“I was very anxious about developing and writing a thesis. I was concerned that my struggles with time management and my lack of experience with writing pieces of such length would prevent me from finishing my program on time, or at all. I considered seeking help from Health and Counselling Services, but I felt that I wasn’t in crisis, and didn’t have an immediate, tangible problem to work through. What I wanted was long-term help, and something that could prevent my anxiety and stress from becoming unmanageable.”

— Kathleen, a Carleton University graduate student

Kathleen discovered the From Intention to Action (FITA) Program offered by Carleton’s Paul Menton Centre for Students With Disabilities. The program is geared at grad and undergrad students who want to learn how to manage their stress and improve their academic performance. It does this through one-on-one support, in the form of weekly meetings, with a staff member who helps participants craft individual action plans to get them back on track.

The program is open to any student, graduate or undergraduate, who is feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Larry McCloskey, director of the Paul Menton Centre, acknowledge that: “University life is a time of great transition with unique pressures that can cause capable undergraduate and graduate students to struggle academically and in their personal lives. FITA is an outcome-driven program that offers support, structure and skills based on individual needs for students who are stressed, overwhelmed and not meeting their desired goals.”

Kathleen says FITA has really helped her. “The weekly meetings are crucial for staying on track, and dealing with both immediate problems and deadlines as well as working toward long-term goals, and breaking down the thesis into manageable pieces. FITA has taught me skills I can apply to all sorts of future situations. The stress of an academic workload is not that different from the stress of a workplace. Learning to manage it, and to use the tools that can keep you from feeling overwhelmed, is applicable to any sort of career.”

She goes on to say: “I think the most important thing I would tell other graduate students about this program is that you do not need to be desperate and miserable to use it! It can help anyone wanting to deal with stress, academic issues, work/life balance issues, and whatever is an obstacle to achieving your academic goals.”

Students who feel they would benefit from this type of one-on-one support can call 613-520-2600, ext. 1125 or email fitaction@carleton.ca to set up a meeting with a FITA staff member. Interested students should also look at the Program Components section of the website to see how this unique program can make a difference.

The Paul Menton Centre offers many other support systems. Please go to the FGPA Student Services website for more information.