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Tip Sheets

You may view any of our tip sheets below, or drop by our centre and pick up a paper copy.

Woman holding her hand up in a "stop" motion
Who is controlling your life anyway?
  • Explore the ways in which you learned to be non-assertive. Are the circumstances in which you learned to be non-assertive still active in your life, or have they changed?
  • Identify those situations in which you are able to respond assertively as well as those that you find difficult to handle. Ask yourself what factors help you to be assertive already.
  • Learn to recognize your personal rights in any given situation. This will increase your confidence in asserting yourself.
  • Become aware of the beliefs and stereotypes that inhibit you from standing up for yourself. Be willing to challenge them.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Give yourself covert messages of self-encouragement. Try to perceive yourself as effective, capable, and interesting. Ask friends, family, or a counsellor for feedback to help you out with this.
  • To present a coordinated assertive impression, be certain that your non-verbal communication is consistent with your verbal message. Don't grin or laugh when telling someone "no."
  • If anxiety is a problem, do conscious relaxation techniques. Take action - you will find that doing so often reduces anxiety.
  • Begin with assertions that are relatively non-threatening. Be willing to take reasonable risks.
  • Practice through role-playing and rehearsal on your own or with a friend.

Saying "NO"

  • Remember - you have the right to say "no."
  • Start your response with the word "no." If not, you may end up saying "yes," or "maybe," or "perhaps."
  • Speak in a firm, clear voice. Keep your answer concise.
  • Don't apologize, qualify or be defensive about saying "no." Avoid excuses and long explanations.

Dealing with Anger

  • Give yourself permission to feel and express your anger.
  • Try to express your anger when you feel it rather than allowing it to build up.
  • Avoid expressing your anger indirectly through sulking, being sarcastic, etc.
  • Learn the difference between "attacking" and being assertive. Ask your friends for examples of behaviours they would consider attacking versus assertive to get you started.
  • Take responsibility for your anger. Use "I" messages, e.g., "I'm angry with you" versus "You make me angry."

Making Requests

  • Be willing to ask for what you want clearly and directly - others can't read your mind.
  • Avoid asking questions when you really want to make a statement, e.g., "Have you finished reading the book I loaned you?" versus "I'd like you to return the book you borrowed."
  • If your request involves a problem you are experiencing, be prepared to offer possible solutions.
  • Where appropriate, be prepared to negotiate and to come to a mutually acceptable compromise.

Coping with criticism

  • Try not to take criticism personally, but ask yourself if there is any merit in criticisms of your actions or behaviour. Don't counterattack or become defensive.
  • Learn to distinguish between constructive criticisms related to your behaviour, and "put-downs." When you receive a "put-down," let the speaker know that this kind of feedback is not helpful, and ask them to communicate their concern in a more constructive way.
  • Try to get your critic to be specific. Reflect back what you understand about what your critic is saying.
  • Honestly distinguish what, if anything, is valid in the criticism. Ask for advice on how you might improve.
  • If you disagree with the criticism - say so - in a calm, matter-of-fact manner. Delay responding to any criticism you are not sure about.


At various times during the academic year the Centre offers a variety of groups and workshops which may help you develop an assertive perspective on life. Check out our website for information about our latest workshops and schedules!

Man sits in the Ryerson quad
How to make the most of your time at Ryerson to expand your repertoire of career-related skills, contacts and résumé-building experiences.

In the Classroom

  • When involved in group projects, use the experience as an opportunity to enhance your skills in team building, conflict resolution and group problem-solving.
  • Improve your public-speaking skills by taking advantage of opportunities to give presentations in your classes.
  • Be active and assertive in classroom discussions - ask questions, make comments,volunteer answers.
  • Select assignment topics related to your potential career interests.  If none are offered, see if your instructor would be willing to negotiate a project more relevant to you.
  •  Choose elective courses that offer an opportunity to explore subject matter related to your career interests.  Investigate doing a minor in a discipline of interest to you.
  • If your program includes placements, co-ops, internships or exchanges use these opportunities not only to broaden your skill base but also to make potential career contacts.
  • Remember that your instructors can be valuable resources in terms of providing future employment and educational references, occupational information and job search tips.  Get to know them.

