Now that I’m getting settled into the new year, I finally have time to reflect on the dumpster fire of my last term (academically, and maybe a little bit emotionally LOL). It was my first time back in school after taking a semester off to work full-time. I realize now that working and going to school each feel like they’re occupying completely different parts of my brain, and that’s a big reason why the transition was difficult.
One of the best things I did last term was visit a Learning Strategist on campus at the Student Learning Hub to help me devise a plan to exit my flop era and enter my SLAY ERA!
Here’s a list of things I’ve been trying to do differently.
Step 1: Change my attitude towards learning
Before university, school was relatively easy for me. When things started getting tough in uni, I noticed that I would shut down because I thought I was “bad” at the subject and immediately stopped trying. It felt easier to say “I wasn’t really trying anyway” rather than, “I tried really hard and still failed.”
I’m trying to change this mindset. Learning isn’t always easy; there are some things that will come easily and other things that will be more challenging. I’ve found that there is honour in overcoming these beginning obstacles and taking the time to learn something that I didn’t excel at quickly.
Step 2: Ask for help and support early on
UBCO has so many resources I didn’t know about at first. Near the end of last term, I visited the Student Learning Hub and met with a Learning Strategist. He helped me pinpoint the reason I procrastinate, evaluate my attitude towards learning, and offered so many strategies to help me. One thing he said that really stuck out to me was that the type of student I am today will inform the professional I will be in the future. I want to be proud of the work I accomplish, no matter what it is.
(Tip: The Student Learning Hub also offers free subject tutoring, writing and language consultations, and many other resources to support you!)
Step 3: Start with the easy stuff
Unfortunately, I am plagued with chronic, hardcore procrastination. I’ve been getting away with it for all of my life, so I never had to change (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—some would say). But this mentality isn’t really serving me anymore, so I’ve been writing lists of everything I need to finish to help subside the anxious feeling I get sometimes when I feel overwhelmed. Then, I get the ball rolling by starting on the easier tasks. Bit by bit, I work my way up to the more rigorous tasks.
Step 4: Body doubling
This is a strategy that has been seriously life-changing for me. Body doubling is when you have a sort of accountability partner with you as you do your work. They don’t even need to be directly helping you—their presence just keeps you on task. A few ways I like to body double is by having my mom stay in the room with me while I work on my own stuff or sitting near the baristas in a café while we both do our own work.
Another great way to body double when your friends are busy is to designate a different spot on campus for every task you do—preferably with others around—whether it be writing papers, doing readings, completing worksheets, or taking notes.
All that said, unfortunately, there’s no one life hack that can level up your learning. These are things that are working for me, but before all of that, I had to forgive myself and ask for help. I’ve realized there’s honour in asking for help because that’s how successful people got to where they are—they couldn’t do it by themselves either! Progress takes time; remember to have patience with yourself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mia Mendoza is a transfer student in her first year of the Media Studies program and loves telling stories. She really enjoys personality tests, anything to do with pop culture, and trying new foods! Her favourite thing to do in Kelowna is taking long walks on the beach and buying overpriced coffee <3