Looking for Allies In all the Right Places

Hello to all the lifeatuoft readers.  I’m Desiree, and I will be blogging about a wide variety of student experiences on campus.  As I walked to class the other day, passing by the faces of you, my fellow students, I wondered how I would write a blog that could identify with all of you. I realized that there is a common thread that exists in all of us, the desire to see yourself in others, and I hope this is what I will accomplish in my posts. My aim is that through my writing and whimsy I can make you laugh, smile and perhaps even discover things about yourself you didn’t already know.  Just maybe, you will see me as an ally and be inspired to seek others during your time at U of T. We often see school as the unconquerable, the great and powerful Oz who can decide our fate, whilst we eagerly tap our ruby red slippers (or Uggs) to solve our academic problems, from a lack of time management skills to exam anxiety. But, lest we forget the tin  man, scarecrow and lion, who exist among us, masked, as the supporters we need to succeed? Allies exist among us, truly.  But, unlike Dorothy, we need to track them ourselves, because they aren’t going to pop up when we need them most.  Students, myself included, experience a range of academic issues.  I not too keenly recall a time in my undergraduate degree when I needed allies in the form of academic supporters to help me overcome my writing problems as an English student. Being shy was certainly a hindrance to me in asking for help.  Many students face this, or might think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but it is important to understand, as I did, that the academic supporters aren’t here to judge you, but to help you with learning and in geting the grades you want.  For example, one big issue I faced in studying English was how to communicate my ideas clearly.  While this may seem like a simple task, it was quite difficult for me to get my point across in my papers.  Thus, I began my journey on the yellow brick road to A's at the Academic Success Centre. The ASC, just like the lion of Oz, was intimidating at first, but turned out to be a welcoming environment.  It was here that I discovered that my writing issues were ones that a lot of students experience, and that it could be solved with practice. The learning skills counsellors taught me how to identify blunders in my writing, and how to overcome them. For example, reading sentences aloud to listen for grammatical or syntax errors.  Although it sounds simple, it truly helps! But, the ASC is not the only hidden academic ally on campus.  Unbeknownst to me up until a few years ago were the Writing Centres that each of our colleges have, like the tin man buried in the forest, invisible to the naked eye.  The writing staff are all experienced and know what your professors want, which is very reassuring because half the time I don't even know what they want. (Sigh) So, next time you’re walking around campus feeling that there’s no place like home, remember, you have allies.  One way of finding allies, or even garnering the confidence to do so, is by first researching what help is out there, like through your college website, or even by asking other students.  So many people I’ve spoken with didn’t know either of the ASC or the college writing centres, and after I told them they immediately sought them out.  So, go ahead, find the allies that you need to succeed.  You might just be surprised at the outcome. Desiree

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