On Campus

  • Get involved in campus clubs, societies, cultural groups, committees and social organizations.
  • Become a campus peer supporter, e.g., Student Ambassador, Campus Leadership Advisor (CLA), Ryerson Off Campus Living Link, tutor, mentor in the Tri-mentoring program, peer educator. Participate in the Student Services Leader Education (LEAD) program.
  • Develop your leadership skills by running for elected office, sitting on a University committee or becoming active in your course union.
  • Enhance your academic and personal success by taking part in various skills development programs offered by
  • Learning Support, the Centre for Student Development and Counselling, and the Career Development and Employment Centre.
  • Seek out employment opportunities on campus such as Work Study, research assistantships, teaching assistantships and residence positions.
  • Volunteer to help out during special events, e.g., Orientation, Campus Carnival, Convocation, Career Fairs.
  • Take advantage of campus activities and facilities.  Make a point of attending relevant extra-curricular seminars, workshops, lectures, etc. Become involved in an intramural or inter-university sports team through RAC.
  • Be sure to attend school/departmental career fairs as well as on-campus career fairs and employer information sessions organized through the Career Development and Employment Centre.
  • If you are confused about your educational or career direction visit the Centre for Student Development and Counselling Centre for assistance.
  • Make use of the occupational and educational literature contained in the Career Resource Centre, Room POD 60A.

External Community

  • Familiarize yourself with the professional associations relevant to your field.  Where possible, become a student member.  Volunteer to sit on association committees.
  • Take part in pertinent community lectures, trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, etc.
  • Use part-time and summer jobs as opportunities to gain experience and make career-related contacts.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to participate in international student exchange, work and volunteer programs.
  • Actively seek out and network with people in the community who may eventually assist you with your transition to the world of paid work.
  • Gather as much information as possible about the types of work that interest you.  Use print and electronic media to keep abreast of current developments in the field/industry.  Read books and articles about those occupations.  “Interview” or “job shadow” people who are actually doing that kind of work.
  • Do volunteer work or seek an internship through which you can explore your interests while developing skills, knowledge and contacts relevant to your career goals.
  • Take part in Ryerson’s Tri-Mentoring program and be linked with a mentor who is a professional in your field.
Toronto skyline
Surviving and thriving in the city

Students new to Toronto will have several adjustments to make before feeling at home in their new environment. During the transition period, a sense of loneliness is a very common experience.

Some thoughts on Loneliness:


  • It's a sign of weakness or immaturity (NOT TRUE)
  • There's something wrong with me if I feel lonely (NOT TRUE)
  • I am the only one who feels that way (NOT TRUE)

What To Do About It

  • Evaluate and if necessary change some attitudes.
  • Recognize it as something that can be changed
  • Recognize it as a common experience
  • Recognize that it is not permanent
  • Recognize that one cause of loneliness is unmet needs
  • Recognize that appropriate action can deal with these unmet needs

Evaluate, Change Behaviour, Take Action

  • Look for ways to get involved with others - eat with others, rotate seats in class, find study or exercise partners
  • Put yourself in new situations
  • Discover campus resources
  • Follow a balanced lifestyle (sleep, exercise, nutrition)
  • Use alone time to get to know yourself
  • Don't put the label "lonely" on yourself
  • Do some things alone and enjoy them

Don't wait for your feelings to get you going. Get going and good feelings will catch up to you.

On-going Information Resources for Ryerson and Toronto:



Safety and emergencies
Sight-seeing Musts:
Saving Money
  • Goodwill Thrift Shops
  • Salvation Army Thrift Shop
  • Food Basics Grocery (238 Wellesley Street East)
  • Discount Books - look for posters around campus
  • Look for store signs advertising student discounts
  • T.O.Tix: Half Price Tickets (Yonge & Dundas Square)
  • RSU's Community Food Room
  • Rainbow Cinemas (cheaper movie tickets)
  • Valdi Discount Foods (Valdi's)
Parents flank their daughter, who holds roses and wears a blue convocation gown
Tips on supporting your student

As parents you may be experiencing some apprehension, or even relief, about the fact that your child (your student) is entering university. The tips below may help both you and your student deal with some of the transitional issues which will likely be encountered. The more awareness you have and the more planning you do now, the more effective you will be in carrying out a supportive role for your student.


