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The marathon isn’t over yet: Avoiding semester burnout

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on The marathon isn’t over yet: Avoiding semester burnout

The marathon isn’t over yet: Avoiding semester burnout

By Rachael Allen, 3rd year Kinesiology student Every time exam season rolls around, I flash back to December of first year and cringe. I started out in sciences in first year, with the dreaded back-to-back-to-back exams leading to the big finale: MATH 121. I remember being so disciplined. I would arrive at Douglas Library and take the three flights of stairs down to the lowest level at 8:00am. I would work non-stop with the only breaks spent walking to refill my water bottle. I would do this until it was time to climb those three flights back up at 10:00pm, and emerge with 14 hours of studying under my belt. Every day I would dedicate myself to this intense study hibernation, regardless of the level of sleep I got, regardless of whether I had just written an exam, and regardless of my mental well being. Sounds pretty neat, being able to sit down and focus for that amount of time while retaining the information? Not so neat though, when that focus disappeared and the burn out set it. Finally, when the MATH 121 exam rolled around, I sat down at 9:00am and found myself completely distracted and unable to concentrate. I couldn’t recall the material I had studied and the reality was that I really didn’t care. I didn’t understand why my 40+ hours of “studying” left me so unprepared to write this final but I was too obsessed with the train I was boarding at 1:30 to really try. I ended up handing in my exam, incomplete and uninterested completing it, after only 90 minutes. I cabbed immediately to the train station, absurdly early, and sat for hours thinking of getting away from Queen’s and leaving the semester behind me. Since this dreadful experience 2 years ago, I have since learned that semesters are a marathon, and should be treated as such. The 1:30 train isn’t going to change, no matter if you rush or take your time getting through the exam season. Burning out can be the result of poor study habits and not enough self-care. Queen’s Student Academic Success Services and Learning Strategies has since been my primary influence in learning to avoid burn out. With resources like the exam study schedule, I am able to have scheduled breaks in my day, which allows for refocus and material consolidation while encouraging self-care. With emphasis on sleep, proper eating, and exercise, I have also learned that 14 hours of straight studying can be condensed into an efficient 9 hours when you give yourself opportunities to recharge. Above all, don’t forget that your wellness is more important than your grades. Living like a zombie and burdening yourself with stress are not they way you should be experiencing life at Queen’s. By using the learning strategies resources, you’ll find yourself able to succeed academically while also remaining motivated and happy! 🙂 Good luck to all!   Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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The Final Leg of the Race – Stress Management and Motivation Pearls to Keep You Moving

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on The Final Leg of the Race – Stress Management and Motivation Pearls to Keep You Moving

The Final Leg of the Race – Stress Management and Motivation Pearls to Keep You Moving

By: Sohaib Haseeb, 3rd year Life Sciences student It’s that time of the year again – week 12, and exams. The last eleven weeks have taken a toll on us, and studying is not what we want to be doing right now. But exams are right around the corner, and exam stress is at its all-time high. You may feel there’s nothing that can be done about the stress during this time. Assignments and papers all due around the same time, extracurricular responsibilities all cram up in week 12, and there’s not enough hours in the day to fit everything in. It’s time to take charge. No matter how stressful life seems at the moment, there are steps that we can take to manage stress and take control: 1. Steps to maintain motivation Have you ever sat down with a textbook and stared at the page blankly for hours until you finally give up? I know I have. Exam studying is one of the most daunting tasks for us undergrads – the stress of approaching exams, and the sense that we have to cram an overwhelming amount of information in our brains can have a huge toll on our motivation to study. Here are some things you can try to boost concentration and motivation, and get on with the studying that needs to be done:   Small actions add up As an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – this can go a long way. Begin with a small step – prepare your study space and remove distractions – stuff like that! Take Action Practice SMART goals. Well-thought-out goals can serve as powerful motivation for us students. Write them down, avoid vagueness, and work towards completing them in a timely manner. They not only serve as objectives to keep you focused, but also provide an opportunity for extrinsic rewards. Try something new Don’t feel confined to the strategies you’ve always used. If something isn’t working, like a habit or a way of taking notes, try something else. Take things one at a time, and evaluate at the end of a task to ensure that you’ve completed the task to the best of your abilities   2. In the weeks before – Put exams into perspective All exams are important, but when time is limited, prioritization is key. Knowing which exam to prioritize can vary from person to person, but some useful techniques are to determine the % value of the exam, and to calculate the existing grade up to this point, and then determine what grade is needed to maintain or reach your goal. Study schedules are your friend. Download our Exam Prep study schedule and try to see if it works for you. If I were to go back in first year and tell my mini-me something to do, it would be to make study schedules, and to stick to them. Join a study group and self-test each other using past exams from Queen’s Exam Bank, or make your own from class material.   3. Practice relaxation daily and always look on the positive side!   It’s all too easy to overlook your health and overwork yourself, and added stress certainly worsens the situation. Try deep...

