Five fears of first-years


Coming to university can be a little bit intimidating — getting a post-secondary education can be a pretty big deal, and university life in general may just be a big change from the kind of life you’ve been used to. With so many changes happening, it’s only natural to be worried about a few things, so here are the answers to some of the questions you might have.

1. Will I make new friends?

Yes, you absolutely will! Entering any new environment can be intimidating, or frightening even. But give it time — you’ll find your niche of people, whether it is a group you eat supper with or a particular person you sit beside in lectures. There are lots of opportunities all around campus to meet people. Clubs (or even Imprint) are a great way to meet people and do something you’re interested in on a regular basis. If you live in residence, look out for great events hosted by your don — they’re an easy way to meet the people in your residence and make new friends. For those of you living off campus, check out Waterloo Off-Campus Housing for great events!

For more information:

Waterloo Off-Campus Community:

Waterloo Residences:

2. Does “freshman 15” really exist?

For many people, freshman 15 really does exist. Many people in residence are amazed by the excellent food that is served (the V1 noodle bowl is particularly fantastic) and may forget about the amount they consume. Additionally, with the academic load it can be hard to find a balance between studying and exercise. The key to anything is to make it a regular habit: even something as simple as walking to campus or taking the stairs helps your health. Waterloo also boasts multiple gyms, located at the Physical Activities Complex, Columbia Icefield, and in Ron Eydt Village.

3. Will my grades suffer now that I’m in university?

University is a completely different experience from high school and adapting to the new environment is important for success. A full course load is five courses instead of four, and the material is fast-paced. Always keep in mind that YOU CAN DO IT! You were successful enough to be admitted into the University of Waterloo and your education will continue to thrive here. The best study tip is to take the study methods you learned in high school and apply them to university. There are numerous resources available to you, including TAs, profs (they love questions), your academic adviser, and the Student Success Office — these people are here to help you succeed and be happy while doing it.

For more information:

Waterloo Student Success Office:

4. How will I cope when I’m away from my family?

Whether you’re living at home or on your own, it’s important to maintain proper contact with loved ones. Keep the communication lines open — send your parents texts to let them know you’re okay and doing well, or establish weekly phone calls. Don’t forget that friends are important too: group chats on Facebook are a great way to keep in contact with friends near or far. If you’re feeling sad or alone or ever need to talk to someone about any issue, there are places you can go on campus for free, such as Counselling or Health Services.

For more information:

Counselling Services:

Health Services:

5. What if I don’t like what I’m studying?

As you begin your studies, you may love what you learn! Everything is new and you’ll learn amazing details about the area of your passion. Sometimes, though, you may not enjoy what you study. This could be as simple as hating the required calculus course your program needs, or not wanting to take a boring prerequisite. However, give these courses a chance: they lead to better things and teach you important skills. If you later find that you still don’t like aspects about your program, it would be wise to speak with your student adviser: they are very knowledgeable and can help you with all your questions.

Parting wisdom:

Not to be cliché, but enjoy the adventure! University is such an amazing experience, and it is truly a privilege to attend the University of Waterloo, in any field. Make good choices!


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