Residence

Overrated First Year Advice

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to discredit the posts that have these suggestions in them… However, I know that for people going into first year university, it can be stressful seeing pages and pages of “must-dos” and feeling like you have to do them all. As always, different things work for different people! 

Talking to Profs 

  1. Getting to know profs personally. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to profs personally, don’t feel like you have to. In upper years, it can be really valuable to know profs for recommendations, etc. but in first year this is less important. Profs also don’t usually mark your work in first year, so you don’t need to suck up to them for good grades. 
  2. Going to office hours every week. Going to office hours can be very valuable if you have questions about the course or an assignments. However, I see a lot of posts telling students to go every week even if they don’t have a question. You don’t need to do this unless you want to! Often times, profs will even request that you talk to your TA before them.
  3. Emailing the prof if you miss class. Unless you go to a very small school, the prof is not going to notice if you miss class. You don’t need to email them telling them why you were absent, you can just go to a different section of the lecture or get the notes from someone. (If you have labs/tutorials/seminars, the same does not apply!! Email your TA.) 

Studying and Grades

  1. Starting to study for tests six weeks in advance. This is one piece of advice that always baffles me. The semester is only 12 weeks long (usually), so if you have a quiz in week 6, you can’t start studying for it much before week 4 or 5. Also, there is no way you will retain the finer details of things if you learned them 6 weeks before writing the test. 
  2. Guaranteeing a 4.0. I see a ton of posts telling students how to guarantee a 4.0 average or straight As. But honestly, as much as you do all of the readings and go to lectures and follow all of the studyblr advice out there, you can still get a TA who won’t give any mark higher than an 80. Just try your best and know that even though getting high marks is great, it is not the only indicator of success in uni. 
  3. Sitting in the front of the class. This is not a necessity. A lot of people post that if the prof can see your face and remember you, you will get better grades. However, in first year, the prof doesn’t mark your papers usually and even if they did, your paper doesn’t have a photo of you on it. Also, they teach so many classes I doubt they just naturally remember the first three rows of each one and no one else. Just sit where you are comfortable and can pay attention and see, and you will do fine. 
  4. Choosing your major in high school or based on what job you think you will get. If you think you want to major in something and then it turns out you hate it, that is fine! Your major should be a subject you are passionate about and can get good grades in, not something that you chose in high school or will “guarantee” you a good job (although, its also okay if your major is all of the above). 
  5. Taking full notes on a topic before the lecture. If you are going to the lecture with a ton of info already, it is easier to get distracted or to feel like you don’t need the lectures at all. Instead, take notes in the lecture and then supplement them with notes from readings or bonus material rather than the opposite way. 

Textbooks

  1. Buying textbooks online. I definitely think that buying textbooks online can be a good idea, but sometimes it is just easier to buy them from the bookstore. For example, if you are not sure if a site is legit/the book will come in time/its the right edition, etc. it might just be safer to get it in person or buy it used on campus from an upper year. (Remember, you can probably sell it next year!) 
  2. Buying old editions of textbooks. If you have the two books side by side and can tell that they are very similar, go for it. But often times, two different editions are totally different and can just mess you up. Science and math books often have different practice questions, and even in social sciences and humanities, the content can change drastically in one edition. 

Lifestyle/Personal

  1. Buying extra storage and furnishing for your dorm. Make sure you do a virtual room tour or talk to someone about the layout before you buy a ton of storage. Most dorm rooms that I have been in have a ton of storage (mine has a closet, a huge desk, shelves to the ceiling, a dresser, and cabinets for extra storage). You don’t want to show up with way too much stuff. 
  2. Keeping 1000 things in your backpack. If you live on campus, you don’t actually need to carry every single thing on earth in your bag. It will get annoying carrying around a heavy backpack while walking. Unless you are going to the library for a huge study sesh or can’t make it back to your room all day, pack lightly! 
  3. Avoiding wearing “freshman clothes”. No one cares what you are wearing. People often wear pajamas or just track pants and a baggy t-shirt to class or the caf. If you like dressing up, that’s great! But don’t feel like certain clothes are off limits. 
  4. Living at home meaning you aren’t independent. Posts that look down upon living at home or going to your home university are garbage posts in my opinion. Being able to live away from home is a privilege, and many people are not financially, physically, or emotionally able to do that. If you are living at home, do not feel bad about it. You are still an adult and you are still independent. 

Hope this helps reduce some rising freshman anxiety! And remember, if you do want to follow any of the original tips, that is okay too. :) 

College Packing Do’s and Don’ts

I am currently working on an exhaustive college packing list printable, which will hopefully go out next week. But today, I thought I would do a teaser post including some items that you absolutely should or should not bring to your dorm! 

General Advice

Look at what is going to be in your room first, and don’t start buying until then. For example, if your room has a trashcan, you don’t need to bring an additional trash can.  

Do’s

  • Organizers for around your room. Go to the dollar store and pick out lots of plastic organizers, bins, and baskets for around your room. The key to keeping such a small space like a dorm room clean is making sure everything has a place. Things like school supplies, makeup, keys, random samples, etc. all need a place to live or else your room will get chaotic.
  • Bath robe and shower shoes. I know, saying you need shower shoes is kind of beaten to death at this point. But seriously, don’t even go into the bathroom without flip flops on. And a bath robe is just nice, so that you don’t have to walk around in a towel.
  • Kettle and mini fridge. Save a ton of money by making your own instant coffee or tea in the morning. And having a mini fridge is a necessity for water, snacks, and alcohol. I recommend getting one with a freezer!
  • Fan. This depends on how old your school is, but many res buildings don’t have air conditioning.
  • Cleaning supplies. You’ll want a few supplies on hand to keep your room clean, namely a duster, Windex, and Lysol wipes. However, that is basically all you will need. You don’t need to bring your own broom and vacuum.
  • Batteries, extension cords, and surge protectors. Until you get to the room, you won’t know how your outlets are set up, so extension cords might be a necessity. Batteries and surge protectors are just necessities.
  • Documents, like health and insurance information, your SIN number, and copies of your res agreement. If you need to pick up a prescription or apply for a job, you will need these important documents!
  • First aid kit. Get a pencil case or makeup bag and fill it with the first aid essentials. Pain killers, Polysporin, Band-Aids, Midol, an Ace bandage, etc. But just like with cleaning supplies, don’t go to crazy with things you won’t actually use.

Don’ts

  • Extra furniture and storage, at least until you have done a room tour. I always see packing lists saying to bring an ottoman or a beanbag chair. I disagree. Your room will probably already be cramped, and you will end up sitting on your bed all the time anyways. When it comes to storage, most dorm rooms actually have quite a bit. Having giant Rubbermaid bins and rolling storage carts might just be a waste of space. 
  • Microwave or hot plate. There will likely be a microwave and even a stove on your floor. A microwave takes too much space, and a hot plate is a fire hazard in a small room. You won’t be using them that much anyways.
  • Area rug, curtains, and other large decorations. Definitely bring some photos and small decorative items, but bringing large things like this is a waste of space in the car, as well as money.
  • Iron. Some lists also recommend you bring an iron, but unless you are devoting hours a week to laundry, you’re never going to use it. Most college students don’t even separate whites and colours, let alone iron.
  • Printer. Unless for some reason you are going to be printing hundreds of pages a week, this is not needed. You will probably end up doing readings online and a lot of work is submitted online as well. You can get pages printed for 5 cents, and even when you total the number of pages printed, it will probably be a lot less than buying a printer and paying for ink refills throughout the year.