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So, you realized it’s Week 11… We need a plan…

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on So, you realized it’s Week 11… We need a plan…

So, you realized it’s Week 11… We need a plan…

By: Julia Tighe, 3rd year Con-Ed/Health Studies student Exams are about as scary as your dad doing a dab this holiday season. I understand, it has already been a long, long, LONG 11 weeks (plus 1 more for week 12) and now we have to stay for 2 weeks after that, which are the most dreaded weeks of the semester. You may not be as caught up as you want to, maybe that quick cat nap turned into a semester long hibernation, OR you may be completely on top of it (yay! 🙂 ). Regardless which scenario you fit with it’s a difficult time for university students. Kraft Dinner sales rise, laundry piles grow exponentially, and Stauffer Library seems like a home away from home. BUT, HOLD THE PHONE, none of that needs to happen! Those two weeks don’t have to be as scary as you think, IF you consider the 5 steps to a successful exam season: STEP 1: KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW (and own it!) I’ve done it before – lying to myself by saying that I totally know week 3 off by heart. When I glance over it for the exam I realize I totally knew it off by heart for the midterm. Step 1 to your best exam season yet is to acknowledge you need to review material, and do the review.   STEP 2: SPICE UP YOUR LIFE…WITH AN EXAM SCHEDULE!              The Spice Girls recommend it: scheduling your life is an important part of a successful exam season. We definitely do not want any exam to sneak up on you like those multiple 4-pieces from Lazy. What some people forget is that scheduling time to go to the gym or to FaceTime your dog is an important aspect to your exam success as well. The BEST template to create a plan for yourself can be found here. STEP 3: EAT. SLEEP. EXAM. (go to the gym, call your mom, breathe). REPEAT.             One of my favorite exam study tricks is to wake up at the same time every day. Having exams at different times makes it difficult to establish a routine. Waking up at the same time allows you to have time to eat a healthy meal and then get to work around the same time each day! Your brain and body love routine. You’ll feel less lethargic and ready to study each day.  STEP 4: A repeat after me (song).              “I (insert your name here) am the best student at Queen’s University.” Now your turn, did you actually say it? Ok, do it for real. Good for you! This mindset is incredibly powerful to have. Allowing your ego to take over a little and telling yourself that you have done all that you can when going into an exam will make your mind clearer and produce the answer to that multiple choice question you can’t figure out. Just breathe, and remember: “I am the best student at QU”. STEP 5: ~-~ oooooooommmmmmmm ~-~              The final step to your exam season success is to be calm. You have done an amazing job preparing and will rock your exams! Remember your growth mindset as well while working – you may not be rocking every step of the exam process from...

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Tips for Living in Residence and Academic Success

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on Tips for Living in Residence and Academic Success

Tips for Living in Residence and Academic Success

By Chelsea Hall, 4th year Life Sciences student For the past two years I have had the privilege to not only volunteer as a Peer Learning Assistant but also have had the pleasure to work as a Residence Don. Working as a residence don has afforded me a unique perspective and allowed me to witness time and time again the common struggles with academics that countless first year students face in the transition to university while living in residence. University residence is an environment like no other it can be loud, eventful, messy, frustrating, fun and overall incredibly distracting. Drawing from my knowledge of both residence and learning strategies I’ve included some tips and tricks below that can be useful in achieving academic success while living in residence. 1. Get out of Residence Have you tried to be efficient and study in your room yet? Do you end up getting easily distracted by what’s going on around you or in the hallway? Do you end up lying on your bed only to drift off for a few hours or treat yourself to one too many episodes on NetFlix? If you have no issues in studying in residence then you have successfully mastered an art that few ever will. If you are like the rest of us and consistently struggle with establishing boundaries between social time and academics while in residence then that’s ok too! Getting out of residence and visiting a library (ie. Stauffer, Bracken, Douglas) or another study spot on campus helps make the most of your time and helps avoid distractions. Furthermore, if you need a break from campus then downtown Kingston has plenty of little coffee shops with WIFI where you can work and enjoy a change of scenery. 2. Make a Schedule and respect your boundaries At University a weekly schedule and a term calendar are a must, but the wonderful thing is that schedules can take whatever format that optimizes your success (ie. online, agenda, fantastic peer learning assistant template etc.). However you choose to make your weekly schedule make sure that it is readily visible on a daily basis so that you are not just making a beautiful schedule but never consulting it. Furthermore, effectively establishing boundaries is one of the most overlooked yet difficult aspects of time management and something I have both witnessed and experienced struggling with myself. It sounds simple but establishing boundaries while following a weekly schedule is truly a fine balance; it’s the balance between committing yourself to your schedule and getting done what you plan to at a given time and being mindful that life happens and things do come up at the last minute. On great tip is to block in a reserve bank of time to finish academic assignments for the week this will ensure that you feel less guilty if something does come and you’re still accountable for your homework time. 3. Friends-they’ll be there for you One of the most humbling lessons that I have had to learn at University is that no matter how independent or self-sustaining a person may be they will need a support network. The relationships you make are invaluable and residence is one of the best places to make friends from many different backgrounds and programs. Schedule social...

