September 10, 2015

Asking for Academic Help: How to Identify Your Best Resource

Tristan Donald, Student Learning Advisor with the Student Success Centre, discusses the difficulty students may face in asking for help with their academics and how students can identify the resources that will work best for them.

I love campus at the start of a new academic year — students have a certain energy that is powered by high hopes of academic success for their semester. Having worked with hundreds of students over the past few years, I know that these earlier stages of the semester are when students begin to identify the areas they will find difficult in their studies. One of the most common regrets I hear is “I wish I had asked for help sooner.” Whether it is the fear of being judged, uncertainty, procrastination, or not knowing where to go, many students do not ask for assistance when they have questions or encounter challenges.

Here is the truth — all students have questions about their course work and struggle at times with their studies. The sooner students seek out resources and advice, the sooner obstacles can be overcome. Asking questions and seeking help is strategic, time saving, stress reducing, and increases productivity (which sends motivation into high gear). I often remind students that even the best athletes in the world have coaches, Nobel Prize winners have mentors, and professors have colleagues to whom they turn for advice. Students have instructors, teaching assistants, and a whole host of advisors from faculty and librarians to learning and writing specialists. They are all ready and willing to help students succeed.

September 08, 2015

Talking to Your Supervisor about Writing: Tips for Grad Students

Have you ever needed to discuss your writing with your supervisor but struggled with identifying the questions you need to ask? Graduate Writing Advisor Rob Desjardins with the Student Success Centre shares his insights on getting the most from your conversation. 

Here’s a pop quiz for graduate students. Which of the following things are you least comfortable discussing with your graduate supervisor:
(a) worries about your work schedule;
(b) concerns about your RA salary;
(c) uncertainties about your research methodology; or
(d) questions about your writing?

If you answered “(d),” you’re not alone. Many, perhaps most, of your colleagues would say exactly the same thing. There’s something about the writing process — and the way we think about it — that makes many students feel insecure and defensive. “I can’t ask her for guidance in drafting my lit review,” they figure. “I’m supposed to know how to do this. I don’t want to seem ignorant and unprepared.”