How to Evaluate Information

You know you’re not supposed to use Wikipedia. But why not? When you find a website online, how can you know whether you can cite it or not? Can you trust the information that’s there? Here’s what you should be checking for when you’re doing academic research for your university courses: date, source, and authority.

Date

How recent is it? Can you find the publication date? While there’s no exact timeline for something to qualify as “recent,” you want to make sure that the information you’re using is the most up-to-date.

Using out-of-date sources will not impress your professors because they are experts in the field and they will probably know! A huge part of their job is just reading, so they’ll know what the most recent arguments and discoveries in their field are.

How can you tell if it’s recent? First, look for a publication date. If you’re using academic research journals, there will always be a publication date available. If you’re using online sources such as websites or blogs, there may not be a publication date. But can you find a copyright date? Last updated? These will also give you some idea of the age of the information.

When you’re doing your research, also make sure you are looking at a breadth of sources, as well. This means you’re not just looking at 1-2 sources, you’re finding as many as you can. Reviewing these will help you find what the most recent arguments or findings are, and then you can tell if your other source is in alignment or not.

If you are in doubt about the publication date, it’s probably not a great source for you to pull from. In this case, try to find another source that has similar information, but includes a date.

Source

The source is about where you find your information. Generally speaking, you will want to use academic resources, also known as research journals, scholarly journals, or just journals. These articles go through what is called a peer review process before they are published.

You can definitely ask your librarian, TA, or professor which are the prominent journals in your area of study. They will know which are the most reputable journals that are widely read. You may also be able to see this on your course reading list – the articles you have to read for class are chosen by your professor and probably from the journals they read.

The peer review process means that one expert (or a group of experts) wrote the paper, and then it was circulated anonymously to a number of other experts in the same field, who reviewed it before it could be published. These other experts make sure that the research is sound: the researcher(s) who wrote the paper has used effective methods and has represented their findings clearly and accurately, and has not made any unsubstantiated claims. These reviews are typically done anonymously, so that the researchers have to use what is in the article to decide, they can’t just look at who wrote it.

You will be able to see whether your source is peer-reviewed in your university’s research databases (I’ll explain this below).

Occasionally, you may use some non-peer reviewed sources. Depending on the topic of your research, you may want to use a newspaper or magazine article, a blog post, a newscast, tv show, etc. You should only use these when they are needed – they cannot replace peer-reviewed sources. These sources are for when you want to talk about what was in a newspaper article, etc.

If you read about an academic study in a news article, then you should look up the original study rather than citing the news article. You would only use the news article if that was the topic of your paper – for example, if you were looking at how different news articles represented the same study differently, or wanted to analyze how news agencies represented a particular topic.

Generally speaking, though – stick with peer-reviewed journals so you can be sure your sources are reliable.

Authority

Authority is really about assessing the author’s (or authors’) credibility and ability to write knowledgeably on the topic. This is something that will be checked for already in a peer-reviewed publication, so you do not usually need to do a lot of research on authors in those.

However, if you are using a popular (non-academic) source like a news website or blog, you should definitely take a look at the author’s credentials. Are they someone you can trust on that topic? Are they an expert? If they are not, why would you use their source?

Again, if you just stick with your peer-reviewed scholarly publications, you do not have to do a lot of work at this step.

Where to Find Sources

Here’s the real how-to of doing academic research!

Now that you have some methods to analyze the sources you find, you will need to find some sources! It’s time to actually DO THE RESEARCH! How exciting. Here’s how you can use research databases and Google scholar to conduct research for your university papers.

Research Databases

Each university subscribes to a number of research databases. Typically, the larger your university is, the more databases you will have access to. You will access these through your university’s library website. If you cannot find the “databases” tab, just do a web search for your university’s name and “research databases” and you should find it.

Here are two examples of database pages. The one on the left is from Memorial University’s library site, and the one on the right is from the University of Toronto’s library website. You can see that you can access the popular databases, or you can search for them by name or topic/subject.

If you’re not sure what database to use, you can definitely search by subject. Just put in the topic of your course: history, sociology, etc – whatever it is, and have a look at the databases there. Once you click on one, you will have to sign in through your university account, and then it will take you to the database page.

Once you’re in a database, you’ll have a variety of search options. You can limit your search to peer-reviewed articles, search by date, publication (journal) title, article title, keyword, etc.

When you’re starting your research, I recommend starting with a few keywords and expanding from there. Once you’ve done some keyword searches, you will probably see which are the journals that are showing up the most in your results, and this will give you some idea of which are the top journals for your topic specifically.

Google Scholar

Google scholar is a massive research database that is open to everyone – so you don’t need to log in to your university website to do searches. You just have to go to scholar.google.com and then it’s like doing a regular Google search! So easy, right?

Not quite. Because Google Scholar is much more open than your research databases (and contains way more sources), you will have to be more careful when you are finding the sources. Make sure you are checking the source and authority according to the criteria I explained above.

Another way to very easily check the authority is to look the items up in your library’s database when you find them on Google Scholar. I do this by simply copying & pasting the article name in myuniversity’s library’s website search bar. If it’s available at my library, the listing will indicate whether it is peer-reviewed or not. Then I can access it through my library’s website, where I can usually find the correct copy of it online.

Adding Your Library in Google Scholar

You can connect Google Scholar with your university’s catalogue so that you can easily access any sources you find with just one click from Google Scholar. Just click on the hamburger menu in the top left of the Google Scholar page, and then click Settings and then Library Links. From there, search for your university library and follow the steps to connect it.

Now, when you find ssomething on Google Scholar that is available at your university’s library, it will have an icon next to the listing that you can click to access it.

One caution with Google Scholar – it does not always provide the final published version of an article. This is another reason that I will usually go back to my uni’s library site to access the article! Then I know i have the official publication. Sometimes the ones on Google Scholar are a pre-print or a conference paper, and they appear as word documents. If this happens, make sure you search for the official article through your university’s site.

Setting Up Google Scholar Alerts

These are basically the same as Google Alerts, but they tell you when articles are published that fit a particular search term. You’ll get an email with a list of new articls that meet your search criteria. You can set these up by going to Google Scholar and then accessing the hamburger menu on the top left, and then clicking Alerts.

From there, click Create Alert and follow the steps to save your alert. Now you’ll get an email every time a new article shows up on your topic!

Research Tips

Search Terms

If you are having trouble finding research on your topics, try playing around with different keywords and search terms.

For example, in researching higher education, I know there is a topic called “college choice” that I can search for. However, when I want Canadian research specifically, it won’t work becuase we don’t call universities “college” like they do in the US, so I know that searching for “college” will only show me American publications. Instead, I might try “Canadian college choice” or “university choice” or “Canadian university choice” or “student choice university.” If those don’t work, I will just keep trying!

