5 simple ways to do well at Dal

Work smarter, not harder: take advantage of every opportunity and service you have access to.

A young woman sits in a yellow leather chair with a notebook and pen in her lap. Finding a great study spot always helps!

While you may think four years is a long time (or two, or three or five), it'll pass by really quickly. There are some things that you should be doing each year to move you closer to your goals.

If you never used support services in high school (or wherever you were before Dal) because you thought there was some sort of stigma attached to them, I have two things to say: 1) there really wasn’t any stigma, and 2) there definitely isn’t in university. Everyone from first-years to PhD candidates use the services at Dal. Seriously. I’ve seen grad students meeting with advisors at the Writing Centre because they’re smart enough to know that they should get as much feedback on their papers as they can. Why wouldn’t you? Here’s why you should use the support services and resources at Dal.


1. It’s smart to look for help

Whether you’re doing well but want to do better, are in need of some extra support, or are looking for guidance when making decisions, there’s no shame in asking for help. And there are plenty of people at Dal happy to help you ­– they've tailored their career for doing just that!

  • Advisors in Halifax and Truro can help you identify your strengths, set your goals and create (and stick to!) an academic plan. Check in with them at least once per semester to make sure you’re on the right track. They can also provide guidance on things like finding part-time work, summer employment, building a resume, and mapping out a career plan.
  • The Bissett Student Success Centre in Halifax offers one-on-one coaching and free workshops covering various study skills such as time management, effective reading, and exam prep. Attend sessions early and as often as you need. In Truro, the Student Success Coordinator offers similar services to help you with your study skills.
  • The Writing Centre in Halifax offers one-on-one support and workshops that help you improve your writing skills for research papers, course assignments, and in-class presentations. Get advice on citations, grammar, sentence structure, planning, and more. In Truro, you can find writing support in the MacRae Library or by emailing acwrite@dal.ca.


2. Our five libraries offer more than books

Use the Dal Libraries to find books, eBooks, films, journal articles, and more. The libraries are a part of Novanet, so you have access to books from 30 university and college libraries in the region! And through document delivery, you can access books from libraries all over Canada and beyond. The incredibly knowledgeable Subject Liaisons can help you find relevant information for your assignment, the IT Help Desk can provide technical support, and the library facilities themselves have quiet study spaces.


3. Timing is everything

Timing is a huge part of university life. Due dates, deadlines, presentations, and exams all require careful scheduling. So if you’re having difficulty, look for support early. It's usually easier to deal with problems before they get too big, and talking to your professor or TA early can get you back on track faster. There’s not much that can be done the night before a deadline!


4. Build your support network on campus

It takes a village to get through university! You should build your own network of people and places who will support your academic, personal, and social well-being. In addition to friends, classmates, instructors, and family, you should think about including advisors, study coaches, and peer mentors on your team. The more supporters you have, the better. Dal is one large community, but there are diverse communities within Dalhousie that can be valuable resources for information, networking, social opportunities, and spaces to relax and hang out. If you’re an incoming student, you can get started by checking out the Together@Dal program.


5. Learn to manage your student life

Skills including time management, organization, discipline, resilience, and self-advocacy are going to come in handy while you're in university. Luckily, there are workshops to help you improve them too (like the Inquiring Mind program). Seek out these opportunities. If you prefer to learn in a more casual setting, this Dal Student Life blog has plenty of articles to help you out. You got this.