How to Become a Better Paper Writer

It’s common to receive poor grades at college simply because you struggle to write good papers. You may have a good grasp of the material but find it difficult to express yourself in writing. If this is happening to you, here are a few things you can do to improve.

1. Understand the Assignment

Before you start working on your paper, make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve. Reread the question a few times, highlighting the key words and jotting down some ideas. Check how long the assignment needs to be, whether you are restricted to using particular sources, and if there are other criteria you need to meet.

2. Introduce and Develop Your Argument

Instead of writing down everything you know about the topic, figure out what argument you want to make. Use the first paragraph to introduce the argument and subsequent paragraphs to expand on each point. Tie everything together in the conclusion — this final paragraph shouldn’t include any new information; it should just summarize what you’ve already covered.

3. Avoid Plagiarism

If you commit plagiarism, you will get caught and the consequences could be severe. Universities have sophisticated plagiarism software that reveal if you’ve copied chunks of text from another student, or even if you’ve just used the occasional sentence you found in another source. Software can also detect if you’ve made minor changes to word order or used synonyms.

Remember that it’s also plagiarism if you copy something but add a reference to the source. You should only include quotes when this is necessary for the assignment. Otherwise, put information into your own words.

4. Be Concise

Cut unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, and other filler words and think about how to make your sentences more concise. This will gain you points for style. If you’re struggling to meet the word count, adding fluff won’t help. It’s likely that you’ve neglected some important points. Go back to the assignment instructions and figure out what you’ve missed.

5. Stick to Simple Language

Your professors are not interested in your expansive vocabulary — they want to see that you understand the material and can express the ideas in your own way. A paper is no place to try out new words you’ve recently learned, unless they relate to the topic. There’s too big a risk that you’ll misuse a term, which will lead to a weaker paper.

6. Proofread Your Paper at a Later Date

Come back to your paper an hour or more after you’ve finished — it’s better still if you wait a full day. This will help you see your writing in a new light, meaning any areas for improvement and typos will be more obvious. Make sure to proofread your paper several times before you decide it’s finished. It can also help if you read it out loud to check the flow.

7. Ask for Support

If you’re still having trouble writing papers, use the academic services at your university. For instance, you may be able to receive writing support or find a tutor who can read your papers and give you tips on how to improve.

Even when you follow all the above tips, you’ll struggle to write great papers if you’re unable to focus at home. Your best course of action is to leave your on-campus housing and search for apartments for rent. North Oshawa has fully-furnished suites, designed with the student lifestyle in mind, at Foundry Simcoe. Apply now while there are still spaces available.


Why All Students Should Have a Study Buddy

Studying can be a lonely activity, but it doesn’t have to be — all you need is a study buddy. In fact, everyone should have a study buddy for the following benefits.

1. Never Forget an Important Date

Many students find the jump from high school to college particularly challenging because no one is checking up on them. Your professors are less likely to keep reminding you of an upcoming test or project. If you tend to be forgetful, you could miss a due date and end up receiving a failing grade. However, it’s less likely that two of you will forget, especially if you’re preparing for the quiz or assignment together.

2. Quiz Each Other

Flashcards are a great tool for making sure that you’re clear about key facts and concepts, but it’s more engaging when someone else quizzes you. Plus, when you and your study buddy each come up with your own flash cards, you’ll have twice as many questions, which reduces the risk of overlooking something crucial.

3. Proofread Your Papers

Before you hand in a paper, you can ask your study buddy to take a look and give you feedback. This is a great chance to proofread your work and eliminate any typos you hadn’t noticed, but also talk about things like whether your calculations seem correct, whether you’ve fully answered the question, and if your argument flows well.

4. Research Together

You’ll find information for your assignments twice as fast when you work together and share the results of your searches. In addition, you’ll likely use different methods, which will increase the richness of the results.

5. Improve Your Motivation

You’re much less likely to procrastinate studying when you’ve agreed to a session with a partner. Plus, you should find that you look forward to studying more, since it will also be a chance to socialize.

6. Look at Problems in New Ways

It’s common for one person to find a section of the material difficult whereas someone else may understand it immediately. Explaining concepts to each other does more than help the other person: it’s a great way to solidify your own understanding. Alternatively, you may be able to share resources you’ve found that help explain ideas in a new way.