How to Get Started

Before you start reading articles all the way through, pop in your search terms, restrict to the last 1-2 years, and find some articles that look relevent, and just read the abstracts. The abstract is a short summary of the paper that is placed at the beginning that will tell you what the paper is about and what their conclusions were. You may also head to the end of the paper and read the conclusion or discussion section. The discussion section of the paper talks about how or why the findings of the paper are relevant, and how they might be applied.

Once you have read a handful of recent article abstracts, you will likely have some idea what the themes are. This will help you to narrow down your paper topic and do further research.

Use the Reference List

When you find a useful journal article, you can go through its reference list to see all the articles that were cited and find more useful information and sources.

The reference list shows you where the journal article authors got their information from, and you can get your information from the same sources.

Find Articles That Cited The First Article

When you find a useful article, you can also look up who has cited it. This will help you find more related articles. There are different tools you can use to do this – there is an option in many of the research databases (it would say something like “cited this” or “cited in”). You can also use Google Scholar or Connected Papers.

Google Scholar

To find out where your article has been cited, look it up on Google Scholar (search by article title) and then click “Cited by” underneath the listing. This will take you to a list of articles that cited the first one and are likely to be on the same or similar topic.

Connected Papers

You can also go to ConnectedPapers.com and put your article title in to see all of its citations (the reference list) plus all the articles that cited it in a graph and list format. This is a little bit more overwhelming to decipher than Google Scholar, but combines all of this information, which you may prefer.

On the left, it will show you a list of all the papers, including both the ones cited by your paper and those that cited your paper. In the middle, it shows the connections between these papers in a chart, and then on the right it shows you the first paper (the one you searched for) with its abstract.

One really cool thing with Connected Papers is that you can click on any of the dots in the graph and it will show you the citation and abstract for that paper, as well as several direct links to find more information, including one to Google Scholar.

But, honestly, if you find this a little overwhelming it’s totally fine to just use Google Scholar and your university’s databases – I think Connected Papers might be level 2, so try it out when and if you’re ready.

Citation Styles

One more thing that is really important is that you cite your work. This means that you have to give credit for any ideas in your paper that weren’t yours. As an undergrad student and new researcher, this will be most of the ideas in your paper.

Essentially, the citation information ensures that someone reading your paper can see where you got your information from. This means another reader can evaluate your sources and make judgments about the quality of your paper – the same way academics do during the peer review process.

Not citing your work properly can be a form of plagiarism, and you can get in trouble for it at most institutions, so make sure you learn how to do this. Not a lot of professors will teach you how, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know how to do it.

Each discipline or area of study will typically use one citation style. It might be APA, MLA, Vancouver, Chicago, or something else. Your professor will usually tell you which style is preferred, but if they did not, make sure to ask. Some instructors are very strict and will take marks off if you do not format your citations correctly.

Your university library will have a page dedicated to citation styles that will explain more about how to do it, and if you have questions you can reach out to your librarian for more information.

How Can You Learn More About How to Do Academic Research?

Your university’s library is there to assist you with your research, so that is the best place to start. If you go to a smaller university, there may be fewer resources. In this case, you can definitely have a look at larger universities’ library websites, in Canada or the US, and search online for more information.

Your professors and TAs are also likely to be helpful. Since TAs are usually graduate students, they have already been where you are now and can share what they’ve learned. Additionally, your professor is a professional researcher and can provide further information.

For more information on how to level-up your study skills, check out this post:

Motivation to Study

After working with so many students around study and time management skills, I have realized that these two topics actually encompass numerous other skills that often overlap. So I can’t talk about study skills without talking about time management, and I can’t talk about time management without talking about motivation.

What is Motivation?

Motivation refers to your desire to do something. It refers to being able to get to work on something in order to meet a larger goal, even if you don’t feel like working on that exact task at the moment.

How Can I Feel More Motivation to Study?

There are ways to do this. First, remind yourself of your end goal. Visualize it and think about why you want it. What will it feel like to increase your grade in a particular course? What will it feel like to show up at your graduation ceremony and walk across the stage? What will it feel like to start your career? What will it feel like to have a regular paycheque and no homework?

You can also try to motivate yourself extrinsicly – this means finding a way to celebreate completing something. It could be a snack, or a social event, or a tv show. Unfortunately, extrinsic motivation will only get you so far, so you will want to find other ways to get yourself studying.

I have previously written on motivating yourself to study here:

Your studies will consist of tasks you enjoy and tasks you do not enjoy. You can try sandwiching the ones you dislike in between the ones that you like more. That way, you do something more enjoyable, and then you do an awful activity, and then you go back to something you like more. One challenge with this is that you may not always have enough tasks in the “more fun” category to balance the “less fun” things.

You can also “eat the frog,” a concept taken from a quote from 19th-century author Mark Twain. The idea with this is that if you have to do some task you consider horrible, like eating a frog, you get it done first thing in the morning so it’s over. Then you can move onto more pleasant tasks once you’re done eating the frog.

But sometimes, you just won’t be motivated, and you might not be able to change that. Sometimes you have to get it done even though you don’t want to. This is where self-management comes in.

Self-Management

Self-management is about leveraging several skills in order to get things done – and this includes doing things you don’t necessarily have a lot of interest in doing.

Self-Managment vs. Self-Discipline

I prefer the term self-management over self-discipline for two reasons. First, as I mentioned above, it refers a set of skills – and self-discipline is just one of those skills. Self-discipline is narrower. Secondly, self-discipline conjures thoughts of militaristic rule-following and unnecessarily unpleasant and pointless tasks. It also makes me think that there’s punishment if you don’t do it. I don’t think anybody should set themselves up for pointless tasks, unpleasantness, or punishment!

Skills of Self-Management

  • Time management: The ability to get work done on time.
  • Organization: Knowing what you need to do, and when you need to do it.
  • Prioritization: Understanding what is most important and adjusting your workload to get it all done on time.
  • Self-discipline: Doing things you’re not interested in at the moment because you see the bigger picture of how they are important.
  • Motivation: Finding a reason to do something and bringing energy to it even when you don’t feel like it.

These are all transferable skills, which you can learn more about in this post.

I have also previously written about time and priority management, so make sure you check out that post for more information, too.

Building Habits

Sometimes your motivation will fail you, and in that situation, self-discipline and habits can help you out.

For example, let’s look at teeth-brushing. Most kids aren’t very interested in brushing their teeth. they also don’t really have a concept of the future benefit. They don’t care about dental bills, and don’t really understand what it will be like to have dental problems. They can’t imagine the discomfort of a dental procedure. There’s not much motivation for them. But we all grow up to brush our teeth a couple times a day (well, for the most part). How? Becuase we built the habit of doing it. Our parents made us brush twice a day as a child, and eventually when it becomes habit, we just keep doing it.

You can create habits around studying, too – just like your parents got you to do when you were learning to brush your teeth.

