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My Transfer Journey: Justin

Next steps

04/10/2015

Hello and welcome to my final post of the year, in the second-to-last week of the semester! It is a difficult time for everyone, obviously, as many projects, essays and assignments are coming due, with final exams hot on their heels, but there is a lot to be excited about as well, with summer around the corner, and for many, including myself, graduation!

Last week I was discussing the transfer process from the Seneca Liberal Arts program to the University of Toronto, and I’m going to continue that discussion today, focusing mainly on registration. U of T is so big, with hundreds of programs of study and thousands of classes available, it can be a complicated process. This is why it is mandatory to attend the U of T Information Sessions if you are planning to transfer.

Here is a list of things to consider for students registering for their first U of T class in the summer after their fourth semester, it is basically highlights from the meeting with a few things I picked up taking a course during my third and fourth semester.

A requirement for acceptance to U of T, as important as your diploma from the Liberal Arts program, is completion of at least one U of T course with a grade of at least 60%. This is extremely important, because it means in order to start at U of T in the Fall following graduation, you must take a class that is finished at the end of the first semester of the summer session. So be sure to do so.

Be aware that the workload and level of difficulty is higher at U of T, so don’t take off more than you can chew. I did this, and subsequently did very poorly the first couple of months of my U of T course as I adjusted to the change. That course lasted eight months, so I was able to recover. A summer course lasts only two months, so you really need to hit the ground running. Take a course from a subject you are confident in, and probably stick to a first year course. If you are in doubt as to the difficulty level, ask your U of T advisor.

Start to slowly familiarize yourself with the calendar and planning out your degree. It takes a while, and it’s not something you can do in a day or a weekend, but by September you want to have a good idea of program choice, that is, what is your major and your minors, or will you specialize in something, etc. This is something many students do in their first year, but we have all already completed the equivalent of more than a year with our Seneca College credits, so it’s best to get on top of this, so you can take your time and make a good decision.

Keep working hard to make that degree transfer as smooth as possible, and best of luck with your studies!

Starting the transition

04/06/2015

Hi everyone and welcome. It’s the last month of classes, which means everybody has a very full plate right now, so thanks for taking the time to check out the blog. This week I attended a meeting at the University of Toronto St. George campus for students planning or considering transferring there from the Liberal Arts program at Seneca. I went to this event last year as well, so I will give a little run-down of what it is all about.

Any Liberal Arts student, planning to transfer to a partner university or not, should attend as many of these types of meetings with our partner universities as possible. First of all, refreshments are provided. At the very least, in my experience this has included coffee, tea, donuts and cookies, but can include fresh fruit, bagels, jam, cream cheese and other delicious fare. Clearly, not to be missed. But, more important (maybe) is the wealth of information provided. For students planning to begin studies at U of T in the summer, whether second or fourth semester students, this meeting is considered mandatory, and it really does make life way easier for you.

If you have already submitted your application to U of T, (as hopefully you have, but still attend if you haven’t, one can probably still be arranged), at the meeting you will get your U of T student number, which is very important to have. This gives you access to the full U of T website, allowing you to start planning your future course selections, and make appointments with financial and academic advisors, and use many other valuable services. In fact, at the meeting you actually sit down with someone and get help with activating your account, setting up your U of T email, and learning how to register in courses, which is super helpful.

Also, at the meeting, you get an introduction to the college system at U of T, which can be a little confusing. The transfer program is arranged by Woodsworth College. You receive a tour of their building, and are introduced to the advisors that you will probably be seeking advice from throughout your studies at the University. Information is also provided about how much transfer credit you will receive for your Seneca studies (6 of the 20 credits needed to graduate). A lot of more general information about university resources is provided as well, such as financial assistance, writing help and tutoring, libraries, clubs and recreation (their gym is free!). Finally, at the end of the meeting there is an “optional” tour of the campus that I highly recommend. It is a huge campus, with a lot of nooks and crannies, so the sooner you start to explore and get your bearings, the better, plus it’s just a really nice place to take a walk, with a lot of really cool, old buildings.

That is it for today, thanks for reading and be sure to check in with me the next couple of weeks as I finish the transition from Seneca College to university!

Already thinking about the fall

03/27/2015

The time has come for us fourth semester Liberal Arts (Articulation) students to apply for admission at the University we expect to attend next fall, so that we may take summer courses in order to fulfill the requirements so that we may be admitted for this coming fall semester. Confused yet? Naturally, so let me back up a bit.