  • Be aware that changes in your student will affect your relationship and how you go about your parenting. As they step into adulthood your role will evolve from “coach” to “cheerleader.” It can therefore be helpful to reflect back on changes you experienced as you moved through significant transitions in your own life.
    • What major transitions have you experienced?
    • If you attended university, what was your first year like for you?
    • What changes did you undergo?
    • How did you cope?
    • What did you learn that might be helpful now?


  • Through the course of any changes - be it in dress, interests, relationships, level of academic success, your continued support will be an important part of your student’s success.
  • Understand that many concerns, problems or changes may be related to one of the 3-"I's"; Independence, Intimacy, or Identity.


An expression of the following is not uncommon:

  • stress and fatigue
  • money problems
  • relationship problems
  • adjustment to Toronto problems
  • career indecision and/or misgivings about choice of academic program
  • loneliness

Tip: A frank discussion will often help, and sometimes a suggestion that they speak to someone in the Centre for Student Services or Counselling or another Student Service department is all that is needed to get started on a solution to the problem.


University is more demanding and competitive than high school and an increased workload requires more hours of study. As a result the pressures can be great and the stress levels high.


  • Don't be surprised if there is an initial drop in grades or concern about workload.
  • If your student indicates that they are experiencing academic difficulties suggest that they investigate the services and programs offered by Student Life and Learning Support or the Centre for Student Development and Counselling. 
  • Encourage your student to become familiar with Ryerson’s academic policies and procedures as doing so can prevent avoidable problems later on.
  • Consider how will you respond to a failed grade? Talk about the possibility of initially lower grades ahead of time.


You should give some thought to how you are going to communicate with your student, particularly if they are living away from home. This will be particularly relevant during the first two or three months.

  • How often will you talk on the phone?
  • Who will pay?
  • Expect calls, collect or otherwise.
  • How often will you write, email or text message?
  • What are your expectations for communication from your student?


  • Send pictures and news items from your hometown paper.
  • Don’t make surprise, unannounced visits.
  • Expect the frequency of communication to lessen with time, particularly if a satisfactory transition is made.
  • Write even if they don’t write back!
  • Ask questions, but not too many! Express interest without appearing intrusive.
  • When students are under a lot of pressure and stress they can experience a fair measure of insecurity so, when those first phone calls come, avoid responding by saying, “But these are the best years of your life.”


Do you need to talk to your student about any of the following issues? How to do laundry, personal safety, cooking, leading a balanced lifestyle, alcohol use, nutrition, managing money and any others you can think of


  • Ask your student if they would like to discuss any of the above or whether they have any other fears or concerns about which they want to talk before leaving for Ryerson.
  • Be sure to discuss safety issues with your student before leaving for the city. Some will already be street-smart and others will not. What is the nature of your student’s experience in this regard?
  • Encourage your student to find out about campus safety and security procedures, the role of campus security, traveling around campus at night, emergency procedures, harassment policies, etc.


Ryerson places great emphasis on providing a variety of supports to help students meet the challenges they will face. We are interested in promoting the success of your student. Many services and resources are provided through the Student Services Department. If your student experiences a problem encourage her/him to seek assistance early.

A group of diverse people, paying attention to the speaker at a Parent Network event
Tips to help you transition back to school

Academic Considerations

  • Assess your learning and study skills. If you need to sharpen them, attend the Learning Success Seminars offered by Student Life and Learning Support (ext.7350).
  • Pace yourself. If you feel you have taken on too great an academic load, speak with your department’s academic advisor.
  • Be patient with yourself and your program. It may take you a semester or two to meet your performance expectations and get a feeling for where your program is going and where you are going in it.
  • Take satisfaction from your accomplishments.