How to Build Habits

There are loads of different ways to build habits, so I’ll just cover a couple here that have worked for me:

You can pair a new habit with an existing habit. So, if you like to listen to podcasts while you’re at the gym, maybe you could listen to an audio recording of a textbook instead. Or if you’re like me and you like to have a coffee and read or write in the morning, you can switch that reading and writing over to class material.

You can also pair a habit with a cue. So, for example, set an alarm for an hour after you get home from your part-time job on Saturdays. Then you can take that hour to relax, go on social, read a book, watch tv, whatever, but when the alarm goes off, you get back to studying.

It can also help to have the same time and location for studying. If you know that on Tuesdays, you get up early and head to the library to study before class, then that can become a habit in a few weeks.

Conclusions on Study Motivation

Motivation to study is great, and you should study when you feel motivated to.

But when you don’t feel motivated to study, you need to be able to study anyways.

Building habits around studying is a great way to get work done when you don’t feel motivated.

Why You Should Get Involved on Campus

This week’s blog post on getting involved on campus is in collaboration with Nicole from Behind the Classroom, where she shares tips and information for students, teachers, and parents. She is a high school teacher in Washington State, near Seattle and teaches English and Social Studies. While many of her posts are geared towards parents and teachers, she also shares info for students, like this post on why you need to cite your work. Make sure to check her website out!

Today we’re sharing more information about campus involvement, including:
👉 What is campus involvement?
👉 What are the benfits of campus involvement?
👉 How can you get involved?
👉 What can you do in high school to prepare?

What is Campus Involvement?

Also known as student involvement or extracurricular activities (because they are in addition to the curricular activities – your courses), campus involvement is a broad term to describe some of the ways that students can be connected to their university and fellow students. I’ve provided some examples below, so keep reading!

What are the Benefits of Getting Involved on Campus?

Why is it so important to get involved on your university campus? There are so many benefits to being involved on your campus:
✅ fostering a sense of belonging
✅ building your resume
✅ making new friends
✅ enhancing your life skills (aka “adulting”)

There is research that indicates students who feel a stronger sense of belonging on campus are more likely to finish their degrees. Being involved typically results in students feeling as though they belong and have a place on campus as it gives them more connection with others in the community. You may have the chance to work with higher-year students who may become official or unofficial mentors or friends, and you could connect with different staff or professors on campus who can support you.

You can also build your resume through campus involvement, whether that’s through the experiences you gain or the colleagues you work with becoming references. Depending on your level of involvement, you can gain hands-on experience working on team or being a leader, organizing events, managing finances and budgets, overseeing volunteers, and more.

Of course getting more engaged on your campus also means working with other students, so this is a great opportunity to meet people and make friends. You have the chance to meet some very diverse people on campus and build your circle of friends.

Being engaged on your campus is also a great way to build some life skills and feel more like an adult. Of course you’ll have to have good time management skills to fit things into your schedule, but you can also push yourself to speak to more people that you might not have met, or take on tasks as part of a team even if you’ve never done them before. These opportunities can give you enormous personal and professional growth during your student years.

Examples of Campus Involvement Opportunities

Most universities will have an office for student engagement or involvement that will support many of these activities. If you haven’t come across this office yet, have a look for it on your university’s website and see what services they offer to support you as you navigate your journey in campus involvement!

Student Clubs

What are some common student clubs and organizations?

There are student clubs and organizations for almost anything. I have broken them into four categories here: based on culture, interest, discipline and career. Each university will have a different set of clubs and organizations. While some might be more common or be connected outside of the university, many of them will be unique to your university.

Culture-based clubs and organizations are focused around particular backgrounds. Examples of these might be: a Taiwanese student club, the Organization of Latin American Students, a Black Student Association, etc. These clubs are for students to connect and build community with those who may have similar cultural backgrounds and therefore have some experiences in common. They may also hold events for themselves, or to share or educate other students.

Other clubs are based around interests, which could be sports or other activities. Examples would include things like a Ski Club, Chess Club, Knitting Club, Gamers Club, Manga Club, etc.

Discipline-based organizations are those related to the areas of study. These might be clubs, organizations, associations, or student unions, and examples could include the Psychology Club, a departmental student organization, the English Students Union, and much more.

There are also what I would call career-based clubs, which are similar to interest-based clubs in that they are for students who are interested in learning more about a particular career. This might include an Consulting Club, Entrepreneurship Club, or Pre-Med club (which could also be considered discipline-based).

Basically, there are clubs and organizations for everything! You have no excuse to not find something that interests you on campus. Additionally, many universities will allow you to propose and launch a new club, which means you can get funding for something that doesn’t exist!

What does a student club do?

What a student club or organization does will really depend on what its purpose is! Generally speaking, though, they organize events and opportunities for students. This could mean networking events, social events, interest-related outings, competitions, hiring speakers, or even pub nights and concerts.

Student Unions

Student Unions are run by students and are usually autonomous (not run by the university). They are an elected gropu of representatives of the students, whoc an be called upon to represent the university’s students. They may oversee the student clubs and organizations on campus.

Student Unions will often be responsible for social events for students, and they may be involved in the political life on campus as well. They may decide to take student issues to the university to try to make changes. For example, most recently, during the pandemic, many student unions have been advocating for students as they faced numerous challenges related to remote learning and evaluation.

This type of involvement may be of interest to you if you enjoy politics or want to learn more about how public organizations run, but also if you just want to be involved in the governance of your university.

Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs are great for students! You could be connected with a mentor who helps you navigate the campus, or helps your career take off. These programs might be run by your university, or they could be run by student groups, so make sure you keep an eye out for any mentorship programs that might be relevant to you.

In your later years, you may also have the opportuniy to become a mentor for younger or newer students! This is another way to expand your network, maybe make some friends, and get connected with other students.

Residence Life

There are a number of opportunities to be involved in residence. Typically, there are leadership positions available for students who want to take on a role where they support other students in the residence. These can be challenging positions where you support students through their personal and academic problems, but it can be very rewarding work.

Orientation Leaders

After your first year, you might decide you want to help new students feel at home and know their way around the university. If this is you, you might want to help with your uni’s orientation! Orientation leaders organize activities and serve as guides for new students who are just starting at the university. Sometimes these positions are for volunteers, and sometimes they are paid, but that will depend on how your university organizes orientation.

Volunteering

Universities always need volunteers for events on campus, so most unis have a website dedicated to this. These roles could be anything from holding a sign telling people where to park, to welcoming people to a reception or speaking event.

Campus Newspaper

You don’t have to be in a journalism program to work for the campus newspaper. If you like to do research and write, and care about issues that affect your university and/or your fellow students, this is a good option! You can build a writing portfolio for yourself as well.

