Podcast

Conducting Research in Sociology: Podcast Episode Live!
Jemimah Amos Podcast Sociology cover 1 300x300 Conducting Research in Sociology: Podcast Episode Live!

This week we interested Jemimah Amos, PFAU Academic Writing coach and editor, about the study of Sociology. Sociology is the study of human interaction or individuals as members of a group. Many students take a first-year Sociology course unsure what it is about and may even leave the course confused or overwhelmed by the breadth of information and topics that can be researched in the field of Sociology. In particular, students coming out of high school may be unfamiliar with the use of theories and methodologies to conduct research and write papers.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

What is Sociology?

Common Sociological Theories & Frameworks

What to expect from a Sociology degree

How to conduct Sociological research

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Feeling through Creativity: Podcast Episode Live!
Phoebe Taylor Podcast Post  300x300 Feeling through Creativity: Podcast Episode Live!

This week’s episode is about the connection between mental health and creativity. Oftentimes students are so caught up with getting good grades or a prestigious job that they forget to have fun. They forget that learning is supposed to bring joy. They don’t realize that writing a research paper is actually a creative process, and it is possible to inject their own personality in the process. Most of all, they can easily buy into the idea that being successful means suppressing one’s emotions. But, feelings are not our enemy, they are our friend. This week’s guest is Phoebe Taylor, artist, mindful mover, community maker and creative director of Okay Shoe.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Finding joy in creation

Building a creative business

Sustainable creation and collaborative practices

Link between our emotions and art

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Playful Prose: Interview with Davood Gozli

 

 

This week’s episode is about overcoming the tortures of writer’s block. So often students avoid starting a paper because of the pain associated with writing that first sentence, but writing doesn’t have to be so terrible. In fact, in many cases, it can be fun. It is an artform after all. Today we’ll be talking about how to make writing enjoyable, and even playful. 

 

Davood Gozli 300x300 Playful Prose: Interview with Davood Gozli

 

This week’s guest is Davood Gozli, PFAU Academic Writing editor and coach, specializing in Psychology. Davood has over seven years of university-level teaching experience, a BSc from Trent University, and PhD in Psychology from the University of Toronto. He has published a book and dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles—including several articles co-authored with students—and has helped hundreds of students feel more comfortable about writing. Most notably, he believes in the power of writing as a personal practice that can excite, enliven, and empower us.

 

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What is it like writing a book? Were there moments you were stuck? How did you overcome them?

 

My book started out as a journal article that was rejected by several journals. I was passionate about the idea, but I still got stuck. I found that being separated from the writing project for a couple weeks would throw me off and make it harder to go back. Rhythm is very important. Showing up everyday in small ways is key. Touchbase with your writing project in a consistent and predictable way everyday. By maintaining this rhythm, even my body would start to feel like writing.

I also realized that writing is a way of living. Once you start setting up a writing routine, you notice that other parts of your life need to change as well. For instance, I realized that I needed to go to bed early enough to get enough sleep to get up and write. I also needed to become more organized by setting a timer and only letting myself write for an hour before getting onto other things.

 

Why do you think we struggle with writer’s block?

 

There are several reasons why someone would struggle with writer’s block. As I said, straying from one’s routine can cause a blockage, and of course, not taking care of one’s self and being unwell. However, I think the biggest blockage is expectations. Putting too much pressure on one’s self and worrying can block the creative flow. It is important to set manageable goals and stick to them.

For students who struggle with writing the first sentence of the paper, what tips would you give them?

 

There are a few things that can help one get over the anxiety of writing that first sentence:

  1. Take breaks when you can’t focus

  2. Set a minimum daily achievement (ie. 300 words)

  3. Set realistic expectations. Focus on writing clearly and concisely. Imagine you are writing to a friend. 

  4. Write what you can. Don’t worry about making it perfect. You now have some raw material. Then, ask yourself what makes it bad and use it to improve upon it. 

  5. Write about what you want to write about. You want to write about memory, so you write about what you want to write about later. It is like a plan/list of ideas. It creates a useful distance that can ease you into the writing process.

