Beyond Final Exams: Reflecting and Preparing for Winter 2018

Mid-Year Winter Break has ended, and classes have resumed. Let the Winter 2018 term begin!

When grades were released for the Fall 2017 term, some of you may have received the ones you expected, while others may have been pleasantly surprised or disappointed by your results. With Open Enrollment ending January 26, 2018, the pressure is on for many students to make the right decisions for this term’s courses, as well as get the grades they want and the CGPA they need.

It is here that I say: pause and take a breath. Before courses gear up with assignments and mid-terms, take the opportunity to focus on the present and prepare for the next steps for the Winter 2018 term.

For those of you who received an unpleasant surprise or disappointing grade, this article is for you.


I, myself, am a proud alumna of TRSM’s Human Resources major.

In the midst of my degree, a series of events unfolded within my personal life that created a challenge in all areas of my life. This extended my undergraduate experience to five years, with my fourth year consisting of a single, upper-liberal course.

When I returned to my degree and full-time studies, I put in the work and the effort, but it was not always evident in the grades I received. This was largely due to the fact that my mind was not entirely in it, nor was my heart. The “break” (as I now fondly title that period of my life), had derailed my plan. The plan was to graduate with a Law & Business minor in four years with Honours.

So…did I fail? No. Because I believe my value is not determined by my grades.  And neither is yours. We are more than our cumulative grade point average.

Valuable Lessons

“But Nina,” you may say dubiously, “employers care about my CGPA!”

That is true. When you choose to enter the professional world, your employer may request a copy of your university transcript, which provides them with some insight into your performance capabilities, as well as your baseline of understanding. It is a form of due diligence to know the candidates they are considering to hire at their company.

Yet, I maintain that your grades alone do not define you.

It may seem contradictory to what I just said. Yet, the reason I maintain that your CGPA will not be your doom is because your ability to market yourself, as well as your soft skills and experience are crucial aspects of the candidate evaluation process. Yes, a high CGPA may help, but it is not everything.

My first job in the professional world was with the Government Contracts & Bridge Training Services team at Seneca College’s Faculty of Continuing Education & Training. In my interview, I demonstrated interest in the work that they did, and discussed how the transferable skills gained from previous employment, would add value to their team.

Once in the role, I realized that my degree was quite helpful and tied in well with the work I was doing. My grades may not always have been at the level I hoped they would be, but the knowledge and skills gained in school were tantamount to my success within that position.

While completing my degree, I would have benefited from the various supports and services offered at Ryerson, including that of my program office and the Academic Success Centre – both of which I woefully underused. If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken advantage of the various services available to TRSM students.

Ryerson Supports and Services

    1. Tutoring and Peer-Assisted Study Groups
      Through Tutoring Support, students meet with Academic Peer Helpers (APHs), who are upper-year peers that provide small group support so students can gain a stronger grasp of course concepts and develop confidence in academic skills and problem-solving in collaborative learning environments.
    2. Peer Academic Coaching
      Peer Academic Coaches (PACs) are upper-year students trained to share study skills tips and to mentor and help fellow students navigate their academics.  Meeting regularly with a PAC is a great way to stay motivated throughout the academic term, as it is very easy to start with great energy, but run out of fuel later in the term when classes and assignments become more demanding and challenging.
    3. GPA Grade Calculator
      Although covered by my Facilitator in the BUS 100 Strategies for Success course, the use of the Grade Calculator would have helped me set a target to attain the grade I wanted. After all, grade forecasting has been shown to motivate and increase studying efforts in students.
    4. ASC Coaching Circles
      The ASC Coaching Circles are a series of ongoing workshops in small groups, addressing study skills that are beneficial to all students and support student achievement, such as time management, note-taking, effective study techniques, exam preparation, etc.
    5. Student Learning Support
      Located on the fourth floor of the Student Learning Centre, Student Learning Support provides many services and supports to all Ryerson students. Their areas of support include: Academic Accommodation Support, the Test Centre, English Language Support, and Math and Writing Supports, among others.
    6. The Centre for Student Development & Counselling
      Located in Jorgenson Hall (JOR 07C, next door to the OneCard office), the Centre for Student Development and Counselling provides various supports. This includes support for personal, career and education concerns, as well as crisis support.

Create Your Own Strategy

I understand, of course, that everyone’s academic journey is different. Each person has their own path, adversity to overcome, and successes to attain. With that said, it is important to create a strategy to improve and continue growing that works best for you. Before you dive into the Winter 2018 term, consider a few services and supports you would like to make use of to help you persevere in your academic journey.