Five ways to pre­pare for the move to a post-sec­ondary school

Start­ing early can ease the tran­si­tion

Calgary Herald - - MOVIES -

BARBARA BAL­FOUR As a learn­ing strate­gist, Joanne Do­minico has seen it all. The aca­demic suc­cess coach and TEDX speaker who works at Cen­ten­nial Col­lege in Toronto is a passionate ad­vo­cate of self­care as a way to build bet­ter re­silience both in­side and out­side the class­room.

From ex­po­nen­tially larger class­rooms and higher work­loads to liv­ing away from home for the first time, nav­i­gat­ing the tran­si­tion from high school to post­sec­ondary stud­ies can be over­whelm­ing for any young adult.

Here are Do­minico’s Top 5 tips on how stu­dents can set them­selves up for suc­cess be­fore they even start classes.

1. PRI­OR­I­TIZE YOUR SELF-CARE NOW

Do­minico sug­gests get­ting ad­e­quate sleep, eat­ing nu­tri­tious foods, drink­ing lots of wa­ter and ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly.

“When­ever I meet with a stu­dent for the first time, I al­ways ask them about their self-care be­fore get­ting into any study skills,” says Do­minico. “This is be­cause it is very dif­fi­cult for your brain to learn if it’s ex­hausted or de­hy­drated. I’ve seen proper self­care make the dif­fer­ence be­tween pass­ing and fail­ing for sev­eral stu­dents, so I rec­om­mend start­ing your se­mes­ter off with those habits al­ready strongly in place.”

2. ES­TAB­LISH A TIME MAN­AGE­MENT SYS­TEM

“Many stu­dents with whom I meet feel very over­whelmed when they re­al­ize how chal­leng­ing it can be to keep track of every­thing that they have to do, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously try­ing to cram all the course con­tent into their brains,” says Do­minico. “This is why I highly rec­om­mend that stu­dents work to set up some sort of ex­ter­nal sys­tem for keep­ing track of where they have to be and what they have to do.”

Whether they pre­fer an agenda, a cal­en­dar, com­puter or a smart phone is up to stu­dents — what mat­ters is that they’re writ­ing things down, so they don’t for­get, and that they start now, she says. That way, when the se­mes­ter be­gins, stu­dents al­ready have a sys­tem in place that they can rely on.

3. FIND HEALTHY WAYS TO MAN­AGE YOUR STRESS

The de­mands of post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion can cause many stu­dents to feel anx­ious when com­bined with a job, their re­li­gious be­liefs and their fam­ily, re­la­tion­ship and other per­sonal com­mit­ments.

“Hav­ing a stress man­age­ment plan or sim­ply know­ing how to calm your­self down and de-stress when needed can be su­per help­ful when times get tough,” says Do­minico. “For some stu­dents, go­ing for a run or talk­ing to a friend may be their go-to op­tion for when they need to re­lease some ten­sion, while oth­ers may find that med­i­ta­tion or tak­ing a nice bath helps them to recharge and take a well-needed break.”

4. DIS­COVER HOW TO LEARN AND STUDY EF­FEC­TIVELY

“Post-sec­ondary means larger class sizes, in­creased work­loads and higher de­mands than many stu­dents are used to. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, most of the stu­dents I meet with start col­lege or univer­sity think­ing that they can use the same study meth­ods that they used in high school. Not a good idea,” ex­plains Do­minico.

“It is ex­tremely im­por­tant that stu­dents take the time to learn about how they learn best and what study meth­ods are the most ef­fec­tive for them to not only re­tain, but to also un­der­stand and be able to ap­ply the in­for­ma­tion they’re learn­ing.”

Many in­sti­tu­tions have re­sources in place to sup­port stu­dent learn­ing, such as tutors and learn­ing strate­gists. Seek their sup­port be­fore you start your pro­gram so that once you be­gin, you will al­ready have a tool­box of strate­gies to try.

5. LEARN FI­NAN­CIAL AND HOUSE­HOLD MAN­AGE­MENT SKILLS

This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant if you will be liv­ing away from home for the first time, says Do­minico.

“If you don’t al­ready know, you can start learn­ing how to cook and clean, and how to bud­get and pay bills now. Your par­ents or guardian will likely be very happy to teach you these skills or you can search on­line and teach your­self!” she says. “Es­tab­lish­ing these skills now will be one less thing you have to worry about learn­ing as you are adapt­ing to post-sec­ondary life.”

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Adopt­ing into healthy habits by eat­ing nu­tri­tious food, get­ting enough sleep and drink­ing plenty of wa­ter can help you en­joy a strong start to the se­mes­ter as it’s very dif­fi­cult for your brain to learn if it’s ex­hausted or de­hy­drated.

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