So, with hardly a month left in the semester, despite assurances from our program coordinator that everything is as it should be, we have all been getting pretty antsy about just when we are supposed to apply to university, since we’ll be graduating in a month, and, like, hasn’t the deadline to apply happened already? But our concerns have been put to rest. For ordinary folks, sure deadlines have passed, but we are not ordinary folks, we are Liberal Arts students in the Articulation program, and quite rightfully, our ‘partner institutions’ make special accommodations for us. So what happens, what do we do, what was I taking about in that horrible first paragraph?

It’s pretty simple, as long as you break it down, and take it one step at a time, and read everything that is recommended. Twice. But here is the process. This week we all received in our Seneca email inboxes applications for York and U of T (and contact information for who to speak to if we’re interested in Trent). In the case of U of T, we had a week, for York, it was about ten days, to complete them. Now, even at this early stage, the process for applying to U of T is different than applying to York, so be proactive and on the ball. I applied to U of T, so I’ll run through what that’s entailed. I know if you’re applying to York, you do it through the Liberal Arts program coordinator, but that’s all I know so far, (I’ll ask around and get more info, I promise). For U of T, you actually apply through a website set up by U of T specifically for transferring from the Seneca Liberal Arts program.

Many students have already taken a course, or courses, at a partner university. We are eligible to do so following our second semester if our GPA meets the admission requirements. But, and THIS IS IMPORTANT, this is not just a way to pick up extra credit before you transfer (although it is that) to university. IT IS MANDATORY that we have taken at least one course at the university, and completed it with a 60% or better, before we can be accepted as full time students in the articulation program.

The next thing I want to discuss is the specifics of questions such as how many credits we will receive when we transfer, what programs of study we can pursue, etc., but I think it will make this post too long. The link to the U of T application does have this information, so do take the time to go through it if you’re interested in U of T. I do want to stress, this is a very good time to ask questions. Don’t be shy, this is definitely a “there are no bad/stupid questions” situation. This is what you have been working for, and our teachers, program coordinators and program chairs understand that. Do not hesitate to ask if you are confused about anything!

Alright, thanks for reading, more detailed information to follow. Also, don’t forget to keep studying, the end of the term is coming up fast!

DNC - pros and cons

03/20/2015

Happy Friday everyone. Today is a significant date on the college calendar. It is the last day to drop a course for a DNC. That being the case, it seems appropriate that I turn my attention back to degree transfer this week in the blog. This week’s blog is going to be a little anecdotal, because, the due dates for university applications for those of us graduating from the Liberal Arts program, have kind of snuck up on us. Next week I’ll have more detailed info on completing those applications. In the meantime, however, I’ll explain what DNC is, and why it is significant.

DNC stands for “did not complete”, and it is the designation that will appear on your transcript if you drop a class instead of a letter grade. There are pros and cons associated with dropping a course for a DNC, so let’s consider them.

Dropping a course can be understandably unappealing. After all, it can feel like the weeks of work, not to mention anxiety, that you have put into a class have gone for naught. Furthermore, the fees you paid for the class are none refundable at this point in the semester, which can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially this late in the year when a lot of us are feeling the financial crunch.

But, there are a lot of pros to taking a DNC as well. The point of the DNC is that it spares you a bad grade and a hit to your GPA. This has huge potential when considering transferring to a university that requires a high GPA just for entrance into a program. The DNC spares you a bad grade in a number of ways. The most obvious is that the course you drop will not be factored into your GPA, but the course will still show up on your transcript with DNC where the grade was supposed to be.

Depending on your program, you may still have to retake the course, but you will have had an introduction to it already. A lot of the material will be review the second time around and thus (hopefully) easier. You should also speak to your professor before and after you drop it to ensure you know how to do better the next time around. You may be able to take the course in the summer, and you may find it easier to find the time needed to commit to it that way. Furthermore, dropping a course can improve your GPA by giving you more time to focus on your other classes, and by decreasing your anxiety since you will no longer have to worry about the course you were doing poorly in.

So what’s the big deal about GPA? Well, it is extremely important if you are planning to continue your education after Seneca. Basically, it is the main criteria that a university will look at when they consider your application for admission. The GPA required will vary by university, and even by university faculty or program. Therefore it is a good idea to know not just what GPA a university requires for admission but also what the program you wish to get into requires. These requirements can change from year to year as well, but typically by not a lot.

