by Jonah Glass
When I officially accepted the offer to attend Ryerson University in the fall of 2014, I was anxious and worried about how I would cope with a brand new environment. I had just graduated college, where I had spent many years slowly getting more comfortable with driving to school and being around others in class. Ryerson was going to be a much bigger challenge though. The school was further away, and I would have to take public transit to get there. The classes were going to be much larger than the 20 students I was used to, and because I was joining as a third year student, I knew that everyone else would already have some familiarity with each other. As excited as I was for my courses, I was dreading the experience of attending university. My parents were shocked that after struggling through college that I even wanted to try attending university, but they were proud of me and I was determined to prove to them that I could earn a university degree.
When I was in college I learned that I needed accommodations and support to help me with my schooling, and so after accepting the offer from Ryerson, I quickly got in contact with Ryerson’s Academic Accommodation Support (a branch of Student Learning Support). After struggling to get through college, I was determined to succeed at university and wanted to do anything I could to ensure I graduated.
My first meeting with my councillor, Mandy, was long and informative, but the best part of it was that we discussed how we could work together to help me get through university. We talked about the type of accommodation I might need in the classroom, but also some of the other ways that learning services could help me. For me, what I needed the most was structure. We talked about what I liked and what I didn’t like, and developed a personal plan that I could follow.
The thing I hated the most was taking the subway and getting myself to school in general, and so we built my class schedule accordingly. I had long days on campus, but with only a few trips a week we were able to minimize the stress that commuting caused me. I also knew that I didn’t like missing meetings or appointments, so I started booking meetings with Deena Shaffer where I could come and check-in, or go to the writing centre, or meet with the learning strategist. This helped encourage me to come to campus more, and once I was there, attend class.
When it came to being in the class and studying afterwards, the staff at Student Learning Support were consistently encouraging me to try new methods and ideas until we found a studying technique that worked best for me. After trying methods that focused on my reading the textbook, I learned that I did not retain as much information this way and that writing down key definitions and then exploring their connections was a much more effective way for me to study. I also learned that scheduling everything into specific time slots helped motivate me to complete work well in advance. When it came to writing long papers, the Writing Centre assisted me by helping me put together outlines based on readings I had done and quotes I had found so that I effectively structured and cited my work. To study for exams, the learning strategist helped me put together a work plan and schedule I could follow so that I started preparing well in advance. We also found that practise quizzes were the most effective way for me to ensure I properly retained knowledge from the classroom.
As I became more comfortable on campus I found that I didn’t need to come meet with my councillor as often if I was having a difficult time preparing for exams, though, or working with a specific professor, I was able to come by and get the support I needed to help me continue to do the work I needed to do. I also found that my confidence in being around others continued to grow as I went to school events with other students and participated in case competitions.
When I completed my studies at Ryerson, I realised that I had overcome one of the most difficult tasks of my life—I had graduated university. The two years I spent at Ryerson completely changed my outlook on education and life. Since graduating Ryerson, I decided to pursue my master’s degree at UOIT, where I still use the same strategies that the staff at Student Learning Support helped me develop. With the support of Mandy and the SLS staff, I was able to complete my university degree, which allowed me to pursue teaching part-time as an assistant at UOIT, and get my dream job working as a statistical data analyst. Working with the staff at Student Learning Support truly helped me in meeting my goals and has helped prepare me for the future.
Join Deena on RyersonStudentAffairs.com as she shares her perspective on Jonah’s journey to academic success, and how his path to flourshing inspired her.