Tag Archives: student

Would You Work As Hard If It Didn’t Count?

At our last Surviving Studenthood meeting, one of our bloggers brought up a very interesting student dilemma. We always hear students say that they would work harder at university if they were just there to learn – that tests, examinations and essays impede our quench for knowledge.

So when one of our bloggers has that very opportunity – to take a course without any real concern with the grade – the results have become rather surprising. In enacting an option for “credit/no credit”, she’s starting to get a little lazy in the course 🙂 – at least, placing this course at a lesser priority . Credit/No Credit is an option any U of T arts and science student can enact for 1.0 credits. If you get over 60% in the course, you just get “credit” on your transcript, without the grade actually showing up.

What do you guys think? Does the stress from test and papers make it difficult for you to keep up with the readings and materials taught in class? Or, do they provide proper check-points for you to make sure you keep on top of everything?

 

~ Surviving Studenthood

Cost of Res vs. Campus Experience

We got a great question on our previous post “Should I Live on Residence During University” and we decided it was worthy of a blog response! The question was:

I have a question, my step mother is stressing me out about the constant costs of residence and would prefer me to stay home to save money. like i hear what she is saying but like i really want that first time experience and to say “hey i lived on campus before”. And she is also stressing me out that i need a job, if i am going to live on campus….

I don’t know what to do!

Whitney

Hi Whitney,

Great question. Actually, I was in the same situation and so have many of our other writers – we have had parents that didn’t want me to live on campus, because of the cost. Totally get your position.

Here are some of your options:

1. Live at Home, and Get Involved in Other Ways: Campus life is very much what you make of it – in fact, I found I was involved much more in campus activities when I was living at home, rather than on campus, where I tried to get away from it all. What you really want is not “Hey, I have lived on campus before” – its more about “Hey, I got the campus life experience while I was studying at university”. And you can get that experience whether or not you live on campus by getting involved in clubs, volunteering, and participating in extra-curricular activities.

Further, it might be worth trying out travelling for first year, and if it really isn’t working, you can jump to number two, three, or four.

Continue reading →

Should I Live On Residence? Part II

We forgot all about our follow-up post, but a comment left on the original got us back on track. The question is, what are the alternative options besides living on campus, and commuting?

We will confess, the choices are slim.

Apartments On/Near Campus

One option is to live in an apartment near campus. If you get lucky, you can avoid the drunken mess of “newly-released” undergraduate students. On the other hand, if your neighbours end up being a family with small children, you aren’t going to have it might quieter. You don’t get to control or choose your neighbours in an apartment, and they may not be into studying – or keeping the noise down – at all. You’d be surprised how noise, sounds, even cooking smells! can waft into your apartment and destroy your concentration.

There are other important points to consider:

The anonymity of apartments means that safety is an issue. If something went wrong, it could be days before anyone noticed you were missing. It’s really important, if you live in an apartment, to keep in touch with friends or family. After what happened to the poor York University student Liu Qian, we urge you not to take safety as a light issue.

Additionally, the cost of the apartment might be 12 months, which means you need to sublet your apartment for the summer months, or you end up incurring a hefty charge paying for rent in an apartment you aren’t using.

Speaking of extra charges – finding an apartment farther from your university means you pay a double whammy for public transit. “Only 15 minutes away” becomes really challenging to walk when there is a blizzard outside. You also have to lug all your books to campus, because coming back during the day isn’t really a viable option, unless you don’t mind paying a lot for transit.

Definitely, there are pros – better facilities than residences, more amenities, no students, etc. People who live in apartments don’t consider it an 8-month rental: its their home, and they want the space respected – an attitude you don’t often find on residence.

