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Meet some of our most inspiring students!

 

Our mentees faced some of the most common academic challenges and overcame them.

 

 

 

Robert D.

Hi, my name is Robert.

In the spring of 2017, I was accepted into York University. I would be attending the Glendon campus taking French studies with concurrent education. This means at the end of the 6 year program, I’d be qualified to teach French in Ontario, almost guaranteed the job. I had been working towards this for 3 years prior to my acceptance, as this was a fairly difficult program to get into. The program had roughly 800 applicants a year, and accepted just over 100. My friends and family were excited and happy for me, as being a teacher is a stable and respectable career. I was also excited, but not as much as everyone else. The reason I wasn’t as excited was because deep down, I was doubtful. I had tons of experience volunteering and teaching various subjects to children (including French). I liked it, but I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. Longing for a stable and respectable career, and not wanting to disappoint my friends and family, I accepted the offer. Anytime anyone asked me what I wanted to do for my career I said I wanted to be a French teacher. The reality was that I didn’t know what I wanted to be, and I’m sure many high school graduates feel the same way I did. 

A few months later, I attended Frosh Week. The atmosphere was energizing. The students and the leaders that I met were all friendly and very nice to me. I met friends that I still keep in touch with today. Despite all this positivity surrounding York, I still felt like something was off. During the first week of classes, I met even more students, some of whom were in my program. At the beginning, my marks were good; my first mark being 100%. However, as the semester progressed, my grades steadily decreased, and I couldn’t figure out why. I used the same study strategies I used in high school, and at the beginning of the semester, but my marks kept getting worse. I didn’t know where to go, or who to contact for help. I also couldn’t ask my classmates because I was afraid of what they would think of me.  This was a low point for me because I felt alone and that I needed to face my problems without bothering anyone else. It seemed like I was the only one who had issues in my first year. I barely held out until the end of the semester, thankfully passing my single semester courses. I knew something had to change because I could not keep this up. During my first week back, I was determined to find something that would help me. When I went to ask a few people at school for help, I was treated like I was wasting their time. So, I stopped asking, assumed it was my fault, and figured I needed to try harder in university to succeed.

A week later, Dr. Chris Grafos held a presentation in my history class. He explained what BridgesEDU was and how he could help students improve their university grades. He actually seemed like he was there to help students, unlike the others I had asked. What really spoke to me about his presentation was the example he had of a past student he had helped. The student’s grades had significantly improved over the span of 2 months, after being helped by Chris. He wrote down his information on the board and told everyone who was interested to contact him or talk to him after the presentation.  I wanted to talk to him, but I was afraid of wasting his time, so I wrote down his information and left. I figured I wouldn’t waste as much of his time through an email.  So, through an email, I explained my situation.  Firstly, he responded by saying he could help me. This was huge because so far, no one I had asked had said: “I can help you.”  He then went on to briefly explain what he would teach me and how it would help. After a consultation meeting, we agreed to meet once a week, so that he could mentor me and teach me different strategies on how to improve my academic abilities. By the time reading week came, my overall average finally started to increase. Unfortunately, right after reading week, York university had a strike. By this point, Chris had only taught me 4 out of the 8 lessons that were scheduled. We carried on with the lessons, while my classes were suspended. This strike turned out to be the longest university strike in Canadian history (lucky me). Just as I was finally figuring out how to succeed in university, I could not use the strategies that I had learned.

Classes resumed in September. I used the strategies Chris had taught me. Again, things were looking up, as my marks were steadily improving. During the middle and towards the end of the semester, a series of personal issues came up. As a result I missed a few classes and quickly fell behind. By the time exams came along, I wasn’t prepared. After exams, I was extremely discouraged. Yet again, another low point. I didn’t give up. Using the skills Chris taught me, I made a deal with myself. If I could improve my grades, I would continue. If not, there was no point in wasting more time and effort in this program. In the next semester, I tried my hardest. It both payed off and it didn’t. I passed my courses, but I didn’t receive the grades I promised I’d get at the beginning of the semester. I could better defend the argument of leaving then staying.

So, at the end of the spring semester I started looking for a different program. I attended 4 open houses at various Colleges and Universities across the GTA. I felt like I was making the biggest mistake of my life at each open house. This was because I had worked extremely hard before I got into the program, and even harder while I was in it. However, I remembered what Chris taught me, and this put me in a better state of mind.  I chose to attend Seneca college taking business. This was clearly quite different from French. But again, I could more defensibly argue attending this program than to continue attending York.  The hardest thing I had to do (other than leaving the program) was telling my friends and family that I was leaving the program. Again, the last thing I wanted to do was to disappoint them.  After I told them, I realized it wasn’t that bad. None of them were disappointed, as long as I did what I thought was right, they supported me. 

