Experiencing the Learning Strategist: An Interview

A couple weeks ago, one of my friends had an appointment with a learning strategist at the University of Toronto, and was talking to me about how helpful it was. I had never really heard of this service, so I thought I’d look into it more and ask my friend about his experience. 

A picture of the University of Toronto St. George campus

Learning strategists are people who can meet with you and give individualized support for your academic success. The friend that I was talking to has ADHD, so for him, the learning strategist was a great way to get personalized recommendations on what study plans and strategies may help him. Learning strategists specifically help students a) develop new strategies for studying and exam prep, b) manage time and stress, and c) improve their academic skills.

A picture of the Student Life learning strategist website

Talking to my friend, I asked him a few questions about his learning strategist appointment. 

What were you expecting when you first booked your appointment? 

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be that helpful. I’ve heard a lot of the same study advice and none of it has really helped me, especially because I have ADHD and therefore unique problems with getting work done. Still, I wanted to give it a try. 

So what happened at the appointment? 

I met with the learning strategist on Zoom and he started by asking me to go through my courses and explain my thoughts on them, the challenges I was facing, and my strengths. After going through my courses, I was really impressed that the learning strategist was able to instantly understand and summarize the main problems I wanted to work on. He then went through a bunch of individualized, unique strategies that I’d never heard of before. 

That’s great! So have you been finding the advice helpful? 

Yes! The advice was very unique and felt personally tailored to the weaknesses I wanted to work on. I also learned new strategies which I’ve since implemented and have been helping me a lot. 

Can you give an example of one of these strategies? 

Sure! It’s called the Pomodoro method. Basically, you time yourself working for 25 minutes and after 25 minutes you take a 5-10 minute break. After 4 rounds of 25 minutes, you take a 30 minute break! I’ve found that when I do the Pomodoro method, I work super intensely during those 25 minute-periods because they're short enough that I know I can work productively the entire time. It feels a lot more attainable than sitting down and trying to work for hours. 

A gif of dancing tomatoes
Yes, Pomodoro as in tomato (apparently the creator originally used a tomato timer)! Creds: giphy.com

Overall, it seems like the learning strategist is a great place to go if the usual study tips aren’t helping and you want more individual attention and support. To book an appointment with a learning strategist, contact your faculty or college registrar. You can also book an appointment through CLN! If you're looking for additional academic help, there are more resources, like workshops and helpful information, on the Student Life website.

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