First Semester of Honours: What to Expect and Time Management Tips
At the beginning of this semester, I was very anxious about what was going to happen to my life once I started the Criminology Honours Program. Questions in my mind resembled something like this: Will I be able to do this? Am I qualified enough to be in this program? Will I have a social life? For people who are thinking about applying to the program, you will be happy to hear that you will adapt quickly and soon the busyness of Honours will become your new normal. With that being said, there are some pieces of information that I think would have eased my worry before beginning the program, so I would like to share some of them with you.
Firstly, I highly recommend taking a directed readings course (CRIM 370) with your supervisor prior to commencing the program. I took this course the summer before I began, and it made me feel much closer to my supervisor and I was able to ask them questions and get a sense of what to expect in the coming months. It also allows you to get in the habit of doing your work on a schedule that you created, reading the items you picked out, and completing an independent project – which are all skills that will transfer over to Honours.
Next, do not expect everything to go according to your plan! If you are anything like me you have plans for everything you want to do, and how you want to do it. Realistically, at least some of these will not pan out how you expected, and that’s ok! It’s important to understand this so you are more prepared to go with the flow!
Further, the first semester of Honours consists of two (2) CRIM courses, 490 and 491. 490 is the course where you write your literature review and introduction to your thesis and speak with your supervisor on a regular basis about anything you are unsure of. Within this course, you and your supervisor decide on due dates and check-ins yourself, and it can be pretty fluid. CRIM 491 is a more traditional style class, where you have a set seminar time where everyone from your cohort goes to class, discusses assigned readings, and completes the same assignments. The second semester of Honours (Spring) consists of one (1) course, where you collect and analyze your data, write your thesis, and defend your thesis. I cannot speak to the experience of this as it is still upcoming for me.
With all of this being said, you may still be overwhelmed about the idea of starting a large project such as writing a thesis may be daunting (it is to me too). However, I have some tips for time management and overall well-being during this busy time.
1. Plan out your days and weeks – by this I mean decide what you are going to work on each day. It will make it easier to get started when the day comes because you already know what to work on
2. Set (realistic) goals – after you make your plan, it helps to set small realistic goals for yourself. For example, I want to finish this theme of my literature review today.
3. Engage in writing groups – external accountability is a positive way to keep yourself on track. Remember, everyone in your cohort is going through the same thing you are – use this as an advantage and plan time outside of class to meet up and work on your assignments
4. Make time for yourself – it is very easy to get consumed by all the work you must do. If you implement the first two tips, you will be able to carve out time for yourself to do the things you enjoy
5. Give yourself grace – remind yourself that this is a large task, there will be hard days, but you can do it!!
Overall, what I have learned is that the Honours Program is tough, but it is absolutely worth it. I am gaining experience, knowledge, and connections throughout this time. I truly believe that if you set your mind to something, you will accomplish your goals. As mentioned in my disclaimer, it is very helpful to speak to an academic advisor prior to applying to the program. They can help make sure you will complete the necessary courses and give you the information about how to apply. Please see the links below for information on advising and the Honours program.
Contact an advisor: https://www.sfu.ca/criminology/undergraduate/advising/contact-an-advisor.html
Criminology Honours info: http://www.sfu.ca/students/calendar/2023/spring/programs/criminology/honours/bachelor-of-arts.html