Sharing  House Near Campus
Alternatively, you could share a house near campus. Some students live in a basement apartment with a family (that comes with its own share of problems) or they share a house with friends.
  • Living in a basement apartment in a family home is much like living in an apartment building. You have more control over where/who you live with (as opposed to residence) but there are safety considerations you need to take into account. On one hand you have a better support network, but make sure you are living somewhere safe. Nice to have a home away from home, but living with another family can be very distracting, especially if they have young kids or pets. Also watch out when lease terms include “baby-sitting” or “light chores” –> those “good deals” can come back to haunt you during exam time.
  • Renting a house with friends has been a popular option for upper year students. While we caution you to choose roommates that suit your living habits, we have seen it turn into a very successful option for students who know each other well. Living with someone requires much more than just being friends – you need to be able to (a) see the person at school and still be able to live with them at home and (b) have a strong enough relationship to be open and honest with someone about how you feel about their living habits without it destroying your personal or professional relationship.

Other thoughts? If you don’t live on res or commute from home, what are some note-worthy options for living?

Pre-Graduation Jitters

(This post was written in conjunction with The Wonders of Womanhood writers. Many thanks for your words of wisdom, ideas, thoughts….and just the right amount of feminine touch.)

I don’t know what it is, dear readers, but I have a terrible feeling settling in my soul. Partly, it’s because of the upcoming “U of T Hell Week” that sinks its teeth into us next week – I think the amount of assignments, exams and papers I have due next week is worse than any other week I’ve had in four years of undergraduate study.

But the other part, I think, is the realization that a very important chapter in my life is coming to a close. No matter how challenging and destitute university feels while you are in it, its impending close is bittersweet. While it is exciting to move on to other projects, it is so hard to let go of that which you know and feel comfortable with, and more importantly, the wonderful experiences you have had as a university student. As I always say, there is no other time in your life where every day, you will develop and grow so much as a person. Every time you leave a classroom, you are irrevocably changed through the knowledge you have gained. That experience is irreplaceable.

Somehow, I am not sure if I am ready to leave that behind…I guess you could say, I have pre-graduation jitters. 🙂

I guess one of the reasons endings are so important to us, is because we want to feel like we made a difference; that we impacted someone’s life, and that even when we leave, the memories and the friendships that we have made in university will carry with us into our future paths. I think its scary when you realize you haven’t as much of a difference as you hoped, where the ever-lasting friendship you thought you had was really just you putting in 70% of the work, and receiving only 30% back, or when the relationship you spent so much time investing in is suddenly moving away and moving on without you. Some of those realizations hit me these past few weeks – while perhaps I hadn’t made as much of an impact as I had hoped, I also realized that maybe others were more ready to move on than I expected, and I was the one holding back and holding on.

Friendships and relationships are a bit like holding sand tightly in your hand – the more you clutch, the faster it slips from your fingers and the move you lose. But letting people go and hoping they come back in their own time, is daunting in itself – with the realization that you must let go without any conditions of hope for return. It requires a lot of faith, which is also ingredient for investing in one’s own future.

That is hard for me; I’ve never been the “wait and see” type, and maybe that’s why I’m still trying to hold on to what I know – because it is real, and true, and tangible and right there in front of me, while the future is still unknown and fleeting, like wisps of clouds. My view into the future is foggy, and I am afraid to venture out into that which I cannot see. I feel vulnerable, afraid, and exposed. And, while the other side of the bridge may lead to a place that is better than I ever imagined, it’s always hard to take those first steps, to close your eyes with blind faith and recognize that you have worked so hard to be standing, here at this precise moment, that not taking that first step will always be more of an injustice than any misstep you could ever make along the way.

As I write this post, I realize that we approach the final stretch; the last few miles on the well-worth path that we have always known. And while the beaten path is familiar and comforting, the new path may lead to exciting adventures and tales of wonder that are just beyond the horizon.

Cheers to all of you graduating this year. Here’s to something new.

– Surviving Studenthood & The Wonders of Womanhood

Wrapping up a snowstorm-y day; Salute to U of T and Ryerson Students

For those of you just heading downtown, I am sure “wrapping up” doesn’t even begin to describe your day (come back to this post when you are ready to curl up in bed with your laptop and peruse blogs!), but bear with us as we provide some perspective and well deserved credit.

Today was a day that put students to the test. For the lucky ones at York or UTM or UTSC, the test didn’t apply. But for U of T St.George or Ryerson or York Region District School Board secondary school students, there was a big examination. It was an examination that tested your commitment to your education.