I’ve given you a lot to consider here, and it may still not be all that clear. Remember that the Degree Transfer Office offers lots of help with mapping university pathways, including GPA requirements. Make an appointment to speak with someone personally and have all your questions answered! And a couple final points about dropping courses. It is always a good idea to speak to your professor, and it is required that you consult your program coordinator before dropping a course. They will have your best interest in mind and can often provide perspective on something that can seem overwhelming in the midst of all the other pressures of college life.

That’s all for now. Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope you have a great weekend!

Stay focused and organized

03/12/2015

With study week now well behind us and the last of our midterm exams and assignments finished, it can be very easy to lose focus this time of year, especially with the weather finally starting to improve. I for one am dying to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, and had to fight a powerful urge this morning to wander into the middle of a muddy field and lie on the ground to soak up some sun. However, with only a few weeks left of classes it is now, more than ever, important to stay focused and organized. Major essays and assignments will be coming due in just a few weeks, and final exams come fast and furious as soon as classes let out, so now is the time to get ahead, not fall behind, if you would like to still possess your sanity come the end of the semester. Here are a few things I’m doing this week to get prepared for the final stretch of the semester.

Clear your schedule
If you work part-time, and you have the flexibility, now is a good time to assess how many hours you are going to be able to work as the end of the semester nears. I am lucky enough to have a very flexible part-time job, so I worked a lot of hours over the reading break and am taking all of April off. A lot of jobs don’t offer that kind of flexibility, and your financial situation may not allow for it either, but the workload definitely increases as the semester comes to an end, so if you can, take some time off. The sooner you bring this up with your employer, the less likely they are to have a problem with it, so get on top of this as soon as you can.
Commitments such as work, of course, aren’t the only things that can take up one’s time. Binge-watching a new favorite TV show right now? Now is a good time to stop! Social life also tends to speed up with the warming weather, so be sure to be disciplined.

Make a calendar
So, you may be saying, it’s the middle of March, I already have a calendar. That’s great, you’re a step ahead of me. Most of the year I function perfectly well without one, but come the end of the semester, I find I need some sort of list, plan, or calendar to keep track of due dates, quizzes, assignments and exams. Seneca has several resources to assist with this that can be accessed through Student Services, including detailed instructions for creating study or project timetables that can be reached through the Foundations for Success link, and even one-on-one consultations for help and advice.

Assess your strengths and weaknesses
In the next week or two you will probably have received enough grades back in all your classes to know which classes you are strong in and in which ones you need some help. Where you do need some help, decide what you can do to improve. I recommend speaking to your professor, who can always offer good advice, but starting a study group with other students or booking some time with a tutor in the Learning Centre are excellent options as well.

Ask for an Extension
Maybe the biggest advantage of planning early and preparing for the workload of the end of the semester is it gives you the opportunity to identify periods where you will be overwhelmed, and do something about it. If you go to your professor a week, or even better, two weeks in advance to ask for an extension, and you can clearly explain the reasons you will have difficulty finishing it, with a clear idea of when you will be able to finish, there is a very good chance they will be amenable to granting an extension. The closer it gets to the due date, however, the worse your chances get.

Alright my fellow Senecans, that’s all for this week. I hope this helps you plan for the rest of the semester, good luck and enjoy the spring weather as much as you can!

Mature student challenges

03/06/2015

Hi everyone and welcome back! I hope you have all had a restful and productive break. This week my topic will be the challenges facing we, the many mature students of Seneca College. I’ve been planning to address this topic since the beginning of the semester, but I have been hesitant for a number of reasons, the main one being that mature students are a very diverse group, and I didn’t want to represent my own experience as that of mature students as a whole. For example, many challenges facing some mature students are regarding parenting, from finding time to spend with your kids, to being able to afford child care, to many other things I can hardly imagine. Another subgroup of mature students I can empathize with, but have little shared experience with, is new Canadians. Of course, this blog has always been about my personal experience, but I wanted to at least recognize the limits of my own experience before I began. So having done so, let’s begin.

The biggest challenge I have personally faced in managing finances. For myself, and I would guess many other mature students, returning to school has meant a definite decline in standard of living. This, I think, is pretty much unavoidable, and comes down to a question of personal priorities. Before Seneca, I was working full-time in the restaurant industry, making a decent living but not happy about what I was doing. Now I am studying something I am passionate about. When I feel myself getting frustrated about the loud music playing in the store below my apartment, or the fact that I can’t remember the last time I could afford wine with dinner, I remind myself why I came to Seneca in the first place, which was to gain for myself the skills and the opportunity to embark on a career I’m really passionate about. There are sacrifices involved, of course, but I realized that going in, and accepted those sacrifices as justified.

