Read observations and insights from ESP Academic Coach, Mathiew.
- Top tips for surviving Summer School
Hi everyone! Congratulations on completing your ESP year. Some of you may have decided to take the summer off to relax and unwind from an unprecedented first year, which is totally okay! There are also some students who may have decided to enrol in summer school to get ahead, which is also great! ESP still offers coaching in the summer: you can book with a coach to discuss your summer courses, and we will meet online, as we did throughout the year. As a coach here are my top 10 tips for surviving summer school! Summer school courses are intensive because it is the same amount of course material but with half the time to learn it (exceptions are math courses and certain language courses)
- To relieve stress, it is crucial to stay on top of the readings and online lectures, these courses go by very fast!
- When you do the readings, skim them! As you do, star or highlight the important points so that you know which to review later in the course
- For the big lectures you have, watch them earlier in your work day before your willpower gets depleted! You do not want to be sitting down later in the afternoon, when its 30 degrees outside forcing yourself to watch a three hour lecture
- Use your time efficiently! When you have scheduled school work into your day, actually do it, don’t try to multi-task, even short 25 minute study sessions are useful if you are efficient!
- Take time to pursue your hobbies for a break! This year has been challenging and it is important to avoid burnout. For example on a Friday night play your new video game or watch your favourite TV show!
- If you are trying to work and do summer school, don’t stretch yourself too thin, remember that instead of three hours of class time a week, it is now 6 hours per course, and that does not include time for readings and assignments, or to review for the exam!
- If your prof has office hours, go to them! It may be summer school, but relationship building doesn’t stop. If it is a course in your major or minor, you can ask about the program, if it is not in your major or minor, you can ask about writing expectations and course material.
What to talk about with a prof in their office hours
- If you’re worried about how to get the conversation rolling, stop by to say hello, ask about the program, say that you’re interested in their research, and they are more likely to open up to you! You can also see if the prof shares a hobby with you! Remember, you don’t have to stay for the full hour!
- If you are taking a course that is not in your major or minor, I would still visit the prof’s office hours! Ask them about expectations for writing, their tips for succeeding in the course, and interesting ideas to pursue for the term assignments.
- What happens in a coaching session?
Students who haven’t tried coaching often wonder what happens in a coaching session. It is important to know that you can bring any school work you are working on to the coach, and even things like bursary applications and resumés. When you book an appointment, you will receive an automatic conformation email. Your coach will follow up with a personal email asking what you want to work on during the session. The coaching session is a relaxed space where you get to focus on your priorities. The coach is not a T.A. and does not grade you or report on your work to anyone. Your coach will start by getting to know you, then go over the assignment together, and go through the muddy points to gain a better understanding of the assignment. You will let the coach know your goal, whether it be revising a paper, creating an outline, working on a lab or problem set, or anything else you have in mind. After the session is over, you will have learned some new skills, and your work will be a little closer to completion, and you are welcome to book another appointment !
- How do I get started if I feel unmotivated?
The other day at one of our coaching meetings, we talked about how to start an assignment when you are feeling unmotivated, because this is a very common thing, even amongst coaches. Some of the things we have found successful are:
- Contact a friend (or coach) and talk about the topic of the assignment to get yourself in the groove, or if you feel comfortable, try recording yourself speaking about it.
- Sit down and write just one sentence (or start on one math problem). Force something out!
- Remember every step counts. Just get started!
- Doing things one step at a time allows you to have a series of victories, which helps keep you motivated.
- Write a word, a sentence. Don’t worry about the paragraph yet, when you are getting started on an assignment, the little things matter more than the big things.
Even though it may seem daunting, coaches have experienced similar things, and we are here to help you break through procrastination and get started on the assignment!
- Success story: Tim's history paper
I met Tim* shortly before the end of the first semester, when everyone’s term papers were due. He had a history paper that was due on the Friday, and as of that Wednesday, was still unsure how to approach it. In our coaching session, he explained to me where he was having difficulties with the assignment. We looked at his paper together and pinpointed the areas where he could improve. Tim was committing one of the ‘cardinal sins’ of university writing: making sweeping statements instead of more narrow assertions that could be supported with evidence. I was also able to assist him with the Chicago citation system, which was something that was new to him. At the end of our appointment, Tim told me that he felt much more comfortable about the assignment. He also said that he was prepared to submit the essay on time, which was something that he had expressed concerns about previously. Later that week, Tim emailed me, saying that he had submitted the assignment on time. Tim’s story represents how success stories can have different aspects for everyone, coaches are always willing to help a student in any way they can. The end of the semester can be a stressful time for university students, and coaches can help students reach their goals! To book a coaching appointment click here * Pseudonym