7. Share Notes and Materials

If you need to miss class one day, you can rely on your study buddy to keep you up to speed. In fact, you should consider sharing notes on days when you both attend — just to ensure you picked up on all the key information. Furthermore, if you ever turn up to class only to realize you’ve forgotten a notepad or for your last pen to run out of ink, you’ll have someone who can lend you whatever you need.

You’ll need to have somewhere to study with your partner. Your student apartment is a great option, especially if you have your own room and you live near campus. You’ll have both of these things when you live at Foundry Simcoe. Our Durham College student housing gives you a room in a suite at a student community near campus. Apply now for an immediate move-in or to take advantage of our early bird pricing.


How to Discover Your True Passion in College

Your true passion is not something you choose — it naturally occurs when you develop strong feelings for an interest after some time of exploring your options. While there are students who start university already knowing where their true passions lie, many are still figuring it out. In fact, college is the perfect time for this because it’s a period of self-discovery. Here’s how to channel your inner passions and discover what motivates you.

1. Explore Your Interests

Although your interests may not develop into your true passion, there’s a good chance they’ll lead you in the right direction. Consider what you like best about your interests and where else you could find these qualities. Search for opportunities in extracurriculars, volunteer work, and electives to see where they take you.

2. Keep Trying

It can take many years to arrive at a true passion — much more than the time you’ll be at college. Enjoy the process: never stop trying new things and learning more about yourself. Even if you end up disliking something, it will teach you an important lesson about what’s right for you. Just make sure you never dismiss something too quickly or for the wrong reasons.

3. Overcome Challenges in the Way

You may have an idea of where your passion lies but feel like there are impossible barriers in your way. Unfortunately, there will always be aspects about your passion that you find difficult. Don’t let these become significant enough to give up — instead, find ways to overcome these challenges.

For instance, if you want to study a major that requires a certain skill you struggle with, ask for extra help. Find a tutor, attend workshops at college, or read books that look at the subject in a new way. All this effort will be worthwhile if it allows you to fully embrace a potential passion.

4. Don’t Let Anyone Stamp on Your Dreams

Reaching the point when you’re able to start coming up with ideas about what you’d like to do after you graduate and possible career options is exciting. However, not everyone may share your enthusiasm. Don’t let these people drag you down — you should never give up on a passion because someone else is envious or because the field is dominated by people who don’t look like you.

Instead, listen to those who have your best interests at heart and who know what they’re talking about, such as your career development advisor. You should find that these people give you support and advice to tackle obstacles rather than telling you to pick another path. You only have one life, and it’s important to spend it doing something you love.

Students often find it easier to allow their interests to develop into passions when they have more freedom, but this can be difficult when you live on campus. It’s much easier when you’re fully independent, which is possible when you’re living in student apartments. Oshawa students can find fully-furnished, modern housing at Foundry Simcoe. Sign a lease now to benefit from our early bird pricing.


A Winter Bucket List for College Student

There are so many things you should do while you’re a college student — it’s essential to make a list to ensure you don’t forget anything. To avoid an extra-long bucket list, it helps to split your ideas up into different themes. One idea is to create a bucket list just for the winter, which should include at least the following.

1. Decorate Your Student Apartment

If this is your first year away from home, it’s likely the first time you’ve been in charge of the decorations. Collaborate with your roommates or just decorate your bedroom with things like a tree, a greeting card display, and homemade ornaments.

2. Go Ice Skating with Friends

Head to the nearest ice rink or frozen lake with your friends to skate. If you’ve never skated before, you should find that you get the hang of it after you try a few times.

3. Hold a Christmas Movie Marathon

On an evening when it’s too cold to venture out, invite a couple of friends over to watch Christmas classics. Ask everyone to bring their pajamas and prepare some hot chocolate to turn the night into a slumber party to remember.

4. Make a Snowman

After a heavy snowfall, head outside with friends to build a snowman. You could even form teams and compete to see who can make the best or most original snow sculpture.

5. Have a Snowball Fight

Whether spontaneous or planned in advance, a snowball fight is a must for every college student. If you do this on the same day as you build snowmen, you can hide behind your snow figures for protection or to ambush the other students.

