High school teachers, parents, and university students all love to scare high school students about going to university. They make it seem as if university is the hardest thing of all time, and that only the strongest survive. There is no doubt that university is tougher than high school, and it takes hard work to succeed. But it does not have to be as terrible as it’s made out to be. Professors want you to succeed. Courses are fair for the most part, with a few exceptions… cough cough…organic chemistry. For many of us, university provides a better learning experience where you can focus on courses you really want to take. However, not everything you’re warned about is nonsense. There are also a few important things you are often not warned about. So what should you worry about (or not) in your first year? Here’s my advice:
Things you should worry about:
- Citations – In my first year, I got marked down 50% on an assignment for citing something I wasn’t supposed to. University takes citations and referencing very seriously and you will lose marks if it’s not done properly. You should review in-text citations and go over common referencing formats ie: APA, MLA, etc..
- Late Assignments – In high school you can often get away with handing in an assignment late without losing marks. In university that’s not the case. Ask for an assignment extension with 3 midterms and 2 other assignments due the next week and most professors will tell you that you should have planned further ahead. It’s brutal but fair— students are all on the same playing field and you’re usually given ample notice for exams and assignments. Make sure you practice your organizational skills and plan out your assignment and exam schedule. It is up to you to plan ahead for potentially hectic weeks of your semester.
Things you shouldn’t worry about:
- Extremely difficult courses – University is definitely a step up from high school and reviewing grade 12 courses is a great idea. Often, professors will review concepts from grade 12 before they jump into new material and it’s understood that students may have different prerequisite knowledge. As long as you review material and keep up with the lectures and readings you should be okay. Looking to review for university? Check out some of our prep courses.
- Making Friends – When I started university, I knew absolutely no one; I was terrified of not making friends. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert you will have no difficulty making friends. There are many opportunities to make friends and you will find people with complementary personalities and similar interests. Don’t freak out if you don’t make any friends in the first couple of days, it will come with time.
Remember to take what people tell you about university with a grain of salt. Everyone has different experiences and even my tips may not be applicable to you. Do what you can to prepare and then try not to over-stress. University takes some adjusting and you may need to change your living and studying habits. You will gain important life skills, like adaptability and new confidence in yourself. Keep an open mind and I’m sure that the next step in your life will be an exciting one.