Role Juggling

  • Be flexible. Recognize that you may have to let go of some of your responsibilities because of your new role as a student. Be willing to delegate.
  • Prioritize your personal, social, academic and employment commitments. Revise as necessary.
  • Try to lead a balanced life. Good nutrition, proper sleep, and regular exercise are all important.
  • Set aside time for social, family and relaxation activities to get some relief from school demands.
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed or discouraged, ask for help. The Centre for Student Development and Counselling offers free, confidential individual and group counselling for personal, career and academic concerns and the Stress Management Starter Kit to help you learn to harness and manage stress. The earlier you seek support, the better.
  • Try to focus on one task or role at a time. This will help enhance your concentration and improve your effectiveness.

Family and Social Relationships

  • Keep your family members and friends informed about changes in your routine that result from new demands on your time. Enlist their support. You may also want to include them in school-sponsored events.
  • Be patient with others. Recognize that it can take some time for them to adapt to your new way of life.
  • Set aside times when your family and friends can count on your undivided attention.
  • Ask friends or family members to support you by proofreading your essays, quizzing you for exams or acting as a practice audience for your presentations.

Relating to Other Students

  • Seek out like-minded people who share your values and your desire to learn. These qualities transcend age, cultural and experiential differences.
  • Talk with other mature students. Share strategies.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities offered to you as a student to broaden your circle of friends and develop future professional colleagues.
  • Make use of the activities and organizations available on campus to broaden your social life.

Relating to Instructors

  • Familiarize yourself with the teaching styles and expectations of your various instructors. When in doubt, consult with them.
  • Request and welcome constructive feedback.

Budgeting and Finances

  • Make sure you have the necessary finances to meet the demands of pursuing a university education.
  • Conduct regular financial reassessments. Make use of the Student Financial Assistance budget-planning services.
  • Investigate OSAP eligibility, bursaries and other financial assistance that may be available to you.
  • Pursue cost-cutting strategies (e.g., purchasing used books and equipment).
  • If you run into financial problems, seek the assistance of a Student Financial Assistance. You may be able to appeal your student loan, apply for emergency funding or work out some other helpful strategy.
fresh, sliced fruits and vegetables in metal containers placed on a counter
Healthy eating tips and tricks

Tips on shopping for one:

  1. Plan meals for the week and make a shopping list.
  2. Choose foods from the four basic food groups when planning your meals. 
  3. Check weekly food ads for specials (usually the Wednesday newspaper - Food Section) or Saturday paper.
  4. Compare prices of name brands, store brands and generic products to get the best deal.
  5. Buy food according to cost/serving rather than cost/package.
  6. Read the label for grade, ingredients and best before date.
  7. Divide and freeze large packages of food to avoid waste.
  8. Seek out good buys.
  9. Save coupons for discounts.
  10. Keep a record of money spent on food.
  11. Choose from the bulk sector for fresh foods so you can buy only the amount you will use.
  12. Keep track of regular prices of food so you will know when a "special" really is a good buy.

Nutrition and the single family - helpful hints on saving money:

  1. Plan for and buy only those foods meeting meal pattern requirements, i.e., eliminate extras - potato chips, fruit-flavoured drinks, jams, jellies, etc.
  2. Once or twice a week use meat alternatives such as dried beans, peas, eggs, cheese or peanut butter.
  3. Serve fresh fruits and vegetables only when they are in season; they cost less and taste better at that time.
  4. Serve homemade muffins, cornbread and other quick breads; they cost less per serving than commercially prepared bread.
  5. Substitute cooked cereals for prepared ones whenever possible. Cooked cereals cost less per serving, take up less space and usually contain less sugar than prepared cereals.
  6. Include "planned-overs" in your weekly menu. Planned-overs are leftovers from one meal planned for use in a second meal.
  7. Keep special left-over shelves in your refrigerator and/or freezer. Keep a leftover list so you won't forget foods. Be sure to label containers with the date the food was prepared and its contents.
  8. When buying meats, purchase cheaper cuts and tenderize by cooking at low temperatures in moist heat. Don't overcook meat: overcooking causes shrinkage and yields fewer servings.
  9. Use fewer convenience foods and/or prepared food items; they're expensive and usually loaded with salt and sugar.
  10. When a recipe calls for milk, use dry skim powder. Non-fat dry milk is equivalent to fluid milk in its nutritional value, is cheaper, and takes up less refrigerator space.