Did you pass?

Continue reading →

Study Group or Study Date (via UpbeaT)

(The following blog post was reblogged from U of T’s student-life blog, UpbeaT)

Being part of a study group is a lot like casual dating. Sometimes, you meet someone and you hit it off instantly. You talk for hours and at the end, you get their number and genuinely hope to meet again. Other times, it’s a bust – something about the person makes you realize there is no “click” and by the time you go on your merry way, several valuable hours have been lost.

Most of my friends have never been in a study group. In accordance with the infamous U of T student experience, concerns about other students “taking my ideas” or “not doing enough work” deter many students from benefiting from being part of a study group. In doing so, they miss out on the experience, advice, knowledge and support of their fellow U of T students.

Perhaps you are interested in testing out the study group waters…so where to begin?

Continue reading →

How to Get Good Grades in University

If you are in university, this is probably right around the time you feel like hell, with exams, papers and a million readings that you put off, even though you swore this was the year you would keep up. Don’t fear, you are not alone.

My younger sister came home for the weekend, in a rather perplexed about her current university experience. She is travelling through her first year and, like some foreign visitors, was marred by an experience of unexpected surprises. Rather than brave the university world alone, she got smart and decided not to re-invent the wheel; instead, she opted to talk to her older siblings. It was a rather rousing debate – there are four of us, all at different universities and programs, and it seemed post-worthy for any university student who needs a little guidance to the elixir of good grades. I’ll confess – none of us are geniuses – but I maintain that because we each have averages above 3.5/4.0 GPA, we feel qualified to give a few tips on improving.

This post is a tough-love post: it is for those students who have been cruising through university, and have suddenly realized their grades are not high enough – whether it is for professional school or grad school, for graduation, for your parents, or just for yourself. One thing my sister mentioned is that university students (including herself) feel lost in their student experience, and that a little tough love from some older siblings might have helped. So we’ve decided to play “older sibling” to all of our readers and dish it out, cold (ice-cream!) style.

Continue reading →

Respect the TUSBE System

A friend of a friend (props for a ‘chain-post’!) was discussing how students have a terrible habit of abusing the TUSBE system. TUSBE, for those of you who do not know, is the Toronto University Student’s Book Exchange – a website where students in the Toronto Area (including those from York University, Ryerson University and all three of the University of Toronto campuses) can post their course textbooks online, free of charge, or peruse the list of available textbooks to purchase for a significant discount from other students.

Now, it seems that students have become a bit mistaken about how the system works – and after four years, I thought it would be worth sharing with newcomers how to go about TUBSE-ing (yes, I just made that up.)

Continue reading →

The University: A Bad Employer?

I work multiple jobs during the school year. Although it is a real juggling act, I consider it to be a part of studenthood – it is simply what we must put up with to fund our education. Honestly, I like my jobs – and when I go to work, I put my full effort in.

But when your job takes over your education, is that where the job goes too far?

Continue reading →

When Teachers Become Bullies…

My mother mentioned to me that my little brother had been down in the dumps the last few weeks. Hoping to work my ‘older sister magic’, I went to talk to him. What I expected to be a normal chat shifted when I got an unexpected piece of information. It seems that my brother’s classmates have been spreading rumors that his last few gold medals at the annual school science fair are undeserving because he receives assistance from my mother and me.

I was caught off guard by this for a number of reasons: the kids in that class are quite close-knit and friendly (generally not the spreading rumors type), every medal-placing student openly gets assistance from their family, and my family only helps my brother with choosing an experiment and editing/gluing his information on his science fair board.

I was very upset to hear these comments – science fairs are a bit like the Olympics for my brother. He excels in science – he thrives in science – it is one of the few areas of learning that I really see him become passionate and involved. It is, to me at least, the most amazing thing, to see someone be really engaged in learning. I suspect it is the best part about being a teacher.

You can imagine my further surprise when my brother said that the teacher endorsed the students’ negative comments, and in addition, has been making comments to my brother (paraphrasing here) that it is unlikely he would achieve a gold medal without assistance. Continue reading →