My sister is joining me at university this year and it has caused me to reflect on my own experiences. Here is some advice I have for making the most of your first year!
1. Take care of yourself: First year university or college is crazy busy. Post secondary school is considerably more difficult and intense than high school with what seems like 3 billions things on your plate. However, taking care of yourself mentally and physically is so important. We hear it all the time yet we rarely listen. Your health should be your absolute number one priority ( yes even before school). You only have one body so you have to take care of it if you want to lead a long healthy life. Make the time to go to the gym and eat healthy. Not only will you feel a million times better, it will also help you be more successful. Exercise is a great study break, both clearing your mind and helping you refocus! Another awesome side effect is that your mind will actually be solidifying what you have learned while you are exercising. If you are feeling better overall, you will definitely perform better in any aspect of your life and feel better about yourself. The benefits are endless….
2. Put yourself out there: It’s so scary. But it is also so exciting. There are likeminded people awaiting you and you need to push yourself a little outside of your comfort zone to find them. Join a club, knock on your next door neighbour’s dorm door and introduce yourself or invite someone from your class to go for coffee. University is a whole new playing field, and with so many people, you are bound to find someone who shares your quirky interests or weird sense of humour. It’s a two way street and it can be terrifying, but logically the worst case scenario is that the other person will make a lame excuse to not hangout. That’s it! I challenge you to find your niche. I’m in third year and I still see the importance and value of putting myself out there and meeting new people. There are so many interesting individuals I have yet to meet! Expanding your network has countless benefits both professionally and personally. Just remember to make time for the important people who are already a part of your life. Oh and have fun!
3. Persevere : For me at least, the academics in my first year of university presented as a completely new and seemingly unsurpassable beast compared to what I confronted in high school. I spent many long nights in the library and drank coffee for the first time ( and many more times). My dad always says you get what you give off. It applies to many contexts but to me it meant that if I worked hard I would see results. It was very frustrating at first. The stellar marks I achieved in high school seemed miles away. I was putting in so much work and it didn’t feel like the results were correlating. I think it’s important to not lose sight of the big picture. I’m sure it was no easy feat to get into your faculty and you are now competing amongst thousands of brilliant minds. I heard a statistic today that 80% of jobs are attained through connections and networking. Therefore grades that aren’t perfect are not likely to ruin your career prospects. If anything, university teaches you how to work hard, really hard and that is an invaluable life skill (which brings us to #4….).
4. Work hard play hard: Know your limits. If you have an exam the next day, it probably is not a good idea to go out partying. I have had the first hand experience of both watching snapchats and experiencing hardcore FOMO in the library and also going out when I should have been doing school work. I have to say the later felt worse. I felt guilty and totally stressed out the entire night making it pretty hard to enjoy myself, what a waste! However, once you have put in the work, party hard, you deserve it. It’s hard to beat the feeling of finishing your last exam and drinking and dancing the night away with your best friends. You’re only going to have your undergrad university experience once, so enjoy it!!It sounds cheesy but from what I’ve realized, university is a chance to truly be who you are and grow up into the adult you want to be. Fall in love, cry a few times and laugh all the time. Whoever you are and wherever you are reading this from, I wish you an absolutely wonderful first year.