So in the fall semester of 2019, I started at Seneca. I was still discouraged, but I knew that both the knowledge I gained from Chris, and my 2 years at York, would give me everything I needed to succeed. I’m relieved to say that I did succeed. In my first semester, I received 3 letter grades of A+ out of 5 courses. I not only succeeded in my academics, but I gained so much confidence, and I finally feel like I’m in the right place. In each of my courses, I can honestly say that I used, and still use the skills Chris taught me.  I just finished my second semester, and things haven’t been better.

The lessons Dr. Chris Grafos taught me didn’t just improve my grades, they also helped me to become a better, more confident person.  I will be forever grateful for what he’s done for me!

Lastly, if you are a student who feels like you’re the only one failing in your goals, you are NOT alone. There are people in the exact same situation you’re in. The difference is how you choose to handle the situation: Give up or not. I know this sounds cliché but: NEVER GIVE UP. If you feel that you can’t do it alone, there are people who will support you in whatever you choose to do.

Thank you for reading my personal academic journey, and I hope I inspired at least one person to succeed.

Message from Christopher

I met Robert shortly after giving a presentation to a history class at York University – Glendon Campus. Robert emailed me and we met for a consultation. He was a first-year student. I recognized immediately that Robert was a bright student, but he was frustrated with his grades and this was chipping away at his confidence. Robert expressed to me his disappointment that everything he had been taught about academic success prior to university just wasn’t working. He told me that he had tried working harder, but it earned him the same result.

I knew I could help Robert because he had, among others, one incredibly important quality; a desire to do better and the motivation to work for it. In the first session I had with Robert, I showed him how to find and dissect arguments in academic texts. I was thrilled because he asked a lot questions. After we spoke about how to use this skill in tutorials, Robert reported significant news. He told me that he spoke several times during a tutorial and his professor commended him for his informed contribution to the class. The consequence of this remark was tremendous. Robert had never heard this kind of feedback before, and in front of me, I began to see the construction of a solid foundation of confidence. The importance of this development is clear in Robert’s words above.

Since completing the BridgesEDU Secrets to Undergrad Success course, Robert made some significant decisions to change his academic path. Put simply, Robert has an immeasurable amount of courage. He chose to silence the mind-chatter that prevents many people from going after what they truly desire. This is a demonstration of boldness that I admire. As Robert mentions, I hope his story inspires at least one other student, hopefully many more, to define their own path. Robert is doing it and so can you.  

Message from Christopher

Veronica is an inspiring person. I can’t think of many other people who exemplify how a commitment to a process and a simultaneous courage to push through the uncertainties and intimidations of undergraduate life lead to positive results. I have taught hundreds of undergraduates and I know that Veronica’s story is one that will resonate with many students.

When I met Veronica in 2018, she was shy and unsure about university. My impression was that the myths of university – your grades will drop, professors don’t care about you, etc. – had created an idea that academia is an unconquerable terrain that gobbles up many students (while working with undergrads, I learned that students are bombarded with this message so it’s understandable to feel this way).

Veronica took the BridgesEDU University Prep program during a gap year. During this course, I could see growing momentum in her confidence. As we touched on A-level expectations in university and how a student can achieve those results, it seemed to deconstruct the idea that students inevitably experience some grade decline in undergraduate studies.

Veronica committed to getting her assignments done early, editing and revising that work, and getting feedback on her writing. As a consequence, I have seen Veronica’s writing make major strides in quality and clarity. Beyond this, Veronica is virtually a straight-A student in her first two years of undergraduate studies.

Veronica should be lauded for her academic performance so far. I say this because, while never explicitly saying this to me, I don’t think Veronica believed that she would earn the grades she has right from the start of first year. My impression is that Veronica, like many other students, believe that academic success doesn’t come right away. It only comes to students after much suffering and turmoil. In fact, this doesn’t have to be the case. As Veronica has shown, scheduling a plan of success and knowing what university professors are looking for is a large part of successfully navigating undergrad life. I’m delighted that Veronica can be such a positive example for other students.

Veronica Z. 

What were you experiencing or feeling that caused you or your parents/guardian to reach out to BridgesEDU?