Did you know that Ryerson has a Community Food Room, external link for students facing financial stressors? This resource is run by a community service group, which is supported by the Ryerson Students' Union. 

Toby Stevens-Guille (centre) worked with Corinne Hart (left) and Samim Hasham (right) to spearhead the first naloxone training at the nursing school
How to be proactive about your academics
  • Start into work immediately. Don’t wait to be told what to do.
  • Develop your term calendar - a large piece of bristol board with the 4 months for each term drawn out in large squares. Fall term on one side, winter on the other.
  • If it is necessary to work, try to keep part-time hours to a minimum or look for an on-campus job.
  • Use the course outline as your principal study guide.
  • Be sure you obtain your copy of the University’s STUDENT GUIDE on Policies and Procedures. It describes many policies which may affect you, as well as all the campus support services.
  • Lead a balanced lifestyle with appropriate nutrition, sleep and exercise. Get involved in something on campus beyond your studies.
  • Don’t drop courses until you have spoken to someone about it, or are sure you understand the implications of dropping the course(s).
  • Choose essay and project topics as soon as possible, even if you only do the preliminary work.
  • Identify and use appropriate campus resources: 
    • Writing Centre
    • Micro Computer Centre in the Library
    • Math Centre
    • Library Tours & Instruction Sessions
    • Student Life and Learnign Support
  • Develop an appropriate sense of time: start by attending a Learning Success Centre seminar on Time Management. Be sure to access information about the Learning Success workshop offerings.

Understand and apply the preview - learning activity - review principle

This principle applies to how you approach the reading and use of your textbooks; how you read an individual chapter from a text; how you read an article; how you prepare for lectures before attending them; when and how to do preliminary research on essays; how and when to review your work and why it is important to do so.
This principle is just about the single most important study principle there is.

If you think things are not going the way you anticipated, seek some assistance. There are many campus resources available to help you meet the challenges you face.

A student sits at a desk writing a test
Tips for test and presentation anxiety


  • Anxiety arises from not feeling in control.
  • Some anxiety is normal and helpful as a motivator.
  • You can reduce excess anxiety by managing those aspects of a situation over which you can have some control.


  • Knowing your stuff definitely helps. This requires adequate advance study to master the important concepts and less cramming 
  • Where workload pressures don't allow sufficient time for study, a deliberate choice of areas to concentrate on needs to be made in advance.
  • Maintain balance in your life - academics, social, nutrition, fitness, sleep, etc.
  • Make a realistic assessment of the relative importance of this test.
  • Form a realistic expectation of the mark you can achieve, doing the best you can. Your worth as a person is not determined by how you do on a test.
  • Practice answering typical test questions, integrating ideas from notes and texts.
  • Start the day of the test with a moderate breakfast, go easy on coffee.
  • Don't try to learn anything new on the day of the test, but it is helpful to review summaries and outlines that you have made.
  • Try to do something distracting and relaxing before the test.
  • Plan a reward for yourself after the test.
  • Avoid getting to the room early and talking to classmates.
  • Don't look around at others in the room.
  • Take time to read the instructions carefully.
  • Remember you don't have to get 100% and don't have to answer every question. Concentrate on what you can do best.
  • Start with the easiest question, but first make a note of any memory joggers which will help you with others.


  • Know your stuff. Know what you want to say and understand the basics for your topic.
  • Rehearse your presentations, preferably with a friend.
  • Keep it in perspective - your value as a person will not be determined by how you do.
  • "What will people think?" is not really relevant. How you perform isn't important to most of the people in the room and their opinion is not likely to affect you much anyway. People who do matter are more likely to be sympathetic than critical.
  • Concentrate on the people in the audience and on getting your ideas across to them, rather than on how you feel.
  • You are entitled to your opinions.
  • Maintain perspective on the importance and weighting of this presentation in the overall picture.
  • Concentrate on doing the best you can under difficult circumstances and encourage yourself rather than be down on yourself.

Remember that if you need more intensive help with handling stress and anxiety it is available at the Centre for Student Development and Counselling.

