Heather MacDonald, learning strategist at St. Thomas University, is looking forward to the third-annual Long Night Against Procrastination. She loves creating a caring and supportive environment for students, while also providing activities and food to let them decompress from the study grind. The goal is to raise awareness for academic support on campus and provide a learning community to students.
“You don’t have to study alone, at your house or in [your] room. You can share that experience with other students but still get work done,” said MacDonald.
Last year, between 300 and 350 students attended for a night of productivity and fun, a 20 per cent increase from the first year it was held in 2016. It’s open to all students and no one will be turned away.
Through expansion of marketing, discussion with first-year classes and changes to the event, MacDonald hopes to attract more students to James Dunn Hall on March 15 between 5 p.m. and midnight.
After getting feedback that certain activities were getting in the way of productivity, MacDonald cut back on the number of organized activities but plans to increase the length of the ones that remain.
“Students found that activities that started at a specific time, could sometimes break a flow. If you’re in a groove, you don’t necessarily want to get up and go do something at a certain time,” said MacDonald.
Some of students’ favourite activities, which include meeting therapy dogs, the de-stress station, academic advising, the Pomodoro classroom – a study method that uses scheduled intervals – and writing centre resources will still be offered. And of course, the poutine feast at midnight remains a hit.
Trinity Kirk, a fourth-year criminology and psychology major has attended and volunteered at the event since the beginning. She approached MacDonald last semester to see how she could help with the event which led to MacDonald asking her to become an assistant coordinator.
“I have such a strong appreciation for this event and I just reached out to Heather … It just kind of happened,” said Kirk.
She believes the event is beneficial to students, especially by offering different academic services in one place.
“It eliminates the stress of [students] having to reach out to them. Students can actually just see them on that day and not have to worry about going online [and] finding a booking that fits their time schedule,” said Kirk.
MacDonald realizes this type of event might not suit every student at STU.
“Maybe getting together in a very large group like this isn’t an event for everybody,” she said.
To solve this, there are quiet classrooms around JDH where students can set up shop.
Alyssa Stickles, a third-year criminology major said she and her friends got distracted last year. Although it wasn’t productive for her, she believes it can work for other students.
“If you have a group project I would say this is a great way to talk with your group, socialize with them and gather thoughts and ideas for the project, maybe even make the slides for your PowerPoint,” said Stickles.
If her friends go this year, she’ll tag along.
Alex Hernandez, a second-year psychology major, was one of Stickles’ group members. Although he doesn’t plan on going back, he still appreciates the university puts this on for students.
“I think that it’s really cool for the school to do something [like] that for the students and that they had opportunities for tutors and stuff,” said Hernandez.
MacDonald wants students to know it’s never too late to get back on track and get motivated and STU is there to help them.
“I want students to leave with the feeling that St. Thomas is invested in your academic success and we’re providing you with the tools that you need.”