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A note for incoming university students

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Author: August Clarke

If you are starting university this fall, you’re probably feeling all sorts of emotions. Before I went away for school, I was really excited to move into that stage of my life, but I was also very nervous. What if I couldn’t make friends? What if I didn’t like my program? Is university really as difficult as everyone says it is?

These were all questions running through my mind. I am now here to tell you that if any of these questions are running through your mind: it’s okay. There are so many people on campus to meet and, since everyone is specialized in their programs, you’re even more likely to meet people with similar interests as you than in high school! If you don’t like your program – it’s okay! Plenty of people feel that way in first year and, luckily, changing programs is no big deal and there are many counsellors around to help you navigate your education.

It’s true that university is more difficult than high school, but in my experience, professors do a pretty good job helping students adjust to the work level. It may seem overwhelming at first, but you start to get more comfortable with the work load fast!

If I could go through first year all again, these are the tips that I would give to myself:

Tip #1: Get involved!

I know you’ve probably heard people telling you to get involved in extracurriculars for a long time now, and sometimes it can feel like a chore but—nevertheless—I highly recommend doing this at university! The thing that is awesome about university is that there are way more opportunities for you to get involved in school than in high school, and you’re bound to find something you’re interested in. It’s also really great for meeting people who have similar interests as you, especially if you are living off-campus.

Lastly—even though you may not be thinking about your career just yet—extracurriculars are really valuable to put on your resume. From firsthand experience, the people I know who managed to land internships in their first couple years of university had lots of extracurriculars. When you are young, employers aren’t expecting you to have lots of work experience, so having extracurriculars that demonstrate commitment, leadership, or some other skill you have learned can help you gain a serious edge in the job market!

Tip #2: Use a planner.

Staying organized is one of the best things you can do to be successful in university. One nice thing about university courses is that they usually provide you with all of your deadlines for major assignments and tests at the start of the year. Its really helpful to mark all of them down in an agenda or calendar at the start of the year so that you can plan ahead for when you are going to work on a certain assignment or study for all of your tests. Staying proactive helps prevent a lot of stress!

Tip #3: Take diverse electives.

For most programs, first year is your chance to explore different areas of study apart from your main program. Take that chance! I highly recommend taking electives in areas you’re not familiar with and that my have nothing to do with your major. You may not have the opportunity to do so again, and you never know what may come of it! You might discover that you aren’t too fond of your major after all, and end up switching into a different program because of an elective you took. Or, it might just be a really cool course that you end up enjoying a lot!

Tip #4: Maintain an open mind.

Above all, this may be my most important tip. University is a great time to experience new things and engage in self-discovery. You may find that you end up hanging out with people who are completely different from your friends in high school, or that you’re not actually as interested in something that you thought you were. In my experience, if you keep an open mind when meeting new people, you’ll have a lot easier time making friends in university.

If you keep an open mind when meeting new people, you’ll have a lot easier time making friends in university.

It’s also important to stay open-minded about your education, too. Lots of my friends ended up switching their degrees to something completely different than they thought they would after first year. It’s normal and not something to stress about! If you stay open to the possibilities, it’s more likely you’ll follow a path that will be most fulfilling to you in school!

I hope these tips prove useful to you. Graduating and heading off to university is an experience you will not forget for a long time, and there is so much opportunity for growth and amazing new experiences! These tips are just a few ways that will help you make the most of it.

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