Your first year of university might be daunting, but we – Cheryl, Krystel, and Rachel – have got some great tips and strategies to help you through!

Make friends!

Having friends is great in college and university. They’re what make going to classes and doing homework bearable (sometimes). However, making friends within your classes is one of the best strategies for success. You can share your notes and shoot ideas off of one another when assignments come barrelling down. If you don’t understand a concept, you always have at least one other person who can explain it to you. Or if you both or all don’t understand it, going to the professor and asking for help won’t seem like such a daunting task anymore. Not only that, but venting out at someone who truly understands the difficulties of that course (since they’re taking it with you) and can celebrate the achievements within that course definitely makes it worthwhile. After all, emotional support is always the best. And who knows, you might’ve just made a friend for life. –Rachel

Find out about your school’s free resources

Most schools have a ton of free resources including tutoring, accessibility, counselling, and health services, resume and interview workshops, employer networking sessions, job boards, gyms, shuttle busses and more! When I was in first year, I didn’t know about most of the services my school provided for free. I spent half a term struggling with my first year math courses until someone told me about the completely free math tutoring that took place every weeknight just steps away from my residence! Even finding out about minor services your school provides, such as chargers and headphones you can borrow at the library, can be a lifesaver! Many of these resources can be found on your school’s website, but make sure to also check the webpages/societies for your faculty or department as well. My faculty’s society provides many services from interview prep sessions specific to my discipline, to lots of fun boardgames I can borrow! –Cheryl 

Make a calendar

The amount of workload is probably one of the bigger changes you’ll face when starting college or university since more of your learning is expected to take place outside the classroom. You are now responsible for learning how to manage your time, and―no matter if you’ve never used an agenda or if you’re so obsessed that you make your own―keeping some type of calendar is essential to stay on top of important due dates in university. There are lots of options for creating a calendar, whether analog or digital, and your school may even have a portal which has a calendar function built-in! Using a syllabus would help tremendously since you’ll be able to take the dates listed there and put them on your calendar. Afterwards you’ll be able to better manage your time and work your schedule around the due dates. –Cheryl 

Keep up with your assigned readings

In university, the number of assigned readings you may have to complete each week can be a lot higher than what you may be used to from high school. It’s therefore important to keep up with your readings, as they start to pile up pretty quickly. A strategy that worked for me in first year was that each week I dedicated a specific amount of time to completing my readings. I preferred completing them before each class, since it allowed me to better understand the lecture material. While there is no right way to keep up with your readings, it is important to find a system that works for you, based on your specific learning style. This will significantly reduce the number of hours you will spend cramming the night before (or morning of) a midterm or exam. –Krystel

For more tips on surviving first year, check out some of our previous blog posts.

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