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Back to School: 12 tips for student success at OISE

August 28, 2016

By Sabrina Persaud

12 back to school tips for student success at OISE

What's your most effective way of learning? Typing on a laptop, tablet, or old fashion pen and paper? As noted here, it's important to test how you learn best.

With 3,200 students making their return to the classroom at OISE this week, we’ve put together some top tips to help ensure students get off to a smashing start.

Helping in this mission is OISE grad Sabrina Persaud, Vice-Chair of the OISE Young Alumni Council and recipient of the 2016 University of Toronto Arbor Award.

Persaud completed her M.Ed in Educational Administration through the department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education in 2013 — and below, shares some worthy advice on how to stay at the top of your game as you head into the school year.


12 Back to School Tips

1) Get active, get centred
It’s really important to take care of your body, mind and spirit. Throughout my time at OISE, many of us would head down to Hart House gym regularly to take advantage of the facilities. Whether it was running on the track or swimming laps in the pool, it always provided a great break away from writing, reading and classes. In addition to the physical engagement, there are great support services at the Koffler Centre where you can have access to mental health services. If you see that someone might be having a hard time, also have a friendly check-in with them to see how they’re doing.

2) Apply for jobs early in the school year
As you gear up for school, in many instances, it’s also the same time for job applications. If you are looking for future internships, summer opportunities or even part time work, it’s always great to start earlier than later.

Here are some great opportunities to keep your eye on: Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)Ontario Internship ProgramJobs in OntarioJobs in Canada and Jobs in Education

(FYI: While at OISE, Persaud worked as Media Relations Officer in the Dean’s Office. She was also Executive Assistant to the Dean of Research, International and Innovation.)

3) Participate!
There are numerous opportunities within your faculty, across campus, and in the city with sports teams, clubs, and art-focused activities among many others. Participating in an extra-curricular activity can help you connect with new people, learn a new activity (or get better at one!) and indulge in time away from the books. Many organizations offer volunteer roles, internships and weekend activities — check out the organizations that interest you the most to see how you can get involved!

(Fun fact: During her time at OISE, Persaud volunteered as an Art Educator at the Art Gallery of Ontario and with the Regent Park Film Festival).

4) Pizza party anyone?
In between the writing, the studying, working and volunteering, you’re going to want to eat, so why not eat with others? Get to know your peers in your program, a new student or your professors by sharing a meal together, whether it is going out or having a potluck. There are also some really amazing food trucks around campus that are worth the walk! Building relationships outside of the classroom are invaluable, and sharing a meal with a friendly face is always a great way to get to know those around you.

5) Go to class
This sounds elementary, but as the juggling act of school, assignments and personal commitments becomes more challenging, sometimes making it to class might not always be the easiest thing to do. But you should go. Face time with fellow students, professors and teaching assistants is important, not to mention being there to hear exam or project tips that may only be given in the classroom.

6) Figure out your way of learning
Some students have notebooks, laptops, voice recorders or nothing at all. Knowing how you learn and practicing that method is really important in understanding content that you’ll be writing about or discussing. There are multiple online tests that you can take to see what kind of learner you are and how you can better manage that skill. You might want to think about pairing up with a friend to see how you each absorbed the information in class, and see how well you could share and analyse the topics discussed in class. 

7) Know the job prospects of your degree
The reality is that you will need to be prepared for how the world is changing. Technical skills, cognitive skills and emotional skills are all shifting in how they are valued in various workplaces. If there is a skill that is needed where you might have a learning gap, connect with the employer and ask how you can better prepare yourself for those types of positions. The World Economic Forum put out this list of skills that will be sought out in the next few years. Keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in your field, so that you can bring your unique and sought skills to the labour market.

8) Get to know campus
The University of Toronto campus has so many great places to work, study, and explore! Taking a stroll down Philosophers Walk, checking out the stacks in Robarts Library, catching a show at Hart House Theatre, or sitting in one of the various hidden green spaces are some of the many activities you can catch. Take in the campus for all that it has to offer in your time studying!

9) Get to know your teacher
You don’t always have to sit at the front of the class to get to know your teacher. You can visit them during their office hours, ask to meet outside of class in a more casual setting or reach out through email or phone. Teachers are people too, and it’s always great to know who your teacher is, and not only in a time of crisis when you need an extension! Teachers and teaching assistants want to see you succeed, so let them help you get there.

10) Set boundaries and protect your time
It’s really easy for many to get so absorbed into work and neglect our families, friends, eating well, and our favourite hobbies. Setting time aside for each activity and part of your life can be done by making plans and sticking to them, using various calendar apps on your phone so that you have reminders of upcoming events.

11) Find a side hustle (job or passion)
Chances are you are not solely interested in the subject area that you are pursuing academically.  Keeping up with areas that interest you, whether it is reading more about that area, volunteering, or working in that area will expose you more to that ‘side of desk’ hobby you have your mind on. Having extra skills or extra cash is always helpful to fall back on!

12) Don’t give up
Many unforeseen activities can happen within the school year — you might lose your scholarship, you might lose a loved one, or you might have a series of bad days— know that this is a part of the process. Life happens and might interrupt your flow of events and ambitions, but have peace of mind that you have the skills and determination, to work through difficult times, and a support network to have a great life experience as you study.

Best of luck to all of our OISE students back on campus. We hope these tips help keep you focused and on a continued path to success!

And for those who have questions as the school year unfolds, OISE's student services are here for you.


OISE Experts: 11 Back to School Tips for Teachers
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