When the pandemic changed our lives, my life as a Ted Rogers School of Management student changed drastically. I experienced a lack of motivation and a lot of uncertainty. I felt more alone as each day went by, and I was barely passing each semester. I reached the bottom, when I dropped more than two courses in 2020-2021 and failed two upper liberal electives in the Summer/Spring 2021 semester.
I am so close to graduating, and I could not let this ruin my future, so I had to make some changes. When the Fall 2021 semester started, I kept talking to one of my classmates about my situation, and she told me to go to the Academic Success Center’s website and book an appointment with a Peer Coach. And, so I did! This proved to be a turning point, where things got better.
Peer Coach Appointments
The peer coaches are upper-year students who help other students develop skills in time management, goal setting, exam preparation, and more. I started going weekly to meet with a Peer Coach. I attended a total of 11 weeks (including reading week). It helped me stay grounded and accountable every week. I worked on my biggest weakness, time management, and built a new routine and habits throughout the semester. I would set SMART goals and use the Seven-Day planner and the Fall 2021 Planning Calendar to organize my busy schedule and know all my deadlines ahead of time. At some point in the semester, I wanted to give up and not write one of my essays, but peer coach Isha motivated me to never give up on my goals. Each week, we would talk about how last week went and what needs to be improved to use my time wisely and have a balanced life as a student in the virtual setting. If the plan did not work, the best advice was to change the plan, but not the goal.
Train to Learn (T2L) Workshops
The objective of T2L workshops is to provide students with the essential tools to have a more productive online learning experience. As an undergraduate student who is close to finishing up her degree, the online upper-year courses have gotten more complex, and there were a lot of times I wanted to give up. The workshops helped me learn how to deal with stress, anxiety, and motivation. The most important lesson I will not forget is to reward yourself (give yourself credit for all your hard work throughout the week) and make time for self-care. It is crucial because self-care reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also help prevent burnout, increase your happiness and energy, and improve focus.
Learning & Accountability Coaching (LAC) Group Sessions
The ASC designed this program to teach students for the first 30 minutes about efficient learning strategies and the necessary tools to prepare for midterms and finals. Then, the following 90 minutes are a Pomodoro-style study hall. Attending LAC sessions helped me stay accountable for my goals and be productive within the three 25-minute Pomodoros study periods. Working and studying with other students, when the Pomodoro timer is on, motivated me to accomplish my goal for the next hour and a half. This program is also beneficial because a facilitator will keep an eye on the timer and remind students to take a break and watch stretching and breathing exercises videos.
Back in Business (BiB) Program
We talked about the BiB Program and its benefits during my first appointment with a peer coach. Students at the Ted Rogers School are encouraged to complete the necessary components of the BiB Program to receive a Certificate of Academic Excellence from the ASC. The following are the requirements: students must register for the BiB program, attend at least 3 T2L workshops, attend at least 2 LAC sessions, meet with a Peer Coach twice, and complete an End-of-Term reflection. As soon as I learned how the BiB program works, I went through my Seven-Day planner and scheduled to attend the T2L workshops and LAC sessions. The BiB program has also contributed to my growth. Throughout the semester, I became more responsible for my school work and goals in life. My initial plan was just to earn the Certificate of Academic Excellence, but I soon realized that in the process I would learn so much about various programs that the ASC has to offer. BiB is beneficial to all students in Ted Rogers School because it motivates them to utilize and learn about the different types of learning support available to help students achieve their academic goals.
Due to the support of the ASC team, this semester has been significantly different from all my previous terms. I have grown academically by being metacognitively aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Also, I continuously develop my time management and metacognitive skills to be prepared and confident to write my final exams. I have established clear academic goals and pursued those goals with an accountability partner and the necessary tools. I was able to stay on top of my assignments and get higher marks this semester because the ASC team helped boost my esteem and motivation to achieve my SMART goals through peer coach appointments, workshops, and group sessions. Furthermore, I will continue to use the learning strategies and planners to organize my time and remind myself to make time for self-care as part of my routine.
Overall, I felt like I had an anchor, where Peer Coach Isha helped me stay in control of my life no matter what happened and not feel alone. Even though I was experiencing some anxiety and uncertainty throughout the semester, the ASC team has always supported other students and me every week. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being will reduce stress, improve energy and concentration, and prevent burnout.
I recommend all students in the Ted Rogers School to check out these programs on the Academic Success Center’s website. You will gain valuable knowledge, skills, and tools from workshops and group sessions. Learning specialists (peer coaches), will also be helpful in supporting your academic and professional careers.