How to Make Sure Your Major Aligns with Your Interests & Goals

Many students feel intimidated by the prospect of choosing a major. This is a big decision that will influence your future career options. The best way to ensure you’re making the right choice is to consider whether your major aligns with your interests and goals. However, always remember that your major is not set in stone — around half of all students switch majors at some point because they discover a new passion or change their career goals during their studies. As you set out to select your major, here are some tips to bear in mind.

1. Talk with a Career Counselor

Schedule a meeting with a career counselor to discuss what kinds of careers a particular major could lead to. Come to the meeting prepared with questions and think about how you will describe your skills, interests, and values.

2. Sign Up for a Broad Range of Classes

If you think you may want to change your major in the future, take a variety of classes to explore your options. This will make switching easier. Even if you end up dropping a class because you find you don’t like it, you’ll have learned something important. Talk to your academic advisor about how you can create a balanced schedule that will allow you to explore your options.

3. Discuss Your Options with Other People

When determining if you’ve chosen the right major, it can help to talk with as many people as possible, especially your professors and other students. Ask questions about the skills you need to have to thrive in a particular field, the difficulty of the required classes for a particular major, and any doubts you have.

4. Discover Careers Through Internships and Job Shadowing

Find out what it would be like to work in a particular career by taking an internship or shadowing someone on the job for a day. Internships also help you gain valuable skills to improve your employability after you graduate, whereas both options will give you the chance to network with valuable contacts.

5. Research the Job Market

Be realistic when thinking about your dream job. Research the market to find out about the outlook for a particular type of job, how much you’ll be able to earn, and what qualifications you need. If the field is competitive or the prospects low, it’s worth having some alternative career paths in mind as well. Consider what else would bring you job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.

6. Attend Career Fairs

Learn about career opportunities you may never have considered by attending career fairs on campus. This will give you the chance to talk to employers and recruiters about the kinds of jobs available, including what the work involves and what majors they prefer candidates to have studied.

7. Take a Career Aptitude Test

If you’re unsure what career to pursue, an aptitude test may be helpful. This will show you how your skills, interests, and strengths could lead to a particular career. Make sure you take a reputable test, such as one your university offers.

The other big decision you need to make when you start university is where you’ll live. For an alternative to Ontario Tech University, look no further than Foundry Simcoe. Instead of a cramped dorm room, you’ll have your own bedroom in a fully-furnished apartment or townhouse located just steps from campus. All our units have private bathrooms, in-suite washers and dryers, and spacious layouts. Book a tour to see where you could be living.


The Best Ways to Network in Your Field

You’re likely at university to gain the skills you need to pursue a career in a particular field. However, skills alone won’t be enough — you also need to have the right contacts. Building connections means networking. There are several ways you can begin networking while you’re still at university. In fact, you should start as soon as possible rather than waiting until you’re about to graduate.

1. Visit Your Career Centre

The career center on campus is a valuable resource for all things related to your future employment, including networking. For instance, the staff may be able to put you in touch with alumni who are working in the field you want to enter or give you advice about how to reach out to other professionals.

2. Pursue Opportunities to Gain Experience

Apply for positions that will give you experience in your field. At the same time as exploring possible career paths and developing your skills, you’ll undoubtedly work with people who will become useful connections. Opportunities could include internships, research assistant positions, and work opportunities through your faculty.

3. Use LinkedIn

Networking today frequently takes place online. There’s no better place for meeting professionals in your field than LinkedIn. To make a good impression, grow your list of connections by adding everyone you know, complete your profile with information about your career goals and experience, and showcase your key achievements. Then, start reaching out to people who have your dream job and employers you’d like to work for in the future.

4. Ask Professionals for Career Advice

Before you can reach out to professionals you find on LinkedIn and people you meet at networking events on campus, you need to have a reason for starting a conversation. One option is to ask for career advice. The best time to do this is while you’re still a student, as people will be more willing to help you. If you wait until you’re looking for a job, in contrast, people may feel like you’re looking for referrals rather than advice. They may be hesitant to help you if they don’t feel they know you well enough.

