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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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So, You’re Starting Your Academic Journey

July 9, 2021

As I move towards achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, I find myself thinking back to my first days as an Undergraduate student, longing to ensure my newest endeavours are the best ones yet. Having already completed an undergraduate degree, I wanted to share some lessons I learned about embarking on a new academic journey. 

What to Do This Summer 

sunglasses on a stack of books on the beach

For one, there is an art to the fine balance of enjoying your summer whilst slowly readying yourself for the academic year ahead. I strongly encourage anyone beginning a degree to enjoy their summer as well as they can. While the pandemic may make this more difficult than usual, your future self will thank you for making the best of this time. Your next few summers may involve work, internships, and summer classes, and so this intermediary summer may very well be the last time for a long time that you can unapologetically enjoy these months without the future commitments that you may make down the road. 

With this being said, however, it is imperative that you maintain the deadlines regarding the school year ahead to best prepare yourself for what is to come. Pay your tuition deposits, sign up for open houses and orientation activities, select your classes when the time comes, and begin looking into your living and commuting situation. If applicable, apply for residence, practice your commuting route BEFORE the first day of classes, and look into obtaining a parking pass should you require one. This summer is both a time to celebrate and let loose, while also preparing yourself for a great transition, both academically and generally.

The Most Important Tip

person writing on a notebook

One of the best skills I have learned through successfully attaining my first Undergraduate Degree is to be ORGANIZED. This may look different for everyone, but what worked for me was organization through flexible planning. I discovered this life hack about halfway through my degree, and my grades improved drastically after that point. It is such a simple thing to do, but it allows you to hold yourself accountable for your commitments, while also serving as a reminder of what needs to be done. 

I set out by purchasing a cheap planner that had two important features: monthly and weekly calendars. At the beginning of each semester, I used my syllabi to write each assignment and due date in my planner – both in the monthly section AND the weekly section. I also chose to add my commitments to these schedules such as work schedules and meetings. In doing this, I was able to see my month at a glance to plan my time accordingly. If I had two papers and two finals in one week, I knew I would have to devote time earlier on to study and write for certain classes to not be overwhelmed by everything when that week approached.

The most important thing about planning for me was to use a colour-coded system so I knew when things NEEDED to be done, and when my goals were more flexible. For example, as I planned my week, I would write my goals for each day and highlight the mandatory goals in one colour, and the more flexible goals in a different colour. For whatever goals I did not accomplish, I made sure to edit my schedule to accommodate for the work that would have to be done another day. Being organized through flexible planning allows you to be human; it serves as a form of accountability. Even if you forget about a commitment, simply checking your planner every morning would allow you to stay on top of everything on your plate.

Next Steps

Aside from enjoying your summer and planning for your academic year, there are countless other ways you can prepare for what is to come. However, my greatest piece of advice is to put your best foot forward and persevere until you get to wherever it is you are headed. Starting a degree can provoke a plethora of feelings and experiences, and I encourage you to make the best of it.

By Deanna Ratzki