Prior to my parents reaching out to BridgesEDU, I was anxious about how to effectively approach the transition from high school to university. With the heightened academic expectations of university including increased coursework, larger class sizes and a new learning environment, I did not feel well equipped to succeed in university. Personally, I felt that high school did not adequately prepare nor teach students analytical and critical thinking skills, which are an important element of university academics. Thankfully, BridgesEDU has substantially improved these skill sets for me. Prior to entering university, my level of anxiety was exacerbated by the fact that we were told that in university students are just a number and that professors are indifferent about their students, which further burdened me as I was about to begin my journey at university. Yet, I came to find that the opposite was true. Professors are always willing to assist students and are interested in helping them achieve academic success.

You have made tremendous progress in your academic life in a short period of time. For other students wanting to do the same, what tips would you share with them?

I have found it extremely important to prepare early in order to get ahead in your academic studies. At the beginning of each semester, I would suggest creating a schedule to prioritize when to begin to prepare for each of your courses exams and assignments. By doing so, you will be able to stay ahead on your studying, readings and assignments and thus avoid procrastinating and getting overwhelmed during exam season. This approach is crucial to effectively manage your study time and to stay organized throughout the semester. Another important tip that I have is that for longer readings you should create a summary of major themes, ideas and concepts from the text. Again, this will be beneficial in managing your time when you need to study for exams and improving your note-taking skills. Lastly, when it comes to essays, do not simply summarize or restate ideas. Instead, it is important to critically analyze major themes of your topic, clearly articulating your thesis and developing arguments in support of it. These tips have been crucial in helping me to achieve my academic success.

There are MANY students who feel like they are destined to keep getting grades that they are not happy with or outcomes that don’t represent their potential. Do you have any advice for them?

The transition from high school to university is difficult, as most students are not adequately prepared with the necessary skills needed to be successful in university. However, universities have many academic resources for students who are struggling including a writing centre, supported learning groups and transition support resources. Students must also realize that it is really important to regularly attend their classes. Do not make it a habit to skip class or have your friends provide you with lecture notes. To be successful, you need to understand course material and have the opportunity to ask questions of your professors and instructor when information is not clear and further clarification is needed. Do not be afraid to go to visit your professors during their office hours or to ask a teaching assistant (TA) for guidance on your assignments and exams. They are always more than willing to help! Take advantage of every available resource and opportunity to get support so that you can excel at your academic studies.

Has working with an academic coach taught you skills that you may not have had otherwise? Has it increased your confidence?

Personally, I feel that I have gained much more confidence in my writing skills. Prior to attending university, I had only written one formal essay in Grade 12 and was worried about how to properly and effectively write an essay, which would meet and satisfy the expectations of my professors. Through the mentoring that I have received through BridgesEDU, I have excelled in developing my critical thinking skills and improved my ability to analyze and interpret readings and texts, rather than simply summarizing them. Lastly, I have gained the self-confidence to proactively approach my professors during their office hours to ask questions relating to my assignments and exams, something I was very reluctant to do during my first semester of university.

Is there anything else you want to share with other students?

Overall, it is important to stay on top of your academics! Choose a program that you are passionate about that will actively grow your interest towards your future career. However, do not be afraid to try out new clubs and make new friends, especially if you are in a new program and at a university away from your friends.

Courses & Services

Live and face-to-face academic coaching in a convenient online platform. Learn from anywhere!

BridgesEDU offers mentoring from a Ph.D. in:

  • Online learning and scheduling
  • Goal setting 
  • Writing at a university level
  • Reading and dissecting academic texts
  • How to navigate university tutorials
  • Executing on university-level exams

Mitchell C.

What were you experiencing or feeling that caused you or your parents/guardian to reach out to BridgesEDU?

Before I started university, my writing was not at the same level as other students. My parents wanted me to get better prepared for the challenge of university-level writing because I was not ready at the time. However, I did not see it that way. I felt that I didn’t need extra help. I was always told how excellent I was in the content of my writing, so I looked passed the fact that I always seemed to struggle to state my position in my writing. This problem was eventually revealed to me when I did not get accepted into my dream program, RTA Sports Media. When I asked the application services for feedback, they said it was the written part of my application that didn’t make the cut. At that point, I made it my goal to fix my writing and achieve my goal of getting into the program. With the help of BridgesEDU, I succeeded and I am now thriving in my dream program and I’m on my way to my dream career.

You have made tremendous progress in your academic life in a short period of time. For other students wanting to do the same, what tips would you share with them?

