Surviving my First Year as a Public Relations Student

Written byAlyssa Dobranski; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-B.

Here’s how I deal with my courses:

  1. Take a lot of notes in class and read them over later.
  2. Actually read the textbook and take notes along the way rather than just highlighting the bolded words.
  3. COFFEE. COFFEE. Food? COFFEE.
  4. Use the anonymous question box on LectureTools and Echo 360 to ask the TA questions because I’m too shy (I’m in communications, but I am too shy to communicate. Oh the irony!)
  5. Keep all classes and their content separated and organized.
  6. Take a five minute dance party break when I’m studying and want to die.
  7. Make tons of friends in my classes so I have someone to study with later.
  8. Understand how all of my professors teach so that I get the most out of the class.

I know these seem pretty repetitive to what everyone was told at the very beginning of the semester but trust me, they’re all important when it comes to managing your courses. I’m always so surprised at the amount of notes I have when studying for an exam. Granted, I am that really annoying person who has to write down every tiny detail but either way, there’s always just so much information to know for exams.

The struggle of studying

I think I stayed up until 2 a.m. the night before an exam just trying to cram the last bits of chapter three into my brain, which I can assure you is very useless. No matter how much information you may get in the lecture, be safe and read the textbook anyway. I’ve definitely learned my lesson and I’m so thankful that my good friend coffee was there to support me in my time of need. Okay, so maybe coffee and dance party breaks aren’t essential in surviving course work, but fuel for your body and study breaks are. I really am a coffee addict though so whenever it’s time to whip out the books and slowly die, I usually keep a cup of java nearby just for a little ‘pick me up’. However, the coffee doesn’t last forever and my brain slowly realizes that I’ve tricked it into studying for too long and that’s when I become restless. My body needs to get up and do something after sitting for hours trying to understand why we’re so bad at communicating that we need to be taught how to do it.

Music and Studying

For me, I enjoy listening to music and dancing so much to the point I will put my headphones in and blast Eminem or Beyoncé and dance or fake rap around the room until I feel better. Normal people would just go hangout with friends or go for a walk to the cafeteria where there are mind blowing cookies to make your day, but I’m not normal. Thankfully this is unknown to most people so I can still make all those lovely study buddies in class. And if people find out, well there’s still that anonymous question box for the TA’s.

Friends aka study buddies

I wouldn’t have survived this long without the friends I’ve made and that question box. It’s a relief to know that when you feel completely lost in class other people do too and you’re not alone.. I’m fortunate enough to have the same group of friends in all three of my communication classes, which is especially nice when all of my classes start to merge together. The past few weeks my friends and I have noticed that our professors have all brought up the same points or examples at different times throughout their lectures. Thankfully, my friends and I are able to stay on track understanding the content of our courses.

Understanding my Profs

While keeping the content for each course separate is important, paying attention to each of your professors teaching styles and understanding how to learn from them is just as significant. I got lucky with my professors this semester. They’re all wonderful people and exceptional in their field, but it took me some time to get used to how they teach. Professor Salha is really funny and full of life during her lectures. But at times it’s hard to get the point of her lecture for that day so you need to take notes as best you can and go back later to look at the PowerPoints. Professor Ferguson, I’ve already briefly mentioned, has a lot of experience in her field and has many outside examples that tend to take up most of the class. Utilising the question box in LectureTools and asking the TA to help you understand her point is sometimes necessary. Lastly, Professor Hashash is really good at lecturing but he doesn’t post his slides online. So if you don’t get the information in class, you’re out of luck. (unless you’ve made friends who have the rest of the notes)

These are very minor issues. Overall, my professors are very fair about their examinations and expectations for their students and they’re all willing, to help me if needed, so I really did hit the jackpot this semester.

My experience so far has been great and I can only hope that it will remain that way throughout my next few years here at the University of Ottawa.

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