Other On-Campus Work

While on-campus work is not all generally considered “involvement,” it works in the same way as the other opportunities I’m including here. There are numerous jobs available on-campus for students, from teaching or research assistantships, working at the library, co-op positions, and a variety of other positions. These often pay higher than minimum wage, and they are familiar with the restrictions of a student schedule and may be more accommodating. Plus, if you are already on campus you won’t have to commute any extra.

Intramurals & Sports

Joining a sports team can also be a great way to make connections on campus and have fun. Plus, being physically active tends to be one of the things students skip when they get busy. While you may not be gaining an academic reference, you can still connect with other students and build that sense of belonging on campus.

Tips for Getting Involved:

Go to everything in your first couple of terms. Don’t overburden yourself, but check out a few clubs and figure out which ones you would like to get involved with. Many universities have some kind of clubs event in the first couple of weeks of class where you can find out about many of the campus activities.

Keep a schedule so you know when meetings are and to ensure you have no conflicts. As a university student, you’ll have a lot of time commitments and studying to do, so you will need to stay organized in order to incorporate more activities into your schedule.

Take advantage of any mentorship programs available to you – not only will mentors help you get to know campus, they can let you know what opportunities exist, or you can be a mentor when you get to a higher year. 

Think about transferable skills & communicate these if you’re putting yourself forward for a club executive or organizing committee, or any other competitive role. 

Tips for Getting Involved When You’re Not on Campus

Since even our “on-campus” programs have been shifting on and off of campus recently due to COVID, you might be wondering how you can get involved if you aren’t on campus, or if you are in an entirely-online program.

Of course this makes it a little bit more difficult, but many of the opportunities for involvement discussed above will still be available in a remote environment. Just like the rest of the university (and everything else), most clubs and other spaces where you can get involved will have adapted to campus closures. You can track them down through your university’s website or on social and reach out to get involved.

Some club may be less active when campuses are not open, so you may have fewer options. But you should still take a look and see what’s there – it’s even more important to start building connections at your university when you are not able to attend on campus.

How to prepare in high school

Becoming involved on campus is much easier when you were already involved in high school. Make sure to branch out and join at least one extracurricular at the high school level. Not only does this give you an idea of what your interests are, but you can also develop skills that help you meet others and work through uncomfortable situations (like being new on campus!). You’ll also already have experience juggling a schedule of courses and extracurricular activities, which will make it easier to do this in university.

Working in Student Affairs

If you find that you really enjoy your involvement on campus and would like to continue this type of work, check out careers in student affairs! This is a rapidly growing career area in Canada, and for many of the roles you just need some work experience and an undergraduate degree. Student affairs careers include folks who work in student engagement, residence life, academic advising, career advising, and a variety of other positions that support students at universities and colleges. For more information on working in student affairs, check out CACUSS – the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services, which is the professional association of student affairs folks in Canada.

Student Funding: Scholarships & Awards

How Can I Get Free Money as a Student?

Free money, you say? Bring it on!

As a soon-to-be or current university student, you should be applying for some of that free student money! Student loans are cool, but you have to pay them back at some point. Why not search for money that will just be given to you? It’s way better.

If you’re thinking “But I don’t have straight A’s,” keep reading, because there is most likely money available to you anyways! You should be looking for scholarships and awards anyways. You never know when you will be the most qualified applicant! Not all scholarships and awards have high grade requirements. 

Definitions

Student Funding

This is an umbrella term that can include all the different types of funding: scholarships, awards, bursaries, grants and loans. Your university’s student funding office can be called a funding office, or academic aid and awards, or financial aid and awards, or… any combination of these terms.

Scholarships

Scholarships are financial gifts for students who meet certain requirements. The requirements can vary a lot, and can include just about anything (see below in What Qualifies You for a Scholarship? for more information).

Awards

Awards are like scholarships in that they are financial gifts for students, and sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but awards will typically have non-academic requirements. You might see awards for leadership, entrepreneurship, campus involvement, volunteering, etc. These are not academic requirements, but they are requirements for the award.

Bursaries

Bursaries are a financial gift typically based on financial need, so to receive one you will likely have to prove that you and your family earn below a certain threshhold of annual income.

Student Loans

Loans are money that you borrow to pay for education. In Canada, these are managed through your home province and each province administers them a little differently. If you go to university in a different province than you lived in previously, you have to apply through your home province (the one where you lived before going to university), not the province of your university. More information on student loans and grants in Canada is available here.

Grants

A grant is a portion of your student loan that is gifted to you or forgiven. This means that when you apply for a student loan, you’ll receive a loan and you might get some free money, too. The grants come from the federal government but are administered through your province. More information on student loans and grants in Canada is available here.

What Qualifies You for a Scholarship?

Honestly, just about anything can qualify you for a scholarship. I have made a list here, but I’m sure there are many other ways you can qualify for scholarships.

Grades

Really good grades are probably the best way to get the biggest scholarships. Universities offer thousands of dollars every year to high school students who have excelled in their studies, and then thousands of dollars to students who continue to get very high grades in university.

Each university wants to claim the smartest students as their own, and the main way they to do that is to entice students with really high grades with big scholarship packages. When you hear about “full-ride” scholarships, they refer to scholarships that pay for EVERYTHING (housing, tuition, textbooks, cost of living) or close to everything for your whole degree. These are extremely competitive and very difficult to get, but of course totally worth it.

Other Qualifications (Where to Find Scholarships)

You can find scholarships available for certain categories of students, for example international, Canadian, first generation (first generation means you are the first in your family to go to university).

You may find scholarships based on where you come from (in a very broad sense). For example, country of origin, elementary or high school, school district, municipality (city) or region, home province, etc. I know of an elementary school, for example, that has a scholarship for a student who goes on to university – but nobody knows about it so they have trouble giving that money away!

There are scholarships based on your heritage or culture. For example, there are scholarships for Black and indigenous students, Hungarian or Ukrainian heritage students, and students who are from or whose families are from specific countries.

Companies and organizations also create scholarships, so you can check your parents employers, your own employer (if you have one), and any unions you or your family members are affiliated with.

Universities, degrees and majors may also have specific scholarships, so make sure to check out your university’s financial support office and website, and also ask around in your program area (department or faculty) to see what’s there.

Who Can Help Me Find and Apply for Scholarships?

While you’re in high school, your guidance counsellor and/or teachers should be able to help you with this.

Universities all have an office dedicated to student financial support. Once you are applying to a university, you can reach out to them for more information. This office can have many different names, but searching by your university name and “financial aid” or “scholarships” should get you to their website. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch with them – don’t just give up! They probably have staff who can help you.

What is the Best Website to Apply for Scholarships?

There are a few websites that publish Canadian scholarship lists, but you have to comb through them because they will each have specific requirements, and a lot of them are for students at specific universities. Yes, you should go through these, but you should also be doing other research as well.