The second biggest challenge I have found is the increased stress of being a student. Deadlines for course work, coupled with the demands on one’s time of the nearly inevitable part-time job and whatever other responsibilities may have accrued to you in the course of your adult life definitely can threaten to overwhelm at times. An escape from these stresses is a must, I’ve found. For me, that break is cooking. It requires one’s full attention and has an element of creativity, so it can take one’s mind off of the problems of the day, and it fulfills the obvious need to eat, usually in a more cost-effective way than eating out does. But an escape can be anything that works for you, be it a walk around the neighborhood, a trip to the gym, or watching a movie with family. A lot of adults have been conditioned to believe that multi-tasking is a necessary part of modern life, and many of us believe that our success depends on it, and while that may be true to a certain extent, it is not a perfect strategy for academic success. The brain needs both sleep and rest to learn, and it can be especially hard for mature students to recognize that fact and allow for it.

Another major challenge of being an adult student is that it definitely limits your ability to spend time with your family and friends, which is especially challenging given the new stresses you are under being a student. On top of that, returning to school can seem like entering an alien world, full of people you have little in common with, but I’ve found that as long as you are going into it with an open mind it is a lot like starting any new job or endeavor, with many unforeseen benefits. For one thing, there are other mature students that you will almost certainly meet in some of your classes. For another, interacting with people younger than you is refreshing in many ways. They offer a perspective on the world that you may find you have lost contact with, and they often see you as being in a privileged position thanks to your greater experience in the world, which is certainly a nice change.

Overall, I’ve found the key to success as a mature student is being open to change and willing to ask for help. You’re investing a lot of yourself just to be here, so make the most of it!

Time for a break. Take advantage of it.

02/26/2015

Phew! Anyone else happy, exhausted, and slightly stunned that they made it to Study Break? Well, those of us in Liberal Arts just plowed through a slew of midterm papers and exams, and I imagine those of you in other programs faced similar deadlines for tests or projects, or whatever it may have been. It’s time for a break, we’ve certainly earned it. But what to do with all this free time? Some of you may be taking off to a sunny locale where school will be but a distant dream, and if that’s true, all the best to you. But, for those warriors among us who wouldn’t think of abandoning ship just days before closing out this lovely, record-breaking cold winter, here are some recommendations for making Study Break a productive and rejuvenating experience.

Relax:
Of course you need to relax. Watch thirty-six consecutive hours of Netflix, or YouTube, or whatever it is you kids are into nowadays. Give yourself a long weekend. Maybe even get some fresh air. If you’re looking for something fun and free, may I recommend taking advantage of one of Toronto’s many free outdoor ice rinks. Another good option, if you’re not into the whole fresh air thing, is the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is free on Wednesday nights. It’s a huge city, with tons of options. So get out there while you have the time!

Read???
Just something trashy maybe, at least for the first few days. But…then do yourself a favour, and get down to business. You are still student after all. Now is a great time to identify what classes you may be struggling with, or certain concepts or skills you may not have mastered the first time around, and try to improve. I’m not saying you should review everything you’ve done so far, or try to cram the next six weeks of readings into the break, but it is a good time to identify any gaps in your knowledge and try to fill them in. Chances are those things will come up again in the second half of your courses, so it’s best to be prepared.

Plan for the Future:
What are you going to do after Seneca? Are you moving on to University afterwards? If so, what programs are you interested in? What schools? Do you plan to move right into the workforce? Where do you find job listings in your field? Whoa. Chill with the questions, eh? But on the other hand, these are all things we need to start thinking about. It can very difficult to find the time, but hey, you’ve got a week off! If you’re reading this, you’re already where you need to be for degree transfer information, which is great. But perhaps you’re graduating and also considering not continuing with school, at least right now. Seneca recently launched SenecaWorks, an excellent, easy to use job posting website connected to the Career Services office. I recommend checking it out.

Get a Job!:
Didn’t I just say that? Well, this time I mean, a summer job. Many companies that hire seasonal employees for the summer are getting that process underway right about now. Update and polish up that resume, or create one if it’s your first time looking for work. Don’t know what to include or even how to get started? Here is a link to the Seneca Career Services resume help page. While you’re there, you might as well see what else they have to offer!

