Throughout the Fall semester, TRSM’s Academic Success Centre will be sharing a series of articles related to the pillars that guide their work. The second pillar is Enhancing Student Academic Success.

University life presents a series of challenges: you have to handle multiple academic deadlines, keep a job while trying to have a social life and commute and/or live away from home. This can boost your stress levels, opening the door for preoccupation.

Preoccupation comes from the Latin word praeoccupatio, which means “anticipating and meeting objections beforehand”; in other words, worrying for something that has not yet happened. If the things we worry about haven’t happened, why waste time and energy worrying? Why not steer towards the results we want by taking action?

Instead of preoccupation, focus on preparation. Preparation concentrates on being ready and taking action. Preparation comes from praeparare, which literally means “making ready before”. In other words, coming up with solutions before problems arise.

Resume on desk

How to Minimize Stress and Kickstart Your Semester

Here are some tips that will help you minimize your stress and kickstart your semester, whether you are new to university life or a seasoned upper-year student.

Print Your Course Outlines

Have your course outlines ready on your first day of classes. These are usually available on D2L a few days before classes begin. Your course outline, also known as the syllabus, is the road map for the term and contains valuable information to succeed, such as learning objectives (what you are expected to get out of the course), assignments, methods of evaluation, textbook names, topic sequences, deadlines and the professor’s contact information and office hours.

Prepare Your Course Materials

Check what books and materials you need and find out how to get them faster and cheaper. If you need to order them online, make sure you do this early enough that they will be delivered on time for your first day of classes. The names of the textbooks tend to be in your course outlines; you can also do a textbook search on the Ryerson Campus Store website, through which you can also buy and rent your books online.

Keep It All Together

Use a binder instead of one or several notebooks. This will allow you to keep your notes, course outlines and hand-outs from class in the same place. You may use separators to distinguish each course, and take notes on a 3-hole punched writing pad, so you can rip the pages and file them on the corresponding section of your binder. The larger pages of the writing pad will also provide more room for efficient note-taking techniques such as the Cornell method, a systematic format for condensing and organizing notes from cues to main ideas and questions.

Read and Review Before Class

Open book

Get into the habit of reviewing the list of subjects from your course outlines and pre-reading the topic of your next class to optimize your learning. This will help you grasp the information and will allow you to make better use of the professor’s time by asking relevant questions during class.

Use the Supports Available at Ryerson

Make yourself familiar with the many supports on campus and within TRSM and most importantly, use them! Ryerson is an amazing place that offers you healthcare, career support, effective study skills and academic support, as well as counselling and athletics and recreation at once.

Remember that these resources are already included in your tuition fees, so you may as well access them. Asking for help does not make you weak! On the contrary, using the supports available to you will open new doors and will provide you with new tools to succeed.

Visit the Academic Success Centre for more tips, tools and support!

Posted by Joana Londoño

Joana Londoño is a Learning Strategist in TRSM’s Academic Success Centre. She has worked at Ryerson University for 11 years and has a rich blend of experience from various roles that have supported student achievement. Joana believes that academic achievement doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and brings her broad Ryerson experience and network into the Learning Strategist role, to keep TRSM students engaged and motivated. She firmly believes that with the right balance of challenge and support all students are capable of thriving beyond their expectations. Joana holds a master’s degree in Communication & Culture and is fluent in Spanish, French and Portuguese.

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