Surviving University - 6 Tips to Get By

A student walking towards Middlesex College on campus surrounded by pretty fall treesWritten by: Clementine Kohlenberg, 3rd Year Pyschology 

Photo by: Student Experience

Self-discovery is something we are constantly experiencing and exploring throughout our entire lives. I think that it’s a combination of all the things we experience that shape us into the people we become. Starting university, for example, is a major change that many people undergo early in their lives. This transition from high school to a post-secondary institution can seem quite daunting due to the unfamiliarity of the situation and the lack of guidance. T transition wasn’t too bad for me, but it would’ve been nice to have some advice from someone who’s been through it to make my life a little easier. So, for all the incoming freshmen (and anyone else looking for guidance in their studies), here are a few tips to help you succeed at your new school!

Don’t be afraid to contact your profs!

I can’t recommend this enough: reach out to your professors. They are (usually) there to help you and want you to succeed! If there’s something you’re confused about or course material you don’t understand, shoot your professor or TA an email with your question. Now that most classes have transitioned to in-person formats, you could even hang around after your lecture and introduce yourself then!

One bad mark isn’t the end of the world.

Something that gave me a reality check after starting university was my first bad grade on an assignment. For you, this could be a low mark on an essay, exam, or maybe even the entire course. Whatever it is, don’t beat yourself up too much over it! It’s totally normal for your grade average to drop a little and fluctuate as you make the transition to post-secondary learning! Rather than let one low grade define you, take this opportunity to grow and improve on your next assessment. 

Make time to make friends.

Even though universities are academic institutions designed for teaching and learning, don’t forget to meet people! This is where you’ll probably make some life-long friends — I know I have already. Amidst all the schoolwork and classes, it can be easy to lose sight of yourself and your needs. To make sure you don’t burn out and start feeling down on yourself, be sure you’re keeping in touch with old friends and saying “hi” to new ones.

Don’t party too hard!

That being said about socializing, don’t spend all your time going out and having fun! I know that sounds kind of depressing, but you can always stay in and have fun studying with friends too. A good way to stay connected with your buddies while also maintaining your academics is taking classes together! By doing this, you’ll be able to attend lectures with friends and prep together for the same exams. Having a friend definitely makes staying in to study on a Friday night a lot more fun.

Stop by campus to focus better.

One of the best parts of being in-person again is being able to return to on-campus study spots! Being at home all of the time can be somewhat distracting, making it hard to stay focused on your assignments and exams. If you find that you just can’t seem to get work done no matter how hard you try, think about switching up the scenery! If you can, bring your computer with you to an empty study hall or local cafe to get those brain juices flowing. Just don’t forget your headphones!

Speak to a mental health professional.

Last but not least, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to speak with a professional in mental health. Most universities offer free therapy for students if needed. Even if you don’t feel that overwhelmed, it is still always a good idea to seek out guidance. If your university doesn’t offer this type of service, consider checking around locally or searching online. Many virtual services offer assistance for free or at a very low rate. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, there is power in admitting you need help. 

Well, those are all the tips I have to offer at the moment! Hopefully, at least one of them will stick with you and help you in the future, making this worth the read. Remember, you are capable of more than you think! University can be hard, but nothing worth having comes without a challenge.

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