Two students are studying together with a laptop on the 6th floor of the SLC. They are both wearing glasses and looking at the camera. Other students can be seen in the background.
Enhance your self-esteem

Self-esteem is as much about how well your "self" does as it is about how well your "self" feels. It develops and evolves over time through your experiences in your family, at school, with friendships and in the wider society, and it is enriched through constructive self-appraisal. This appraisal consists of at least these two tasks:

  1. Evaluating the way you present yourself, using realistic and credible standards or values; and 
  2. Evaluating the level of respect and empathy you bring to your interactions with others.


  • Cultivate good relationships with yourself and others
  • Acknowledge your accomplishments and appreciate what you do well.
  • Reach out. Initiate conversations. Smile. Invite someone to study with you or join you for a coffee or lunch. Join a club or an activity group. Volunteer with a campus or community organization.
  • Share. Talk about your experiences, interests, ideas, passions. Let your enthusiasm show.
  • Ask questions, be curious and intrigued about other people and their lives and interests.
  • Learn to be appropriately assertive about your ideas and in your responses to others.
  • If you find yourself in conflict, try to solve things by calmly explaining your feelings and/or your experience of the conflict in a non-blaming way.
  • Be positive. Let people know when you enjoy or appreciate their company or something they do.
  • Ask for support when you feel you need it ... and offer support to others when you feel they might need it.
  • Listen: Remember the importance of giving full and active attention to others. Step back from giving advice unless it is solicited or you have permission to offer it.

Look after yourself physically

  • Get regular exercise. Regular aerobic exercise has a positive affect on your mood. Not only will you look better, but as an added benefit you will very likely feel better about yourself.
  • Get enough sleep and eat balanced and nutritious meals. Well, give it a good try anyway!
  • Pay attention to your appearance. Dress as well as you can within your means. Let how you dress reflect who you are, and be proud of your individuality.
  • Pay attention to your personal hygiene and grooming and how you present yourself.

Reward yourself and avoid self-punishment

  • Give yourself praise for the things you have done well - even "small" things. Your praise will encourage you to do these things again.
  • Be kind to yourself. Even if things do not go as well as you hope, allow yourself some flexibility.
  • Accept that any process of change takes time and that change is not linear. You will likely experience some ups and downs as you try to work on building your self-esteem.
  • Listen to your internal chatter and censor out negative comments. Usually such comments are not particularly valid but are made out of habit. If censoring doesn't work, try postponing negative chatter to a specified time and set a limit on how long you will listen to it. Make it brief!
  • Make a list of things you really enjoy but don't often get around to doing. Post it and periodically do one of them. This could be a reward for a job well done ... or something you do simply because you deserve to give yourself some pleasure.
  • In so far as possible, avoid situations and people that leave you feeling badly about yourself. This will give you more time for healthy, positive experiences and relationships.

Do things for pleasure, for fun

  • Make certain that you regularly do things you enjoy and which bring you satisfaction or wonderment.
  • Risk trying something different, something you have often wanted to do but never tried - or something you haven‘t done for a while. Try something you might be interested in, even something you might never have thought of yourself as capable of doing.
  • Check out the clubs and organizations on campus and join one. If it is not right for you, try another.
  • Develop your sense of humour and playfulness.

Take responsibility

  • You are responsible for your own sense of well-being, worth and efficacy.

Don't give away this power to others.