I hope that helps if you were wondering what to do with yourself for the next nine days. It seems like an eternity, but I can tell you from experience, it will fly by in no time flat, so take advantage! And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shut off my brain for the next seventy-two hours…

Budgeting

02/20/2015

This week’s post, as promised, will be on the sexy and exciting topic of budgeting. For any student, budgeting resources such as time and money is a major challenge, as well as an important part of day-to-day existence. Every student’s needs and situation are different, and I’m not a financial advisor, but I have had a lot of interaction with the Financial Aid Office here at Seneca, and some experiences I can share as I’ve navigated the Liberal Arts articulation program.

The first trick to budgeting is to find the time to do it. The best thing you can do for yourself is plan out your time and finances. This can be extremely difficult, and if you haven’t done it before, as is the case, I would assume, for most first year students, it’s both intimidating and nearly impossible. Why would you know how much groceries cost, or new bed sheets, or textbooks, if you’ve never bought them before? The good news is, (and if you’ve been following these posts, you should see the theme developing) help is available! The Financial Aid website includes OSAP information, the contact info for your financial aid advisor, and other useful information.

Financial Aid

The financial aid office at Seneca, and their website, are very convenient to use, and can be very helpful. I know the tendency for a lot of students, especially those like myself, who are paying for school largely through student loans, is to get anxious, frustrated, even angry when thinking or talking about money, but that really is self-defeating. By being organized and proactive, and aware of the options and opportunities available to yourself, you can spare yourself a ton of anxiety, as well as save hundreds or thousands of dollars.

My first tip is to plan and apply early, and have a back-up plan, or some kind of wiggle room, going into the start of the school year. Whatever that may be for you, some extra money saved during the summer, or a family member that can lend some money for the first month or so, or even a credit card if need be, it’s nice to have some financial support if there is a delay with a student loan. I can’t speak about OSAP specifically, as a recent transplant to Ontario my loans come from BC, but this has made things tricky a couple of times, including delaying getting funds for several weeks, and I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my family.

My second tip, is to not blame the people at financial aid if problems do occur! On one of my many visits to the financial aid office, I was referred by one of the financial aid officers to SIRIS (replaced by Student Centre as of March 2), where you will find the financial aid link, also known as the MY MOST IMPORTANT FINANCIAL RESOURCE at Seneca. This is where you can apply, very simply, for bursaries and scholarships. I have received the tuition assistance bursary both years I have spent at Seneca, and am currently waiting to see about roughly a dozen other forms of assistance. This is a nothing to lose, everything to gain sort of situation. If you are even in the ballpark for meeting the requirements for a scholarship or bursary, apply. Somebody is going to get it, and it doesn’t hurt to try.

The other side of the financing coin is work. Of course, the type of work you can do, the number of hours of work you can manage, or need to do, depends on a lot of factors, and varies from individual to individual. The one thing I would offer in this regard, is to be aware of the importance of saying no. This can mean having a job where it is possible to say no to shifts when your school work load is getting to be too much, or saying no to friends when they are going out on a Saturday night when you really need to study. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you are investing a huge amount of time, effort and money into your education, with potential benefits that will last your entire life. Make sure it is your number one priority.

Now, some specifics regarding the Liberal Arts transfer program. One option of the program is to take courses as a part-time student at one of the partner institutions, i.e. York or U of T. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am currently a part-time student at U of T, taking one full credit course. If you are considering this route, that is, taking a class or classes at a partner university while taking Seneca classes, there are a couple of important budgeting considerations. One thing to be aware of is university courses are more expensive than Seneca courses. Also, this cost is independent of the fees you pay to Seneca. There may be some financial aid available through the university, or through an increase in your student loan, and those are options to discuss with your advisor, at whichever partner university you may choose. I had actually planned to take a course at U of T in the summer between the first and second year of the Liberal Arts program, but eventually decided against it because of the cost.

Aside from the cost, the time involved in taking a class at another institution is an important thing to consider. The summer may be the best time to do this, but this may pose a challenge in terms of whatever work you plan to do during that time. On the other hand, taking classes at two different institutions will definitely put a strain on your time. One way to mitigate this is, to take courses at York, if you are attending Seneca@York. At least it will not add any extra commuting time. Even if you go this route, however, remember that an extra class represents a time commitment of about six hours a week, in-class and studying. Be sure that you have this time available. The grade you get in the university class has to be at least C+, or it could prevent your transfer to that university, so be sure you do everything you can to ensure your success. I was thoroughly warned by my U of T advisor of the difficulties of taking a course there while attending Seneca@York, and wish I had listened more carefully. The first couple of months did not go well as I struggled to manage my time. However, having worked it out, I must say it was a positive challenge and something I don’t regret.

