transition from high school to university

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.

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.

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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.

Exam Anxiety: Podcast Live!
PFAU 4 panel 2 1 289x300 Exam Anxiety: Podcast Live!

This week we will be interviewing Lisa Pfau, the founder and CEO of Pfau Academic Writing, about the stress caused by assignments and exams. We thought this topic would be helpful to our listeners who are about to enter the final exam season. Exam anxiety is a real and serious problem that can hinder students’ academic performance. As you may know, Lisa has over 20 years of experience supporting students through academic challenges. I first met Lisa three years ago as a first-year international student at the University of Toronto. Lisa has helped me with the transition from high school to university, giving me lots of great tips about how to deal with the pressures of university.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Symptoms of exam anxiety

Causes of stress

Impact of Exam Anxiety on Academic Performance

Practices and strategies to relieve stress

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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.

University Applications 101: Interview with Lisa Pfau

We interview Lisa Pfau, founder and CEO of Pfau Academic Writing, about applying for university or college from high school, a critical step in many students’ lives. It is important to be fully prepared by exploring the programs and/or schools of interests, admission requirements, and application processes as there are different requirements. Extensive research and a solid plan are necessary to succeed in the application process.  

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As you may know, I have over 20 years of experience helping students with essay writing, application support and career development. One of my favorite things is getting to know students and helping them to develop their application essays.

What do you suggest students look for when picking a program or school?

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Every year, and this still is the case, Maclean’s magazine publishes a university ranking edition. The magazine tells you all the universities in Canada, sometimes colleges, and their rankings. The magazine also ranks them by graduate school, medical school, law school and undergraduate program.

I was a pretty good student, so I wanted to go to one of the top 10 schools in Canada. The top school for Bachelor of Arts in Canada is Mount Allison University. But that’s all the way in the Maritimes, and that was too far from home for me. So eventually, I chose the University of Alberta, which at the time was ranked fifth. So if you’re a good student, you might want to go to a top school and see how they are ranked.

I would also consider your area of interest or study. You can choose the schools with reputable programs of your interest, which may not be the overall top school, but top in that field. For example, later on in life, I studied Chinese Politics. In Canada, there are really two or three universities that specialize in that, the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto were my top choices.

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What kind of timeline should students expect?

I think the post-secondary application is something you should really start thinking about in Grade 11. When you apply, the schools are not going to have all of your Grade 12 marks. The schools will look at your Grade 11 marks and courses. Meeting course prerequisites is important as it will impact your acceptance. For example, Engineering has certain Math and Science prerequisites, and you should be able to show on your transcript that you are doing those courses when you apply. The other thing is to think about grades. They’re mostly going to see your Grade 11 marks and part of your Grade 12 marks. It is important to start thinking about your grades and investing and making your grades stronger as soon as you enter high school. Find out what the requirements are for your program early on, so that you plan those last two years of high school appropriately and make sure to get all those prerequisites to get into the programs you want.

Most people don’t know this, but the grade that every school will look at, no matter what you study, is your English grade, not English language, but English literature. A lot of times people may think that they do not need English for their programs of study, but schools will look at your English grades regardless. They know as a professional, you have to be a good communicator no matter your field of study.

In addition, it is time-consuming to choose the right university. Things such as booking those appointments with your guidance counselor to find out about the application process, researching schools, and planning visits all take time. If you want to apply for scholarships or student loans, you need to account for that time as well. If your wait until the last minute, you risk doing a sloppy application and missing out on your dream program.

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What advice do you have for high school students transitioning to post-secondary school?

Whether you are a Canadian student or an international student, going to university is a big transition because you are no longer living at home. A lot of students are totally on their own. And of course, university and high school are very different from each other in the way that they’re structured. In universities, you can get lost in the crowd and nobody cares about you. I mean, if you take the time to talk to your professors, and they get to know you, of course, they care about you. However, the classes are so much bigger, so unless you take the initiative, nobody is going to notice if you skipped class. Whereas in high school, instructors or administrators are going to call your parents, check attendance, and track progress. Once you get into university, you are on your own, and you need to be responsible. So I think that’s a big change.

In this respect, going through the application process and thinking about what you want for your future actually can help to prepare you a bit for the new challenges of university itself. It’s a stressful process with tight deadlines somewhat similar to what the first year of assignments and exams feels like to new students.

