Well, okay, not “Us” UpbeaTers per se, but more like the University of Toronto’s website on writing, and the many, many, many benefits that come from being well-acquainted with the site.
I found out about this site when I was in first year. I had just gotten back my Fine Art History term paper, and in spite of my commendable efforts to sound knowledgeable about triumphal arches in Rome, I nevertheless failed to exceed my (at the time) delusional academic expectations.
It was my first ever sub-par essay grade; the mark made me realize that I was but a very tiny fish in the big, big sea. A few days later, after returning to a somewhat more balanced psychological state, I decided to do what I did best in high school: dissect the paper’s marking scheme.
My professor told me about this marking scheme, instead. Later on, as I continued with my undergraduate education, I came to learn that although each department or course might implement its own marking scheme for a particular assignment, the meaning behind a given grade is generally based on the explanations given in this Arts and Science Grading Statement.
I also learned to use writing centres. While only students of a certain college can use its writing centre, you are also eligible to use a college’s service for any college-related program course you are taking (the ones labelled INI, NEW, SMC, TRN, UNI, or VIC).
When I was in first year, appointments had to be made by phone, but lucky for you, now everything can be done online! Appointment are 50 minutes long and you may book up to three at a time. Keep in mind that the centres will be extra busy during midterm season, so try your best to book in advance. When I spoke to one of the instructors for University College and Innis College recently about this problem, she told me that although the schedule often appears to be full, it is nevertheless constantly fluctuating: spaces open up sporadically as students cancel last minute. If you are really desperate, just keep checking! For example, although most days this week and next week are booked full at Innis College, a spot has just opened up for tomorrow, February 12th, at 3:10 pm. It is also critical that you cancel any appointments you won’t be able to make at least 24 hours in advance. If you miss two appointments, you will no longer be able to book anymore appointments at the writing centre.
If you’ve never been to a writing centre, you should know that the instructors there are absolutely amazing. It’s like they know. They’ll take one look at your work, and point out to you what’s working and what isn’t. And that’s not all!
Many students think that the job of the writing centre is to help edit your work, but in reality, the trouble with writing isn’t just about how to fix the nitty gritty details, but rather, how to get them down on paper in the first place. Therefore, by no means are you required to bring a completed draft of your work to your appointment. If your topic is so broad that you just don’t know where to start, or if you have no idea about what to include in, say, a fine art history paper (hey, I totally didn’t), book an appointment with these lovely people and unleash your worries! (Alternatively, you can also find out more about how to write specific types of essays here.)
As a final note, let the above information be a rough guide for helping you with your academic success, not another source of stress. The term has just taken a turn for the worse for everyone (how many term tests do you have this week and/or after Reading Week? Share your burden in the comments below!) So if the writing centre is not a feasible option for you time-wise, trust your writing abilities and get enough sleep instead! Good luck everyone!