5. Stay in Contact

Once you’ve met someone, stay in contact to develop a relationship. If you have a genuine connection, the person will be more likely to think of you when a job opportunity arises or will be able to write you a more detailed letter of recommendation.

6. See Everyone as a Potential Connection

Don’t underestimate the importance of the contacts you have in completely unrelated fields. Many of them may have large networks that could include people who are in your field. Besides, people who know you well tend to be more valuable contacts than someone you’ve only chatted to briefly online because they’re more interested in helping you reach your goals.

7. Set Networking Goals

To ensure you actively network throughout your time at university, set yourself some goals. For instance, you could set a target for the number of connections you want to have on LinkedIn by the end of each semester. You may also like to have a few possibilities in mind for internships several months before you need to apply and a shortlist of career options or companies you’d like to work for.

In addition to people you meet on campus and through work and internships, you can network with others who live in the same student rental. Oshawa has a vibrant student community at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have the chance to meet students from a variety of backgrounds in the community lounge and around the building. Book a tour to check out the facilities.


How to Settle on the Right Major for You

When your friends know exactly what they want to study at university, it can feel extra frustrating that you’re unsure what major to choose. This is often the case when you’re passionate about more than one subject or still unclear about what career you want to pursue. Nonetheless, it is possible to narrow down your options and arrive at the right major for you.

Here are some steps to guide you.

1. Consider Your Skills

If you want to be confident you’ll succeed, choosing a major according to your talents is the way to go. In addition to looking at your grades and considering what subjects in high school tend to require the least amount of effort, think about your nonacademic skills and how these could relate to a particular major.

2. Think About Your Interests

Another way to decide what major to choose is by what most closely matches your interests. Although skills and interests often align, this is not always the case. In fact, you may decide it’s worth working harder on something that doesn’t come naturally to you because you’re passionate about it. Bear in mind, though, that there are other ways to include your passions in your life, such as through extracurriculars at university and as a side hustle or hobby after you graduate.

3. Determine How Difficult a Major Is Likely to Be

Your major will likely be easier if it’s something you’re good at and find interesting. However, certain majors are also notorious for being more difficult than others. It’s possible to objectively determine this by considering how many hours of study they require in addition to your classes. Using this metric, the most difficult majors tend to be engineering and architecture whereas the easiest are public relations, communication, and criminal justice.

4. Look at Job Opportunities

What you major in will impact what careers are open to you. Write down a number of careers each major could lead to and research the job prospects. Check what kind of salary you can expect to earn and think about whether the work matches your values and is likely to be rewarding.

5. Decide What Factor Matters Most to You

All the above are important, but it’s impossible to prioritize everything. Decide what matters most to you, whether that’s enjoying your major, knowing you’ll easily be able to succeed, or a high potential to find a job and earn a good salary after you graduate.

6. Talk to Your Academic Advisor

If you’re still unsure what major is right for you, have a discussion with your academic advisor. Your advisor will be able to tell you more about the majors you’re interested in, give you personalized advice, and perhaps even suggest some majors you hadn’t known about that combine the characteristics of a couple you’re considering.

No matter what major you end up picking, you’ll need to study hard. Since it can be difficult to focus when you’re living in a dorm, it’s best to search for off-campus housing. An alternative to Ontario Tech University residence is Foundry Simcoe. We have three-bedroom suites and five-bedroom townhouses within walking distance of campus. Rent includes pure fibre internet, an in-suite washer and dryer, all the furnishings you need, and much more. Book a tour to see where you could be living.


How to Shop for University Affordably

Paying for tuition and housing is already expensive. On top of that, you need supplies like textbooks, stationery, and items for your student apartment. To make sure you stay within your budget, follow these tips to shop for university affordably.

1. Buy Only What You Need

Before you start shopping, make a list of what you need. This will prevent you from making any impulse purchases that are a waste of money. Your university may have provided you with a list of what to buy, but it’s worth assessing each of the items in turn to determine if you do need everything. If you have siblings or friends who are already attending university, talk to them — they may tell you that some of the items on the list your school provided are unnecessary. You should also reach out to your roommates to prevent multiple people all bringing something you could share, such as a coffee maker or vacuum cleaner.