6. Head to the Hills for a Sledding Day

For a longer day out in the snow, go on a sledding excursion. This works best somewhere with plenty of reasonably steep hills. You may be able to pick up a sled in a thrift store or you can make your own out of something like a cookie sheet, a lid to a storage container, or even a piece of cardboard wrapped in a trash bag.

7. Send Handwritten Cards

Go beyond simply signing your greetings cards and write each recipient a personalized note. Include a few updates about your life and let recipients know that you’re thinking of them. Send these cards to your close friends from high school, relatives, and anyone else important in your life.

8. Do a Homemade Gift Exchange

Holiday shopping can mean you exceed your budget for the month on gifts alone. Save money and give something more meaningful with homemade gifts. You could even organize a Secret Santa or White Elephant where everyone makes gifts instead of buying things.

9. Bake a Gingerbread House

A gingerbread house looks impressive and is not actually too difficult — provided you have some patience! You just need to cut the gingerbread to the right shape, glue the pieces together with royal icing, and then decorate the house with the candy of your choice.

10. Give Something Back

Give more than gifts over the holidays by volunteering your time. Find a cause that you care about and that needs support this time of year. For instance, you could offer to feed animals or walk dogs at an animal shelter, pay the residents of an assisted living facility a visit, or serve food at a homeless shelter.

11. Reflect on Your Year

It’s easy to become so focused on the future and on setting new year’s resolutions that you neglect to acknowledge what you’ve already achieved. Consider the goals you had at the beginning of the year and the progress you’ve made toward them. Think about what challenges you overcame, what you managed to do that you never imagined would be possible, and what you’ve learned — beyond just academics.

Many of the activities above are much more fun if you have a great student apartment. For Durham College off-campus housing, there’s Foundry Simcoe. Your spacious suite with a private bedroom will be a great place to hang out with friends. Apply now for an immediate move-in or to take advantage of our early bird pricing.


10 Budgeting Tips for Students

Temptations abound in college, which can make it difficult to stick to a budget. However, you’ll thank yourself later if you do, as you’ll consistently make your money last to the end of the month and may even be able to start paying off your student loans. Plus, learning how to budget now will set you up for financial success in the future.

Here are some simple yet effective ways to keep your spending in check.

1. Use a Budgeting App

Budgeting used to be complicated. It required making spreadsheets and updating them regularly to reflect your purchases. Now, though, there are countless apps to choose from that will make your life easier. They show you where your money is going to help you to improve your spending habits.

2. Make Full Credit Card Payments

Credit card debt has some of the highest interest rates. If you already have some debt, pay as much as you possibly can each month until it’s gone. Then, make sure you only spend within your means going forward to avoid accumulating any debt again.

3. Apply for a Cash-Back Credit Card

If you’re being responsible with your credit card — meaning you have no debt and you’re spending within your means — it’s worth applying for a card that offers cash back. This means that every time you spend, you’ll earn money or other rewards.

4. Buy with Student Discounts

Many businesses offer student discounts, including subscription services when you sign up with a student email. It’s worth choosing brands that offer such deals, as you can end up saving a significant amount.

5. Search for Coupons

Another way to take advantage of deals is to use coupons. After all, it doesn’t make sense to pay full price when a discount is available. Always do an internet search to look for discount codes before you place an order for anything expensive.

6. Cook Your Own Meals

It’s almost always cheaper to cook than to eat out — plus, it helps you stick to a healthier diet. There’s no need for cooking to be time consuming or difficult. If you’re not used to preparing food, start with simple recipes to learn the basics and consider making enough for a couple meals at a time.

7. Write a Shopping List

If you head to the grocery store without a list, there’s always a risk you’ll waste your money on food you never end up eating. Consider what you’ll eat over the upcoming week and make sure you have the ingredients for just these meals and for some healthy snacks.

8. Find Free Ways to Have Fun

Maintaining an active social life on a budget can seem like a challenge, but it’s more than possible when you attend free events. You should be able to find events on campus virtually every week — they’re also a great way to expand your social circle.