Use the lists above to check for specific scholarships you might qualify for based on your own unique qualifications and characteristics. This is the hard part – trying to find all the scholarships!

You should be going through your university’s website to find scholarships, and you can also look at similar programs at other universities. Some programs publish lists of scholarships students can apply for, and some do not. I have found some really good scholarships on a PDF list I got from another university’s website for a similar program to the one I am in. Perfect!

What is the Easiest Scholarship to Get?

This really depends! If you have really high grades, then you will probably qualify for more scholarships and awards. If you have middle-range grades, you are probably more likely to get an obscure scholarship with very specific requirements that not that many studetns meet. But you should be applying for everything you think you could qualify for, because you will never know who else is applying and when you could be the most qualified applicant.

How to Stay Organized and Apply for Scholarships

I use a spreadsheet to organize all the scholarships I find, so that I don’t have to search for them every year. You can get the spreadsheet template that I use here:

I organize mine by deadline, constantly shifting the next ones up to the top row so I know what to work on and when to ask for references. 

How Can I Apply for Student Funding?

Each scholarship or award application is going to be a little bit different, but here are some of the commonly-requested components:

Transcripts

Before they give you money, they are going to want to see that you’re a decent student and that you meet any grade or GPA requirements for the funding.

They will usually ask for a specific type of transcripts: official/unofficial, paper/electronic, emailed/mailed. Make sure you send the right kind and that you leave enough time for it to meet the deadline. Sometimes universities take some time to process transcript requests.

You should also be aware that official transcripts usually cost money to request, so you are very likely to have to pay for those.

References or Letters of Recommendation

Most scholarships and awards will ask for references or letters of recommendation from your professors. This means that you want to be getting to know at least a few of your profs well enough that they can write these for you.

These might be actual letters that your professors send in, or it could just be an online form where they answer some questions. You should provide information on the type of reference to your prof when you ask for the letter.

If you want some guidance on how to ask for a reference or letter of recommendation, I have one here:

Letter or Statement of Intent

You will sometimes be asked to write a letter or statement of intent to highlight how you qualify the award or why you would be a good choice for recipient. This is fairly similar to writing a cover letter, where you will have to tailor it to that award and audience specifically and focus on the things they are evaluating you on. Your university’s financial support office may be able to help with this or provide some supports. You should also get someone to read it over – if you have a professor who is willing to do that for you, that would be ideal, but a friend or family member can also help.

Questions?

Please reach out if you have further questions – you can reach me on any of my socials, or send me an email: email@chooseyouruni.ca – I read every message!

Understanding Your Parents’ Perspective of University

This week’s post is a guest post by Sierra Scacco, a freelance copywriter. She’s sharing some tips for how you can better understand your parents’ perspective when you go to university, and included some tips for improving your relationship with them.

After 18 long years, you have finally made it! You’ve graduated from high school and are making the next big step: university. As this is new territory, you might be wondering how your relationship with your parents will change. Whether you are living at home through your college career or going away for school, here are some ways to understand your parent’s perspective of college.

Focus on Communication

In order to create the best experience for you and your parents during your college years, keep communication open. Your parents want to hear from you! They want to know how your classes are going, what your struggles are, and they especially want to hear about your successes! Show off the paper you got an A on, and let them celebrate the small (and big) wins with you. 

Keeping communication open can help ease tension because your parents will know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Although you don’t need to divulge every aspect of your life, don’t leave them out of the loop for the things that count!

Create Boundaries

Creating boundaries is especially important if you are still at home while going to college, but this can be applied if you are away from home as well. It’s important to have a conversation with your parents about your boundaries as an adult and college student. Although there are still rules you will need to follow if you are living at home, talk with your parents about how these rules may be adapted now that you are an adult. Respect their boundaries, but remind them that you want the chance to learn and grow as an adult.

Creating and keeping these boundaries may mean that you need to find some time for yourself outside of the home. Living the college life also includes experiences! Spend some extra time on campus with friends, study in the university library, or find something fun to do in your city. This will let you stretch your wings a little bit and give you a healthy amount of space from the norm.

If you are away from home, creating boundaries could mean that you ask them to only call twice a week instead of every night. Or, you may tell them that you will visit once a month. Whatever this looks like for you, remember that your parents love you and want you to learn and grow. Have respect for them, and they will have respect for you.

Find Ways to Include Your Family

Just as it is important to keep communication open, it is also important to include your family in this new stage of your life! Include your family in the big moments. Maybe you won an award and will be honored, or you joined a club or team at your university. Let your family celebrate with you and invite them to these special events when possible. 

Make sure you support the rest of your family too. If you have a younger sibling who plays sports, show up to a few games each season. Make room in your schedule for family dinner a few nights a week. Whatever this looks like for you, keep your family involved. They want to celebrate and support you!

What Your Parents are Probably Thinking…

If you are a first-generation college student

If one or both of your parents have never been through college themselves, there will probably be different expectations for you and things that you may have to learn together. Not only is this new for you, but it’s new for them as well!

Your parents want to go on this journey with you. They may not understand it at times, and you may have to explain to them why you are getting a degree in the first place. Be up front with them about what you hope to accomplish, and include them in your goals. They want to support you, but may not know where to even start!

If they have a college degree of their own

On the flip side, if your parent already has a degree, they probably also have an idea of where college can lead. The challenge here is that university has changed so much since they were in school! Your parents may have memories of their uni days and will want you to make the same memories. Or they may have a certain career path they want you to take and believe they know how to reach that end-goal the best way.

Whether you agree or not, remember that your parents love you and just want what is best for you! As a college graduate themselves, they may want you to follow in their footsteps, but it is okay to forge your own path! Just be open with them about what you want to accomplish and be prepared with a plan. If you can show them how you are going to accomplish something instead of just telling them what you want to do, they will be more understanding of you reaching your goal.

If you are their first child in college

As the oldest child, you have probably lived your whole life as the person who takes charge of a situation. Your parents rely on you a ton, and that probably won’t change during this next step of your life. Your parents may be so proud of the work you are doing, but once again, this is brand new territory for them and you. They may expect you to stay in that oldest-child role and take care of the family like you always have. 

The best way to handle this is to set your own boundaries. Remind them that going to university adds a lot on your plate, but still be willing to be there for your family if they need you. Find a balance that works for them and you.

If you have siblings that have gone to college

If this isn’t their first rodeo, your parents may inadvertently place a lot of pressure on you to succeed at college. You may have older siblings who already have a degree and are excelling in (what seems to be) every part of their life. Your parents may assume that if they did it, you can too!

This is the time to enlist your siblings help. Talk to them about your uni experiences and any struggles you are having. Their college experience is fresh on their mind, and they may be able to help you through the rough parts or share stories of how they dealt with rough situations or college courses. If you feel like your parents don’t understand, turn to the rest of your family. College has its ups and downs for everyone, even your seemingly-perfect sibling!