 

 

Recommended Books and Resources

 

 

 

Thank you, Davood, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

 

Missed Podcast? Watch Video Here:

 

 

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly, podcast, videos, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Davood Gozli
Playful Prose: Podcast Episode Live!
Davood Gozli Podcast Post 1 1 300x300 Playful Prose: Podcast Episode Live!

We interviewed Davood Gozli, Pfau Academic editor and writing coach, with a BSc from Trent University, and PhD in Psychology from the University of Toronto, about overcoming the tortures of writer’s block. So often students avoid starting a paper because of the pain associated with writing that first sentence, but writing doesn’t have to be so terrible. In fact, in many cases, it can be fun. It is an artform after all. Today we’ll be talking about how to make writing enjoyable, and even playful.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

What it’s like writing a book

Tips for overcoming writer’s block

Overcoming doubt when writing 

Making writing playful 

Starting a paper when you feel stuck

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

English Literature Podcast
The Art of Writing a Literary Essay: Interview with Natalia Hunter

 

 

We interviewed Natalia Hunter, PFAU Academic Writing Coach, about the art of writing a literary essay. For students accustomed to essays that require a lot of research, citations, and arguments on a specific topic, writing an essay for English 101 or Grade 12 English can be a real puzzle. This type of essay necessitates a more in-depth analysis of a particular text, or oftentimes only an excerpt of text. At first glance, it may seem easy, but it actually takes a high level of skill to write a strong literary essay. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are attempting their first literary essay or trying to improve upon a poor grade. Remember that writing is a practice that takes time and effort to improve upon.

 

Copy of Natalia Hunter Photo 2 300x300 The Art of Writing a Literary Essay: Interview with Natalia Hunter

 

Natalia has a Master’s in English from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelors of English in Medieval Studies. While pursuing graduate studies, Natalia was a teaching assistant for the Laurier English department, leading weekly tutorial groups and working closely with students to assist with their understanding of the course material and help with their essay writing and critical thinking skills. Her own academic experience and work as a teaching assistant have given Natalia a keen eye for what it takes to do excellent literary analysis.

 

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What would you say is the difference between a research paper and an English paper? How is research conducted in English compared to say the Social Sciences?

 

There’s a big difference. Especially with the Social Sciences, like you said, English qualitative versus quantitative. The main difference is in the research methods. In the social science, you’re focusing on experimental studies, while in English you’re looking for the answers within the text itself. So when you’re researching for a Social Sciences paper, you’re going to look out for other evidence to include in your argument. In an English paper, you’re looking at other scholarly opinions about the text. The main reason why you do that in English is to ground your argument within everybody else’s opinions. You want to make sure that you have a full scope of what the topic entails and that you can shape your argument. You can either disagree or agree with what the scholarly opinion that is out there. There’s definitely a massive difference between a regular research paper for the Social sciences and a research paper for English. In addition, there’s definitely techniques and skills that you have to develop to know how to research English papers that dependent upon how popular or how old the book is.

For example, a Victorian novel is going to have a lot more out there compared to a book published in the last few years. The amount of previous research on the book that you want to write about is another kind of difficulty that you have to face when researching for an English paper. I think a good example is if you’re looking into Jane Eyre. As a classic Victorian novel, there’s so much out there about this literary era as well as the book itself. There are several opinions, books, and journal articles written about Jane Eyre. Although there is a lot of preexisting on Jane Eyre, this in itself can be overwhelming. Therefore, it is important to narrow your topic down. You can do this by choosing a character, like Bertha. However, even in that case, you need to have an angle or perspective that you want to discuss about Bertha. For instance, if you’re going to do a gendered reading of Jane Eyre and you’re going to focus on feminist theories, then you would start looking at the key words when you search up articles about Jane Eyre. You would want to look at the things that include feminist theory and things about how the female characters are treated. You want to make sure that you’re focusing on a specific angle rather than just really looking taking a broad summative approach.

 

How can high school students in Grade 11 and 12 prepare themselves for the rigors of university English?