2. Use What You Have

Another way to limit your purchases is to consider what you already have. Bringing bedding, organizers, and storage solutions from home could save you a large amount of money. Plus, you may be able to decorate your apartment with things you already have, such as by creating artwork for your walls by using photos you’ve taken.

3. Take Advantage of Student Discounts

Many stores offer student discounts year round; plus, there are back-to-school sales to take advantage of. Student discounts often make expensive items like laptops considerably more affordable. If a store doesn’t advertise a student discount, always ask — just to make sure.

4. Avoid Student-Specific Items

Some stores sell products specifically for students. Be aware that these items tend to have a higher price tag, even though the product is virtually the same as the regular version. This is particularly common with decor, bedding, and furniture.

5. Purchase from One Place

Once you’ve found a store selling products at a good price (ideally with a student discount), do most of your shopping there. This will make it easier to calculate exactly how much you’re spending. As an added bonus, you’ll save on gas and will feel less exhausted by the whole ordeal.

6. Look for Quality Items

It can be tempting to purchase the cheapest items you find, but this could end up costing you more in the long run. Look for high-quality items that will last several semesters — ideally, they’ll last your entire time at university or even beyond. If you have younger siblings who will be attending university after you graduate, you may even be able to hand down some of your belongings to them.

7. Borrow Instead of Buying

You can also benefit from hand-me-downs yourself. Borrow from people who have already finished university or use rental services to spend less on items you won’t need after you graduate. You can rent all sorts of useful things, including textbooks, small appliances, and technology.

You’ll also save money during your time at university if you find an affordable student rental. Oshawa students can receive their own bedroom in a comfortable suite at Foundry Simcoe. To help you save even more money, all our apartments come fully furnished, rent includes high-speed internet, and you’ll have a washer and dryer in your unit. Apply now to take advantage of our lowest rates of the year.


7 Ways College Students Can Give Back to Their Communities

Attending college changes you as a person in many ways. For instance, it may make you passionate about a cause or help you appreciate the privilege you have of being able to pursue an education. As a result, you may decide you want to give back to your community. The good news is there are multiple ways you can do so. Choose an option that fits around your time constraints, reflects your values, and helps you develop useful skills.

1. Fundraise for a Cause

Fundraising gives you the chance to be creative. Come up with a unique idea to raise money for a cause you care about and ask other students to donate money for your efforts.

2. Volunteer as a Mentor

Sign up for a mentor program where you help a child in your community. Most programs will pair you with someone who needs exactly the kind of support you’re able to provide.

3. Donate Your Belongings

Make a habit of regularly looking through your belongings for things you no longer need or want. Great times to do this include when you’re moving into new student housing and when you return home on a break and are confronted with all the things you left behind. You’ll reduce clutter and give a nonprofit organization items it can sell to gain more funds — it’s a win-win.

4. Spend Your Breaks Volunteering Abroad

Use your breaks productively by searching for programs abroad and volunteering for a few weeks. You should be able to find a cause that matters to you, whether that’s conservation, healthcare, teaching, animal care, or something else. You may also have the chance to gain work experience, practice a foreign language, and meet new people.

5. Paint a Mural in Your Town

If you have artistic skills, you may be able to bring some joy to your community by painting a mural. Ask for permission from your municipal government to find out if this is an option.

6. Grow Vegetables in a Community Garden

There’s a good chance your college town has a community garden open to volunteers. By growing fruits and vegetables, you can supply healthy food to people who may struggle to afford fresh produce.

7. Visit People in Your Community

Reach out to your local senior citizen center, assisted living facility, or children’s hospital to ask about paying the residents or patients a visit. Reading, doing crafts, or just having a conversation could brighten someone’s day.

Volunteering can take a toll, especially if you’re working with vulnerable people or doing manual labor. To rest and recuperate after a day of volunteering, it’s important you feel at home in your student rental. Oshawa students can live the ultimate college experience at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have the chance to meet other people in the community lounge, be able to relax in your private bedroom, and can take advantage of our monthly housekeeping service to avoid another stress in your life. Secure the floor plan you want while there are still units available.


6 Tips for Goal Setting Next Semester

The start of each semester is an opportunity to commit to doing better than ever before. Whereas you could set goals for any aspect of your life, it makes the most sense for your goals to relate to your studies. In particular, here are a few goals you should consider setting.

