10 things I learned at Concordia
After spending four years at Concordia, I walked across the stage at convocation to receive my Bachelor of Arts in journalism. It felt unreal to be finally graduating and bidding adieu to the halls and classrooms that had come to be so familiar.
Now that I've moved on to my next chapter, I always look back fondly on my university days and remember them as a time punctuated by moments of self-discovery.
But you’re just getting started!
Here are some of the more important lessons I learned during my tenure as an undergrad. I hope they help you navigate the academic waters that lie ahead.
1. Apply for Co-op
If I had to give one piece of advice to an incoming student, it would be to inquire about joining Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education.
Getting into Co-op was one of the best decisions I made during my time at university. It granted me the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in my field while also getting paid. Work terms are an amazing way to apply the learning done in the classroom to real-world scenarios. And who knows, you may just graduate with a job offer already in hand!
2. Go on exchange
My exchange at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus was the highlight of my Concordia experience. An international term is like nothing else, and it’s every bit as challenging as it is rewarding. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of living abroad, there’s no time like the present!
Just a word of advice: the Quebec Mobility Bursary makes going on an exchange a financially feasible endeavour.
3. Apply for ALL the awards
Do yourself a big favour and, at the beginning of every year, look over all of Concordia’s awards and bursaries and apply to any that you are eligible for. Yes, it takes some time to send those applications. But trust me, a lot of them go unrewarded because of a lack of applicants. Chances are you might be compensated for your efforts!
4. Buy a nice agenda
Organization has never been my forte, and it was actually only in my last year at school that I finally bought in to the whole agenda thing. Let me say this: it makes a huge difference in your day to day, especially if you’re someone like me who needs to visualize things.
My recommendation is to shell out for a fancy one that lists the hours in each day and has a big calendar for each month.
5. Join a study group
As a journalism student, I hoped to never have to deal with algebra. However, that dream was dashed since my program required an ECON credit to graduate. Macroeconomics was the bane of my existence this past term. And while I paid for a crash course, it was the connections I made with the other students there that proved vital for my learning.
The study group taught me that your peers can be invaluable when you’re trying to get your head around difficult material. And as a bonus, you don’t have to pay them!
6. Locate your go-to eatery or coffee shop
Inevitably you’ll get a horrendous schedule with a four-hour break between classes — just enough time to make it painful and yet not enough to warrant going home. This is a prime opportunity to scout out a quaint café near campus and make it your go-to study place for the term.
7. Talk to your instructors
Professors won’t bite, so don’t be shy to go up at the end of class and introduce yourself. It is to your benefit to get to know your instructors, as it makes it easier to approach them with any questions you have concerning course material. It also makes it less awkward when it comes time to ask for that letter of recommendation.
8. Make your bed
This might sound silly, but about halfway through university I got into the habit of making my bed and it really helped to relieve stress. Something as simple as pulling up covers and arranging pillows can really help clear out some of that mental clutter that tends to accumulate, especially during exam season.
9. Join a club
As a writer for Concordia, I was tasked throughout my internship with infiltrating different student clubs and writing profiles on them. From the Tea Enthusiast Association to the Dodgeball League, I found that these student groups are amazing places to form bonds with others who share similar passions. While I never joined a club myself, I think if I were to do it all over again, that is one thing I would change.
10. Stay positive
At some point in your studies, things are going to go sideways — maybe it’s an assignment you’re struggling with or a technological meltdown at the worst possible moment. You have to learn how to muscle through the tough times.
Maintaining perspective is key. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, these little mishaps are just that. Try not to give up when things go awry. Stay positive and proactive — brainstorm solutions and then implement them.
And remember, if you’re struggling, there’s plenty of help available. The Student Success Centre is a great place to start.
Best of luck with your academic journey!
Find out more about Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education.