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The Happiness Advantage

Posted by on Nov 17, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage

By Parker Nann, 3rd year Commerce student Halfway through my very first semester at Queen’s, I was introduced to one of the simplest yet most challenging study strategies that I have come across: The Happiness Advantage. The idea appears basic: happy people are more successful in achieving their school, life, and personal goals. When I first encountered this strategy, it seemed so intuitive to me that I accepted it without objection. However, The Happiness Advantage challenges one of the most common perspectives that students hold about school: that working hard and persevering though school today, will bring success and happiness down the road. This perspective encourages us to surrender some of our happiness to our current duties, while convincing us that our future selves will thank us later for our early sacrifice. So we allow ourselves to be plunged into a mindset where our vision of future happiness dangles tantalizingly in front of us, so long as we can survive school long enough to grasp it. But this formula is broken. When we become fixated with success, each time we succeed we simply change the bar of success to reflect our new aspirations. Achieving good grades only compels us to work towards better grades. So, while the pursuit of high goals is not in itself unhealthy, attaching our happiness to achieving progressively more improbable goals is, and prevents us from ever arriving at sustainable happiness. The Happiness Advantage suggests an alternative progression: if we can generate happiness today, we have a better shot at success in the future. And this future success begets a cycle of happiness which, you guessed it, positions us for even more success. You are probably skeptical at this point, and should be, as success is not borne solely from a sunny outlook. Yet there is building scientific evidence about the influence that happiness has on personal effectiveness. The author of The Happiness Advantage researcher found that optimism and happiness in the workplace led to a 31% increase in productivity and a 37% increase in sales performance. The same researcher even found that physicians were 19% faster at reaching a correct diagnosis when happy compared to neutral, unhappy, or stressed. We now know the importance of happiness, but is it possible to generate positivity amidst the stresses and challenges of school? Luckily, research demonstrates that positive thinking can be trained and improved. If we take the time to build positivity into our daily lives and actively think about how we are feeling, positivity can indeed become habitual. Let me share three techniques which can help boost your happiness over time. Pay attention to the good: dedicate five minutes of each day to reflect or write about a positive experience which made you feel grateful or happy that day. Forcing ourselves to remember and write about something positive forces us to identify and pay attention to the positive events in our daily lives. By selectively writing about positive experiences, we can re-train our minds to brew on positive experiences rather than the negative or stressful ones. Engage with your social networks: if you’re anything like me, you like to spend time with your friends. Spending time with your friends (but not too much time – everything in sensible moderation!), is healthy, important, and fun. However, facing...

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It’s ok to be indecisive!: A guide to figuring out what you want

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on It’s ok to be indecisive!: A guide to figuring out what you want