  • If you are stuck deciding just where or how to begin working with these suggestions, identify someone you trust: someone honest, caring and genuinely interested in your well-being. 
  • Discuss with that person how to get started. Ask her/him to make suggestions and give you feedback. 
  • As well, you are welcome to meet with one of the personal counsellors at the Centre for Student Development and Counselling.
Student sleeping
How to take care of yourself and manage stress
  • Get enough sleep. Eight hours is recommended for peak performance.
  • Exercise, participate in a sport, or take part in a fun activity.
  • "Keep gas in your tank." Be sure to eat three balanced meals per day plus snacks.
  • If you like coffee, try switching to decaf.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Plan out your time and prioritize tasks:
    • Look at how you are spending your time.
    • Make a weekly schedule and try to follow it.
    • "Just do it!" Try to avoid procrastination.
  • Dare to say no. One more little thing may be the "straw that breaks the camel's back." It's okay to say "No," "I can't," or "Later."
  • Count to 10. Before you say or do something you'll regret, step away from the stressor and collect yourself.
  • When studying for an exam, study in short segments and gradually extend the time you spend studying. Take frequent short breaks.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. For example, whenever you feel tense, slowly breathe in and out for several minutes or imagine a relaxing scene.
  • Schedule in some "worry time." If you start to feel stressed, deal with the worries when the time is right. Don't let them control you.
  • Take a walk or soak it up in the tub. Make time to engage in at least one enjoyable activity per day.
  • Focus on your good qualities and accomplishments.
  • Talk to a friend about your problems, don't hold it in.
  • When you need help, get help. You can book an appointment to speak to a counsellor at the Centre for Student Development and Counselling (416-979-5195).
In the lab Frankie Stewart, centre, teaches engineering students Muffadal Motiwala (left) and Mary Loreal Guerrero
Having trouble keeping up with your school work & think you may need some help?
  • Get information about anything related to being in first year engineering at Ryerson by connecting with the First-Year and Common Engineering Office (FYCEO) (ENG 377, ext., 4502 and 4261, or email
  • Get help with academic advice, course selection, dropping courses, probationary contracts, academic status.
    • Contact Dr. Amleh, (ENG 353) Program Director for First Year Engineering and book an appointment through the FYCEO
  • Get help with study skills, tutoring, time management, English language support etc.
  • Information on Get Clear & Fresh Start
    • Heather Krepski, Academic Success Facilitator, VIC B-24 x6565,
  • Feeling stressed, down, or having personal or family problems etc. come and get confidential help
    • Personal Counsellor located in Engineering: Colleen Conroy-Amato ENG 351 & Jastej Gill ENG 352 to book an appointment contact:
    • Centre for Student Development & Counselling, Jorgenson Hall, JOR-O7C, ext. 5195 
  • Get help with career and educational decision-making redirection/switching programs etc.
    • Centre for Student Development & Counselling  JOR-O7C, ext. 5195 ask to book appointment with Rosemarie Volpe or Sahri Woods-Baum or register for workshop offerings 
  • Get help with resume writing, finding a job, job interview skills etc. by contacting the Career Centre  POD-60, ext. 5177  
  • Need help with appeals? Contact Saira Chhibber, Student Issues & Advocacy Coordinator, SCC-311, x2322

Other Concerns

If you get sick

If you think you have a learning disability,  other disability, or chronic health condition that impacts your academics