1. Figure Out Where You Can Best Focus on Your Studies

Whereas many students prefer to study in a quiet place where they can be alone, others find it more motivating to be around other people and to have some background noise. You need to figure out what works best for you. Experiment with several different places this semester.

2. Find a Few Study Spots

Switching up where you study can help you find inspiration and boost your memory. You may like to have one main study spot and just use the others when you need a change of scenery. For instance, you might decide to mostly study at your desk at home but sometimes move to the couch in your living room, go to the campus library, or even sit in the park.

3. Go to All Your Classes

Even if your professors don’t check your attendance, it’s important to stop seeing classes as optional. Skipping class can make understanding the material much harder and there’s always a risk you may misunderstand something. Plus, you’ll lose out on the chance to ask questions, join in discussions, and interact with classmates — all things that can help you learn.

4. Complete the Assigned Readings

Set a goal to stay up to date with assigned readings. This means reading fully — not just skimming — and taking notes. You’ll find you’re able to follow your classes much better if you’ve completed the readings beforehand. Plus, you’ll be able to spend the time leading up to your exams to review material you’ve already covered rather than learning new concepts.

5. Regularly Review Your Notes

Taking notes in class and as you read gives you a record of the most important points. However, if you file away your notes until you come to prepare for a test, you’ll likely find you’ve forgotten a large amount. A better approach is to schedule time each day for reviewing your notes — perhaps also rewriting parts to make them clearer. This will help the information stick in your head, meaning you just need to remind yourself of the fine details before the exam.

6. Stop Procrastinating

Know your priorities for your schoolwork and start with whatever is most urgent. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re being productive as long as you’re doing something of value. In fact, this is the definition of procrastination! If you have an important paper to complete or a test to prepare for, start early. Otherwise, you’ll end up needing to cram or pulling an all-nighter — and your grade will suffer as a result.

A goal you should set that’s unrelated to your studies is to improve your housing. If you want to move out of Ontario Tech University residence, you can find a new home at Foundry Simcoe. It’s still just a short walk from your classes, but you’ll have your own room in a modern apartment equipped with a washer and dryer, a smart TV, and high-speed internet. Our most popular units also have private balconies. Apply now to secure your spot.


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Studying for Finals

No matter how you like to prepare for your finals, there are some things you should never do. Studying the wrong way is not only ineffective — it can even result in worse grades than not studying at all. There are a few key mistakes in particular you need to make sure you avoid.

1. Beginning Too Late

There’s no way around it: studying for an exam will take a certain amount of time. Waiting too long to start can have unpleasant consequences. For instance, you may need to skip your other classes, cancel social commitments, or miss extracurriculars. Spending hours cramming may also take time away from activities that keep you healthy, such as meals, exercise, relaxation, and sleep. This can easily lead to burnout.

Furthermore, when you lack regular breaks, you retain less. Plus, you’ll be unable to sleep enough the night before finals, meaning it will be more difficult to recall information during your exams.

2. Neglecting Some Material

A big risk of beginning preparation for your finals too late is you won’t have time to cover everything. Unless you know exactly what the exam will cover, you need to study all the material from the semester. Although none of this should be new information, it may take time to remind yourself of the fine details and memorize key facts. If there are concepts you found difficult the first time you learned them, bear in mind you may need extra time to ensure you understand.

3. Lacking a Schedule

For difficult classes, it may be necessary to start preparing for finals several weeks in advance. However, even if you have the best intentions, it will be difficult to stay on track with your studies if you lack a study schedule. Rather than just marking time on your calendar to study for a particular class, be specific about what activities you’ll complete.

4. Becoming Stressed

A certain amount of stress is unavoidable, but you can take action to prevent stress from becoming unmanageable. Simply giving yourself sufficient time to study, sleeping enough, and feeling as though you are prepared for your finals can be a huge help. You should also try to think positively about your results — if you’ve worked hard all semester, there’s no reason to believe you’ll do poorly.

5. Falling Prone to Distractions

Your study time needs to be distraction free. Turn off the notifications on your phone, tell your roommates not to talk to you, and fight the urge to do anything but study. If you find background noise helpful, choose some relaxing music — preferably without lyrics.

