This time a week ago I was frantically shuffling through my flashcards and attempting to memorize readings for my final journalism exam. It was all that stood between summer and I, so naturally, summer was more on my mind then the history of the radio was.
Now that I finally made it through eight months of my first year university, I’m able to sit back and do nothing (literally – I have nothing productive to do until I get hired). I finally have the time to make a pointless list of the bits of knowledge I acquired in university that can’t be droned on about at a 8:30 am lecture on a Monday.
As an off-campus student, my university experience was different than those living on rez. Obviously my list doesn’t apply to every first year student and it’s based solely from my experiences. I like to think most of it is good advice for incoming first years, but I’m writing this early in the morning so who knows.
1. Listen to what your high school teachers tell you about university.
SO many twelfth graders will completely disregard what their teachers try to tell them about the transition into university. When they tell you it WILL get harder and not to expect the same marks, don’t laugh in their face while coddling a test you got 100% on without studying. It will really depend on the program you decide to pursue, but don’t expect to BS through a test easily. You’ll have to at least go to lecture/do some readings/do SOME review. That “easy” class you took may end up a burden (to which I say, f u religion class).
Some high school teachers will GENUINELY try to help prepare you while others will continue to sugar coat your future by telling you that YES your dreams of becoming part time doctor part time superhero ARE possible.
2. University is not idiot proof.
Whether it be the beginning, middle or end of the year, listening to some of the responses students gave some of my professors made me facepalm too many times to count. Don’t argue with the professor – you’re in a first year introductory course and your prof has dedicated their life to this subject. Do you SERIOUSLY think you know more than them? Please put your hand and head down in shame.
3. Coffee will make you its bitch.
You will be broke and constantly trying to muster up change for any type of coffee available. It will be 10pm and you’re in the library and you will hunt down that coffee and pray that coffee shop hasn’t closed yet. Caffeine will run through your blood streams claiming your life. Or maybe that’s just me. All I know is, if I was responsible about my finances (hah) and decided to calculate how much I spent on coffee since September, I’d likely faint at the number. Ignorance is bliss in some cases.
4. Partying in the middle of the week during mid terms doesn’t make you look cool.
If I’m up early on a Thursday to study for a midterm exam or work on assignment, and I see three different club promoters tag you in photos on Facebook from the previous Wednesday night, I will judge you. I will judge you with all my heart.
If we have an essay due in a couple days and the last several stories you’ve told me about your week all start off with “I was sooooo drunk ____ night/day . . .” don’t complain to me that you haven’t started any of your research. Sure, I procrastinate on the WRITING part of my essay, but at least I procrastinate responsibly and make sure I have time to meet my deadline!
5. You will pay approximately $80-90 per class. Don’t skip.
We’ve all missed a class here and there, but if you seriously can’t be bothered to get up for 80% of your classes in a week, why are you in university? You realize you’re spending thousands of dollars to sleep in then? Just by attending lecture you WILL retain some knowledge. Especially if you’re not someone who does the readings. Which brings me to my next point . . .
6. DO YOUR READINGS.
After paying hundreds of dollars for your textbooks, don’t let them collect dust on your top shelf! Many upper year students may tell you they’ve gotten by the last few years without purchasing/reading their books but they are SO helpful. I was much better with keeping up with my readings second semester than in my first semester (may have had to do with the fact that I was unemployed second semester…) and it helped a quadrillion more times. Do your readings ESPECIALLY if you missed a lecture. It’s not the same but it will be a life saver.
7. You’re in charge of your in schedule.
In high school, life was structured for me. 6 am practice, 9 am school (most of the time), 4pm practice, 7pm nap, 8pm homework, 10 pm bedtime and repeat. It was nice having life so structured every day. University can easily offset all of this if you’re not careful. It definitely took me months to adjust to finding a schedule that worked for me and I still didn’t really get a hang of it by the end. I did start using my agenda in February (better late than never) and life just felt nice and organized again. You won’t have people in university to make sure you make it to class or complete your responsibilities. No matter how easy you think it is coming into it, many people suffer from this even if they don’t admit it.
8. Sleep is good. Remember you have a bed.
It’s likely I was sleep deprived for 90% of the school year. Between work, classes, exercising, writing for the school paper – sleep just wasn’t a priority. It wasn’t like I was going to bed at 1am and waking up at noon. I was going to bed at 4am and waking up two hours later. If it wasn’t for makeup, coffee, and morning runs/yoga, I would have looked more like a zombie. Having a good night’s rest IS beneficial for your heath so make sure you’re prioritizing it!
9. Eating healthy in university is difficult but possible.
Okay maybe I’m blessed with the fact that I lived at home and had access to real food. But even when I would dine with my friends in the caf, I’m surprised how many people stock up their plates with pizza/fries/artery clogging food even though there ARE healthy options available. The vegetables may taste a little funny, but they do have more health benefits than whatever processed food you’re eating.
10. You have time to do something for yourself, I swear.
Between the hours of procrastinating on Facebook or sleeping in until the afternoon, it is possible to make time to do something for yourself. Do some form of exercise, have fun that doesn’t always consist of blacking out, read a book … it is possible if you schedule life accordingly!
An instagrammed studying photo is always necessary.
Despite reading this list, you’ll probably think to yourself and remind yourself of some of these things, but in four months you’ll forget as you’re gorging on pizza. I know I read plenty of those articles of how to prepare for university and probably SHOULD have listened to them a bit better and maybe then I would have slept more than two hours a night. Many of the mistakes I made first year were completely avoidable. Although I was an off-campus student, I did have trouble adjusting to a completely whacked out schedule.
What were some things you learned in your first year? Comment below or if you’ve made a post or video, link it for others to see!