So that about sums up the blog for today. Good luck on any upcoming assignments, and I’ll talk to again next Friday, hopefully as the first of many things you read during the Study Break!

Survival services on campus

02/12/2015

Welcome to my fourth blog of the semester, on this, the Friday of the fifth week of the semester. You, like me, are probably starting to feel the fatigue of balancing the demands of school with whatever other demands you may have on your time, be that work, extra-curricular activities, family commitments, or whatever else. Plus, the days are still short. And dark. And cold. You may have noticed tables of studying students suddenly turning on each other in an eruption of torn loose-leaf paper, or students running down the halls screaming and tearing out their hair. Of course, it really isn’t that bad. While chances are you, like me, do have some assignments coming due, and probably some midterms on the horizon, and a couple of papers to be working on, it really isn’t the sort of crunch time that comes at the end of the semester. However, there is relief in sight. Study Week is only a couple of weeks away (Hurray!), and, hey, Family Day is this Monday! So what I am doing for this week is providing some informal advice on how I have learned to cope with the everyday stress of being a student, and providing some links to some Seneca services that may come in handy in the process of thriving and surviving in your college experience. After all, the better you do here at Seneca, the better the position you will be in when it comes time to transfer to the program or degree of your choice.

library

The first thing I’m going to say may go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway (did that sound awkward?) Stay on top of your schoolwork. Nothing (for me, at least) causes more anxiety than falling behind with your coursework, or struggling with it and feeling like it you can’t succeed or you’re wasting your time. If you do find you’re having problems with your courses, you still have plenty of time to do something about it. Seneca has so many resources to help with your course work, here are three important options:

The Learning Centre: The Learning Centre is fantastic, offering free tutoring, workshops and seminars. Tutors are available with knowledge about and experience in the courses you are taking. It is also very easy to access, as you can book an appointment on-line, or by just walking in and asking for one!

Foundations for Success: This link, which can also be accessed through the Student Services page of the Seneca website, offers many links to resources about studying, note-taking, and other very invaluable information.

library

Seneca Libraries: Yes, the link has many helpful tools, especially for doing research, including subject guides that will help make you a faster and efficient researcher. But more importantly, they have really helpful, real people! Talk to librarians! Tell them what you’re assignment is, and you will be amazed at the wealth of information they suddenly provide you with about it.

Also, keep an eye on the student news section of Blackboard for free events and programs being offered. For example, I just counted seven free workshops being offered that I would not have known about if it weren’t for the student news section of Blackboard.
One of the most important resources, however, is your professors! In my opinion, the biggest advantage Seneca has over most universities is the much smaller class sizes, and the advantage of this is it makes it much easier to have a personal relationship with your professor. Nobody can clear up confusion for you about an assignment or a professor’s expectation than the professor themselves. And nothing impresses a professor more than a student taking the initiative to come to their office and speak to them about their learning experience, what’s interesting, what’s difficult, etc. I’m a shy person, and I know it can be difficult and intimidating at first, but I don’t know of any teacher at Seneca College that isn’t concerned about their helping their students succeed, and that has not been my experience at other institutions, so take advantage!

One thing I have become very aware of as a mature student, that I was not aware of when I was younger, is the impact that health and wellness have on academic performance. I am planning to provide a detailed description of the ways Seneca supports student health and wellness in a future post, but for now I would urge everyone to visit the Student Health 101 webpage and have a look around.

I had intended to also discuss issues of budgeting in this post, but I now realize that I’m already getting lengthy, and it will need a post of its own. I plan to discuss both financial budgeting and the sometimes overlooked issue of budgeting time. As a mature student with a quite a bit of post-secondary experience I have a lot of good information about both, so be sure to give it a read. In the meantime, study hard, but remember to be well, get lots of sleep and enjoy yourself as well. A healthy body is an important part of a healthy mind!

Liberal Arts diploma to a degree

02/06/2015

Hey everybody, I hope you had a great fourth week of the semester. The snow has arrived, and with it plenty of slush, cold, and other excellent excuses to avoid the outdoors and stay inside and study! But bad weather or not, there is plenty to do as we get into the midst of the semester, and you may find yourself starting to wonder why you’re going through it all. Hopefully, this post will help remind you of the light at the end of tunnel, and offer a little insight on how to get there. If you have been following along, you are aware that last week I promised to get into the nitty-gritty details of the transfer process from a Seneca Liberal Arts diploma to a degree with one of our partner universities, in my case, the University of Toronto. So let’s dive right in!

