Tips for university-bound students

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Tips for university-bound studentsHeading off to university for the first time is one of the most significant life transitions you will experience. As a high school student I am nervous about this transition, so I spoke with some friends who have already started their post-secondary education to get an idea of what’s in store.

University classes – we’re definitely not in high school anymore!

I was really nervous about the speed and intensity of my courses and not being able to talk with my professor about my questions and assignments – Jared, Niagara College of Horticulture 

A lot of first-year classes are large, lecture-based classes where you likely won’t be able to interact much with your professors, and as such your learning is principally self-directed. If you need the guidance that your professor may not have the time to provide, how can you succeed?

  • The learning resource centre at your university is there to help you succeed at school and can offer counselling, time management and exam prep workshops, and tutoring. Take advantage of these services!
  • Join a study group. Many classes will have the support of one or more teaching assistants who will often facilitate study groups. The groups provide the opportunity to get clarification on the lecture and/or text material, as well as the chance to discuss the material and share learning with your peers.

 A major realization that you will make when you go to university is that you are totally independent and your decisions have an even larger effect on your life than they did before ~ Nabeel, University of Toronto

Life in Rez – taking care of yourself

 A major realization that you will make when you go to university is that you are totally independent and your decisions have an even larger effect on your life than they did before ~ Nabeel, University of Toronto

If you’ve left home to stay in residence or in shared accommodations while attending university, you won’t have anyone telling you to clean your room, eat your vegetables, get to bed at a decent hour, or do your homework. You’ll have to be your own watchdog now. Far too many first-year students fall into unhealthy patterns, and if not careful, can find themselves flunking out. To maximize your chance of success, try to stick to these golden rules:

  • Keep the partying to a minimum. There’s nothing wrong with having fun with your friends while you’re away at school, but don’t place parties above classes.
  • Get enough sleep. An underrested brain cannot absorb information, and you will quickly find yourself falling behind in your classes and producing poor quality work. Get to bed early on nights before early morning lectures, and organize your study and homework time so that you don’t find yourself pulling all-nighters.
  • Eat well. Get a meal card for the university cafeteria or organize groceries and home cooking with your roommate. Try to resist the popular diet of waffles and mac and cheese. Just remember, you are what you eat!
  • Exercise. Hit the gym, pool, or head out for a good brisk walk or jog whenever you can. Regular exercise helps relieve stress and as an athlete, I can personally guarantee that after a tough workout I always feel fresh and ready to take on new challenges!
  • Look after your mental health. Going away to school and learning to adapt to all of the demands of university life can be overwhelming at first, and there’s no shame in admitting when you need help to cope with it all. Your university health centre can provide you with the support you need – don’t be afraid to ask for it! Your Student Support Program can help you with coping strategies and is available 24/7/365. Just call 1 855 649-8641 or visit workhealthlife.com

Going to university can be a scary change, but with a little preparation and a sensible approach to this time on your own, it can be a change that will give you some of the best years of your life.

 About the author

An International Baccalaureate student, Natalie Constantin is a national level synchronized swimmer in grade 11 at the Toronto French School in Toronto, Ontario. In an effort to get students talking about and raising awareness of mental health, Natalie leads the Initiative for Neuroscience and Dementia Committee for her school, and hopes to get a research degree in neuroscience.

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