It’s ok to be indecisive!: A guide to figuring out what you want

By Sophia Klymchuk, 2nd year Con-Ed French/Psych student I like to think of my years in high school as one long wave of indecisiveness. I became a regular at the guidance counselor’s office, constantly making tweaks and changes to my course selection. One day, I wanted to be a nurse. The next day, I wanted to be an architect. Today, I am at Queen’s University, in my second year of Concurrent Education, with a major in French. To this day, it still surprises me how I managed to make that decision concerning my future, but my indecisiveness still isn’t at rest! Several academic appointments later, and with one in the upcoming future, I already changed my major despite it being only my second year. Yes, life has its curveballs, I still have my ultimate goal in mind: to one day become a teacher. I’m happy to say that every decision I make revolves around this final goal. The point is, it’s okay to be indecisive when it comes to choosing a major. It may be overwhelming at times, but as long as you keep your goals and dreams in mind over the course of your decision-making, indecisiveness can be viewed as having an open mind. Are you in first year? Use this as the year to seize every opportunity, to excel in all of your courses. Go to your professor’s office hours, they don’t bite. Talk to them, maybe you’ll discover something new about them, about the course material, or about yourself. They may even offer you some insight on the degree you may or may not wish to pursue. Continue to do so in your upper-years as well. Are you interested in pursuing a specific major, or two? Or, are you not sure? Every faculty’s Department Student Council holds events to acquaint students with what the major has to offer within Queen’s, and beyond. Attend these events and view them as opportunities for learning, and in some cases, free snacks. Do you feel like indecisiveness is still getting the best of you? Get involved, join some clubs, and make the best out of your experience here at Queen’s. Who knows? That one club that crossed your mind once or maybe twice may actually help you discover that your true passion lies in environmental sustainability, or in working with young children. Take these opportunities to not only keep yourself busy and to meet like-minded people, but to acquaint yourself with what you want from life. I joined the student docent program at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre this year, and my experience there inspires me to incorporate a visual arts-based approach into my future classrooms. For some extra guidance, it’s always a good idea to consult the Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science, where academic guidance can help you steer in the right direction. Or, if you end up in a situation where, like me, you are unhappy with your major, they will be happy to help you choose what’s best for you. Most importantly, set long-term goals for yourself, and orient your decision-making around those goals. Keep a vision board in your room, or write them down in your agenda, or a place where you can always see them. Always have your goals nearby to keep yourself focused...

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“How to Study for…” Workshops are back!

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Featured | Comments Off on “How to Study for…” Workshops are back!

You asked and we answered! “How to Study for …” Course-specific Workshops are back in time for December exams brought to you by the Peer Learning Assistants. What are the “How to Study for…” Workshops? Learn about course-specific study strategies from experienced, upper-year students who have taken these courses in first-year. What are they not? The workshops are not course-cram and do not cover course material. When and where are the workshops? Sociology 122: Wed Nov 23 @ 5:30-7PM (Speaker’s Corner) Psychology 100: Wed Nov 23 @ 7:30-9PM (BioSci 1102) Physics 117: Tue Nov 29 @ 7:30-9PM (Stauffer 121) Global Development 100: Wed Nov 30 @ 5:30-7PM (Stauffer 121) English 100: Thu Dec 1 @ 5:30-7PM (Stauffer 121) Biology 102: Thu Dec 1 @ 5:30-7PM (Speaker’s Corner) History 121/124: Thu Dec 1 @ 7-8:30PM (Stauffer 121) Chemistry 112: Fri Dec 2 @ 5:30-7PM (Speaker’s Corner) Speaker’s Corner is located at the back of Stauffer...

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The Art of Speaking

Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on The Art of Speaking

The Art of Speaking

By Gaurav Talwar, 2nd year Life Sciences Student Your adrenaline begins to pump. You feel your sweaty palms. Your legs begin to shake. We all have been in one situation or another where the task of having to speak in front of a group of people seemed overly daunting and perhaps more difficult than writing a final exam. Whether that situation be responding to a professor’s question in an auditorium of 500 students, attending a job interview where your first impression really matters or simply giving a class presentation, we are repeatedly faced with the challenge of overcoming our fear of public speaking. However, as terrifying as we may make the situation seem, there IS A WAY to overcome our fear and to embrace public speaking in a more pleasant and enjoyable manner. Personally, public speaking has been a passion for me since middle school. Despite feeling anxious before each time I spoke and oftentimes not doing as well as I hoped, I found myself becoming increasingly motivated to speak in front of large groups of people and to share my ideas. Simply put, I began to view public speaking as a form of art. Similar to how a painter may combine different colours, shapes and painting techniques to create a picture or how a musician may use different notes to create a complex rhythm, a public speaker tries to convey a particular message using a perfect balance of words and presentation techniques. Sometimes an artist finds a perfect balance while during other times they don’t. However, they do not give up after a rough patch of trials and instead practice their skills to perfection. With that aim, I decided to join a public speaking club here at Queen’s called Agora Speakers. During each of our meetings, we have the opportunity of giving impromptu speeches regarding various themes (sometimes interview questions, business style, anecdotes, scary stories during Halloween…) and to present any prepared presentations we may have for a course or outside commitment. The best part is that the club is totally student run! The club meets every Monday, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm in the JDUC and is a great place to practice your public speaking skills without the fear of being judged or making a mistake! Just as a starting point, here are a few techniques which I have found to be very effective in giving presentations: If you have very little time to prepare for a response, try to find a structure. Figure out the first AND the last sentence of your speech and the main points you want to address in between. By having your speech mapped out in a logical manner, you can work off of a general outline and can guide yourself towards little goals during your speech. Avoiding using filler words. Filler words include “umm”, “like”, “you know” and anything else you may have a natural tendency to say when you are thinking out loud. As an alternative, practice varying your pace and using pauses. Having a 2-3 second pause in your speech may seem awkward and long to you, but it gives the audience a time to process what you have said and to get ready for what you will say next. Look confident! You may be very nervous inside, but the...

