Three U of A Resources All Students Should Take Advantage Of

A PhD student reflects on the resources she wishes she took advantage of earlier in her university career.

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I’ve been a student at the University of Alberta on and off for ten years. One of my biggest regrets is that I never looked at what resources the university could offer me until I was in my doctoral program. From my own personal experience, these are three resources that I wish had accessed when I first started as an undergraduate student at university.

Decima Robinson Support Centre

There are a good amount of programs that require at least one mathematics or statistics course. Statistics has never been (and will never be) my strong suit. I have always needed a lot of explanation, and a lot of practice questions, to fully understand each concept. As an undergraduate student, I never felt comfortable asking for clarification in class. I put it down now to imposter syndrome. It never feels fun asking your professor to go over something again when everyone else seems to “get it”. 

I absolutely should have used the Decima Robinson Support Centre. It would have saved me so much anxiety coming up to my exams (although let’s be real, I still would have been at least a bit anxious). The Centre provides a range of services to undergraduate students registered in 100 and 200 Level Mathematics or Statistics Courses. They offer weekly review seminars, exam study sessions, and drop in homework help sessions, all of which are free! It’s staffed by graduate students, so they know firsthand what it’s like to be an overwhelmed student.

Unitea

There’s nothing like having a good chat over a cup of tea! The University of Alberta is a big campus, and it can be hard to feel a sense of belonging here—I know I’ve certainly had my lonely periods. My first year on campus was a series of massive lecture halls and unfamiliar faces. Making friends in class can be intimidating, and let’s not get started on how much harder this has become over the past year and a half. Sometimes you just want to have a chat with someone that isn’t small talk. This is where Unitea, a service run by the Community Social Workers team, comes in.

Unitea offers the opportunity to have a casual conversation with trained volunteers. When you book an appointment, know that you get to decide what the conversation will be. You can share some good news, chat about your interests or talk through a situation that’s been worrying you. Unitea hosts also know all about campus, so they can help you find activities, clubs or other resources that fit your interests and needs. If the idea of a one-to-one tea time is too intimidating, know that there are also collective sessions where you can meet with a group of students and a volunteer to chat about a more specific topic.

Peter Lougheed Leadership College

An advance warning to you: once you graduate, a lot of people will want to know about your leadership skills. If you’re interested in graduate programs, the application process will ask about them. And if you’re applying for a job, guess what: your interviewer is probably going to ask about them. If you’re like me, the first example that comes to mind is a group project you single-handedly had to drag across the finish line. Just thinking back on the days of group projects sends a shiver down my spine.

The Peter Lougheed Leadership College is based out of the Peter Lougheed Hall and offers a range of experiences to build your leadership skills. For undergraduate students, they have credit-based courses, as well as a more intensive certificate program called the Stretch Experience that involves a 200-hour leadership project. Stretch scholars can stay close to home or go across the globe. Check out the program’s blog to read all about it! What’s great about the Peter Lougheed Leadership College is that it’s about figuring out your leadership style. It helps you identify what strengths you can bring to the table. I’m in one of their courses for graduate students right now, and I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough. 

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As I mentioned before, these are resources that I personally would have found helpful. Maybe they are not resources that interest you, and that’s okay! Whatever the case, I really, really encourage you to explore the resources that the university has to offer. It is a big, diverse campus. You might be surprised at what you find! 


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About Kathryn

Kathryn (she/her/hers) is in the first year of her doctoral program in Rehabilitation Science. She is a practicing occupational therapist, and works on a casual basis at an Edmonton area hospital. When not at her desk or at the hospital, Kathryn can be found cooing over her dog and checking out far too many books from the library.