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Written by Madeline Grove, Senior Writing and Language Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

Welcome to part two of our paper planning tips and tricks from the Student Learning Hub!

In part one, we delved into elements of pre-planning like understanding the assignment expectations, creating a schedule, and seeking support.

In part two, we’re ready to introduce some strategic techniques that will not only streamline your writing process but also elevate the quality of your work.

Use Strategic and Active reading when researching

Use the same active reading strategies when reading your sources. Read the intro and conclusion first to identify the source’s relevance to your topic. Highlight potential quotes and jot down your thoughts in the margins. Good notes now will mean less hassle later. As Stephanie Jury, our Learning Strategist says, “if you are taking well-written notes, you are going to be able to put those into your essay.” So, you’re already writing the essay before you get to writing the essay!

Calculate your sub-topics

Remember, your essay has a central argument, but each paragraph should host a distinct sub-topic that ties back to your thesis. To calculate how many sub-topics you need, consider the assignment’s word count. Divide it up into paragraphs, about 150-200 words each. Now, subtract two – one for the introduction and one for the conclusion. What you’re left with is the number of body paragraphs longing for their unique sub-topics. For example, a 1500-word essay might have 5-8 body paragraphs.

Craft your main argument / thesis statement first

Your thesis is the most important part of your assignment; it defines what the rest of your essay will focus on. But, feel free to tweak it as you move through the writing process. As Dr. Stephanie Jury says, “Writing is a fluid process.”

Now, you’re all set to make your paper planning journey easier and more fruitful. Good luck!


Written by Madeline Grove, Senior Writing and Language Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

Having difficulty starting an essay? A solid plan will save loads of time and energy by keeping you from getting sidetracked or doing a bunch of edits later. Here are some handy tips from the Student Learning Hub (SLH) to help you map out your paper with confidence:

Understand the Assignment:

Don’t just glance through the instructions – read them actively. Highlight the important stuff, take notes, and circle anything you don’t get. Look out for task words like ‘analyze’ or ‘compare’; they show you exactly what you’re expected to do. To ensure you are hitting all the right points, make a checklist based on the assignment instructions.

Plan your Time:

Save yourself from late-night stress by creating a schedule you can stick to. UBC’s Assignment Calculator or RMIT University’s Assignment Planner are handy tools to get started.

Ask for Help:

Whether you are in Psychology or Art History, if you are having issues with where and how to research, your subject librarian is ready to guide you. Don’t hesitate to set up an appointment!

Having difficulty brainstorming ideas? Want support creating an outline? Connect with a Writing Consultant at the SLH. They are here to help you navigate the confusing world of academic writing.

Check out part two for more paper planning tips and tricks!

Taste of Home Food Drive for UBCO Students

The Student Union, the Global Engagement Office, and UBC Okanagan Library are collaborating on this annual food drive to help stock the shelves of The Pantry student food bank. Taste of Home Food Drive encourages UBCO staff, faculty, and students to donate unique and nutritious items for our diverse campus community.

Help give UBCO Students a Taste of Home. Donations will be collected at UBC Okanagan Library (1st floor) and at Picnic (UNC 1st floor) from November 1 until November 30. 

Suggested items to donate:

  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Dried lentils
  • Dried black beans
  • Dried kidney beans
  • Dried chick peas
  • Poi
  • Noodles
  • Miso paste
  • Tofu
  • Flat bread
  • Roti
  • Mango
  • Plantains
  • Beetroot
  • Corn
  • Baby corn
  • Bok choy
  • Snow peas
  • Dates
  • Almonds
  • Kimchi
  • Taro
  • Cassava/Manioc
  • Cassava leaves
Spices and Sauces:

  • Seasoning Pre-Mix Packs
    Some examples: Tikka, Biryani, Korma, Haleem
  • Saffron
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Chili powder
  • Coriander
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic


*when possible, items should be obtained in small portions, or can be repackaged in smaller portions to accommodate student use.

Food Map for UBCO Students

The Food Map for UBCO Students highlights various grocery and international food stores within or surrounding Kelowna, BC. Navigate the food map to find the nearest locations to you.

Learn more 

Food Security is a major public health issue. Learn what UBC is doing to address food insecurity.

Food Security Initiative

Written by Madeline Grove, Senior Writing and Language Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

Welcome to part two of reading the course syllabus to facilitate a smoother academic year!

In part one, we delved into course-specific details such as assignments and grading, as well as the instructor’s expectations and class schedule.

In part two, we will go over course and university-wide regulations and support services to keep in mind throughout your university journey.

Course Policies – Unique to Each Course

The syllabus will contain information related to classroom behavior, participation, absences, and penalties for turning papers in late. Some professors also include policies regarding cell phone use, eating in class, or the use of artificial intelligence. If your instructor has made a note about something in the syllabus, you can be assured it’s important to them that you know about it. If you have questions or concerns about anything written or not in the course policies, you should always consult your professor for clarification.

University Statements – Standard Protocol

Review university policies about academic integrity, accessibility, and more. They’re the guiding principles for every student.

Additional Supports and Resources – For Further Learning and Wellbeing

Your syllabus highlights extra tools and support to help you thrive. There are lots of resources and services on campus to help you with everything from academics to health and wellness, co-op, and exchange programs. You can find all the information (websites, locations, and contacts) to take advantage of these opportunities directly from every syllabus. 

The syllabus is your go-to resource for anything related to your courses. You can print them out and glue them in your notebooks or download them and keep them in a folder on your computer. Make sure to keep your syllabi in an accessible and visible place.

