Tips from peer academic coaches – TRU Newsroom

Tips from peer academic coaches – TRU Newsroom

December 22, 2022 at 3:51 pm  Education, Kamloops, News

Taryn is a student storyteller who met with a peer academic coach, Michelle, to discuss academic challenges and how to navigate time management.

Navigating academic challenges on your own is stressful. All students can use extra help, no matter their course load, year, or program. As a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student, Taryn felt she had bit off more than she could chew with being a full-time student, working multiple jobs and trying to have some time for herself. Having too many responsibilities at once can lead to burnout. Many students are familiar with this feeling of exhaustion, but it’s crucial and possible to try and avoid it. 

“My honest first thoughts about the service were that it sounded like a useful service, but just not necessary for me. I have always had good grades and done well in my jobs, so I didn’t know what I would even talk to a coach about. My perspective completely changed after I left my first appointment.”

Taryn met with Michelle, as she specialized in organization and time management. 

Here are the top five tips Michelle gave based on her own experience and research:


The Pomodoro Technique

This study technique is fairly well-known, but it’s definitely for a good reason. The Pomodoro Technique involves intervals for studying; it’s advised to study for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break and repeat. Michelle takes this technique one step further. Instead of using the five-minute break to scroll through Instagram on your phone, get up and move. Going on your phone for a break isn’t always very effective, it can accidentally end up being a 30-minute break if you get distracted. It’s important to get up and move during this break, which could mean going for a short walk or even having a five-minute dance break as Michelle says she’s familiar with.


Eat the frog!

Taryn states, “in my meeting with Michelle, I discover that I struggle with getting started. Once I’ve begun an assignment or studying, I have no problem with procrastination. I find it particularly hard to begin something new.” The eat the frog theory is the perfect way to combat this academic issue. With a long to-do list, most choose their favourite or easiest tasks to complete first, which is something Taryn often found herself doing. The eat the frog theory explains that with a long to-do list, the first task to be completed should be one of your most dreaded or least favourite items, and your favourite should be last. Doing so allows you to reward with yourself with the best task and get the hard ones out of the way first. Instead of procrastinating a long to-do list and dreading the final task, just eat the frog!

Adjust expectations

“One of my greatest weaknesses is how hard I am on myself. I panic if I get less than 90 per cent on any assignment or test, I refuse to not be on the dean’s list and I take on too many jobs, leaving no time for myself. Although a high GPA feels rewarding, it’s not healthy to get worked up over 88 per cent on a midterm.” A great work ethic is a good thing — to a certain extent. To avoid putting this pressure on yourself, Michelle says it’s important to adjust personal expectations and to change the perspective on what an unsatisfactory grade is. Realizing that your grades don’t define you is key to maintaining good mental health throughout your studies.

View responsibilities from a new perspective 

Having many responsibilities at the same time is what being a student is all about. University students often work one or two jobs while taking on a full course load and trying to maintain a social life. It’s important to prioritize each of these responsibilities in a different way. Michelle’s perspective of taking on many things at once is that juggling multiple responsibilities is literally like juggling. In life you juggle different types of balls; there are glass balls, rubber balls and sandbag balls. Glass balls are your main responsibilities, you can’t drop them or else they’ll break. Rubber balls are responsibilities that can be left behind for a bit; you can drop these balls and pick them up later. Sandbag balls are things that you need to forget about; you can drop these and should leave them behind. 

Glass balls can be work and school. Classes need to be attended, assignments need to be handed in on time, and your weekly work and shifts must be completed. Rubber balls can be spending time with family and friends and doing extracurricular activities. As important as these things are in life, during school they can’t be your main priorities. These activities can be picked back up during less busy times and on weekends. Sandbag balls can be assignments that have already been handed in or unsatisfactory grades you’ve received. Once an assignment is handed in and you’re waiting to get the grade back, it’s okay to completely drop this and try not to think about it; it’s now out of your hands and it’s not necessary to work yourself up worrying about it. As previously mentioned, it’s important to not dwell on a “poor” grade. After receiving this tip Taryn says, “thanks to Michelle and PAC, my perspective completely changed on my responsibilities, for the better.”

Have weekly self-checkups

Although Taryn came to Michelle and PAC for assistance in time management and organization, this was the most important piece of advice she received. Letting all your stress pile up over time without addressing it can lead to burnout or a breakdown. Having weekly self-checkups is essential for staying on top of your stress and mental health. At the start of every week, look over what’s coming up and what needs to be completed. At the same time take a look at your well-being and make sure you’re alright as well. Take a step back, take a breath, and make sure you’re okay. 

“After going to PAC I felt calm and ready to take on the semester. The tips I received were extremely helpful, especially about having weekly self-checkups. I highly recommend to every student to try out PAC, even if you feel like you don’t need it. I felt like it was unnecessary for me, but I am so thankful I went. Everyone can use a different perspective on their situation and someone to talk to.”

Peer academic coaches can offer support with time management, goal-setting, study strategies, giving presentations, note-taking, test-taking and dealing with exam anxiety.

Appointments may be booked through the website on the peer academic coaches schedule, or visit the Writing Centre (OM 1411) to get help booking an appointment.

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