Friday, March 22, 2013

Choosing your Program

Hi everyone!

Spring is here... that means April is just around the corner. Besides the longer days and (sorta) nice weather,  Subject Post Application Period is also approaching.

So if you already have an idea or a plan as to what you want to apply for, then awesome.. you're definitely on the right track! But if you have not decided, then I'm here to help you guide through the process of choosing your program.

As a degree student and you have at leat 4.0 credits (8 courses) completed at the end of winter semester, you must declare a program(s) in your rosi account. This can either be one specialist, two majors, or a major and two minor.
  • First question you need to ask yourself is what are you interested in. Studying materials that are interesting to you means you will be more motivated to study for that specific course and enjoy your time at university more.
  • Second, what skills and strengths do you have. Are you an excellent writer? Or are you more of a mathematician or maybe good with problem solving? Assessing your skills and corresponding them to courses in a program can give you ideas as to what program you think you will excel the most, thus, may be best suited for you.
  • What courses have you done well in? As you complete your first year in UTSC, it is important to assess this now. You can also look into the courses you have excelled in high school.. but keep in mind courses offered here are at a university setting.
  • Why do you want this program? Take note of the career opportunities available for this program. However, the more important question is what skills, interests, qualities and values you have that can help you in choosing what career option is best suited for you.
You may want to discuss your career options with a career counsellor. You can do so by coming by our office (AC213) and booking an appointment with a Career Counsellor or by calling us at 416-287-7561.

Also, if you have further question such as: how to enrol, or if your program is limited or not, or if it is, what are the requirements etc.,  please refer to this tipsheet and refer to the registrar's website for the codes and procedures.

Important dates:
March 24th = Last day to drop S courses without academic penalty and have them removed from the transcript (on ROSI only).
April 5th to May 4th, 2013 = Subject post application period for limited programs
April 9th, 2013 = Summer course enrollment begins 

Have a wonderful (first spring) weekend!

The hidden benefits of your summer job

Hi! How are you guys? How's the job hunt? How were midterms? Everything going well?

Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. *nods understandingly*

You there, with that skeptical expression…what are you mumbling??

*cue dramatic gasp*

Did you just say that summer jobs aren’t worth it?? HOW DARE YOU.

I kid, I kid. But on that note, allow me to go off on a tangent about the secret treasure trove of skills and opportunities to glean through a summer job.

A lot of the time, students who are hired for summer jobs aren’t working in their ideal field (i.e. an Anthropology student probably doesn’t want to scoop ice cream at the Ex for the rest of their life). This can sometimes throw students off because they want to find a position that’s specific to what they’re studying. As noble as that is, realistically, there are few positions for students in relevant fields for a short term like the summer.

It may be a bit hard to understand at first, but that job at the mall could teach you a lot of skills that you can transfer onto future experiences. First things first: you get to learn about the industry that you choose to work in, and their culture. Next up: in most summer jobs, there’s an aspect of customer service, which teaches you communication skills and interpersonal skills. These skills will become useful the next time you’re working in a group situation.

No matter which job you choose, you’ll learn time management skills and how to think and act according to the situation you’re presented. Think of it this way: someone working at a fast food joint has to be quick on their feet to fill orders, manage their time well so that they don’t burn food or take too long, and develop good communication skills so that everyone in the kitchen knows what’s going on.

Don’t be so hard on your summer job aspirations! Everything has a few nuggets of gold, and you’ll learn a lot more than you expected. Good luck! J


Friday, March 8, 2013

Improving your Memory

Hi again!

Tying this one with my previous post, having a good memory is definitely a great tool for academic success in university. Acing your midterms and final exams requires storing those essential information to your long term memory (LTM). Thus, reviewing your lecture notes within 24 hours of the class is a crucial step in transferring information from your short term memory to your LTM. I also suggest re-reading or skimming through the course readings corresponding to that lecture.

Here are some few tips in improving your memory, adapted from: Tigner, R. B. (1999). Putting memory research to good use: hints from cognitive psychology. Journal of College Teaching, 47, 149-15.

Chunking. This is learning small pieces of information and later putting them together rather than cramming a lot of information all at the same time. The latter one may be faster but not the most efficient way of studying.