9. Quit Smoking

Smoking is an expensive habit. Even if you find it difficult to quit now, it will be much more difficult if you wait until you’re older. Plus, every week you continue smoking is more money wasted. To incentivize yourself, you could designate all the money that would go to cigarettes or vaping to your fun budget.
10. Spend in Cash

Withdraw the amount you assign in your budget to non-essentials and make sure you only spend that cash. Reserve credit cards for just necessary expenses.

A final way to save money is to find affordable student housing. For off-campus Ontario Tech University residence, you have Foundry Simcoe. The suites are modern and fully furnished, meaning there’s no need to worry about extra expenses like furniture. Apply now while there are still a few spaces left and you can move in immediately.


9 Affordable Gifts for College Friends

Birthdays and holidays can be particularly difficult times of year for students. You want to give your college friends gifts they’ll like — but you undoubtedly have a limited budget. The good news is there are plenty of great options if you know what to look for. Here are some options to consider.

1. Ramen Cooker

The college student diet often consists of significant amounts of ramen. With a special ramen cooker, your friends will be able to prepare meals faster and avoid wasting water. Best of all, they’ll need nothing more than a microwave to use the cooker.

2. Metal Bookmarks

Most college students are reading numerous textbooks at any given time — which requires multiple bookmarks to avoid dog ears. The problem with regular bookmarks is they wear out quite quickly. Metal bookmarks can last forever and they come in a range of designs, meaning you can personalize the choice for each friend.

3. Sticky Notes

When you want to mark multiple places in a textbook, sticky notes are essential. Regular sticky notes are boring, but ones with cute characters or fun designs make the perfect gift.

4. Coffee Maker

If any of your friends spend far too much on buying coffee every day, gift them a coffee maker. Something like a French press or a moka pot will be inexpensive for you to buy and for your friends to use.

5. Portable Blender

Maybe you have other friends who are passionate about smoothies. A portable blender will allow them to whip up some fruit on the go. Plus, these blenders double up as a travel bottle, meaning the smoothie is ready to drink and there’s less mess to clean up.

6. Egg Cooker

Eggs can be difficult to cook without the right equipment, especially for any friends who are stuck living on campus and have to manage with just a microwave and mini fridge. An egg cooker can help, as it makes cooking eggs in the microwave possible — either scrambled, poached, or as an omelette. As a result, your friends will be able to eat healthier meals.

7. College Handbooks

There are some great books available to teach college students everything they need to know to survive the next few years. Most have a good dose of humour, making them great for a light read when your friends need a break from heavy textbooks.

8. Bedside Shelf

When you lack a bedside table, it’s easy for stuff to start piling up at the side of your bed and your room quickly becomes a mess. Whereas a bulky piece of furniture is too expensive for a gift — and may even be impractical for your friend — everyone can appreciate a simple shelf that attaches to the side of the bed. It’s ideal for keeping things like a phone, coffee mug, notebook, or anything else your friend may need at hand.

9. Snacks

If you need to stick to a particularly tight budget, remember that everyone appreciates snacks. Find out what your friends’ favorites are and create mini care packages.

You’ll have more money for gifts if you search for affordable rooms for rent. Oshawa students can find a home at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll live in a three- or five-bedroom suite that has plenty of space for entertaining friends. Apply now while there are still limited spaces available.


How to Avoid Falling Asleep in Class

There’s no point going to class if you’re just going to fall asleep. However, staying awake is often easier said than done — particularly if you have a full schedule and always seem to arrive at class exhausted. The good news is there are several things you can do to stop falling asleep, all of which will also improve your concentration and help you avoid burnout.

1. Set a Bedtime

It may be tempting to stay up late almost every night, particularly if you have friends who want to hang out in the evenings or if you just want to catch up with social media or relax with some video games. Soon, though, all those late nights will catch up with you and you’ll find it more difficult to stay awake during the day and be productive.

To ensure you sleep enough, set a bedtime and make sure you stick to it. Bear in mind that it’s easier to push yourself to go to bed at the right time if you put away all your devices at least half an hour before. Since the light of screens wakes up your mind, this will also help you fall asleep faster.

2. Take Breaks Between Classes

Students often feel pressured to spend the entire day productively. This can lead to them trying to dedicate all the time between classes to studying. However, it’s impossible for your mind to stay focused for this long — you’ll only end up arriving to class too tired to focus and possibly falling asleep. A better approach is to be reasonable with how you use time between classes. For instance, as well as studying, fit in some exercise, healthy meals, and relaxation.