 

First off, the difference between high school and university is that you’re going to be reading so much more. This can be a massive shock to the system because you’ll have multiple readings a week. You could be reading a whole novel a week (300-400 pages) and just have one or two lectures on it before moving on. So it is very fast paced, and I think that that could be something that you could gradually get used to by increasing your reading capacity in advance of attending university. I recommend planning out and scheduling your reading times. This structuring can can especially helpful if you kind of have a numerical mind. If you like to think in numbers, breaking down  the novel into small goals of reading a certain number of pages (ie. 25 pages) a day can help you to feel less overwhelmed with the amount of reading that you need to complete.

What would you say is your biggest takeaway from your English degree in terms of becoming a confident writer?

 

I think my main takeaway with writing was that there’s so many ways to phrase things and put things in a sentence and everybody’s going to have a different way of doing it. I think that’s amazing that everyone can have a different voice and style. Everyone can be tasked with the same thing and not say it in the same way. It’s okay to not write something in the same way that someone else does. There’s definitely ways of improving your writing style. Obviously, being more concise and using appropriate language are useful skills. But at the end of the day, I think it’s really amazing that everyone can have their own style. In the beginning, developing your own style can be overwhelming because you’re thinking – “is everyone so much smarter than me?”; “what’s that person saying?”; “how are they saying it”; and so forth. You end up comparing yourself to someone else. I think at the end of the day, you’re never going to write something the same way as someone else, and that is a really good thing.

 

Recommended Books and Resources

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Thank you, Natalia, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

 

Missed Podcast? Watch Video Here:

 

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly, podcast, videos, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

The Art of Writing a Literary Essay: Podcast Episode Live!
image 2 300x300 The Art of Writing a Literary Essay: Podcast Episode Live!

We interviewed Natalia Hunter, PFAU Academic Writing Coach, with a Master’s in English from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelors of English in medieval studies about the art of writing a literary essay. For students accustomed to essays that require a lot of research, citations, and arguments on a specific topic, writing an essay for English 101 or Grade 12 English can be a real puzzle. This type of essay necessitates a more in-depth analysis of a particular text, or oftentimes only an excerpt of text. At first glance, it may seem easy, but it actually takes a high level of skill to write a strong literary essay. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are attempting their first literary essay or trying to improve upon a poor grade. Remember that writing is a practice that takes time and effort to improve upon.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Finding a topic for a literary essay

The best journals and databases to use

Tips for first year and high school students when writing a literary essay

The value of an English degree

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Sustainable Business – Remarkable Rejects: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 30 panel 2 01 2 291x300 Sustainable Business   Remarkable Rejects: Podcast Episode Live!

We interviewed Braeden Wolf, founder of Remarkable Rejects, is a recent business graduate from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, who is passionate about nutrition, natural movement, and cooking. This week’s episode is about socially conscious business. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are looking for meaningful employment and/or social change. In university, everything seems possible and many of us are inspired to create change in the world after graduation. However, after entering the workforce, we may start to feel discouraged and lose our spark. So, why not bypass the corporate world and its expectations and start something that you care about and that can create the change that you want to see in the world.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Business background and inspiration of Remarkable Rejects

How can students benefit from Remarkable Rejects

Tips to consider when developing a business

Challenges faced when starting a business

Advice for students who want to start a socially conscious business 

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Advice for Incoming International Students: Interview with Joseph Wong

 

We interviewed Professor Joseph Wong about moving from one country to another to start school. Heading off to university is a significant milestone in one’s life, and even more so if it also means travelling abroad to a whole new country on your own. For international students who started university during COVID, the experience has been a little different, but as vaccines are doled out and the health situation looks a bit more hopeful this year’s international students may be considering a few different options as they return to their degree in the Fall. We thought we’d speak with someone who’s been an international student himself while a graduate student, and is also very familiar with the needs and situations of international students on a major university campus.