Spacing. Spacing out your time study is correlated to chunking the information. Research indicates that the best study intervals are those that match the retention interval (the time between the last study session and the test). For example, if your test is in two days, study once a day. If your test is in two hours, study once an hour.

Elaborative Rehearsal. When I was in first year, I remember one of my professors kept reminding us that this was not highschool anymore, so, memorizing terms was not enough to get you an A in her course.. and she was definitely right. Instead, it is more adequate to understand the concept. Then, applying it to i.e. real life or a memorable event will help you remember the concept better.

Dual Coding. Having both visual and verbal memory of a piece of information can help you remember that information better. Try visualizing the information while saying it out loud. A good example is when you're studying for i.e. physiology of the brain. While you articulate the parts and their functions, you also try to visualize the brain and where the parts are located.

Generation Effect.You are more likely to remember a term or concept that you generate on your own as opposed to being presented to you. Try studying with friends and take turns quizzing each other. Another helpful technique is using flashcards.

State and Context Dependant Memory. What this means is that the state and context of the time you acquired the information should match the state and context of the time you remember the information. So, if they do match you tend to remember the information better. This comes into play during exams. If you are stuck on a question and become anxious about it, try to relax and skip that question and come back to it after you are done.

If you think these guidelines are helpful and you want to have your own copy, you can find these informations in this tipsheet.

I know final exam schedule is already up so I wish you all good luck!

Have a great and productive weekend!
- Katrina

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Concentration and Staying on Track

Hello guys,

I'm sorry I have been MIA for a couple weeks. I have been sick but I will not get into detail about it..let's just say it was horrible and I'm glad I'm better and all ready to finish up this semester. However, I do hope your reading week went better and more productive than mine!

It has been a week back in school and I'm assuming everyone has been very busy with midterms, assignments and presentations. As a student, I noticed one of the difficult problems students have in university is staying on track. Concentrating on a task can be difficult, especially for students and a lot of distractions.
I know most of you want to do the work but feel like you're not as efficient as you hoped to be. Don't sweat it..most adults can concentrate on a task for a period of 35 to 45 minutes.

Finding that mojo to study for the first time can be quite challenging. However, here are some guidelines into helping you get rid or at least minimize those internal distractions.

Find your spot. Staying one place to study for your whole university career can, honestly, be quite dull. Yes, you want to keep exploring to make things more interesting but make sure you have that one spot when you do some "serious" studying. Personally, I go to one of the "Ultra Quiet Study Rooms" in the library when I need to get a lot of things done in one day. Then, if I need to be studying with a friend or two I go to one of the study carousels around school or book one of the study rooms in the library. So, if you haven't found it yet, I encourage you to find that perfect spot to match the type of studying you will be doing.

Smart phones put away. This is the first thing I do before I do my schoolwork.. and trust me it makes a BIG difference. With the exception of waiting for an important call or email, constantly checking your phone can be very distracting and without noticing it, you have already spent 30 minutes just fiddling with your phone. So try turning it off or at least putting it away before studying.

Break! I always have this on my posts but trust me this also makes a BIG difference. I tested this myself. I tried reading for one hour straight, without any breaks then compared it with reading for 45 minutes then I had 5-10minute break before going back to studying again. For the latter one, I noticed that I accomplished more because I was not trying to cram all information at the time I was studying. I was even more concentrated after the mini-break I took.

Music. Some people find they concentrate more with music in the background or music through headphones. I suggest choose the appropriate time to listen to music because generally music (especially with lyrics) can be an audial distraction. However, if you need to write a paper or answer questions for assignments, music can lessen your anxiety and help you finish that schoolwork. I listen  to songza when I have a critical paper to write but when I have to read a book chapter or a journal article, I need silence or even use earplugs sometimes.

Talk. Telling yourself you have to finish can definitely help. When you feel yourself daydreaming or dozing off, talk to yourself and direct your attention back to your schoolwork. This can also help lessen your anxiety when you have a ton of stuff to do. Tell yourself you have a lot of stuff to do but you have to finish this chapter, for example. Together with your to-do list, this can help you manage your anxiety from a lot of schoolwork and help you concentrate more.

It will be difficult at first but once you have that flow/mojo.. you'll be as efficient as you hoped to be and you'll be acing those midterms and assignments in no time!

Till next time,