3. Put Your Phone Away

Some points in your class may be boring, especially if you don’t find the topic engaging or another student asks a question you already know the answer to. Whatever happens, though, you should never turn to your phone in class. In fact, keep it out of sight — then, you won’t feel tempted to look at it and you won’t start being lulled into sleep.

4. Block Websites on Your Laptop

It’s equally important to prevent distractions on your laptop. Install an extension on your browser to block websites that tend to distract you. As well as keeping this enabled for the duration of your class, you’ll also find it useful when studying in your own time.

5. Avoid Caffeine

A small amount of caffeine is useful for giving your body a quick boost of energy to stay alert. However, continuously drinking caffeine throughout the day to keep your energy levels up will backfire. At a certain point, no amount of caffeine will help. In fact, when the effects wear off, you’ll crash and feel much more tired.

Of all the above, getting enough sleep is the most crucial for staying awake in class, but this is only possible if you have a comfortable bedroom and no noisy roommate keeping you up all night. In other words, you need to move out of on-campus housing and search for apartments for rent. North Oshawa students can receive a private room with an ensuite bathroom at Foundry Simcoe. Sign a lease now before all the units are completely full.


How to Split Costs with Your Roommate

There are many advantages to living off campus: you have your own space, rent is cheaper, and there are fewer rules to follow. However, you will need to figure out how to split costs with your roommates for things like paper products, food, and cleaning supplies. It’s essential you agree to these terms from the beginning, since sharing expenses can easily become the source of arguments.

Here are some tips to guide you.

Decide What to Do About Food

It’s important to determine what food items you’ll share and which belong to individuals. You may like to buy groceries together and take turns to cook. However, many college students find it easier to each buy their own food — in which case you’ll need to label food items to make it clear that they belong to you. Even in this case, though, you may like to share some types of food, like condiments.

Create a Payment-Sharing System

Avoid delays in your roommates paying each other back for shared purchases by creating a system to simplify reimbursements. Alternatively, you can set up a bank account where you deposit the same amount each month and use the funds for agreed-upon purchases. You should make a list in advance of what kinds of products everyone in the household will contribute toward.

Pay for Big Items Separately

Although you’ll all benefit from things like a lamp in the living room, a toaster in the kitchen, and a vacuum cleaner, you may decide it’s better if just one person pays for each item. This will mean that when you move out, it’s clear what belongs to whom. As long as you all contribute something to the apartment, you should be able to make such a system fair. It’s best to coordinate with roommates before you move in to avoid bringing duplicates of some items and lacking some other essentials.

Set Rules for Overnight or Frequent Guests

Guests to your apartment can also cost money, especially if they eat shared food or use the household supplies you all paid for. You’ll need to determine if a roommate who invites someone to stay the night or has a guest over frequently is required to contribute more.

Write an Agreement You’ll All Sign

Once you’ve figured out all the above, write it into an agreement. When all your roommates are happy with the agreement, they should sign it. Whereas this agreement won’t be legally binding (unlike your lease), it should prevent anyone claiming they misunderstood or trying to bind the rules.

If you share a lease with your roommates, you’ll also need to make sure everyone contributes their share of the rent and utility costs. If just one person fails to pay on time, the rest of you are on the hook. This can be one of the major disadvantages of living in a student rental. Oshawa students, however, receive individual leases when they live at Foundry Simcoe. This means you are only responsible for paying for your room, and the all-inclusive rent even covers utilities. Apply now to secure your spot in a suite or townhouse.


How Could Tutoring Sessions Help You?

Tutoring sessions are one of the best ways to improve your grades. Many students use tutoring for classes required for their majors (since dropping the class is not an option), but you can also use tutoring for electives. If the sessions will lead you to better academic success, they’re worthwhile.

Tutoring Can Help You Even If You’re Not Struggling

A common perception is that tutoring is just for students who are failing a class — this could not be further from the truth. If it’s important for you to do well in a class, tutoring sessions could be a good option. It can be beneficial to talk about the course material with someone who knows more than you, can correct any misunderstandings you have, and can engage you in a discussion that will increase your enjoyment of the subject.

