Balancing School and Family, Student Life

My First Semester – Weeks 7 to 9 – Part 3

Week 7

You may or may not have received your mid-term grades back yet. The TAs always tell me that they have two weeks and a day to submit your grades. (I don’t know why they don’t just say 15 days but it must be a common term or something). When you do get your grades the chances are they won’t be what you expected. Don’t get upset when you first see your grades on Blackboard. Most professors will tell you to wait 24 hours after your grades are posted before you contact them about it. You may be freaking out because you thought you were getting an A and your grade is a C+. Take the 24 hours to cool down and then approach your professor and/or TA. Do not go flying into the department and demanding to speak to the professor immediately. Adding drama to your grade will not help your argument. I know of several people that have approached a professor about a grade and their grade has gone DOWN. Most of these were papers that the TA graded generously, when the professor read them they had a different opinion. So maybe speak to the TA first. I also had a friend who had a scantron exam and the TA put it in the machine backward. His grade jumped from a 22 to an 87. Mistakes do happen.

Bad Grade By Robert Hruzek

Photo Credit: Bad Grade By Robert Hruzek on Flickr

If you need more help about speaking to a professor, click the link at the bottom of this post for some guidelines. Remember they are human just like you so proceed respectfully. However, if you rolled into the exam, with little sleep due to a sick baby or without studying much, maybe the grade is accurate. Mid-terms are helpful in letting you know academically what is working or what isn’t.



Week 8

Get help even if you think you don’t need it. Here at UTM we have the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre that offers one-on-one counselling, facilitated study groups, a variety of workshops, and even English enhancement sessions if English is not your first language. I went to a workshop my first year about learning styles and I learned that I am a traditional academic learner, meaning I like to read and be able to look up facts. I am not a visual learner as I had imagined I was. This helped me change my studying styles. I would re-read the PowerPoints and then look up where (if) that information was in the textbook or any of the readings. That way I confirmed what I had heard in the lecture and it helped make the knowledge stick. There are other centers available at the St. George and the Scarborough campuses. Check out the posted links at the bottom. Try to keep in your mind that the university doesn’t want you to fail, they want you to succeed. Like other things in life though, you can’t do everything alone or by yourself. Use every resource that the university offers, that’s what they’re there for.

Week 9

As I alluded to in my previous post, I bombed my Economics mid-term. This sent me into a personal spiral. Did I even like my major? Do I want to suffer through two years of Economics? What was the point if I worked so hard and got so little out of it? I thought about this a lot and I spoke to my Registrar’s office for academic counselling and they recommended I drop it and take it during the summer. I actually took it a step further. Since I hadn’t done my SubjectPosts yet, I reviewed my classes and realized there was one class I enjoyed, actually looked forward to…and that was Anthropology. After taking classes in languages, like Math and French, that was hard to understand, Anthropology was a treat for me every Wednesday. After class I would read next week’s readings! I loved it that much.

Reading on the Stairs By Jens Schott Knudsen

Photo Credit: Reading on the Stairs By Jens Schott Knudsen on Flickr

My late mother’s voice was in the back of my head though, “What do anthropologists do? Can you make a living on it?” I didn’t know the answers to these questions so I went to visit the Career Centre here on campus. It’s an amazing place. I scheduled an appointment and talked to an advisor who showed me that most of the top 500 companies have their own Anthropology department and they use Anthropologists for a lot of Market Analysis before starting business in a new country. There were lots of other options and on the website you can look at what other U of T graduates are doing with their degrees that they’ve earned. I found a lot of variety in the Anthropology graduates and it was heartening. I called the Anthropology Department secretary and she met with me and went over the requirements and answered all my questions. I don’t look at changing my degree as a failure, just more of a redirect. I joke that education is my mid-life crisis so why not commit to it, change my life and do something I didn’t know I’d love? Before making a major academic decision, make sure it is an informed decision. The university has plenty of offices that will provide guidance.

Helpful Links

A guide to talking to your professors:

Academic Skill Centers


St. George:


Registrar’s Office


St. George:


Career Centres


St. George:

Scarborough (same office as Academic office)