Conclusion

Going to university is a huge change from your highschool days, even if it doesn’t seem like it. You are growing up and getting out into the world! Remember that your parent’s perspective of college is probably different than the one you will have. Be understanding of them, communicate with them, and respect their way of doing things, even if it’s different from yours. The best way to make your university years a breeze is by keeping that communication open and building a strong bond with your parents that will last long after you graduate.

Thanks again to Sierra Scacco for sharing this insight on how to understand what’s going on for your parents when you go to university! And be sure to check out my other blog posts here:

If this post didn’t resonate with you because you have a toxic parent, check out this post on the Unwanted Life blog:

How Can I Study 12 Hours a Day?

I get this question all the time from students. How can I study for 8, 12, 20 hours a day? Have a look at all the study questions over on Quora – this comes up all the time.

As always, I have to say that I don’t think setting study goals by the number of hours is very effective. But because I see this question so much, I wanted to address it. I actually think this is a question about focus, motivation, and time management. I have previously written about time management and motivation, so in this post I’ll focus on… focus!

Search bar with the following options: How can I study for 12 hours a day? How can I study for longer? How can I concentrate on studying? How can I focus for longer?

First of all, focus on learning the material, not on the number of hours you study. I do not recommend that you build your study schedule around the number of hours you’ll study. It’s more important to study effectively, and figure out how to best use your time. You could pretty much always spend more time studying, more time reviewing, and more time working on that paper. Your time will be better spent finding the most effective study methods and then utilising those, rather than focusing on the number of hours you study for. Studying for 12 hours a day isn’t helpful if you’re not learning from it – you’d be better off studying effectively for a shorter period. 

But if your struggle is focusing or concentrating on your studies, so that you can spend more time studying effectively, there are some things you can do:

Take Regular Breaks When Studying

Make sure you are taking breaks. When someone tells me they want to study continuously for 12 hours a day, I get worried. Humans need breaks!

You can’t study all day every day and not go completely insane. You need to have leisure time, rest time, social time, fun time, etc. Not taking enough breaks can result in a lack of motivation and interest in studying. These can generally be short breaks (the 5 minutes in pomodoros), but make sure you are also taking longer breaks, take a day or a half-day when you can and do something you find relaxing. Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks – you need them, and you will do better if you plan for them. If you don’t plan for breaks, then you’ll end up burned-out and just crawling into bed for five days because your brain is fried. I know, I’ve been there. Take a break, and then get back to work more refreshed.

Eliminate Distractions When Studying

Eliminate as many distractions as you can. Put away your phone, put on your headphones, and just focus on one thing at a time. Close all those other browser tabs, maybe even turn off your wifi if you don’t need it. I am guilty of forgetting to put my phone away, and that can have a big impact. If you want to use it as a study timer or calculator, put it in airplane or do-not-disturb mode first.

Having a dedicated study space is helpful, but not always possible. You might live with family, roommates, share a room or common space. If you are not able to have a quiet study space at home, there may be a place on campus or in the library that is available to you. You might also work in a coffee shop or some other public space. If you do not have access to a quiet space, then headphones can help you drown out distractions around you, too.

Use the Pomodoro Method

I wrote about the pomodoro method here, but it’s basically where you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. If I’m not feeling focused, I use a pomodoro timer because I know I can focus for 25 minutes at a time. Then I take a break, and focus for 25 more minutes. Eventually, I will have either accomplished something in 25 minute increments (yay!), or I will be working on something when the timer goes, and I’ll just keep working because I’m in the study zone (yay!), so this usually works well for me. If you are having a really challenging day getting your studying done and concentrating for a long period of time, this method can help you still get work done.

Try Different Study Methods

If your study methods aren’t helping you learn material as efficiently or effectively as you would like, try something new. I have worked with so many students who study for hours and hours a day and are still not getting the grades they want. Usually, once I ask a few more questions, they’ll admit that they are just reading the textbook. Reading and re-reading the textbook is not an effective study strategy for most people. Just reading something doesn’t always help you understand and remember it. Usually, more active study methods like active review or self-testing will be more helpful.

Active Review

Active review is a study method where you basically write down everything you remember from a lecture or reading, and then go back and fill in the blanks using your resources. So, for example, if you read an article or chapter on a topic, you would then write down everything you could recall. Then, you would go back to the article or chapter and use that to fill in the blanks in your notes, usually in another colour.

Self-Testing

This is exactly what it sounds like – testing yourself on a topic. This might be through making up your own questions and trying to answer them, using questions from your textbook or other course materials, or even having questions on cue cards. Once you are comfortable with a question, move on to the ones that you’re not getting.

The reason these methods are more effective than just reading the textbook is because you are activating the information in your memory. It would take you hours and hours of re-reading a textbook to get the same amount of learning done.

Trying different study methods can also just be somewhat of a change in what you’re doing so you can bring more energy to it. If you have been studying with cue cards, try the active review method or other forms of self-testing and see how those go. Mixing different methods is ideal for helping you learn best. I have written more about study methods here, and there are loads of resources online so Google can also be a big help.

So, how can I study for 12 hours a day? Stop thinking about the number of hours, and start focusing on effectiveness. Instead, ask yourself, how can I study more effectively for less time?

How to Choose Electives

Blue background with a search bar that reads "How do I..." and then the options are "How do I choose my electives, how do I pick my courses, how do I know what courses to take, how do I find helpful electives"

This week’s post on How to Choose Electives is a guest post from the founder of Legitscholarship.com, whose goal is to show students scholarship opportunities from all over the world. They offer plenty of information, particularly for international students who want to study in Canada.

Entering into University and being faced with choosing your electives can be challenging, so this article will outline some of the courses you can consider and some reasons you should consider them. Students find it difficult to choose a discipline, and then selecting your optional courses can also be tough. You should consider a variety of subjects when filling the number of courses to take in a semester, year or degree program.  

What are electives/elective classes?

Electives are courses that you get to choose in your undergraduate program. They will vary depending on the degree and major, but typically programs will either ask you to choose courses from particular lists of electives, or have other options for you. Some programs, such as Engineering, may not have a lot of electives or options, and some programs, such as a Bachelor of Arts, may have much more choice. Make sure you find out what your elective requirements are for your specific program. Some courses may also have restrictions on them, such as only being available for students in particular programs, so you should also check any registration requirements for a particular course.

What electives should I take?

For example, if you plan to Study Professional Journalism, students may consider taking Courses like Writing, communications, and language Courses; These courses will further help you improve your fluency and accuracy in research when you are faced with an assignment to give a pressing report about current issues. Enrolling in these courses is the best fit in your first year because it will immensely improve your effective communication, proper research and analysis, and give a well-detailed report. 