If you have concerns regarding course content or writing assignments, or if you would like to learn more about effective study habits and time management, you can visit the Student Learning Hub: your one-stop-shop for free and flexible learning supports and resources.

Written by Madeline Grove, Senior Writing and Language Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

The course syllabus is a crucial document that provides a comprehensive overview of the entire course. Each course will have its own syllabus, mapping out your instructors’ and the university’s expectations. Understanding how to effectively read the syllabus will simplify your academic year.

Course Schedule & Grading Criteria – Anticipate Workload

Each syllabus lists assignment due dates and their grade weightage. Mark these on your calendar to predict busy weeks and manage your workload effectively. It is almost inevitable for there to be a week or two when it feels like everything is due. Start assignments beforehand so you don’t feel too overwhelmed.

Instructor’s InformationThe ultimate resource

Near the top of the syllabus, you’ll find the instructor’s contact details and office hours. Instructors block these hours for you. Take advantage and drop by to clarify doubts, seek guidance, or get to know them. If you can’t make it to their office hours, a quick email is all you need to set up an alternate meeting time.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes – Show your progress

These are the specific expectations your instructor has for your learning. Revisit them when preparing for assignments and exams to ensure you’re on the right track.

Course Materials & Schedule – Stay informed and organized

Your syllabus is not just a one-time read. It identifies all required textbooks and articles for the course and outlines a reading schedule for each week. This means you should look at the syllabus at least every week to be prepared for each class.

Check out part two for more essential sections of the syllabus you shouldn’t miss!


Written by Madeline Grove, Senior Writing and Language Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

University can be an exciting and daunting journey, filled with new challenges and opportunities. To help you navigate this adventure, the Student Learning Hub has compiled some study tips that will set you up for academic success.

Read the Syllabus Closely

The syllabus for each class is your roadmap for the entire semester. Make sure you read it carefully to understand course expectations, grading criteria, assignment deadlines, and exam dates. This will prevent any last-minute surprises and help you plan your study schedule effectively.

Take Control of Your Calendar

Effective time management is key to academic success. Use physical or digital calendars to record important dates like exams, project submissions, and class sessions. Plan your week ahead by allocating time for each class’s tasks and assignments and set reminders on your phone to stay on track throughout the week. Don’t forget to plan for your assignments early!

Schedule ‘Me’ Time

Balancing academics with personal well-being is crucial. Allocate time for relaxation, exercise, and hobbies. Self-care is not just a luxury – it’s essential for maintaining focus, productivity, and mental clarity. Check out UBC 101 for more advice and resources about student health and wellness. 

Attend Classes and Take Notes

Attending classes is a fundamental part of learning. Also, writing and rereading your notes is more efficient than revisiting the entire textbook or lecture slides because it helps you absorb information better, preparing you for exams.

Ask Questions and Seek Support

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t hesitate to ask your professors and TAs any questions. Also, whether it’s a difficult subject, writing assignment, or time management issue, the Student Learning Hub— your one-stop shop for free and flexible learning supports and resources— is here for you!

Remember, adopting effective study habits is a gradual process. Be patient with yourself, embrace challenges, and celebrate your achievements along the way.


UBC Okanagan Library will be temporarily waiving fines on items that are overdue during the Library’s closure due to the current wildfire situation. Once the Library reopens, overdue items can be returned to the Library Service Desk or at the designated book return slot at the front of the Library building.  

Please contact us at if you have any questions.  

Information about the current wildfire situation. Read More 




Written by Marissa Thompson, Writing Consultant at the Student Learning Hub

Do you ever find yourself sitting in front of a blank page with an ever-blinking cursor and a daunting due date, wondering, “Where do I even begin?”. Or maybe you are finding it difficult to get even that far. Are you ever just about to hit submit but begin second-guessing whether your paper covers every criteria point? Or maybe you are simply wondering if your argument makes any sense at all.

If you are ever in a similar position, visit the Student Learning Hub (SLH). We have friendly (and free) writing consultants who can help you figure out the next step, or if that argument makes sense. It can be daunting to book a one-on-one appointment with a tutor, so we want to erase the mystery by offering a glimpse of what to expect during a writing appointment at the SLH.

Before your appointment, you will fill out the basics of the assignment and your concerns, questions, or challenges in the appointment form.

When you arrive, you will check in with the front desk where you will either be directed to your consultant or asked to take a seat on the blue couch.

During your appointment, your consultant will provide you with a comfortable environment to practice, ask questions, and get individualized support. This appointment is for YOU so we will ask what YOU want to work on—you are in complete control of where the appointment goes from here.

We encourage you to share any questions or concerns you have about your assignment. Some concepts we might cover in an appointment are academic conversation/speaking practice, grammar, integrating sources, organization, paraphrasing/summarizing/quoting, planning and drafting, revision strategies, thesis statements, understanding assignment expectations, word choice, writers block, and anything else you are concerned or unsure about.

Appointments are 45 minutes long, but they don’t need to be. Sometimes, you might only need half the time before you feel ready to go off and work on your paper—that’s okay! Our goal is for you to leave the appointment feeling confident about writing on your own and, sometimes, that doesn’t take the whole block of time. Before wrapping up, we will give you a five-minute warning, allowing you to ask any last-minute, burning questions you might still have

After your appointment, we will email you a post-appointment summary that will detail some of the concepts we covered, any additional resources, and your “next steps”. Then, it is time to get writing!

The writing consultants at the SLH are here for YOU, so come say hi! You can book an appointment on QReserve:

Happy writing!