tips for new uni / college students
i’m just finishing up my first year this summer and i know lots of people are graduating and going into post secondary this semester, so here are my tips on your first year! (im in canada but these should probably be relevant for other countries? i think!) feel free to add your own! (spaces are for accessibility – sorry for the long ass post)
- you don’t need to ask to go to the bathroom, or to leave at all. if you’re anxious, or if you need a coffee, just quietly leave without disturbing the other students and come back when you’re ready. try not to leave in an important part of the lecture—you should preferably be doing everything you need to before/after class to avoid leaving and missing information, but this isn’t high school anymore and you can come and go as you wish. (note: if youre working in a lab make sure you follow your prof’s safety procedures around leaving to avoid bringing contaminants out of the lab with you, and do NOT leave in the middle of a test unless given explicit permission by the prof.)
- i bought a binder for my first year and never used it. i took all my notes in a coil notebook, which is easier to keep track of, and put all handouts in the inside pocket/in a folder which was more than sufficient, since at my school most of the handouts are online anyways. if you’re more comfortable using a binder, definitely use one, but you’re probably better off using a notebook.
- you can bring your laptop/tablet to class to write your notes in 99% of classes. if you find typing easier than writing on paper with pen/pencil, then bring it with you - just make sure you have your charger/your laptop is charged, especially if it’s a long class. but try not to get distracted — you’re probably better off sticking to a notebook if you know you’re going to open facebook/tumblr instead of actually taking notes.
- most professors i’ve taken still don’t appreciate texting in class. some of them don’t care, some will call you out on it. they understand if you have to quickly reply to your mom or something (or take a phone call outside of class) but if every time they look up you’re blatantly staring at your phone (or your crotch lol we all know the trying to hide ur phone under ur desk phone) they’ll probably be less inclined to help you later when you ask questions because you were too busy not paying attention
- write your name, phone number and school e-mail in the front of your notebook / on a label on your laptop. losing an entire semester’s worth of notes would be a NIGHTMARE and you want to make it as easy as possible for anyone who finds your stuff to return it to you.
- before you buy your textbook from your bookstore, check facebook to see if your school has a book exchange page and try to find someone you can buy it from second hand. it will be cheaper.
- if you can, buy your books used from the bookstore. renting is cheaper than buying — the buy back price at the end of the semester will be drastically reduced from what your purchased it at.
- get familiar with the services at your school. check out the pride center and women’s center if you have one, join a club, and find a community. you’ll have a lot more fun at university if you find your niche and people who share your interests. they don’t have to be your lifetime best friends, but it’s nice to have a place to go and chat with an acquaintance during long breaks between classes.
- use google docs or a similar cloud-based service. not having to haul your essays around on a USB is so much more convenient, and with your work stored in the cloud you won’t have any risk of it not saving or being corrupted.
- plagiarism is such a big no. your profs will remind you, but if you think you can get away with it, you can. plagiarism gives you what is essentially an academic criminal record and NO ONE in your faculty wants to deal with it, so just do your work okay?? trust me the consequences are way worse than just sitting down and writing the paper, no matter how awful it is
- on the first day, if you HATE a class or the prof, drop it. add/drop deadlines are serious business
- if you have a few different choices for which prof to pick, check ratemyprofessor before choosing (but remember to take things with a grain of salt – they are reviews written by real people)
post-secondary is an amazing opportunity and as much as student loans and the emotional stress are hard, it can also be an incredible and fascinating experience. don’t worry too much about “finding your purpose” and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge your professors and teachers will present to you. good luck to all of you and i hope you have a wonderful time!!