If you plan on studying abroad, perhaps to study in Europe in a country like Germany, it is in your best interest to take a German language course starting from year one because you will be exposed to the German people’s culture and diversity, background, customs, and traditions. After Graduation, you will be exposed to many wide areas in Germany, which opens a wider opportunity to get you a job as you are now familiar with the environment, culture, customs, and traditions. 

The following are some of the best elective courses to study as making the right decision in the right direction will help you succeed faster than you can ever imagine in your Academics.

Language Courses: 

Learning language courses is one of the best course options for university students as you are exposed to a variety of opportunities after graduation. This is good for your CV/resume as this makes it easy for employees to designate more work entry in an organization as you will be able to attend to clients who do not have or speak the most common language. i.e., a customer services representative can be exposed to numerous languages as this helps make work easier if the clients have to communicate in a language other than English. 

Getting a certification in a language course helps build the momentum to achieve more by acquiring knowledge about people’s diverse cultures and backgrounds. With the Spanish language, which is widely spoken in about 20 countries worldwide, there will be opportunities in any of these countries to get your dream job not just because of your qualification but because you have acquired a “Goldsmith” skill in diverse languages and this helps you to solve societal problems in any part of the world. 

Business Courses: 

One of the best elective courses for students in the first year is an ideal course in business. Picking up interest in business courses like marketing, finance, or making money online gives you an entrepreneurial mindset to become a successful business owner even if you do not work in a government or private institution. Therefore it makes it easier for you to learn and be exposed to business skills and ideas with just a few seminars; you are bold and confident on what business plans to take when setting up a business. 

You are exposed to many ideas when you take business courses in year one and may decide to chase down this path by studying any of the branches of business. They will teach you practical skills you can use in your workplace. Personal marketing and finance are not only applicable to your business or organization but also applicable to your own life as you get to take caution in your day to day spending, plan and manage your shopping for groceries, weekly or monthly, manage your bank account without the help of a bank manager and be more knowledgeable in every aspect of human life.  

Economics Courses: 

Studying economics courses may not sound great, but if you want to succeed as a successful business owner, you need a wide knowledge of the economy. The positive or the negative effect of the Economy means there are adverse effects and implications not only to our personal life but also to small businesses, cooperation, trade, etc. 

Micro-economics helps you take note of the interaction between the demand and supply of the market, hence helping you with a wider horizon of how to handle business and services. Macro-economics helps to see how the economy works while you focus on your business or organization.

Consider taking the economic course in your year one or later in any of the semesters. This will help you in your personal life and your day-to-day activities of the country’s economy you live in. 

Sociology Courses: 

The best course year one? Sociology, which deals with society, often best describes why people react and behave the way they do, how individuals take certain actions, and what prompts them to react the way they do. Taking sociology courses in your year one or later stage helps you better understand how to communicate and interact with people, study their behavior to know best how you can handle circumstances when the need arises. You can take numerous courses in sociology, such as:

  • Disabilities and Culture
  • Urban Poverty
  • Sociology of Deviance
  • Law and Society
  • Modern Communication Systems
  • Criminology
  • Wealth, Power, Status: Inequality in Society
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Social Movements, Protest, and Conflict

Writing Courses: 

To develop good writing skills as a student in year one, taking essential writing courses is important to improve your skills in writing. At a later stage in your education career, there are many writing materials you will have to present, which could be from research, presentations, and seminars. It is essential to acquire these writing skills from your first year. the Importance of including Writing Courses in colleges and universities either in year one or any semester cannot be overemphasized, and these reasons include:

  • Students develop new concepts: A student will have no issues when they have developed new concepts in writing, and these new concepts will help such students to be able to take long notes during presentations, seminars, regular classes, and research Wwork. Students need to take into their knowledge the skills in writing and how to improve on these skills. 
  • For Effective Communication: Enrolling in writing courses also helps you to be able to pass meaningful Information across; it will be difficult if a book author with no pedigree in writing can effectively communicate information to readers of his publications or students trying to reply to important emails or apply for scholarships. 
  • Useful for Academic purpose: Writing skills help students overcome academic challenges; therefore, you must acquire this skill as often as possible because this will help you in research, take-home assignment, and you could even be asked to write an essay or recommendation letter for an award. 

Conclusion

Getting Admission into Colleges and universities is a step, Choosing the Right and Appropriate elective courses is another step, the latter is very important because it makes ease of Your Academic and Improve your performance Overall in your first year in school. Meet appropriate Academic chancellor in Your formal school or Someone with diverse knowledge on Which elective is best for you along with your main course of study. 

About The Author

Team Eligible Bachelor is an enthusiastic writer and a graduate of Geology, the founder of Legitscholarship – Reliable Scholarships Website. Contact them on Facebook and Twitter for more enquires and guides about scholarship opportunities for colleges and universities.

Thank you for the guest post from Legitscholarship.com! If you would like to read more about course and program selection, check out these posts: How should I choose my major? and learn How to Read Your University Course Syllabus here (where you can also download a syllabus-review checklist!).

How to Set Study Goals for the Semester or Year

Setting goals at the start of a new semester or academic year can help you build towards your long-term student goals. Are you wondering how to set study goals? Below, I use the SMART goals system to outline how to set and achieve realistic student goals, and then provide examples of both short-term and long-term goals for students.

SMART Goals for Students

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. These are the characteristics your goal should have in order to make it realistic and help you clarify how to reach it. Making sure you’ve addressed all these categories will provide clarity on your goal and how to reach it. This is a great way to set study goals for yourself!

Specific

Specific goals are detailed, and broken down into the steps it will take you to achieve them. For example, goals like get higher grades, study more, start networking or get a job are not specific enough to be helpful. Let’s take a look at some examples of possible student goals:

“Get Higher Grades” or “Study More”

What are the details you need to add to these to turn them into specific goals? Here are some things you should think about:

  • Which grades are you raising, and to what? Comparing last semester’s grade in an English course to this semester’s grade in a Math course doesn’t make sense, so think about what this means.
  • How will you work towards this goal? Are you trying some new study skills? You could review every day after class, or join a study group to practice explaining content to one another.
  • How can you break this down into smaller goals so you can see progress over the semester? For example, you might choose a couple of new study methods to try for a week ro so to see what works best, or create a new study schedule and try that out.

For some suggestions on trying new study skills, check out this post on Study Skills for University Students.

“Start Networking”

This goal is not specific enough to make progress on, either. Again, think about what the steps are for this. Is your goal to attend one networking event per month for the next year? Or are you wanting to reach out to a certain number of folks for informational interviews? Maybe you would like to find a mentor?

You could set a more specific networking goal by determining who you want to reach out to, or how many people you would like to meet or events you would like to attend.