Joe Wong 2020 1 300x300 Advice for Incoming International Students: Interview with Joseph Wong

 

Professor Joseph Wong is Vice-President, International, University of Toronto, where he is also the Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts and Science. He held the Canada Research Chair in Health, Democracy, and Development for two terms from 2006 to 2016. He is the author of many academic articles and several books, including Healthy Democracies: Welfare Politics in Taiwan and South Korea and Betting on Biotech: Innovation and the Limits of Asia’s Developmental State. Inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals, in collaboration with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Professor Wong founded the Reach Alliance, a model for student-led, faculty-mentored, multi-disciplinary research dedicated to investigating the pathways to success for innovative programs that are reaching the world’s most marginalized populations. 

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Tell us a bit about your own experience as an international student studying in the US. How do you think studying abroad impacted your overall academic experience and development as a scholar?

 

My experience as an international student in the US was definitely formative. I was in my early 20s, doing my Ph.D. in a foreign country, and the work itself, obviously, was something that I was not at all accustomed to, and it was really 24/7. seven, I was really passionate about doing my Ph.D. and studying in the US was really an eye-opener for me, even though Canada and the US are by most measures really similar. There are some things that are just still very fundamentally different. And it’s not until you actually live in another place, and become friends who are American and engage in public discourse, that you get a sense of what’s important and what’s less important in American society and really discover some of the critical differences between where I grew up and where I was doing graduate school. For example, when people ask me what’s the biggest difference between the US and Canada, I would say a lot of the things that they’re debating in the US and they continue to debate are things like a woman’s right to choose, access to health care, gun control. these are issues that, as far as I’m concerned, dealt with long ago in Canada, and we’ve kind of moved on. And yet, here is this society that’s very similar to ours, in which these are the core issues that are dividing the body politic and society there. So, even in two countries, as similar as Canada and the US, once we actually had that experience, and you really engage while studying there, you really discover those sorts of interesting differences. I understand that for international students, studying abroad can bring a mixture of excitement, anxiety, anxiety, fear of the unknown, but the experience is definitely worth it. 

A lot has changed over the last year due to the pandemic, which impacted many international students. Could you talk about how has the university been dealing with that? What changes have you seen in how we think of education?

 

It is totally crazy. At that time, I was the vice provost for international. So our international learning outbound mobility, and things like learning abroad, were all part of my portfolio. I remember in mid-March last year, I was talking to a colleague of mine, who is one of the vice presidents. We were discussing how the borders might be closed soon. Four days later, the government made the official announcement and everything happened so fast. We had thousands of students all around the world, and we had to figure out how to get them back and how to proceed with online learning. For me, one of the real lasting lessons of the whole experience was to have a mindset of kindness. And I think one of the things that I really took from that experience was these thousands of students are, in the end, thousands of individuals who have individual needs, individual worries, individual circumstances, and so forth. And so our offices, and the staff, were just working around the clock because we wanted to accommodate and address very specific concerns. With these specific issues, you can be very bureaucratic about it and say: “Well, here’s the email, and here’s the FAQ page and just go to it,” or you can be kind about it. And I think that that was something we all took from this was just that we were really needing to be human at a time when being machine-like and bureaucratic are more convenient. Another thing that I’ve discovered is just the amazing adaptability of a large institution of over 90,000 students and staff and faculty. We were able to fully launch online learning within a very short period of time, and I think we manage everything pretty well so far.  

Ideally, students would like to be learning in person, and we want to have as many in-person opportunities as possible. However, we also learned that there are things that we can do, and ways that we can reach students using online platforms that we were completely unaware of before. And that can really dynamize a classroom. For example, one of the things that we’ve launched this year, are what we’re calling Global Classrooms. Basically, using this online learning technology, we connect our classes here at U of T with classes at institutions and other parts of the world.  I did one with an institution in Mexico because I have a friend there. Even though we are teaching separate courses, we were able to build a four-week module together on COVID and inequality. His students from Mexico and my students from U of T were able to collaborate and work together on projects of shared interest. These students had an opportunity to really learn about COVID, and its impact in Mexico, which of course, is a really interesting case. They had a chance to learn about indigenous issues and some of the challenges that the government is facing, and they got a chance to learn about inequality, and informality and so forth, by talking to their peers in Mexico. It is unbelievable and opportunities like this would have been impossible or very difficult before. We wouldn’t even have thought of that. To sum up, I think that there are lots of things we’ve learned, and there are lots of ways we can use platforms like this to do things that would have been completely inconceivable In the past,

What advice do you have for incoming and returning to international students in the Fall to make the most of this unusual time?

