Utilize Disability Advisors and Academic Accommodations
Marcus Jones, Contributor
It’s a new semester, and for first-year students, an entirely new environment. All of a sudden, you’re a little fish in a big pond. There’s a daunting list of responsibilities to take on. You’re taking a big step to becoming an adult, and making that leap might be particularly challenging for people who need specific academic accommodations to thrive at school.
While the thought of entering a place that you’re not familiar with can be overwhelming and scary, especially if you have a disability, you don’t have to go it alone. The tuition fees and workload might be intimidating to some, but you can get help from a disability advisor located in the Surrey Main building if need be. By advocating for yourself, you can get assistance for problems you may experience at KPU.
Since I struggle with handwriting and jotting down notes quickly, which is something that will definitely happen during your time at KPU, my disability advisor granted me a laptop. As a result, I’ve been able to easily record information to my heart’s content. You can also use your own laptop, unless the course you’re taking forbids the use of such devices. Having a laptop on hand is not only useful for classroom activities, but also for spending one’s spare time in a productive manner.
Say you have two classes on the same day, except one class is at 10:00 am and the other is at 4:00 pm. There’s a solid amount of time in between, so you might as well do your homework in the library or any other space on campus that makes you comfortable. The laptop they loaned me is thin, which means it’s easily transportable.
While the laptop has become very useful, I’ve also been able to reap the full benefits from academic accommodations by being given a separate room for doing my exams. The key to booking these exams is figuring out when they happen and the amount of time you’ll need. Most, if not all the time, the teacher will grant you a full schedule for assignments and exams at the start of the semester. Once you’ve figured out your timetables and you’ve gotten the right accommodations, you’ll be able to book your exams online.
One accommodation for exam-taking is the provision of a very quiet room. Depending on what format your exam takes, you might be given the option to use a computer. It is a wise choice to check in with your instructor about whether the exam is to be handwritten or typed out. One aspect that is very useful is that you get to decide how much extra time you need for each exam.
Remember that you need to schedule your exam two weeks prior, or else you won’t be able to access the accommodations room where you can write it. You can also book a spot for yourself in the exam room the moment you’ve gotten your schedules for your courses. Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot better doing it beforehand, as opposed to panicking and realizing that it’s two days before the actual exam and you don’t have access to the accommodations you need.
Learn How To Transit to KPU like a Pro
Braden Klassen, Managing Editor
First, here are a couple of general tips for bus riding. The seats in the back corners have more legroom than any other seats, so if you’re in for a longer ride and you want to stretch out, or you have some bags which take up space, those seats are prime real estate. If you don’t like crowded spaces, maybe give yourself a 20-minute head start on your commute before class, or wait around for a bit afterwards to grab a bus after it picks up everyone else getting out of class at the same time as you.
If you’re transiting to any of the campuses from Langley or Cloverdale, my condolences. It’s almost always faster to walk the 10 minutes from Langley Centre to KPU and take the inter-campus shuttle if you can. Transit service in that area is much less frequent than in other cities, and it can be unpredictable sometimes, which means the consequences for missing your bus can set you back for up to an hour. Show up to your stop at least five minutes early, if not earlier, to minimize the chance of missing the bus. If you take the 364 westbound, prepare to make the walk up 72nd Street to get to class on time, because the 322 northbound frequently hits max capacity, and it has a lot of elderly riders who need more time to get on and off.
In Richmond, the bus stop shelter for the eastbound 301 by Richmond campus is a three-minute walk away from campus and is too small to accommodate large lines of people, so if it’s peak times between classes and it’s raining, make sure you bring an umbrella. And be prepared to stand for the 40-minute ride if it’s not a double-decker, because those busses fill up quickly.
If you’re bussing in Surrey, odds are it’s on the 319, which was given the dubious honour last year of being the worst bus route in Metro Vancouver in terms of rider complaints. You have a much higher chance of finding a seat if you wait for the westbound bus at the 128th Street stop by the Shell instead of the one on 126th Street. Also, 319 busses tend to “leapfrog” one another on 72nd Street or Scott Road during super busy times, so if you ever see one which looks incredibly packed, there’s a good chance a mostly empty one is not too far behind.
Now, let’s talk about the SkyTrain.
If you’re taking the Canada Line to and from the Richmond campus, the fastest route is to take the sidewalk that beelines straight from the Lansdowne Station through the parking lot on the south side of Lansdowne Centre. Make sure to watch out for cars in the parking lot during periods when the mall gets busy.
If you are taking the Expo Line to any of the stations in Surrey, try to get on the car which will stop nearest to the exit of the station you plan to get off at. For instance, if you’re travelling from across the river to Scott Road, the rearmost car stops closest to the west exit, which means that when you get off the train and head for the bus line, you’re already in front of everyone else who is transferring from the train. You’re more likely to get on the next bus if it’s full, and more likely to get a seat if it’s not. This tip can also save you 10 to 30 seconds at transfers, which may not sound like much, but speaking as a person who has missed countless busses and trains by just a few seconds, it can make all the difference.