For information on financial aid/OSAP/Food Room

Questions related to being an international student

Learn more about getting connected with a mentor on campus

If you need legal advice

  • Bill Reid – SCC311, Student Campus Centre, ext. 5255   
Two women exercising
First year university can be a particularly stressful time. Here are some tips for eating healthy and feeling good about your body during your first year.
  1. Try and stick to a regular eating schedule. Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and some midday snacks to prevent hunger, which can lead to overeating. Check your class schedule to make sure that you have enough time to fit in these meals.
  2. Be aware of your portion sizes. Residence cafeteria buffets can lead to overeating.
  3. There are many healthy meal options available on and around campus - look for vegetable packed stir-fries, whole-grain sandwiches, pita sandwiches, salad bars, etc.
  4. Try to make time for exercise. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Sneak in a power walk between, or after, classes. Or check out what the Ryerson gym has to offer.
  5. Fruit juice and pop are packed with empty calories. Rather choose from water, low-fat milk, real fruit juice, or soy beverages.
  6. Late-night snacking can upset your ability to get a good night's sleep.
  7. If you like to snack while you study, try healthy choices such as: fresh fruit and veggies, almonds, low-fat granola bars, whole-grain crackers, yogurt, cheese strings, or herbal or flavoured tea.
  8. If you like to snack on chips or cookies and other salty or sweet snacks try to keep track of how many you've eaten. They can be addictive and you can finish off the bag before you know it (oops!).
  9. Stress reduction is better done without food. Talk about the stress with a friend, see a counsellor, go for a walk, or do anything else that doesn't involve food. Make a list of things you can do when stress strikes.
  10. Plan to limit your alcohol: alcoholic drinks contain a lot of empty calories!!
Cat laying in a bed
Tips to help you develop good sleep hygiene
  1. Go to bed only when sleepy.
  2. Don't "activate" your brain right before bed by studying for your test, writing your essay, or doing other stressful activities.
  3. Find a way to relax your body and mind before bed (e.g., taking a warm bath).
  4. Establish a good sleep environment with limited distractions.
  5. Keep the room dark, quiet, and lower the room temperature (a cool environment improves sleep).
  6. If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy.
  7. Avoid foods, beverages, and medications that may contain stimulants.
  8. Avoid alcohol and nicotine before going to sleep.
  9. Avoid caffeine at least five hours before bedtime.
  10. Exercise regularly, but do so around midday or early afternoon. Be sure to finish at least three hours before you plan on going to bed.
  11. Try some relaxation techniques to assist with physical and mental relaxation.
  12. Get up about the same time every day. It is important to keep a regular sleep schedule, even on days off and weekends.
  13. If you feel tired during the day, take only a 15 minute nap, but avoid naps
  14. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, but don't go to bed hungry.
  15. Avoid fluids before going to sleep.
  16. Use the bed only for sleep and intimacy (Do not eat, read or watch TV in bed!).
A student sitting on her bed in her new dorm
There are many ways you can reduce stress

As little as 20 minutes of exercise a day can reduce stress, anxiety, and boost your mood.  This can be as easy as getting off the TTC one stop early, briskly walking across campus to your next class, or taking a mental break from your studies by going for a short walk.

Students frequently report sleep disturbances associated with leaving their smartphones on throughout the night.  They often feel pressure to be readily available, even for those 3am text messages.   Make a habit of unplugging at night so that you can have a restful night’s sleep; fatigue will make it much more difficult for you to cope with stress during the day. 

Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness involves keeping your mind in the present moment, non-judgmentally, rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  There is usually a space between a stressful stimulus and our response to it. Mindfulness gives us more choice about how we respond to the stimulus, thereby reducing patterns of emotional reactivity. There are many Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses offered in Toronto.  

Establish a Social Support System  
Having a strong community of friends and/or family can significantly buffer the effects of stress. Research has shown that having supportive relationships is one of the strongest predictors of mental well-being. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed or down, reach out to someone.   

Take a few minutes to watch a hilarious TV show or go out to a comedy show with friends. This will help to alleviate tension in your body and will trigger the release of mood-elevating endorphins. It can also be a temporary distraction from some of the more serious emotions or situations in your life. 

Take frequent breaks
Taking time out for yourself will do wonders for your mood and concentration. It can also help you to feel less overwhelmed. Make a list of several pleasant and comforting activities that you can engage in on a regular basis. This can be as simple as making your favorite cup of tea ,having a warm bath, playing sports, or watching a show on Netflix. 

Reframe your Thinking  
A significant portion of stress stems from our perception of stressful events. For instance, if you fail an exam and then have the thought “I will never graduate, I will never be able to pursue my dreams” a significant stress response will be activated. On the other hand, if you engage in productive problem solving (e.g. “I will get extra help from the Learning Centre and go and speak to my professor in order to improve my grades”) and a positive outlook (e.g. I will work hard and do the best that I can"). You will likely feel more in control of your problems and perceive them in a more manageable light.  

Give yourself a buffer
Aim to arrive 15 minutes early to all of your destinations.  For instance, arriving a few minutes early for class or an exam will give you time to gather your thoughts, take a few breaths, and mentally prepare for the tasks ahead. It will also increase the likelihood that you arrive on time, since you will have a buffer for any unexpected delays during your travels.  If you are always rushing and running late, you are much more likely to feel chronically stressed.

While we all know how to breathe, many of us do not know how to breathe correctly. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Breathing deeply triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which activates the relaxation response. This results in a decrease in muscle tension, heart rate, and blood pressure. Watch a YouTube video on diaphragmatic breathing and try to practice this on a daily basis, especially when you are starting to feel stressed.