Four Tips for Success at Canadian Universities
by ROSIE BURN
For international students such as yourselves, deciding to study at a Canadian college or university is often an exciting step towards achieving your long-term goals. However, studying abroad can be difficult because of the different academic expectations, educational culture, and linguistic challenges.
Here’s some information and advice to help all international students succeed in Canadian universities.
In order to help international and domestic students succeed, most Canadian colleges and universities offer free resources to help students achieve personal and academic success while meeting the academic standards of the institution.
Such resources, often known as “Student Services,” “Support Services,” or “Student Support,” are offered in addition to academic courses. Unfortunately many students never take advantage of these resources simply because they do not know about them!
Support resources usually include:
- Writing centres. Most institutions offer free writing help to both international and domestic students. Students just have to book an appointment and bring their ideas and/or essays for expert writing help (well before the essay is due, of course!). Remember, these writing centres do not write the essay for you, but they do offer a lot of help improving your writing and meeting Canadian academic writing requirements.
- Career services and study skills seminars.
- Peer-tutoring services.
If you take a University Preparation/ Pathways course like the one offered at VGC Language School in Vancouver, you will learn not only academic English and essay and report structure, but also study skills to help you succeed at university.
Regardless of your major, one of the primary purposes of post-secondary education is to learn academic writing skills. However, academic language and university skills are quite different from general English skills and are a challenge for all undergraduate students.
In order to give international students the tools to succeed, experienced professionals have designed Academic English textbooks that help acclimatize students to academic lexicon, writing standards, and educational culture, thus empowering students to succeed.
Living a balanced life will always be important for your success, but a balanced lifestyle is especially important to success in the busy undergraduate environment. Most Canadian university programs actively encourage students to become well-rounded individuals by requiring undergraduates to take electives in diverse subjects, and by offering scholarships to students with more varied interests and experience.
For the same reason, universities and colleges also provide funding and support to student clubs, intramural sports, student political groups, and other organizations on campus, thus offering students the chance to pursue other interests and develop a broader social circle.
So, for your own health and success (and for the health and success of your resume and scholarship applications), join a club or an intramural sports team!
You must take charge of your studies!
University offers almost unbounded opportunities, but you have to grab the opportunities yourself. For instance, it is often said that the quality of the professor is more important than the content of the course, so shop around before you decide to take a course: ask other students who have taken the course their opinion of the professor’s teaching style; go and talk to the professor to gain a first impression and ask about his/her subject and teaching style; and, in the first week or so of class, change your classes using registration services if you are not satisfied.
Moreover, while taking courses, you can go and meet with professors during office hours. They are teaching professionals who often know how intimidating lectures can be, so they are usually happy to sit and discuss students’ questions about lectures or essays during office hours. Many of my professors have even said they wished more students visited them during office hours, so grasp the opportunity. Don’t be shy to ask for help because it’s up to you!