By Mobeen Lalani
Starting any post-secondary institution can be a big adjustment. It can take a huge mental, physical and spiritual toll on students. From university/college policies to unspoken expectations and balancing various aspects of student life, students are tossed into a system to earn a degree/diploma and advance in their careers. Personally, as the first in my family to earn a degree (or become a first-generation student), I experienced this adjustment too, only ten times harder. From navigating my courses, juggling deadlines, and learning how to study, I needed support. Luckily, there are various resources on-campus available. These UTSC resources helped me and other students excel in various areas of our university experience.
When stuck in a negative feedback loop, it can be difficult to balance all of our commitments. I was able to break that cycle by walking through the doors of the resource center and sitting down with those who could offer support. Visit the campus resources available at your school and learn how they can benefit you. Here are five campus resources I found useful at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). These common campus resources can be found at your respective post-secondary institutions.
Writing is a huge part of post-secondary — from scientific writings and essays to commentaries and proposals. Sharp writing skills are an asset. Having little to no exposure to writing more than 10 essays during my first year, I was introduced to the Writing Centre at UTSC. This service provides students with one-on-one time with writing specialists, cheat sheets and citing/referencing tips. They have a new app that allows you to plan your next assignment and can be used as a time management tool.
If you believe that you already carry amazing writing skills, you can also volunteer with the Writing Centre and assist other students. As a volunteer, you could review work in writing clinics/writing groups, help your peers ask the right questions and guide them on how to improve. What better way to give back to your student community than to help them write better?
We start our journey in university/college by studying the basic courses we need to build a solid foundation in the program. Over the years that follow, we pursue our passions. Some of us may choose to study a more specific subject within our general program. As we continue on this path, we may feel overwhelmed, pressured and confused. That is where the AA&CC steps in. The AA&CC at UTSC is a great resource for students who wish to pursue their dreams but need a roadmap. The mentors, advisers, and coaches available at AA&CC guide students who are fulfilling their goals and are there to support all students in their post-secondary endeavours.
Have an idea of what you want to do post-grad, but don’t know where you’d be working? AA&CC has great links with employers and recruiters in various fields. They also provide advice on building a strong resume and cover letter. Before you go into any interviews, pop by the AA&CC for top tips on how to ace them.
Balancing piling coursework, part-time work and a social life can feel overwhelming and influence our overall well-being. Many students feel burned out from mental or physical exhaustion. The Health and Wellness Centre can help. They provide counselling support services, wellness peer programs, and a mental health network. Every student should make it a priority to seek support to improve their overall well-being.
During exam season, the Health and Wellness Centre offers free 10 to 15-minute massages to help students de-stress and prepare for the exam study grind. Every Wednesday for one hour, I found myself in their meditation clinics to better my spiritual and mental health.
What’s better than meeting new people, meditating and prioritizing your goals all at once?
In my opinion, DSL is one of the coolest departments at UTSC. It has a stacked line-up of individuals who are devoted and dedicated to improving the journey of students. The DSL is the hub for all students and provides an opportunity to get involved — from first-year mentorship to multi-faith engagement, Indigenous learning, and global mobility programs. It’s especially beneficial for first-year students to connect with the DSL because it can greatly improve their journey moving forward. The DSL is also the department that oversees the Co-Curricular Record, which is a transcript that shows all your extracurricular involvement during your years at UTSC.
The DSL also offers Work-Study positions for those who wish to work during the school year and volunteer opportunities for those who want to build a skill-set for future work. For those who want to volunteer within the community, the DSL also holds Community Day events, alternative reading week events, and academic mentorship programs to allow students to give back to their communities.
5. Professors, TAs, Classmates and Academic Departments
Professors and TAs are the most underused resource. Who is better to provide us with feedback, guidance and additional support than those who teach us the material? Emailing your professors and/or teaching assistants can greatly influence how well you perform in that course. Many courses have Facilitated Study Groups led by other students who have performed at the highest standard for those courses. Most professors also keep office hours before or after their classes to answer any questions students may have.
Disclaimer: This can either be a hit or a miss, but oftentimes it’s a hit.
Wrapping It Up
These were the top 5 resources I used throughout my four years at UTSC. Some of these resources may not be as relevant to you as they were to me, but be aware of them and share them with others who need them. Most of these resources are available in other universities and colleges but in different forms. Be sure to exhaust all the resources available to you to perform at your highest standard. Sometimes you might feel as though these resources don’t have an immediate return, but they will in the future. Make the most out of your post-secondary adventures because once it’s over, it probably won’t come back.