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Her Campus at Carleton’s Declassified School Survival Guide: First-Year Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

University is arguably one of the most exciting times of your life. For a lot of people, it’s the first time they move away from home and live on their own. For others, it’s the first time they truly feel a sense of independence. The jump from high school to university is pretty significant, but we hope this guide can ease some of the anxiety you may feel about starting school and give you some helpful tools to kick off your university experience on a high note.

Cameron Smith-Friends At Sporting Event
Cameron Smith / Her Campus


Arguably, the MOST IMPORTANT tip we can give you is to get involved in whatever you can. Universities have clubs for quite possibly anything you can think of. Despite how niche you may consider your interest or hobby, chances are that your university campus has a club or organization dedicated to it. 

While it may be difficult to step out of your comfort zone and go out of your way to meet people, joining a club, society or intramural sports team is quite possibly the best way to meet like-minded people and make some good friends.

There are also a lot of different volunteer initiatives at most campuses, which provide another way of getting involved in the community – not only are you meeting people who want to volunteer, but you are dedicating time to better the community in which you live.


It’ll take a few weeks for you to get the hang of things and get into a routine. Once you do, a great way of staying organized and on track is by making a schedule for yourself. Include times when you’re planning on studying or working on assignments, as well as any work shifts, class times, club meetings or sports practices that you may have. Creating a visual representation of how your week is structured will help you better manage your time and help you avoid procrastination.


Whether you live in a dorm room or off-campus, or you still live at home, it’s important for you to create a space for yourself that you genuinely enjoy being in. A lot of people will tell you to keep décor in a dorm room to a minimum since you have to move everything back out by the end of the school year, though I highly disagree with that thought process. Make your dorm room as homey as possible, as it’s your safe space.


First-year classes often have hundreds of students in them, so it can be hard to make a connection with your professors, but doing so is hugely important to furthering your university experience. Make an effort to get noticed by your professors: be engaged, ask questions, answer questions, and go to office hours. You have to be genuine about it, and you don’t want to come across as a suck-up. Forming genuine connections with your professors creates an opportunity for them to get to know you, which means a possible future reference or a research job opportunity during your time in school.

The first year of university is a huge milestone in your life. Don’t go crazy with your freedom, but enjoy it, because it’ll go by pretty quick!

Andrea is a Journalism and Law combined honours student with a minor in English Literature. She loves keeping busy with school, work and writing. Andrea loves to read all kinds of books and has found that writing is her favorite way to unwind. Andrea is involved with greek life and philanthropy on campus and hopes to go to law school after her undergrad.