Decrease the Risk You’ll Drop Out

If you are struggling, university can feel like a lonely existence. Having additional support can boost your confidence as well as your grades. When you’re more likely to pass your classes, the chances you’ll decide to drop out will fall.

Identify Where You Need Help

The simple act of a tutor asking you what you need support with may help you identify problem areas. Alternatively, you may find that you don’t understand a certain topic as well as you thought you did when you cover it with your tutor.

Retain More

Many students understand the course material in the moment but find it hard to remember the details later. Tutoring sessions will improve your retention, as you’ll be actively engaging with the material. If you’re able to explain what you know to your tutor, you should be able to recall the information later, such as during your midterms.

Stick to Your Study Schedule

When due dates for assignments are far in the future, it can be difficult to find the motivation to study — even though you know you’ll regret leaving things to the last minute later. Having a tutor should help keep you accountable. At the very least, you’ll attend your tutoring sessions (and hopefully prepare for these sessions). Most students, though, will find that tutoring helps them become more disciplined about studying in general.

Gain Confidence

It’s common to feel self-conscious about asking questions in class — especially if you’re convinced that everyone else knows the answer. Working with a tutor should show you that the doubts you have are completely normal and may even give you the confidence to speak up in class.

Become More Organized

For some students, the difficult part of university is not the academics so much as the need to be organized. It’s up to you to ensure you attend your classes and are aware of due dates. A slip-up may result in a bad grade — even if you understood the material and were capable of an excellent grade. A tutor can teach you to become better organized and ensure that you’re prepared for upcoming assignments.

Tutoring is just one way to improve your grades. Another is to improve your study technique. The problem is it can be difficult to study if you’re faced with unavoidable distractions, such as a noisy roommate. The solution is to move into an off-campus Durham College residence. At Foundry Simcoe, we have suites and townhouses equipped with everything you need to succeed, including a comfortable desk in your private bedroom. Apply now to move in immediately before all the spots are gone.


What You Can Do to Avoid Roommate Drama

Conflict with a roommate can be a stain on your college experience. It’s always unpleasant coming home when you don’t get along with the person in your shared space. However, instead of simply accepting your fate, there are things you can do to prevent drama.

1. Discuss Your Problems

Never expect issues to resolve themselves if you stay silent. A passive aggressive approach — such as making it obvious that you’re annoyed about something or complaining to someone else and hoping it gets back to your roommate — will only make things worse.

First, recognize that your roommate may be unaware that something is upsetting you. After all, what’s normal for one person could be offensive to another. Invite your roommate to a discussion about living together and talk calmly and kindly about anything that’s bothering you. Make sure to ask your roommate if there is anything you need to change, too.

2. Give Each Other Time to Overcome Issues

Long-standing bad habits can be difficult to change overnight. Plus, your roommate may need time to find solutions to whatever is leading to the conflict between the two of you. Give your roommate a chance to make adjustments, and only have another conversation about the problems if you don’t see any progress or if your roommate is taking too long to uphold his or her end of the bargain.

3. Find a Mediator

Some causes for conflict may be too big for the two of you alone to resolve. In these cases, it’s best to find a mediator. If you live on campus, an RA is a good choice. Otherwise, find someone else who can be neutral and who can help you work toward a solution. It may be beneficial for each of you to initially talk to the mediator one-on-one without the other being there. The mediator can then come up with an action plan or arrive at a compromise that means neither of you will be too unhappy.

4. Remember It Won’t Last Forever

The good thing about college is that you tend to live with the same roommate for only a short time before moving on to different accommodations. If your situation is uncomfortable but bearable, just remember that it will be over relatively soon. You can always spend more time in other places — such as the library when you want to study or your friends’ homes during evenings and weekends — to limit contact with your roommate.

Of course, if the situation is unbearable and unresolvable, the only solution is to find alternative housing. It’s best if you can switch rooms or apartments with someone you know. However, if that’s not possible, the only option may be to break your lease. In this case, learn from the experience to make better choices for your living arrangements next semester.

You’re much less likely to face roommate drama if you don’t share a room. This means moving off campus and into a student rental. Oshawa students can receive their own room in a three-bedroom suite or five-bedroom townhouse at Foundry Simcoe. Apply now before all the units are gone.