I think the best thing someone told me is that it is gonna be a big transition and expect that your grades will drop by 20%. I had that impression already in my mind, so I knew university is gonna be very different from high school and it is going to be harder. As a result, I knew that even if I don’t do as well as before in the beginning, that is normal and it is actually part of the process and I can learn from that and improve. I think having a positive growth mindset is really valuable because it can be a big shock to the system.

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Resources Recommendation

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Maclean’s Magazine

Ontario Universities Info

Application Coaching at PFAU

Guide to Universities in Canada

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

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast 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.

Creating an Introvert Friendly Educational Environment: Podcast Episode Live!
Comic 25 panel 4 e1601490165649 300x268 Creating an Introvert Friendly Educational Environment: Podcast Episode Live!

 We interview Julia Burdajewicz, also known as the Germann Introvert, a health psychology student and digital content creator, about understanding introversion and breaking down barriers that often hold introverts back. The student experience as an introvert can also be challenging, especially in large educational institutions with tens of thousands of students.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Common misconceptions about introverts

How does introversion impact performance at school

Tips for students who identify themselves as introverts

How to maintain a healthy balance in life as an introvert

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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.

Making the Transition to University: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 30 Pfau pfau cartoon icon 01 300x297 Making the Transition to University: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview, David Zarnett, the Undergraduate Student Advisor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, as well as an experienced lecturer on global security, human rights, international cooperation, and war and peace, about how to make the transition to University.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The difference between writing essays in high school vs. university

Getting over fears of talking to Professors

The role of an Undergrad Advisor and why it’s important to get to know your own

The most important thing a first-year undergrad needs to know

 

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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.

The Student Experience: Interview with Lisa Meng

 

We discussed the undergraduate experience from the perspective of a recent grad with Lisa Meng, a University of Toronto Psychology graduate. While starting school in the Fall can be very stressful, having the right tools and insights can make the experience better.

Copy of IMG 3366 edited 225x300 The Student Experience: Interview with Lisa Meng

 

Lisa is passionate about understanding how to build meaningful human relationships and interactions. She has worked with the Bloor Street United Church refugee outreach program, where she learned a lot about connecting with individuals from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. She worked as a creative marketing and business administration assistant at Pfau Academic-Writing over the summer, where she engaged with others online, in order to share helpful information and foster a sense of community in this time of uncertainty.

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Why did you choose university over college or just getting a job?

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For me, a large part of that was, which I think a lot of people a lot of students can probably relate, due to family pressure. I think it was kind of expected that I would either go to university or college. I think at that time when I was just graduating high school, I was also pretty uncertain about what exactly my skills were and what I wanted to do. I was not completely confident enough to just go straight into the job market. In a way, the university kind of gives you more of a sense of structure to your life and identity.

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How can someone prepare for the transition from high school to university?

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One piece of advice, which I really wish I got that I haven’t heard anyone say this yet is to know the differences in curriculum between the provinces: I was coming from British Columbia, which has a high school curriculum that is just a little more relaxed compare to Ontario, especially for the sciences. Research the differences in curriculum and try to study and make up for that difference during summer before you start university. Take a look at the school board websites to see if there are any significant differences between the high school curricula. And then, I think after that I would look on certain websites, like Facebook, to connect with groups of students already enrolled in university and ask them about their experiences.

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What are some on-campus resources that students should know about?

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In the beginning, I wasn’t really involved with anything. However, when I transferred here from UTM to UTSG, I became a part of the New College Residence. There are many different colleges, and you can go to your own college for resources. The one that I really liked was the College Writing Center. The writing center offers one-hour sessions to help students to improve their writing. I think you can only sign up for a maximum of one each week, but it is a great resource included in your tuition fees.

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Lisa’s Book Recommendations and Resources

Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid by Robert J. Sternberg

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

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast 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.

Scared that you are missing something?
The Student Experience: Podcast Episode Live!
PFAU 12 panel 4 1 300x300 The Student Experience: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview, Lisa Meng, a recent Bachelor of Psychology graduate, about the what she has learned after reflecting on her four years of undergraduate experience.

HIGHLIGHTS

Things to think about when transitioning from high school to university

The importance of accessing campus resources

What to avoid during your first-year

The pros and cons of roommates

The biggest challenge going from high school to university

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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.