Tips from a former first-year

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By Kristine Clarin

On the case of recently promoted

My first year of university was definitely a challenge, but also extremely rewarding.

I learned so much about myself, the school, and what matters the most to me. If I could go back in time, I would tell my first year self these five things:

Stop comparing yourself to other people

When I started university, I thought that everybody would be starting from the ground up, just like me. Little did I know that there were people around my age that have already had serious internships, ran personal businesses and did pretty much everything I didn’t even know 17- to 18-year-olds were allowed do. Honestly, this had me feeling like I was 10 steps behind everyone else when school just barely started. Throughout the year, I frantically tried to catch up and quickly realized that the definition of success varies in each individual.  Understanding that will help you focus on yourself, your own aspirations and help you move forward at your own pace. Don’t feel like you have to get ahead because really, what’s the rush?

If you’re not satisfied with something, change it as soon as you can

I’m going into my 2A term coming from a different university. I realized that my program was not what I expected it to be and overall, I just didn’t enjoy what I was learning. Making the decision to change schools and programs was not easy, but I met people who have transferred right before graduating and told me that they wished they could have done it sooner. I asked myself, ‘Why would I want to stick with something for four to five years knowing how I feel about it now?’ This doesn’t just apply to school, but in lifestyle as well. I realized that I was eating out all the time, too lazy to cook and that took a toll on my health and energy overall. If you’re not satisfied, invest your time and energy into creating healthy habits in your life that will help you in the long run.

Use your resources

Some of every first year’s biggest worries is that they’ll do poorly in their classes, or that there is no one to help them if they’re ever stuck. Make use of your professors’ and TA’s office hours and ask them questions. If you can’t make it to their office hours, their email is always available. The university also offers a variety of services that I wish I discovered sooner. The Writing Centre located at the South Campus Hall (SCH) helps students improve their papers, presentations and even portfolios. Speak regularly with academic advisors and peer mentors, they are there for you. Facebook group pages and group chats are also great ways to connect and study with students in the same classes or program as you. There are also tutoring services if you learn better with one-on-one interaction. Overall, the university has so many resources to help you succeed in your courses and for you to take advantage of.

Do the things you’ve always been scared to do

University is a chance to start over and try new things. No one is here to judge you for what you want to try. I’ve always wanted to try a dance class, but knowing how awkward I am, I was always terrified of doing anything remotely related to dancing. One day, I decided to sign up for a beginner hip hop class and although I was uncomfortable at first, I had such a fun experience and met some great people. It was one of the best decisions I made in first year. The university offers so many opportunities for all kinds of people with different interests, so whether you consider yourself a cheese connoisseur or want to sing in front of an audience, there are clubs and events suited for everyone.

Contact your loved ones regularly

Like most students, I lived away from my hometown. This meant that I would rarely see my parents and friends. First year is definitely one of the busiest years because on top of taking university-level courses, you need to adjust to being in a whole new environment. Sometimes everything feels so unfamiliar and it can get lonely, so it’s important to keep in contact with the people that mean the most to you. A quick phone call or even a couple of text messages with your family and friends could go a long way. Not only will it make you feel better but it shows that you miss them just as much as they do.