It’s important to have a quiet place where you can go to study in peace. You’re unlikely to find this at home if you’re living on campus. However, you can find an alternative to Ontario Tech University residence at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have your own private bedroom (fully furnished with a desk and chair) and high-speed internet throughout your apartment. Living here will also avoid you wasting time on activities that distract you from studying — for instance, all our units come with a washer and dryer and you can request a reserved parking spot. Apply for a lease now.


A Guide to Selecting a Graduate School

Deciding to go to graduate school is exciting — but it can also be stressful, especially when you’re trying to figure out what programs you should apply to. You’ll need to narrow down your options from a huge number to just a few to make the application process manageable. Figuring out what you want from the experience can help you come to a decision.

1. What Career Do You Want to Pursue?

When you start your undergrad degree, it’s reasonable to have only a vague idea of what you want to do later. Graduate programs, in contrast, tend to be closely related to a particular career. You may end up studying a specific field or researching a niche topic. When assessing programs, consider which align most closely with your interests.

If a program covers a reasonably broad range of classes, find out if it’s likely to match your interests and career goals by looking at the type of research the professors at the school have completed. Read the biographies of the faculty members to gain a better picture of their backgrounds.

2. What Can You Afford?

Each graduate school charges a different amount for tuition. Furthermore, some offer financial aid, whereas others expect you to pay the full amount yourself. What you can afford will depend on both your savings and if you’ll be working at the same time as studying.

If you want financial assistance, search for programs that offer scholarships (these could be related to your field of study or merit based) or that have opportunities for teaching or research assistantships. Also bear in mind that some scholarships are only available once you’ve started a program or if you did your undergraduate degree at the school.

3. Where Do You Want to Live?

If you’ll be starting graduate school straight after you complete your undergraduate degree, your living situation may be flexible. However, if you’ve already settled somewhere, you may like to find a program in your area. This is especially useful if you want to continue working at your current job.

4. Do You Want to Take a Semester Abroad?

Perhaps you had a great time when you took a semester abroad during your undergraduate degree and now you want to repeat the experience. Alternatively, you may have always regretted not taking advantage of the opportunity. Now, you have a second chance at graduate school. Many programs offer one or two semesters abroad as a chance for students to complete their research. If you have a preference as to the kind of atmosphere you want while you’re abroad, take this into consideration when evaluating programs.

Wherever you decide to attend graduate school, you’ll need to search for housing. Since you won’t want to live on campus during grad school, this will mean finding a student rental. Oshawa students can join the community at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have a private bedroom and en suite bathroom in a five-bedroom townhouse or three-bedroom suite. All the apartments come with a washer and dryer, high-speed internet, and stainless steel appliances. Book a tour to coincide with your visit to Ontario Tech University.


How to Find the Best Student Housing

Finding the right student housing for you will make a big difference to your experience at college. It will influence how much you spend, whether it’s easy to arrive to classes on time, and what people you meet. Although this is a major decision, you can easily narrow down your options by figuring out what you want from your housing. Here are some considerations to bear in mind as you make your decision.

1. Dorm Room vs Independent Apartment

There are two main types of housing to choose from: a dorm room on campus or an independent apartment, including one in a student housing community.

Living in a dorm means you’ll have a shared room on campus. Whereas this does mean you’ll be close to classes and around other students, you won’t have much privacy, the housing is often noisy, and it’s unlikely you’ll have facilities to prepare your own meals — instead, you’ll need to pay for a meal plan.

In contrast, there are many advantages to renting an independent apartment. For instance, you’ll have your own room, a kitchen where you can cook, and a variety of other facilities you won’t find on campus. The main issue when you start college is you either need to find people to share with or rent a room in a house — which means you may not be around other students. The solution is to live in a student community, where you’ll be paired with roommates. This also means you’ll only be responsible for your own lease. Plus, it’s more likely that the rent will include utilities and furniture.

2. Consider Your Budget

Counterintuitively, it tends to cost less to live in an independent apartment than on campus — even though you’ll have a private bedroom and much more space. To figure out what you can afford, calculate your budget, taking into account expenses like food, bills, and entertainment. If you find a nicer place you can’t quite afford, consider if you have options to increase your income, such as with a part-time job or gig work.

