So I am about to start my second year of university and I thought that I would share some tips and dos and don'ts that I learned from my first year of university! I hope this helps :) (also sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you the best advice I could!)
1. Go to your school before school starts and find all of your classes and the routes to and from them
It’s super important to get comfortable with your campus and where everything is. Obviously you don’t need to know everywhere and all the little paths before school starts, but I really recommend knowing where your classes are and how to get to them. I went a week or so before my classes and walked around the campus and found my classes. Because I this I never got lost on campus and had a stress-free first day :)
2. Find a study spot on campus
You spend a lot of your time on campus and sometimes people prefer to stay there super late instead of heading home or to their dorm to study. Finding a good study spot for yourself that is reliable and works for you is super important. For example, In my school, there are specific levels in the library where the noise level allowance ranges. I choose the quiet floor and I sit in a booth where I won’t be disturbed or distracted! Find what’s best for you and you can be the most productive.
3. Invest in a coffee/tea travel mug and coffee beans/tea leaves
On my campus we have at least 3 Starbucks and 4 Tim Horton’s coffee stands and they are ALWAYS lined up. People like to buy 1-2 coffees ranging from $3-5! The cost of that really does add up! If you are looking to save money I really recommend buying your own travel mug and coffee beans/tea leaves. I got an awesome travel mug with a tea infuser built in and it keeps my tea hot all day AND saved me a ton of money. Plus you don’t have to worry about standing in those horrible lines!
4. Go to class
Okay, not only are you paying a lot of money for classes, but they are meant to be attended. Missing a class or two to study for a major test will not kill you, however, constantly not going to class WILL affect your grade. Professors do not always test strictly from the textbook or their online notes. They also test from added information that they only provide in class. Going to class is so valuable and keeps you on the right track to success in that class.
5. Review constantly (don’t get behind)
This one is always difficult for me, so don’t get too upset if you get behind in your classes because everyone struggles with it. However, if you can stay on top of your classes by getting the homework done, doing the readings etc. it really helps when it comes to midterms and finals when you have to review for all 4 or 5 of your classes.
6. Try to make a schedule with breaks to relax and do homework
The great thing about university is that you get to choose your schedule. I have experienced 50 minute breaks between classes, 2 hour breaks, and 3 hour breaks. I really recommend scheduling breaks in between your classes because although you want to get home as soon as possible, you need to reenergize yourself and give yourself time to review in between classes. I loved my long breaks because I was still in the school mind frame and motivated to do my work as well as socialize a bit and eat lunch!
7. Try not to schedule more than 2-3 classes back-to-back
This goes sort of hand and hand with number 6. Classes range from 50-80 minutes long and therefore if you have 2-3 back-to-back classes you get super tired. You always want to be super attentive and awake during all of your classes and don’t want to be falling asleep in one because you just had two 80 minute classes before hand. Try to spread out your classes to give each class the optimal attention and effort!
8. Make a university folder on your computer (keep organized)
Half of the battle in university is keep yourself organized. With so many classes, note packets, midterms, homework etc. it’s hard to keep track of them all without having good organization skills. For online work and documents etc. I made a university folder on my computer and then made folders within my university folders of all my subjects. Any work I did I placed into their designated folders and it keeps me organized and I know where everything is!
9. Go to office hours
For those who don’t know, office hours are the time period where your professors will be in their office to answer questions that you have about their class. Try to not be intimidated to go to them because they are super helpful and nice and get to know your name and stuff. If you are a little nervous, bring a friend along who has questions as well! Getting answers directly from your professor one-on-one is SUPER beneficial and I recommend it!
10. Sit in the front
Sometimes this isn’t necessary, but I think it really does help! Especially in first year classes you have around 300-500 kids in 95% of your classes. Sometimes professors have good technology and really nice microphones and it can be okay if you sit further back, but even so, I still think it’s the best to sit in the front. Sitting in the front keeps you really focused and makes sure you can always hear the professor…things that are super important!
11. Use Ratemyprof.com (but also be careful)
If you haven’t heard of ratemyprof.com, it is a website for people to rate and look at rating of their professors at their university. Tons of students use it to help them choose their professors for their courses and it can be super helpful! However, people who tend to rate the professors give extreme reviews (either OMG I LOVE THEM or OMG AVOID), which can cause it to not always be the most reliable. I suggest using it as a guideline, but at the end of the day, you might not like a professor that people love you and you might love a professor that people hate. It’s really personal preference.
12. Learn to be independent
Something that I wasn’t too prepared for in university was the independence. You are responsible for you and have to be comfortable being by yourself a lot. You won’t always be socializing or with friends and you’ll eat alone. It’s not like OMG YOU’RE SO LAME BECAUSE YOU EAT ALONE….tons of people do it because everyone has separate schedules and sometimes you need to get work done alone and eat alone as well. University is really about learning how to be independent and do things yourself :)
13. Don’t party too much
People in their freshman year of university are always drawn to the bouncing nightlife. People go out to bars or night clubs multiple times a week and stay out until 2-3 a.m. and drink so much that their next day is ruined. Partying can be fun, but you have to be really careful to do it properly. First off, try to go out once a week AT MOST (twice a month would probably be best). Drinking costs money AND ruins the next because you’re exhausted and probably hungover. That could’ve been a day you could have studied for your tests or done your assignments! Just be careful with your amount of partying because it can cause your grades to slip.
14. Don’t be afraid to switch your Major
The most important thing to understand about university is that it’s a learning process. You might go into it thinking you want to go into engineering, but then find out you like chemistry instead. Don’t feel bad about switching your major because you will regret staying with something you don’t really like and aren’t passionate about!
Good luck in university/college!!!