Know Your Student Rights and Resources
Aly Laube, Editor in Chief
If there’s one thing universities can sometimes make hard for students, it’s helping them understand their rights and resources as paying members of the institution. Information on student rights is usually enshrouded in policy, buried deep in the recesses of the school website or in the fine print of our tuition payments.
Here’s a fact very few students are fully aware of: You pay for a lot more than just class when you write that cheque at the beginning of your semester. Many of the services that you have access to are provided by the Kwantlen Student Association, including health and dental coverage, a U-Pass, discounts on things like gym memberships, and more. As a member of the KSA, you also consent to them lobbying on your behalf, so if you feel like there’s an issue that’s disproportionately affecting you as a student because of government or institutional decision-making, talk to them about that. The president is reachable at email@example.com, and the vice-president external — who liaises with off-campus groups — is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s the KSA, not KPU, that organizes the majority of on-campus events. They provide funding to clubs, which you can apply for at any time through email@example.com. If you just want to join a club, check out their club guide. If you want to change something about on-campus life, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you want to know more about where your KSA membership fee goes and how it’s spent, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of your student fees, you also support The Runner and Pulp MAG. If there’s anything more (or less) you’d like to see from us, or if you need questions answered, contact me at email@example.com or Pulp editor Lena Belova at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In terms of student rights on a university level, there are lots of places you can turn. To file a formal complaint against a professor, contact email@example.com. To file an informal complaint, contact the dean of your faculty. If you want to know more about your student rights and responsibilities or to address student or faculty violence and misconduct, contact the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or the KSA’s Student Rights Centre at email@example.com.
If you’re an international student who has questions or concerns, talk to a representative of the International Students Services on campus or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have accessibility needs that are not being met, contact email@example.com.
Don’t forget that you’re a voting member of the Kwantlen Student Association. You can elect representatives who you believe in and who share your values and desires. What’s more, you can keep the ones who you don’t have faith in out of government — just like a real-deal election!
Stay in the loop and use what the school gives us. We pay for it, and they owe it to us. Make sure you take care of yourself this semester, and keep on stickin’ it to the man! It’s what post-secondary students do best.
Write Everything Down
Chelsea Franz, Contributor
Procrastination used to be my biggest hurdle each semester. I would continuously put things off, letting all my assignments pile up to the last minute, mostly because I didn’t know when things were due. Everything would be so overwhelming in the end that most things were left incomplete.
Slowly, I learned how to portion out my time and spend my energy more wisely. My biggest aid in organizing my time better was the practice of scheduling and writing things down. It seems simple, but it really changed the way I approach each semester now.
Get yourself a calendar and fill it out at the beginning of each semester. It doesn’t matter which type, and the choices are endless. Personally, when I write things down with a pen, I tend to remember it better, but phone apps have the bonus of being able to offer you reminder alerts and alarms.
During the first week of classes, take a thorough look at the syllabus and note all the important due dates. Most professors take the time to go over dates of assignments and tests during the first class anyway, so actually use this time to collect all the important dates and put them in your calendar. Writing things down doesn’t guarantee you will actually have the motivation to do the thing, but at least you’ll be able to see right away which weeks are the busiest with assignments. I also suggest adding your work schedule to your calendar, even if it’s set and has been the same for a long time. At least do this for the first month, so you can get a sense of how your weeks look in the new semester with all the new obligations.
Once you’ve mapped out the things you need to do, take a moment to plan things you want to do — things just for you, things for fun. Inserting time for yourself into your schedule helps you stay on top of your work. When you have rest planned, there is less need to slack off from the mundane as an excuse to recuperate. You won’t need to seek out time to rest because you’ll have already made space for it. Balance is important. Find something that both works for your schedule and that you will commit to doing. Time for yourself can take the shape of weekly fitness classes, a set gym schedule, a massage, planning to see a show/ concert or simply telling yourself Thursday nights are just for movies. Plan things often, weekly if possible, and don’t let yourself prioritize other things over time spent for yourself. A good mindset to keep is that once it’s in the calendar, it’s happening unless of an emergency.
Other good times to schedule to keep on task are things like “2 hours of work and reading unplugged,” or “15 minutes of silence.” If I was to let my emotions dictate my tasks of the day, I wouldn’t get a lot done. Sometimes, that still happens, but when I write out tasks, giving myself enough time and allowing space for things that bring me joy, I’m a lot more productive.
Make Yourself Meals for Your Body, Mind, and Savings
Lena Belova, Contributor
The first year I lived in Vancouver, I either ate out or ordered delivery almost every day, and buying myself food from restaurants quickly became my number one expense.
Not being able to find joy in cooking healthy meals, and instead ordering sushi for the fifth night in a row, came from a place of not knowing how to take care of myself and not being in tune with my body. Slowly, as I began to take up regular yoga practice and go jogging a couple times a week, I found myself wanting to cook healthier meals — because jogging after a stir-fry and rice dinner feels much better than after a burger and fries. Similarly, as I began to appreciate the quieter moments of the day while jogging or meditating in a yoga class, I no longer wanted to just order food and eat it in front of a TV. I wanted to put on a French jazz album and enjoy the repetition of chopping vegetables.