Two key things that made the difference in my success were (i) not being afraid to speak up and ask for help and (ii) following a plan to stay organized. Whether you talk to your academic coach or your professors, asking for guidance or clarification is something I learned to be very crucial (and sometimes overlooked). People, including me, often feel ashamed or stupid when they have to ask for help because it seems that others are not doing the same. However, in the end, getting clarification helps you understand assignments better, which can definitely lift your grades. Furthermore, keeping organized in my life became a big part of my success. When I was organized with timetables, due dates, and estimates of how long each assignment would take, it allowed me to spend the appropriate amount of time on my writing. Being able to organize an essay to clearly convey your argument and thoughts to your professor goes a long way and leads to success.

There are MANY students who feel like they are destined to keep getting grades that they are not happy with or outcomes that don’t represent their potential. Do you have any advice for them?

The advice I would give to those who continue to underperform with their grades is to know and to believe that they are smarter than the grades they receive. What your current results may mean is that you are among the students who have to work twice as hard to achieve the same results as other students. I was one of the select few that had to figure this out during my first year. With this realization, I focused on managing my time better and understanding what I would need to invest in order to get the grades I wanted to receive. I never settled for anything short of my best effort. I held myself to a high standard and didn’t accept anything less. If I didn’t get the result I wanted, I would go back and find out why. Where in the process did I go wrong? From there, I learned from my mistakes and worked hard to correct them.

Has working with an academic coach taught you skills that you may not have had otherwise? Has it increased your confidence?

Yes, 100%! While working with my academic coach, Chris, the one skill I feel I absorbed the most was how to effectively organize my writing and present it in a clear and concise way. In doing this, my confidence skyrocketed to new heights. This was the major problem when it came to my writing. I had trouble clearly stating my position and continuing that argument throughout my writing. However, as soon as I overcame this with the help of Chris, I gained new levels of self-assurance in my studies. This gave me the confidence to want to write more papers and essays. As well, I feel that completing his 10-session program in preparation for university gave me an edge over other students. The things I learned from BridgesEDU appeared throughout my first semester, but knowing this information in advance gave me the confidence I needed to be successful in university. 

Is there anything else you want to share with other students?

One thing I can’t stress more is how BridgesEDU has helped me massively achieve success in my academic life. I would genuinely recommend this program to students struggling in university or for those who feel that they are unprepared for university studies. Any questions I had were answered and they were explained in ways I could easily comprehend. This furthered my understanding of what professors are looking for when grading students.  By knowing this, I was able to meet their expectations when they marked my work, which ensured that I achieved the best possible results in my assignments. Overall, I am incredibly thankful for the help of Chris and his program, BridgesEDU.

Message from Christopher

I still remember meeting Mitchell for the first time. He had a beaming smile and an unforgettable charisma – and he still does! Beneath his radiant enthusiasm however, was a sore spot. Mitchell had made it to an advanced application stage for his dream university program, only to receive a “no” because his writing needed more development. In our first meeting, he told me that he was disappointed, but he was ready to invest time and effort to change his fortune in the next application round. In the meantime, Mitchell accepted an offer from another academic institution so that he could spend a year improving his academic skill set. If anyone ever encounters a setback like this in their life, I hope they respond like Mitchell did. In short, he was relentless in pursuit of his goal.

Mitchell started with BridgesEDU in the University Prep program. That summer, he worked long days at a part-time job. When he logged on to our online meetings, he was physically tired, though, he never outright told me so. Irrespective of this fact, Mitchell had an unmatched eagerness to learn. When we covered advanced-level topics in reading academic texts and writing at a university level, I could sense Mitchell’s intense focus. It was as if he had discovered a key to a chest filled with academic gems and insights. Mitchell employed these lessons and had a tremendous academic year.

For me, the most inspiring moment in my work with Mitchell was around the time that he was preparing to complete his writing test for his dream sports media program. Before writing a timed response, Mitchell and I met to practice formatting, grammatical structure, and the expression of critical thinking in a timed high-pressure format. We covered countless examples and after each one, Mitchell would ask, “can we do a couple more?” Even after expressing to Mitchell that I felt he was ready, he continued to meet with me to revise his process and get feedback from me. He was relentless in the most inspiring way and it paid off. Mitchell received an offer of acceptance shortly thereafter and he’s thriving in his sports media program.

A few short words cannot accurately capture the tenacity that I saw from Mitchell since meeting him in 2018. I admire his antifragility and I hope that other students are inspired by his journey.

