Some of my most worthwhile choices fall term were to get involved with a few of the Office of Student Transition’s programs: this blogging gig (!!!), LAUNCH, and utmONE Scholars, all of which I highly recommend to incoming first years.
In terms of academics, though, I highly value my experience with OST’s utmONE Scholars program.
Last summer, I applied to UTM196, Building Global Justice; now, half a year later, I see that that was one of the best choices I’ve made regarding university.
UtmONE helped me in many ways: I discovered the resources available at UTM, I transitioned relatively smoothly into the academic climate of university, and most importantly, I gained valuable technical skills regarding academic discipline.
UTM196: Building Global Justice
The small size of my UTM196 Building Global Justice course was conducive to an engaging learning environment. Because the Scholars program requires an application, it allowed for equally involved students who were eager to learn and discuss global justice.
What was paramount to my development as a university student, however, was the academic structure of the class. Each week, our engaging, encouraging instructor, Professor Laliberte, required a synthesis response to an array of different materials relating to the week’s topic. Most weeks required three dense, theoretical readings; others had feature films or documentaries sprinkled in. Though incredibly difficult at times, I learned how to manage my time well, how to read through seemingly insurmountable jargon, and what to expect in my next years at UTM.
Due to the heavy course load of my Justice course, I was forced to reconfigure my time. In high school, assignments and readings were manageable because my school operated on year-long courses. There was usually enough time to cover most units. However, come university, I didn’t know what to expect. This utmONE course helped me acclimate to the faster pace and denser information load.
I figured out when in my school week I could dedicate a few hours to these readings, in relation to my other course work. I soon grew accustomed to the amount of time it took me, on average, to get through a theoretical article efficiently and absorb the content. Consequently, I formed a routine, which helped in my success.
Professor Laliberte and our TA Kelcey also helped us get accustomed to the articles’ theory-heavy nature. High school doesn’t always prepare its students for the complexity of university course material, so I definitely arrived last September out of sorts and a little too sleepy, too distracted when it came to readings.
Dense prose is often considered a non-habit forming sleep aid. To combat drowsiness, boredom, and distraction, we were taught a handy trick when approaching a new reading. We were advised to first read the abstract, then the introductory paragraph, and then the concluding paragraph. This allowed a familiarity going into a reading, as opposed to annotating every line, trying to manually sift through the concepts. In our weekly responses, we were also encouraged to draw upon previous weeks’ concepts. This helped immensely in my cumulative learning, and piecing together different perspectives on justice.
I didn’t expect university to be easy. I expected it to be enjoyable, considering I would be studying more specific concepts and fields, ones that actually interested me (goodbye calculus!). And so far, so good.
Another (unfortunate) prediction I made was the level of difficulty, and that has proved correct as well. This was especially true of Global Justice, which fulfilled its Scholars moniker—here was so much reading in this course. Ultimately, though, I’m pleased I took the challenge.
After taking this course, I know what I can handle. I know what is expected of me for the next four years. Even now, as the new term starts, I feel my muscles stretching, recalling the memory of fall term’s self-imposed discipline. This term’s amount of readings (a lottttt) doesn’t seem so daunting anymore considering Justice’s demands. I feel comfortable in my capacity, a self-assurance I find invaluable.
I cannot recommend utmONE Scholars enough to new to UTM students. The skills I learned and developed regarding academia and personal discipline helped with my overall academic success during fall term. Now, as winter term crawls out from under the snow, I feel myself getting back into the school groove more smoothly. I feel ready.
What were your favourite courses fall term? Which ones helped you develop as a university student?