Sona Patel

Entering the 2019 Fall term as a second-year Ted Rogers School student was enough to make me feel reassured of my readiness. I felt confident entering the new semester being an experienced university student. But, the Fall term ended and it did not go as I imagined.

At the end of the term, I found myself struggling to catch up with schoolwork, and noticed I lost control of my time management skills. I prioritized other areas of my life over school and lacked motivation. I found myself having unstructured study plans, heavily procrastinating and being easily distracted, so I lost track of course work.

I was advised to join workshops, meet with Peer Academic Coaches and seek all the support that was available to me through the Academic Success Centre (ASC). My goal for the Winter term was to learn how to balance my work, school and personal life, and implement new habits. I was seeking to fill a void in certain areas including my student life, personal development and self-discipline. I recognized that change was necessary.

How I discovered the Virtual Study Hall (VSH)

Well into the 2020 Winter term, I was looking forward to talking to my Peer Academic Coach (PAC) leader because he was up-to-date with my progress for the semester. My PAC leader, who was unable to attend our scheduled appointment that day, was replaced by Sandy Carpenter, a Student Success Facilitator at the ASC.

This made me anxious as I had to speak to someone who didn’t know about my progress at school. Frankly, I wanted to cancel the appointment and see if I could reschedule. However, Sandy turned out to be extremely comforting to converse with, and mindful of my concerns.

The ASC team does a great job to ensure students come first, and their needs are met before anything else. The level of attention and care given to students by team members really shows the passion they have for creating positive experiences for everyone. Incidentally, Virtual Study Hall (VSH) was run by Sandy, so she sent me a link to it because she thought it would be beneficial to help keep me on track with my work, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown and final exams approaching.

I thought, “What is VSH? And why would I want to spend two hours in a study session and share my goals for the work period?” I decided to take the chance and see how I could benefit from it, and four months later, I stayed committed. I also made friendships with amazing people. I encourage you to join VSH if you want to stay focused and boost your productivity. It gives you the opportunity to be part of a team to stay motivated, and create rewarding experiences.

Lessons Learned

Personal development, forming good habits and the importance of a growth mindset are a few of the many values I acquired from VSH. I learned the importance of discipline and structure, and how to incorporate these into everyday life.

Now, I use an agenda to keep track of important dates and ensure I prioritize activities accordingly. Organizing my study space and eliminating any distractions ensures I am in a productive headspace. I practice a routine that works for me.

VSH has been a great resource for helping me to stay engaged with my studies and keeping a record of my progress and goals. As students, we often neglect self-reflection and investing in our personal development. VSH taught me the importance of committing to this and recognizing what works and what doesn’t. This practice allows me to get in tune with myself, make better decisions and make value-adding changes that are necessary. 

Resume on desk

It’s completely okay to have those, “not so good days,” when things just feel out of place in the school term. Just remember, you are not alone and it is all part of the process. In the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, your schedule and study regime may have been disturbed. Look on the brighter side and take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate your study habits, routines and behaviours which have been deeply ingrained through repetition.

Through the lens of an optimist, the time for change is now! As a student, I realized the importance of evaluating the quality of my learning experience and how to overcome challenges by building greater resilience within myself.

These are just some of the ways VSH encouraged me to tailor my habits as a student and maintain a growth mindset. Engage in new activities to advance your mission. Keep in mind, it’s important to view your mistakes as a learning curve.

Posted by Sona Patel

Sona is a 3rd year Business Management student majoring in Entrepreneurship, and alongside her journey pursued a certification in Project Management from UofT. She continues to empower herself by engaging in diverse learning experiences that add value in various areas. Sona believes an essential part of growth and success for a student is learning to navigate change and embrace new opportunities.