 I think one of the things is really embracing every opportunity you get, especially at a university like U of T. It is one of the most massive places, and its scale brings with it both advantages and disadvantages. One of the challenges anywhere, but especially at a large institution like U of T, is how do you find these opportunities? How do you develop co-curricular opportunities? How do you satisfy your academic and non-academic curiosities? There are just so many opportunities at a place like the University of Toronto or any post-secondary institution. You just have to find the answer. One thing that I always say to new students is that you can go through university and just be a number. You can be anywhere your number, or you could really actively seek out opportunities. Go talk to your professors, they don’t like sitting in their offices alone during office hours. You should go find about about research opportunities or any opportunity that interests you. They won’t fly to your lap themselves. I would say that that’s probably irrespective of whether we’re more online or less online, it’s just really about being kind of entrepreneurial when you’re out there. Here’s the other thing I would say, and this may sound a little counterintuitive, but have fun. Don’t go into this with a mindset that you shouldn’t have a good time. I would say to students, particularly students at university, and of course, here at U of T, that you’re obviously really bright and accomplished, otherwise, you wouldn’t have gotten into university. Sometimes you need to enjoy yourself, and this is the time to be curious, to take chances, and to take risks. I always tell my students I work with to choose the courses that interest them. Don’t choose a course only because you may get good grades. This may sound a little abstract, but through my own experience and conversation with hiring managers, no one really cares about your GPA after you graduate from university. If you got a degree from a good university in a hyper-competitive situation, and that’s good enough. Are you an interesting person? Do you have character? Are you authentic? Are you gonna contribute positively to the organizational culture? Do I want to work with you? These are the questions they would like to find out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still encouraging students to do well and to work hard and strive for excellence, but excellence can be measured in a bunch of different ways. And there’s just so much more to your university career than the curriculum. So I would suggest to students, not just international students, but all young people, to embrace these four years. You’re not going to be 18 or 22 forever. Discover your voice, passion, and authenticity, which are far more important to you as a person, and frankly, to your career in the long run.

 

Recommended Books and Resources

All books by Haruki Murakami

We the North: 25 Years of the Toronto Raptors by Doug Smith

Secret Path by Gord Downie

Research Alliance

Thank you, Professor Wong, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

 

Missed Podcast? Watch Video Here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast, video, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Advice for Incoming International Students: Podcast Episode Live!
Studying 300x300 Advice for Incoming International Students: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview Joseph Wong, Vice-President, International, at the University of Toronto about moving from one country to another to start school. Heading off to university is a significant milestone in one’s life, and even more so if it also means travelling abroad to a whole new country on your own. For international students who started university during COVID, the experience has been a little different, but as vaccines are doled out and the health situation looks a bit more hopeful this year’s international students may be considering a few different options as they return to their degree in the Fall. We thought we’d speak with someone who’s been an international student himself while a graduate student, and is also very familiar with the needs and situations of international students on a major university campus.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Journey and experience of studying aboard

Measures taken by the university to support students

How have online learning and collaborations changed academic life

Advice for students going back to school this Fall

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

1st Year Law School Experience: Podcast Episode Live!
Comic 22 edited 01 panel 2 300x294 1st Year Law School Experience: Podcast Episode Live!

We interviewed Yiwei Jin, PFAU Academic writing and applications coach, Yiwei Jin, about his 1st-year law school experience. This week’s episode is meant to give undergraduate students interested in Law School and working on preparing their applications some insights into what it is really like. The lawyers as seen on TV are not necessarily representative of the real experience of studying law or becoming a lawyer. Today, we hope to dispel some of those myths.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Differences in experience between undergraduate, graduate and law school degrees

Law school applications

Top things to consider before applying to law school

How to prepare for law school

 

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.