Taking advantage of resources on campus

Photo by Manaj Rai

When I first entered university, I remember being a little hesitant to ask for help. “I’m on my own,” I would think to myself.

It turns out I wasn’t aware of the full-range of resources we, as students, have at our disposal.

Part way through first-year this changed. I began asking for help. I turned to the Career Centre for resume building resources. I decided to attend the Math Assistance Centre (MAC) for support and mock midterms.

The support systems are there. I promise you, however, it’s up to you to do your research and find the time to attend.

If you are having trouble with something, seek help and seek it early. If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that we are all learning. None of us know it all. And we can’t be expected to. But, to have the chance to gain knowledge and not take it, that would be a mistake. Because, you see, how else will you grow, how else will you transform your skill-set and your experiences?

It comes down to how important something is to you. If you really want to master Excel or you really want to learn more about program Y, you will find the resource. It’s as simple as that.

One of my favourite resources is Lynda.com. Managed by LinkedIn, it has its own set of online help videos — videos taught on a range of topics, many with worksheets and practice fills for you to test your knowledge.

I’m an economics student, but that’s where I first learned HTML and CSS; it’s the medium of learning that proved to be most effective to learn something new on the side, as a passion project.

Remember, that people can also be your best resources. This may be a mentor from the upper-years or a professor whose class or area of research you are truly interested in.

Sometimes there are things you really want to learn, but choose to put off under the pretense of not having enough time. I myself am guilty of this. But it is so important to take advantage of the array of easily-accessible resources — resources that you may not have access to in the future.

While our academic support services are quite useful, don’t limit yourself to just academics. We are more than what we learn in the classroom. It’s more complicated than that. Employers want to see intangibles.

Show the initiative; go out there and dedicate some time on the side to something you really want to learn. I would characterize this as something you are willing to dedicate a few hours to each day, and would regret putting off.

It doesn’t have to be the most complex task.  But, pick a passion project. Leverage the available resources and learn something outside the traditional classroom. That journey towards your goal will be worth it.

With our discussions of academic and project-based resources, let’s not forget mental health. University can be stressful.  So, when deadlines are piling up and you are feeling overwhelmed, remember that there are counselling services at the Student Wellness Centre. Your health— mental and physical — trumps everything.

So, to those just entering first year, enjoy the ride in this your first month of university. The university journey teaches you just how fleeting time really is.

Remember, that people can also be your best resources. This may be a mentor from the upper-years or a professor whose class or area of research you are truly interested in.

It might be a close friend you meet on the first day. But, whoever it is, don’t underestimate the power of people as support systems. Talk to people — there’s so much we can learn from each other. In that sense, your relationships with the wide range of people you meet here might be your best resource because there’s something magical about this place indeed.

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