While being attuned to your mind-body connection isn’t the only component of eating well, I believe it is the most important. Once you begin to pay attention to one area of wellness, the others will follow.
That being said, when you are a student or full-time employee or both, sometimes the last thing you want to do after a stressful day is spend an hour cooking. What can be an opportunity for downtime just becomes a chore.
One of the easiest ways I cut down on cooking times is to freshen up pre-made one-portion meals and turn them into two-portions by adding extra veggies and a pot of rice for the side. One of my go-to recipes is pre-made Chana Masala, which I’ll add to a pan of fried onion, cherry tomatoes, and spinach. Also, if I find a good pre-made meal I like, I’ll often just copy the ingredient list and make it myself for half the price.
If you find yourself lacking inspiration for meals, there’s nothing better than turning on an episode of a Food Network show and watching all the delicious food being prepared. Another good way to learn new recipes is to make a physical cookbook for yourself. Give it to friends and family members and ask them to each write a recipe of their favorite dish.
If you really want to learn from chefs, get a job as a prep or line cook at a restaurant. There are lots of independent restaurants out there that are willing to hire people with little or no experience. My time spent as prep and line cooks were the best jobs I had because I got to make myself a meal for dinner every night and memorize some delicious recipes.
But when you come home after a long day of classes and feel morose about having to make dinner, my best tip is to listen to a comedy podcast or album so that you aren’t chopping carrots with a death-glare.
Save on Class Materials by Buying Second Hand
Kristen Frier, Graphics Editor
It’s no secret that textbooks can really lighten your wallet and weigh down your backpack. After selling your soul to pay tuition, student fees, and living costs for the semester, a surprise textbook cost is the last thing you need. Post-holiday, an expense like this is sure to be a hardship for some.
There is a better way: Network.
Social media has made it easier than ever before for students to interact with one another. This is what Facebook was made for. Use it. KPU specifically has a “Kwantlen Book Exchange,” a forum for students to buy and sell their used books for a much more reasonable price.
Don’t limit yourself to just book sellers from KPU either. Check other university forums, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist. Make an Instagram story about your search. Use whichever tools you have at your disposal. You may be surprised at the responses you get.
Folks also sell digital textbook codes that come with the physical copy. Before you buy a textbook from the bookstore, try searching for the copy online, look for sales from other sources, or opt for a less expensive and paper-saving digital copy.
Beyond that, you should make friends with people in your program, especially those who are further along in their studies than you are. These people will have taken the classes you are enrolled in and may possess the class materials that you seek — textbooks or otherwise.
Occasionally, some textbooks are listed as necessary for a course but, in practice, they’re not. Sometimes you can get away with not purchasing one at all. Ask people who have taken the course before to see if it’s needed. Also, waiting until after the first day of class to see what your instructor says about course materials can be illuminating. You can also find a selection of popular textbooks at the KPU library, and just borrow them and renew throughout the duration of the semester.
These tips are not limited to textbooks. Buying used for any course material is both cost-effective and environmentally considerate. Give it a whirl this semester and see how it feels avoiding bookstore lines and spending your money on … I don’t know, iced coffee? Chicken nuggets? It’s up to you.
Spend Your Free Time Wisely
Dilpreet Kaur, Contributor
The most difficult thing to do in university is balance your study, work, and personal life. While creating this balance, it can be hard to provide time for yourself, but once you’ve planned out your studying schedule, make sure you utilize your free time in as many ways as possible. Try to invest it in the things that you really enjoy, like travelling, attending events, or learning something new.
In order to refresh yourself, start reading a good book, as it provides knowledge, improves your memory, helps to improve focus and concentration, creates better writing skills, and of course, offers entertainment. If you get your books from the library it’s also free. Other choices involve doing volunteer work, exercising, pursuing a hobby, or just catching up on your sleep. Exercise is very productive — it not only helps you keep fit, but also reduces stress and stimulates your brain.
Another option for using your free time productively is to learn a new hobby. It may be just a hobby, or it may be something you have learned about and seems interesting and exciting to you.
Students interested in volunteer work can take help from KPU’s career development center, which offers various volunteer services. Another available source is public libraries, which are home to both regular events and many services.
Those who love to travel or want to attend any kind of event can create an account on Eventbrite. Eventbrite is a website that provides a huge list of free or paid events which you can choose to either go to or skip according to your schedule and mood.
Doing activities like these will help you release stress and enjoy the moment rather than being stuck in your studies and work. It will also help improve your mental health, and as a university student, self-growth and a good state of mind should be your first priority. Only then will you be able to enjoy and focus on studies and work. Spending your free time is all about doing whatever you enjoy or find relaxing, so keep doing that, and create your own comfort zone.