Student Life

Seneca Media Unscripted: How to Be a Successful Student ft: Student Advisor Deanna Georgeson

Now that we're a few weeks into the semester, it's definitely time to make sure you're on track for success. Academic life can be hectic and overwhelming, but there is one resource in the School of Media that can help. Meet Deanna Georgeson! She is the Academic Student Advisor for all the School of Media programs and she knows everything there is to know about being a successful student. Deanna is a wealth of knowledge and she was kind enough to sit down with us to go over all the frequently asked questions she gets from students.

There's a lot that Deanna can assist with, but there are also some common misconceptions about what things are outside her realm. She shared with us all her tips for success, how to communicate with professors, and where to get help when you need it for various aspects of student life.

Deanna shared so many insights with us on the podcast, that we felt they also needed to be documented somewhere to be easily referenced. To make these tips for being a successful student as accessible as possible, all the FAQs that Deanna addressed in our podcast are transcribed below.

Successful Student FAQs

What does a successful student look like?

As a successful student, you know and recognize that you have the right to contact any of your teachers if you require clarity around anything. At the beginning of the semester, every teacher is expected and required to provide a course outline, which is an important document because it will contain the teacher's email address and office location. Any time you feel as though you're not keeping up with your class assignments, you have the right to contact your instructor via email and ask to clarify anything that you're not sure of or any assignments that you might be falling behind on and need a bit of assistance with. Teachers are expected to have provided some feedback to students by week 7, so that students see at least one mark uploaded to Blackboard before the midterm.

What is a success network and what does it take to set one up?

A success network is a few strategies and resources that a student should setup in order to be prepared to succeed. This network includes access to a counsellor if you are experiencing a high-level of stress and cannot concentrate on your academic studies, or if there is anything going on in your personal life. Your student advisor is not trained as a counsellor, they focus solely on academic studies, but you should book an appointment with a counsellor if you're experiencing any issues outside of academics. Keep in mind that counsellors do get very busy and you may need to book appointments two weeks in advanced to find availability.

Another resource included in a success network is free tutoring from the Learning Centre. Beyond tutoring, the Learning Centre also has workshops on things like how to setup your calendar, how to organize all your assignments to keep track of due dates, how to develop positive habits, and more. Similar to counselling, booking a tutor also requires reaching out in advance and should not be done at the last minute.

What characteristics do successful students have?

Above all, start with developing professional practices from day one. The programs at Seneca aim to model professional practices and teach new students how to apply these practices in their respective fields. These practices include attending all classes, participating in all classroom activities, and meeting deadlines. This is because in all aspects of the media industry it is essential to get work done on time and be reliable. Another important characteristic for success is being proactive and taking initiative. If you ever need any clarification about an assignment, be proactive about getting clarity. If you don't understand something, speak up because you are responsible for your learning.

What is the hierarchy of communication when a student is having an issue?

If you are having difficulties in a class or with an assignment, you must first attempt to resolve the issue with your professor. If you are unsuccessful in resolving the issue after at least two attempts, you should raise the issue to the program coordinator. If a resolution is still not reached after meeting with the program coordinator, then you can reach out to your student advisor and they can help you.

How should students communicate effectively with professors when they're in need of help?

If you are hesitant or unsure about the best way to approach an instructor and request clarification or assistance, it is suggested that you first reach out to them via email. A lot of the professors at Seneca are still working in the industry and they may not be on campus full-time. When you're sending emails to your teacher, be mindful of the fact that the professor may be teaching many different classes and may not have every student memorized, so you need to provide context when emailing them. Important context to give the instructor includes your full name, student number, program, class name, and the date and time of the class. That way the professor will have a better understanding of what you're referencing when discussing an issue you may have.

How should students navigate discussing sensitive or difficult issues with their profs?

If it's a delicate situation that you're uncomfortable discussing, it is still recommended that you email the professor to let them know that there is a delicate situation you're dealing with and that you'd like to arrange a meeting to discuss the situation. This way the teacher is aware that there is an issue that needs to be discussed and can plan a convenient time to meet. It helps to give the teacher a heads up because they do have a lot on their plates and letting them know in advance allows them the time to plan accordingly.

If you plan to discuss an issue with your prof after class, you may need to remind them. When they are overwhelmed with questions at the end of class, it may slip their mind. Any time you approach a prof, just keep in mind that there are many classes and students they're responsible for so it may take time for them to remember everyone and the different issues they have to address.

How can students ensure they are meeting all their deadlines?

The biggest recommendation for always meeting deadlines is to learn to maintain a weekly and monthly calendar. Most professionals are very adept at maintaining their calendar and knowing where they should be, when to be there, and who they're meeting with. If it's not meetings, they know who the client is, what the deliverables are, and when they are due. Keeping track of all these details and getting into the habit of organizing your projects so that you can create a strategy for completing everything on time is an essential skill to practice.

How can a student advisor help with late assignments?

If you have a late assignment, you should always go to your professor first. Your student advisor can help with negotiating with your professors, but you need to take the first steps. Your advisor will help you identify the problem and suggest strategies. If you are contacting your professor about an issue, it is also recommended that you go to them with a success plan already worked out. It’s important to demonstrate that you understand what is required for the assignment, that you are capable of completing it, and that you understand you’re already late but you are proactively taking steps to make sure your professor knows you’re on top of it.

How can your student advisor help you?

Your student advisor is there to help if you need reassurance, coaching, or an overview of what successful habits look like and how to practice them. If you recognize things in your practices that don’t match a successful student profile, your student advisor is a good person to go to. If your teacher has provided you with some feedback on your work that indicates you may need to change some behaviours in order to succeed, your student advisor will help you make those changes. Common behaviours include lack of participation, class attendance, and late assignments.

When you go see your student advisor it is expected that you bring a plan or strategy. Your advisor is not there to do the work for you, they are there to help guide the work or strategies that you come up with.

What does your student advisor not handle?

If you want to change a program, you must contact the Admissions Office. Your student advisor can not help you with this.

If you want information about a program, there are Admissions Advisors that can help inform you about a program you’re interested in.

If you are an international student who needs to extend your student visa, your student advisor is legally not allowed to advise you on this. You must contact the International Admissions Office and request their assistance.

If you are having difficulty accessing your academic information (ie. your transcript) that is usually because their is a hold on your account. This could be due to existing late fees you may owe for equipment or there are additional fees that need to still be paid. You will not be able to register or making any academic changes until your fees are paid. Your student advisor does not have access to any financial information and if you have questions pertaining to that you must contact the Registration Office.

How do you arrange a meeting with your student advisor?

If you’re a student in the School of Media looking to book an appointment with Deanna Georgeson, you can contact her via email at deanna.georgeson@senecacollege.ca. During peak times, she may require up to two days to respond, so please be patient as she is assisting a large number of students. Always include your full name, student number, program name, and semester number when you are contacting your student advisor. In order to be properly informed and prepared to meet with you, drop-in meetings are not accepted.