Message from Christopher

When I met Deanna, she expressed frustration about the outcomes she was experiencing in university. Put simply, she felt that she should be doing better. More importantly, Deanna told me that she needed to up her academic game because she was hoping to move on to a competitive post-graduate opportunity after completing her undergraduate degree.

As Deanna and I worked through the Undergrad Success programme, I showed her how to translate critical thinking into essay writing, reading, tutorial participation, and exam answers. As we completed each of the lessons, Deanna expressed a profound eagerness to employ the new skills and knowledge. Beyond this, she often mentioned how vexing it was that she had never explicitly learned the skills offered in the BridgesEDU programme. It was evident at the time that Deanna was uncovering the secrets to academic success.

Sometime after taking the course, I emailed Deanna to check in on her progress. I was delighted with the update. Deanna explained that after taking my course she had received a consecutive string of A grades, which was the first time she had accomplished this academic milestone. Also, she shared some additional exciting news. Deanna had been contacted by one of her TA’s about her most recent written assignment. The TA thought that it was a strong display of analytical skill and asked if reading it to the class would be possible. Deanna’s work had become a symbol for other students to learn from.

Deanna has worked hard to earn the praise of her course directors. For this reason, she should be commended. 

Deanna O. 

What were you experiencing or feeling that caused you or your parents/guardian to reach out to BridgesEDU?

I was in my second year of University at Glendon and I was having a hard time understanding how to do well and get good grades. It seemed that no matter how hard I would try, I was still not excelling in any of my classes. One day I was sitting in class and Christopher Grafos came in and gave a speech discussing how other students were having the same issues. He spoke about how these same students took a course with him and they started to do well in their classes and even received 90s on their tests, assignments and final grades. This definitely caught my attention and was exactly the help that I needed in order to succeed. Knowing this, I spoke with Dr. Grafos after his presentation. I got his information, set up the meetings with him and started my journey to excel in the rest of my undergraduate career.

You have made tremendous progress in your academic life in a short period of time. For other students wanting to do the same, what tips would you share with them?

One of the most important parts about doing well is having communication with your professors and TAs. They are there to help their students to do well in their classes. It also helps to understand the breakdown of assignments or exams because they guide you through their precise expectations.

Also, something that Chris taught me is that it is important to work smarter rather than just working harder. In other words, it helps to know how to do well and what skills you need to develop in order to do so. So, it is essential to understand what is expected within undergraduate essays, tests and exams in order to get good grades and excel.

There are MANY students who feel like they are destined to keep getting grades that they are not happy with or outcomes that don’t represent their potential. Do you have any advice for them?

Again, communication with professors is very important. If you received a grade that didn’t meet your expectations, you can discuss this with your professor, see where you went wrong, and you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Students can also meet with professors before assignments are due in order to make sure that they are on the right track with the expectations of assignments and are completing it with the appropriate elements that are needed to do well.

Has working with an academic coach taught you skills that you may not have had otherwise? Has it increased your confidence?

Yes, working with an academic coach has definitely taught me a lot and given me new and useful skills. Before meeting with an academic coach, I did not know how to do well in school and did not get good grades because I was not approaching my work in the right way. Meeting with Dr. Grafos helped me gain the critical and analytical skills needed in order to do well in an undergraduate setting. He has taught me how to write a thesis, how to spot the argument of an article, how to perform well on exams, the proper formats and expectations of essays and much more. Because of this new understanding, my confidence as a student has definitely increased since I now know the expectations of my professors and Tas, which has also helped boost my marks.

Is there anything else you want to share with other students?

Meeting with an academic advisor has helped tremendously and has given me the confidence and the marks to do well in my undergraduate student and to finish the academic year strong!

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See Our Reviews

Deanna O'Dea

★★★★★ 2 weeks ago
I really did learn a lot from participating in this program! Not only did it provide me with a significant amount of helpful strategies for my undergraduate degree, but it also provided me with a lot of confidence in myself! Thank you so much Dr. Christopher Grafos for helping me succeed in University!

Simone Deahl

★★★★★ 2 months ago
I used BridgesEDU while I was applying to graduate school, and it was an IMMENSE help. Without Chris’s advice and encouragement, I don’t think I would have been able to pull a successful application together. Now I am on my way to do my …

Onkar Singh

★★★★★ 3 months ago
A great organization
Chris helped me with my scholarship writing.
BridgesEDU will actually help you out and Chris(Founder) is an expert in providing academic aid.