“Get a Job”

This is a really great goal, but once again you need to fill in more of the details. What are the steps you need to take to reach this goal? You could decide to apply to a certain number of jobs, or you could set a goal to get your resume and cover letter reviewed by a friend or professional by a certain date. Or maybe you are even earlier in the process, and you need to decide what type of job you’re looking for and where you can look for postings (for example, does your university have a student job board, or are you looking on a public site like Indeed.ca?).

You can also include several of these goals by breaking this down into steps and setting a timeline. Maybe you will get your resume and cover letter reviewed in the first week, and then apply to five jobs in the second week, and reach out to three people for informational interviews the following week.

Measurable

The M in SMART is for measurable – how are you going to measure your goal so you know whether you have achieved it or not?

While grades are really easy to compare and give you a measurement, you should be really cautious in using grades to measure whether you have met your goals. As I mentioned above, comparing last year’s English grade to this year’s Math grade is not necessarily a good comparison. Additionally, although in a perfect world your grade would be a direct reflection of the work you’re doing, this isn’t always the case. You may be doing really good work but still get a lower grade than you would like. In some ways, your grade is not entirely within your control, so use caution when using them for measurements.

You can also break your goal down into steps and update it as you go. If your goal was to apply for ten jobs in two weeks, but then you get the first job you applied for – no problem! You don’t need to hang onto applying for nine more jobs. It’s time to revise that goal, so what’s next? Likewise, if you applied for the ten jobs but didn’t get any, what’s your next step? It might not just be applying for ten more jobs (although it could be); Maybe it’s time to reach out for some help with your cover letters or resumes, or do some networking in your desired industry.

Achievable

This is really about being realistic with your goal. If you got all D’s last semester, and you want to bring your grades up to all A+’s this semester, you will need to determine whether this is a realistic goal for you. If you got all D’s because you didn’t study at all and skipped half your classes, then this might be more attainable than if you studied 18 hours a day and still got all D’s.

This relates back to the specifics of the goal: Setting up all the details of the goal is going to make it more achievable. As you start breaking your goals into smaller pieces, you will be able to see whether they are achievable within the timeline you set. So even if you can’t boost your grades from D’s to A+’s this semester, what are some of the steps you could take towards that? Maybe you are trying out new study skills, visiting your university’s student success centre, or hiring a tutor.

Relevant

Your study goals need to be in alignment with your larger goals, which hopefully your university courses and program are! What are the things you can do this semester or year that will move you closer to your career goals for after graduation?

Time-Bound

You are way more likely to meet your goals if you have a timeline to follow or a deadline to meet. As I mentioned above, breaking your goals into steps will help you set a realistic timeline. Smaller goals and shorter deadlines will help you see how you are moving towards your bigger goals and you will feel more encouraged that you are making progress.

Getting your bachelors degree and starting your career are huge goals, but when you break them into years, semesters, months, or weeks, they become much more manageable. Even a semester goal can be more likely to be met if you break it down over the months and weeks of the semester.

List of Goals for Students

Here are some possible goals that you could set for yourself by filling in all the details for a SMART goal as outlined above. These are just examples of student goals – use these to inspire you for your other goals!

  • Try out a new study method (or more than one)
  • Take steps to build your network
  • Find the perfect summer job
  • Learn how to write a better paper
  • Improve your exam preparation skills
  • Build a network in your desired industry
  • Figure out what you want to do after you graduate
  • Improve your time management
  • Organize all your work and deadlines
  • Improve your resume and cover letter
  • Practice your job interview skills
  • Bring your GPA up

If your goal is to improve your time management, prioritize your work so you can get more done, or organize your semester and deadlines better, sign up for the upcoming Time & Priority Management Workshop.

Setting Study Goals

What are your goals for this year and semester? As always, I would love to hear from you. Comment below, message me on social, or send me an email and let me know!

Scary Student Scams to Look Out For

There are so many student scams out there. Scammers are after your personal information, or your money, or I don’t even know what! This list is not exhaustive – there are other scams, so stay aware!

University Student Tutoring Scams

It can be really hard to find a tutor! And then some of them will scam you. There are two types of tutoring student scams that I’m aware of.

First, look out for tutors who will do the work for you. Tutors should help you improve your own knowledge and skills. They should not be doing the work for you. Don’t buy your papers. Don’t hire someone to do exams or assignments for you. The consequences of these things can be disastrous if your university finds out. It can range from a dishonesty mark on your transcript, to being expelled or forced to take time off. You can check your university’s conduct policy for more information, but make sure you also do all your own work! 

There are also tutors who will blackmail you. I can barely believe this one, but it happens! These tutors will do your assignments for you, or write your paper for you (again, don’t hire people to do this!). But then they will extort you for more money – if you don’t continue to pay them, they say they will go to your professor or university with evidence that you cheated by hiring someone else to do the work for you. 

University Admissions Scams

I can’t even imagine how devastating it would be to discover that your admissions offer wasn’t real. To think you’d be starting at your dream university and then find out it wasn’t true! These student scams are related to fake offers of admission and collecting fake confirmation deposits from students.

Always make sure you’re communicating directly with the university. You should have some kind of online application log-in where you can check your status. If you’ve received an offer via WhatsApp or another online messaging system, you should follow up directly with the university to confirm that it’s true. 

You also want to make sure that any payments you make are going to the university. If you are asked to pay by any method other than through the university’s website, you should make sure it’s legitimate! 

Student Loan Scams

Again, confirm that any messages you receive about your student loans are coming from wherever you borrowed from. Student loan systems vary by province, so you just need to work with your home province on this. But if you receive emails, voicemails, or texts about your loans, double-check the email address/phone number before you click through or panic about them. 

Scholarship Scams

As with everything else, check that the organization you’re communicating with is legitimate. Do they have a website with all the scholarship information on it? Or are you just sending all your personal information to some random email address? 

Apartment Rental Scams

These are abundant! They are trying to get a deposit or portion of your rent, but there isn’t usually an actual apartment for you. If your university has a housing website for off-campus housing, you can use that as a resource to help avoid these scams. Otherwise, keep an eye out for suspicious signs: The price is too good to be true (rent is lower than average) or the landlord has a story about how they are not in town and you have to wire the money. They will often target those who are out-of-town, because you won’t do a tour of the apartment ahead of time. 

Things to look out for

  • .ca shows canadian org (most unis will use this)
  • Institutional email: @universtiy.ca (give some examples)
  • Payment through secure website (not sent on Whatsapp or email transfer)
  • Confirm information through registrar’s office or institutional email

The Government of Canada actually has a pretty comprehensive scam and fraud website, probably because so many scams pretend to be the CRA or CBSA.

If you liked this post, you will probably find these helpful: Getting a Bad Grade and University Student Study Skills.

I hope this post has helped you know what to keep an eye out for to avoid being scammed. If you know of any other student scams that I’ve missed here, please send them to me at email@chooseyouruni.ca.