How to Succeed at University (and Get a Great Job!)
224 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Aug 2015

How to Succeed at University (and Get a Great Job!)

Mastering the Critical Skills You Need for School, Work, and Life

SERIES: On Campus
UBC Press, On Campus

Going to university is an exciting time of life that involves many things: learning, meeting new people, making decisions, building relationships, and gaining greater independence. But getting a university education can also be a source of undue stress. What courses should I take? What program should I choose? Will I get a job after graduation? It’s easy to become discouraged when you don’t see what relationship studying Plato, Shakespeare, or Sartre has to the real world.

How to Succeed at University (and Get a Great Job!) shows that the best preparation for success at life and on the job is succeeding at university. Oral presentations, teamwork, meeting deadlines, overcoming challenges, locating information, explaining events, writing well, and dealing with people in authority are essential in any professional job. These same skills are also vital for becoming a strong student. This book gives you advice and strategies, along with real-life examples, on how to improve the skills that guarantee success at school, work, and in life. More than that, by mastering these easy-to-learn skills, you will also have time to enjoy all the other benefits that a university education provides.

This practical guide is meant for university students and graduates, college and high school students, as well as instructors, guidance counsellors, and parents. By answering many of the questions that students and recent graduates have about succeeding in their courses and in their post-school careers, this book shows that the path from university to the real world is straightforward and exciting if you know what you are doing.

This book will show you how to:

  • Develop strong communication skills
  • Select the right courses and choose a program
  • Organize and manage your time
  • Write essays and prepare for exams
  • Take notes in classes
  • Adapt to changing circumstances
  • Problem solve
  • Develop positive attitudes
  • Manage social media
  • Prepare a powerful resume
  • Shine in job interviews
  • Succeed in your career

An excellent resource for university, college, and high school students and graduates, as well as instructors, guidance counsellors, and parents.

Thomas R. Klassen is a professor in the Department of Political Science and in the School of Public Policy and Administration at York University in Toronto. He has written widely on a number of topics, including retirement, pensions, unemployment, immigration, gambling, and discrimination. His most recent book is Retirement in Canada. His articles on current affairs appear in newspapers and other outlets. In addition to teaching in a variety of disciplines – including sociology, political science, labour studies, public policy, and business administration – Professor Klassen has worked in both the private and public sectors. He particularly enjoys collaborating with others and is part of several large-scale writing, research, and international development projects with colleagues around the world.

John A. Dwyer is a professor emeritus in the Department of Humanities at York University in Toronto. His research interests are the Scottish Enlightenment and Eighteenth-Century Sentimentalism. He has published extensively on the philosopher Adam Smith and the novelist Henry Mackenzie. He has also written a textbook used by business schools, Business History: Canada in the Global Community. A gifted teacher and winner of many awards for his classroom activities, he has taught nearly everything from natural science, history, ethics, and business. Most recently he taught a course titled “On Love.” In addition to being a professor, he worked for many years as an administrator and consultant.


1 University as Preparation for a Great Job

What’s university all about?

What to expect after graduation

Will I get a well-paid job?

How to select courses

Mature, returning, and part-time students

What job-related skills can I learn in my courses?

2 Skills for Success at School and Work

Oral presentations

Group work

Being a proactive professional

Using numbers

Taking notes

Getting yourself organized

3 Prospering in the Classroom and Workplace

Exams, a fact of life

Strategies for multiple-choice exams

Strategies for written exams

The usefulness of essays

Writing for the academic reader

How to organize an essay

The basic structure of an essay

Essay writing as a process

Common essay-writing errors

Lab reports and similar assignments

The last word

4 Strengthening Your Critical Skills

What are critical skills?

Communication and critical thinking

Strengthening your critical skills

The limitations of narrative

Contextualizing information

The significance of theories

Theoretical levels and forms

Practical tips to help you on your way

5 Active Listening and Active Reading

Passive listening

Active listening

Active reading

Reading at an academic level

Perfecting your skills

6 Researching a Topic

Rules of thumb for researchers

Two research strategies

7 Practical Problem Solving for School, Work, and Life

Why applied problem solving is so important

Problem solving as a process

Step one: defining the problem

Step two: discovering causes

Step three: establishing solutions

Step four: making a choice

Step five: implementation

Step six: benchmarking and evaluating

Step seven: remaining vigilant

Problem solving as a life skill

8 Creative Problem Solving for Life and Work

Relation to problem solving

The rigid structures of the mind

Creative problem-solving techniques

Creatively reconfiguring the problem

Maximizing creative solutions

The right environment for creative thinking

9 Finding and Getting the Great Job

The importance of networking


The cover letter

Networking and the information interview

The real interview

Decoding interview questions

Interview styles


After the interview

10 Managing Social Media

Five rules for social media

Social media and relationship building

Branding yourself

Internet dating as metaphor

11 Success at Work and Beyond

The first job

Staying sharp

Dealing with the transition

Graduate, professional, vocational, and on-line education

Further success

Notes; More Resources

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