The first bit of advice I would like to impart in regard to the transfer process is not to worry too much about it starting out. There are plenty of opportunities to get information about the transfer process throughout the two years of the program, and the best thing you can do to ensure a successful transfer to the university of your choice is to get good grades. Make that your priority.

That said, of course it does not hurt to be on the ball. In my experience, the best way to do that is to create a relationship as soon as possible with the program coordinator. This is the lovely and talented Shereen Hassanein, (click the link for her contact information, if you don’t know her already.) As the program coordinator, Shereen possesses a wealth of information about the transfer agreements that exist between Seneca’s Liberal Arts program and its partner universities. She can be of assistance (as her predecessor, Camille Soucie, was to me) with transferring credit from other institutions upon entering the program, and she can advise on what classes to take and when to take them in order to ensure you can maximize your GPA and ensure you can enter the University of our choice.

So quickly, a bit about that. As a liberal arts student, you are eligible to take courses at one of our partner universities, as a part-time student, as early as following your second semester, provided you have a GPA of 3.0 or better (basically, a B average). In this way, you can earn extra credit to take with your Seneca transfer credits after you earn your diploma. In order to transfer and enter a university program with one of our partners after earning your Liberal Arts diploma, you will need to graduate with a GPA of 3.0 or better and have one class completed at a university partner as a part-time student, with a grade of C+ or better earned in that class.

So those are the most important details, and I’ll leave it at that, because at this point I want to focus on how to access information about transferring, and talk a bit more about my experience with it so far. So as I said earlier, speaking to the program coordinator is one important tool at our disposal. Another big one is to take advantage of the information sessions that are offered by our university partners. This will take a little initiative on your part, but it is definitely worth it. Start by checking your email often, because that is how the program coordinator will make you aware of when representatives from York and U of T will be visiting to speak to liberal arts students about the transfer agreements and transfer processes to their respective schools. In order to attend the meetings with U of T advisors I had to trek from Seneca@York to the Newnham campus, but it absolutely worth the trip. This is where I received specific information about what liberal art’s courses transferred for credit at U of T, how much credit I would receive, how exactly to apply as a part-time student, and other invaluable information. Free refreshments were also supplied☺

I originally applied and was accepted to U of T as a part-time student for the summer after my second semester, but decided against taking summer classes because I could not afford it. The U of T advisors were very helpful in discussion the time commitment required and funding options (OSAP, bursaries, etc.) available, and I decided it was best to just work. The cost to me for cancelling was minimal, I don’t recall exactly the amount but it was definitely less than fifty dollars. And I did not have to reapply in September, I just let the advisor know I wanted to register for one class, and was able to do so. My advisor was also very helpful in recommended classes to take, and discussing options for a major and minor, as well as giving me an idea of the challenge that taking classes at two different campuses would be. (Trust me, it is quite difficult, time management does become a serious issue.)

So I hope this post has given some idea of what the Liberal Arts program is about, in regards to the university transfer aspect of it, and provided a little insight into how to take full advantage of it. Until next time, happy studying, and be sure to get outside and enjoy, at least a little, the winter weather!

For more information about pathways from the Seneca Liberal Arts diploma program visit the online tranfer guide.

University and Degree Information Fair

01/29/2015

Hi everyone, and welcome to my second blog of the semester. This week, as promised, I have a report on my experience at Seneca’s University and Degree Information Fair. This event brought representatives from universities across Ontario, Canada and the world to the college to answer student’s questions about options and opportunities for transferring credits earned at Seneca towards degrees at other institutions, or within Seneca itself. As a student in my fourth and final semester of the Liberal Arts program, I have already started studies at the University of Toronto, taking one class as a part-time student at their St. George campus since September. I have attended information sessions about this option, that is unique to the Liberal Arts program (twice in fact), and I’ll go into detail about it next week. I attended the info fair out of a sense of general curiosity and of course a desire to share some valuable information with you, my readers and fellow students!