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How to EXAM without losing your TAM

Posted by on Nov 7, 2016 in Blog Post, Cross Post, Featured | Comments Off on How to EXAM without losing your TAM

How to EXAM without losing your TAM

By Alexa Fenton, 3rd year ConEd History/English student It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Exams. People are walking around Stauffer in their socks, Grocery Checkout is out of chocolate covered almonds and M&M’s, and you don’t remember what real jeans feel like. You’ve seen more plastic exam baggies than friends in the past two days, and you have to hold onto the railing as you go down the stairs of Stauffer, lest your newborn deer legs buckle under the weight of your temporary freedom and atrophying muscles as you leave the library late at night. Exams aren’t a whole lot of fun for anyone. That is, unless your proctor is doing a really good crossword that day. Despite being a 3rd year student (Concurrent Ed., History Major, English Minor), exams still tend to provoke a lot of anxiety within me. They are scary. You have only 3 hours to prove everything you know about a subject. Advanced preparation (i.e. more than 24 hours!) is the key to success. Here are some crucial tips for getting through this crunch time and maintaining the semblance of a feeling that you’re still human: 1.  Do not become one of those zombies in “I am Legend.” Channel your inner Will Smith and get enough sleep. It’s hard to save the world, let alone study when you can’t feel your fingers. 2.  Maintain structure. Try your best to work the same length of time, at the same time each day. Some people like to think of working a ‘9-5 job’. 3.  Move. You don’t need to go to the gym everyday, but you do need to take a break and let your blood flow a bit. It is recommended that you at least go for a short walk with a friend if you can’t fit in a run. It’s amazing what fresh air will do for your brain. 4.  Plan ahead. Make an exam schedule in advance. Break down the 20 days leading up to your exams – how many days do you need to study for each exam? How many hours will you get in per day? Asking yourself these important questions now allows you to focus on the important stuff (learning the actual material) when the time counts. 5.  Mark your turf. Find a good study spot(s) and stick to it/them. 6. Review. Past exams are your friend. Use them. 7.  Reward yourself after the exam rain or shine. Sure, it might not have gone as well as you had hoped, but you put a lot of effort into it, and that is to be commended! Treat ‘yo self. Best of luck to all as we take on this tough time! Remember you’re worth more than just your marks. Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license...

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Are you ready to “Get It Done” on November 13? Attend our anti-procrastination writing event for first-year students (with food and prizes)!

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Featured | Comments Off on Are you ready to “Get It Done” on November 13? Attend our anti-procrastination writing event for first-year students (with food and prizes)!

Are you ready to “Get It Done” on November 13? Attend our anti-procrastination writing event for first-year students (with food and prizes)!

Twice per academic year, Student Academic Success Services and Queen’s Residence Life join forces to provide first-year students with the ultimate anti-procrastination tool — complete with snacks, supportive Peer Writing and Learning Assistants, and occasional motivational dance parties, to boot. Get It Done: The Long Day Against Procrastination 11am-8pm on Sunday, November 13, 2016 Ban Righ Fireside Room Drop in for thirty minutes or five hours! This event sets first-year students loose on a final paper of their choosing in a dedicated, (relatively) distraction-free space. The Peer Writing and Learning Assistants will be available to provide suggestions, while, in a nearby room, free snacks, regular break-time dance parties, and excellent raffle prizes keep everyone motivated. Through one-on-one consultations and mini-workshops, this event may help students generate new ideas and map connections structure a complex paper in a coherent way sculpt an introductory paragraph or thesis statement break a large project into smaller writing tasks feel part of a larger writing community get started on a major assignment earlier rather than...

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