3. Find a Safe Building

If you decide to search for independent apartments, make sure you stick to safe neighbourhoods. You’ll often be carrying many personal belongings with you between campus and your apartment, including a laptop. Neighbourhoods close to campus are likely to be safe, but you should still listen to your gut. In addition, check the security features of the building itself. Do the windows and doors have secure locks? Are there security cameras? How will you access your apartment?

4. What Amenities Do You Want?

Finally, you should consider what kinds of amenities you want your housing to have. You certainly need fast WiFi, but you may also want to have laundry facilities in the building and useful services nearby, such as cafés, restaurants, or a gym. If you’ll be living off campus, you may like to search for an apartment with an en suite bathroom, balcony, or parking.

Most students decide the best option is to search for rooms for rent. Oshawa students don’t need to look far: you can find a home at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have your own room in a comfortable suite or townhouse located a short distance from campus. All the apartments are furnished and have full-size appliances, including a washer and dryer. Apply now to secure your spot.


8 of the Best Houseplants for Students

Houseplants can add a vitality to your student apartment that will make your home feel welcoming and even improve your mental health. The problem is plants can be difficult to keep alive, particularly if you’ll occasionally be away for a weekend or longer. The good news is some houseplants are easy to care for — and still look impressive. If you’ve never had plants before and know you’ll find it difficult to stick to a strict watering schedule, these are the ones you need to consider for your apartment.

1. Spider Plant

There’s nothing easier to grow than a spider plant. Better still, you can start with a small one and it will quickly grow into a large plant if you water it just once a week. As it becomes bigger, it will produce spiderettes, which you can leave hanging from the plant or cut off — either to have more plants for your apartment or to give to friends.

2. Paddle Plant

Succulents are great because they require a minimal amount of care. However, they can look boring when they all have the same fleshy green leaves. Paddle plants will bring some colour to your apartment — their leaves range from red tipped to almost entirely red with just green at the base.

3. Inchplant

Another choice that has stunning colours is the inchplant. It has striped leaves in shades of green and purple. It requires a little more watering than some of the lower-maintenance plants — at least every three days. If the leaves begin to turn yellow, though, you may be watering it too much. The plant also needs plenty of sunlight. All this may sound like quite a bit of effort, but it’s definitely a plant worth having because it’s sure to impress.

4. Laceleaf Anthurium

For a plant with flowers, you may like to opt for a laceleaf anthurium. Both its bright red flowers and dark glossy leaves are heart shaped, which results in an eye-catching plant. You can keep it in top condition by watering it just once a week.

5. Peace Lily

Another option for a flowering plant is a peace lily. It’s quite similar in appearance to the laceleaf anthurium, with the difference that the flowers are white and narrow. You only need to water your peace lily when you notice the top soil is dry. Make sure it stays inside to avoid it being exposed to dramatic changes in temperature.

6. Parlour Palm

With a parlour palm, you’ll feel like you’re living in a sunny, coastal town: this small plant has leaves just like a palm tree. To help yours thrive, keep it in direct sunlight and spray it with water every other week.

7. Barrel Cactus

If you want a plant you can just leave to grow on its own, choose a barrel cactus. It needs watering every two weeks at most — if the soil is not completely dry, leave it for longer. Barrel cacti look great on their own as well as in small groups made up of several different species.

8. Swiss Cheese Plant

Native to tropical forests, Swiss cheese plants have holes in their leaves, which gives them a unique appearance. Quite large plants, they’re ideal for a living room. The best way to help yours flourish is to leave it in water for two or three weeks before transferring it to a soil pot. You then just need to water it once a week.

It’s difficult to have plants in a dorm room because you lack the space for more than a couple small pots at most. To be able to decorate your home however you want — with plenty of greenery — you should search for an apartment for rent. North Oshawa has the ideal suites for students at Foundry Simcoe. You can keep plants in your private bedroom, your en suite bathroom (for some feng shui vibes), or the spacious living room you’ll be sharing with just two or four other students. Apply now to secure a lease at the lowest rates of the year.