Justin at the info fair

The first thing I was struck by was the number of options available to Seneca students. At the York campus, where I attend classes, there were roughly thirty institutions represented. I understand that the larger Newnham campus had around forty. This includes almost, if not all the universities in Ontario, as well as some from across the rest of Canada, and even some from around the world. I was particularly struck by the international options, especially when confronted by a large picture of a white sand beach in sunny Australia, a striking contrast to the solid grey sky outside the window, with the temperature hovering around ten below zero. This picture was at the booth for Griffith University, which has several campuses in and around Brisbane. As I learned, there are several things to take into account when considering transferring internationally. As an international student, you will pay more than a domestic one. And living expenses can vary quite a bit from location to location. However, depending on the school you choose, a number of factors can help mitigate these costs. For example, Griffith University has an articulation agreement with Seneca that may allow one to finish their degree in just a year and a half. Some schools also offer pretty impressive scholarships to Seneca students with strong grades, such as Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. As someone of Scottish heritage, I can tell you that the weather there has nothing on Australia, but on the other hand, they have a long history of impressive intellectual achievement. Did you know that the steam engine, economics, golf and modesty were all invented by Scots? But jokes aside, anyone considering international transfer would be well served to look up KOM consultants for lots of helpful advice.

The other noteworthy thing I learned at the fair was that a transfer agreement isn’t always a necessity for transferring to a University. If your academic background and grades meet that schools admissions requirements, and the school offers a similar course, you may be eligible to receive transfer credit. The specifics vary from institution to institution, but that information is available from each school. For help accessing that information, you can contact the friendly people at Seneca’s very own Degree and Credit Transfer Office. I would also recommend that you swing by the office to pick up a free copy of the Degree Transfer Guide. It includes a comprehensive list of the transfer options available to Seneca students, including the many degrees available here at Seneca College!

That about concludes my recap of the University and Degree Information Fair. Next week I’ll be telling you all about experiences so far in the transfer process from my program, Liberal Arts, to the University of Toronto, and the ins and outs of the transfer agreement between the two schools. Until then,

Happy Studies!

Greetings

01/22/2015

Hi everyone!

Welcome to my blog. Over the course of the current semester I will be posting weekly about my experiences as I traverse my fourth and final semester in the Liberal Arts program here at Seneca College, as I make the transition from diploma to degree (in my case, a Bachelor of Arts degree from U of T, major yet to be determined—but probably English). My hope is that this blog will have much to offer students currently in the program, as well as prospective students considering enrolling (quick tip: do it!), by providing practical advice in regard to the transfer process, as well as by sharing some of my experiences here at Seneca and some of the many important things I’ve learned in my time here, academic and otherwise. To start that process, I’d like to tell you a bit about myself, and why I chose Seneca College and the Liberal Arts program.

My Seneca journey began, wow, over two years ago now, in the summer of 2013. My girlfriend and I were living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the time, and had decided it was time to relocate to the big city. At the time I was working as a bartender, and had been in the service industry for many years. I considered furthering my education in that field, but I had always had a nagging desire to return to university and complete a degree, and I decided that the time was right to pursue that dream.

At first I tried applying directly to several local universities, as a mature student, (I was thirty-two at the time). I had tried pursuing post-secondary education at a couple of different institutions years before, but I had had some personal issues and hadn’t been able to stick with it. Apparently, my arguments that this time would be different weren’t convincing any admission’s officers, because no offers of admission were forthcoming ☹. But I have to say, it was for the best, because I don’t think anything could have been better than finding the Liberal Arts program at Seneca College ☺!

I choose the program for many reasons, but three stand out above the rest.

  1. The simplicity of transferring to university: I researched what seemed to me to be the major colleges in the GTA, and found nothing as straightforward as the transfer agreements that exist between the program and several universities, including York, U of T, Trent, and others. Stay tuned, because I’ll have a lot more to say about these agreements in future posts!
  2. The location: The program is offered at two different Seneca campuses. One is Newnham, the other, the one I chose, is located on the York University campus. I have been to both, and they both have their own unique personality and attraction, but I liked the opportunity to experience the York campus on a daily basis, to help decide if it was the right option for me to pursue my university degree. As an added bonus, Seneca students have access to the York University libraries.
  3. The curriculum: I personally love the liberal arts curriculum, and think it pretty much covers what every well-rounded citizen of today’s crazy world ought to know. History, art, politics, psychology, philosophy, sociology, literature, and more! If you don’t know what field of study you wish to pursue at university, it gives you a great introduction to so many options, but even if you do, this is all great stuff to know if you’re interested in human beings, especially if you yourself would like to be a good one!

I’m starting to gush, so I better end it here. Next week I will be sharing what I learn at the University and Degree Information Fair, so be sure to check that out. Until then, happy studying!

Justin


 **The views expressed in this blog are those of the student bloggers and do not represent those of Seneca College.

About Justin

Justin photo

Justin Robertson
Liberal Arts diploma
4th Semester Student
Seneca@York Campus