So it’s the first of October, which means your first essay/test/some other form of evaluation is near. Before you freak-out because you just realized a month of school has already passed, never fear: I will tell you a little story from my first year that you may perhaps learn from.
I remember my first class very well. It was seminar connected to the notoriously difficult TrinOne Program. But being from far, far, far away (aka Edmonton, Alberta), I knew none of this.
I sat down and I immediately felt awkwardly underdressed. Many of the folks in class where wearing nice sweaters and dress pants, if not ties and “casual” suit jackets whereas I was wearing my blue cheetah pants with a some-what plain flannel shirt.
And then my prof came in. Now, to preface this story, my professor for this class turned out to be one of my greatest mentors (where I am today is thanks to him). Nonetheless, when he walked in, I felt incredibly intimidated. The room was dead silent.
He starts introducing himself.
“So you may have heard that I used to interview terrorists for a living.”
For the record, I heard no such thing.
“And although it was not a sort of James Bond type of job, that is a hundred-percent true…oh and by the way, I take plagiarism very seriously.”
“How am I going to make sure I don’t plagiarize? I mean there are millions of books out there! Someone somewhere is bound to have said what I have said at sometime, right?”
Now obviously I didn’t really understand what plagiarism meant, So when my first assignment rolled around I placed a footnote in every second sentence…meaning only half of the work would be considered my own analysis and thoughts. That problem, along with a bunch of grammatical errors and factual misconceptions, led to a pretty low mark. To be sure, I worked my little first-year tail off but I still ended up hugely disappointed and incredibly stressed out.
So, why did this happen?
Although it certainly had to do with my nerves from the first class, that essay could have been a lot better had I gone to a writing centre, the Academic Success Centre , or had I understood the concept of time-management.
Of course I did poorly because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fix what I didn’t know.
And so I took that first assignment as a learning opportunity to do better on the next one. I bought some grammar books, I went to the writing centre, and I went to my professor’s office hours, and WHAM! I ended up with a fantastic mark at the end of the year and I was far happier and far less stressed.
More to the point, staying organized and being aware of the resources, helped me to maintain my mental well-being (and alliteration!) and ensured that I would not get all nervous and anxious every time I got a new assignment put on my desk.
All for now,
2 comments on “Here Comes The First University Assignment! A Story from Not-so-Long-Ago…”
Thank you for this article. It’s so relatable. What grammar book did you find most useful? And what method improved your writing the most?
I am glad you liked the post! Bar-none it was the writing centres. I go to Trinity College so I only went to the Trinity Writing Centre, but I am sure all the other ones are the exact same (you can pick any of them during the summer, and I went to Victoria’s and it was just like Trin’s). Just be sure to plan ahead and book early because they fill up quickly! As for the grammar book, I used the William J. Strunk and and E.B.White book, “The Elements of Style,” which was fantastic, but there are also other books listed on the U of T writing website. (http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/books/style-language-use-grammar). Best of luck Christina!