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Some More Advice

One year ago, I started writing on this blog with an advice post outlining seven tips to succeed in your first year of university. They were specifically aimed at first year students and were meant to come in addition to the many pieces of advice students already receive before starting college. To wrap up this past year of blog posts, I wanted to present some more advice in the form of seven more tips – some new things I’ve learned along the way and some life reminders, especially to those who will be heading out at the end of the academic year.

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Dealing with Distractions

Getting down to work and staying focused when you’re studying can be a real challenge. Of course some people are excellent at ignoring them, but many of us aren’t quite there yet. Distractions are everywhere and they can make completing assignments and reviewing for exams very difficult if you don’t have a way to block them out. Once you get distracted, it can take a very long time for you to get back to your original task and it will inevitably hinder your long-term productivity. With the willingness to change habits and a bit of self-discipline though, you can learn to better deal with these distractions and therefore work more efficiently. Here are some tips that you may find to be helpful:

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Academic writing: But what does it really mean?

Have you ever read an article for a class and wondered what exactly the author was talking about? Perhaps situations like this contribute to why so many students don’t bother with readings. If someone understands a subject well enough to publish academic papers, surely they can explain it in plainer language. In fact, there is a movement of academics who are fighting against opaque language.[1]

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Municipal Elections Matter, Part 2: Nationalism and Party Identification

When voting, is your decision something based on a singular issue or is it about how much you identify with the party? Perhaps one issue shapes the entire party landscape? This question is fundamental to many who study political science, but until attending CMES, I had no idea that municipal politics were a field of study. In all my introductory political science courses at McGill, the topic was never touched upon. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the study of municipal politics, which has been studied in Canada for many years. In this post, I will focus on how municipal politics interact with Quebec nationalism, an issue Canada has worked with and around since the British won the Seven Years’ War.[1] (more…)

Municipal Elections Matter, Part 1: An Introduction to CMES and Split-Ticket Voting

Municipal elections are important, however, in the field of political science, they are largely understudied. Notably, little is known about how candidates compete, or how voters make choices at this level. The Canadian Municipal Election Study (CMES) received funding to conduct research based on survey data in eight Canadian cities. This month, seven draft papers focusing on the Montreal and Quebec City elections were presented at a small conference at McGill.[1] I will be writing three broad pieces about split ticket voting, nationalism and party identification, and women in municipal politics based on what I learned at the conference. (more…)

Note-Taking 101

College is a time to develop many of the fundamental skills that will be essential to you throughout your career. Things like public speaking, problem solving, and collaboration are all vital both at school and in the workforce. One skill that does not tend to receive as much attention is note-taking. Because many of us prefer to use our laptops to take notes and due to the quantity and density of the information taught in class, we often make a habit of transcribing what the professor is saying or copying lecture slides word for word, which is neither efficient nor beneficial.

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Skills to Develop Today, So You Can Use Them Tomorrow

University teaches you an immense amount of invaluable information. Most of us go into it thinking we will learn everything there is to know about our degree, so that we can apply the new knowledge and know how to get the job done, and get it done well. But the truth is, your classes provide much more than just the information you will need, as important as that is. You also develop a wide variety of skills that, as you continue your education and enter the workforce, will serve you well, and provide you with a basis for so many of the things you will do later in life.

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Transferring Faculties… and Changing Your Life!

I always thought I knew what I wanted to study in university and what career path I wanted to follow after my studies. BSc in Neuroscience or BA/Sc in Cognitive Science, followed by med school and a promise of steady income for the next 50 years. I dedicated my time to researching the smallest details, even reclaiming my Québec residency to increase my chances of acceptance into medical school.

After one year at McGill, everything changed for me. I realized that I could not follow a curriculum filled with rote memorization and that I had a surprising knack for mathematics. For women in STEM, it’s not abnormal to receive little or no support from teachers and other members of authority when we show interest in maths and sciences.  (more…)

To the First Year’s Who Aren’t Sure They Made the Right Decision

It’s been almost a month since classes started, summer has come to an end and the mid-term period is upon us. As a first year student, this was about the time of the term where I started to ask myself questions: Did I take the right courses for my degree? Will I enjoy them? Will I do well in them? What if this is not what I want to do at all? While some students know exactly what classes they want to be in and what career path they want to take, for many others, it is not as clear cut.

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7 More Tips to Succeed in Your First Year

As a first-year student, you get a lot of advice on how to manage the start of this new chapter of your life. From student handbooks to online resources, many places offer tips and tricks that you can carry on with you throughout your studies and later in life. Things like ‘don’t procrastinate’, ‘eat well’, and ‘get involved on campus’ often make up part of the list of things you can do to both enjoy your university years and be successful, but there’s more!

Here are seven more ways to do well during your first year (and beyond!):

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