Managing your academic workload

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Photo by Kira Gelbard
Photo by Kira Gelbard

There is always a certain level of excitement and anticipation at the beginning of every school year. If you are a new Golden Hawk, it means meeting new people and navigating through university life. For the more experienced Golden Hawks, it means meeting up with friends and sharing summer memories. That excitement is soon replaced by anxiety over coursework and looming deadlines.

Michael Lisetto-Smith, a learning strategist at Wilfrid Laurier University, provided insights on how to manage course work and stress.

Lisetto-Smith suggested that in order to tackle a larger assignment, students should break it down into ‘soft due-dates.’  These refer to the idea of “taking those bigger projects and breaking them down into smaller ones,” stated Lisetto-Smith.

Lisetto-Smith suggested that students can use the assignment planner offered by the writing center to create these soft due-dates.  Essentially, a student records the due date for their assignment and the assignment planner breaks it down into smaller components.

A good study space is necessary for student success. Lisetto-Smith said that one of the most important aspects of having a permanent study space is to make sure everything has a place that it can go to.  By having your supplies and materials all in one space, more productive studying time will take place, opposed to wasting time looking for said materials.

Another aspect of a good study space is creating a space that caters to your own personal needs and learning style. Lisetto-Smith used the example of students who prefer the outdoors can recreate those aspects of adding the outdoors, inside. This can include plants or even a water feature to make an indoor space more outdoorsy. Some students may also benefit from having some type of white noise within the background while they study, Lisetto-Smith said.

As technology becomes more and more interwoven into our daily lives, it can serve as a helpful tool for students to remain on task for school. Applications including blogs, videos and computer tricks can be ways of helping students stay calm during stressful times.

Blogs have become a popular medium to share ideas and tips.  There are many blogs that can help guide students on how to manage all of their coursework. Blogs written by students like, College Info Geek, Organized Charm and Life as a Dare provide insights on how to succeed in post-secondary life and managing stress, time management and balancing academic life.

Videos can also provide guidance on how to succeed at school.Lisetto-Smith stated that he uses the YouTube channel called AsapSCIENCE, which was created by former University of Guelph students. The channel features videos to help students improve their academic work.

Many students are familiar with the Microsoft Suite and have likely used it at one point within their academic careers. It can be used to ease the stress of many students. One tool that can be found on Microsoft Word is the references feature to help students create a bibliography. Simply go to the references tab and select the citation style that you wish to use and fill in the information with the corresponding box.

Another computer tip is available through your Laurier student email account. In the account, you can use Google calendar to set up certain deadlines that can then send you notifications of upcoming assignments.  Your student email also allows you to share documents. This is great for group assignments where you can invite the other members of your group to edit the assignment. This can work very well for presentations and allow students to add to the assignment without having to physically meet with each other.

Even though technology can be a useful asset in helping students achieve their goals, it can also be their biggest obstacle. Lisetto-Smith described social media as a main contributor to distraction. He tells students that there is software available that can be used to help block out those sites.

With the new semester underway, now is the time to get organized and ready for academic success. Make this the semester to make organizational changes and reach your goal GPA.


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