Everything a Freshman Needs to Know

 For those of you who have just entered the big, scary, exciting world of university, here’s a little guide to helping you navigate your year. Everyone has a different experience in first year. For some it’s all about the parties, socializing and making friends. For others it may be struggling to keep up with the workload and dealing with mental health issues. Or sometimes it could be a combination of both. Here are some tips you may want to know in order to deal with your first year in university and make it as memorable as possible. 

1. Go Socialize 

 I will admit I did not do a lot of this first year and highly regret it. I was trying to keep up with all the school work that was given to me and missed this aspect. In first year, this is the most important. Most first years come into Uni with no friends and socializing really helps to build some lasting friendships. Since a lot of other first years also do not have friends, everyone’s looking to make friends. So don’t shy away from it, because you aren’t alone. Making friends is a way to build a support system. A support system that understands the stresses of university. Some easy ways to socialize are to join a club, form a study group, befriend your roommates and go out once in a while for dinner or plan a movie night, try stepping out of your comfort zone and go for a house party where you may not know a lot of the people. Point is, there are many ways to be social in university. 

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2. Invest in a planner 

 There’s a lot of work being thrown at you in first year. You almost feel like a small fish in a big ocean trying to survive. It actually feels like they try to weed out the ones that cannot survive. A planner really helped me in first year and even through the other years. Planning your week and month really helps to stay organized and avoid missing deadlines which may lead to stress. 

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3. Create a Facebook account

 I know Facebook is not used as much as it used to be. But I started using Facebook a lot more in Uni. Not only did I use it to tag my friends in relatable memes, but also to create and be a part of group chats for certain courses. The chats help you connect with other students that are part of the same course and solve any issues you may be having with the course, whether it’s studying for the exam or understanding how to solve a question. Sometimes the best way to understand concepts is to have another student explain it to you in simpler terms. You can also use this platform to get student input on a course you may consider taking or buying/selling old textbooks for the course. Whatever it is, Facebook becomes your best friend in Uni. 

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4. Make use of student discounts/benefits 

 As a student, you pay a lot of student fees and sometimes may not even know what you’re paying for. Webadvisor is a great tool to check what exactly your fees are going towards and this tool may even help you opt out of certain fees you may not need. For example, the cost of a gym membership is paid through your tuition, so cancel your other gym membership and start going to the university gym because you are paying for it through your tuition. Did you also know students get discounts on Amazon and Spotify? So instead of paying what others may pay monthly for these services, you could get for much cheaper through a student discount. Students also get discounts on GO transit. So don’t miss out and start using services that allow you to use your student benefits because you won’t have them once you graduate!

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5. You can survive without buying the textbook 

 Many first years have this idea that you NEED the textbook for each course and you NEED to do all the readings for every course. Well here’s some good news, most professors only test what they teach in lectures and the textbook is simply supplementary material that can be used to further understand a concept. So do not waste your time and money buying a textbook and reading each page, when instead you could be reviewing the lecture notes off the slides and completing practice questions. In fact, sometimes the textbook may be too in depth and cloud your brain with unnecessary information. Furthermore, impact the understanding of information that is actually required and will be tested on. 

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6. Lastly, the most important thing to note: You may completely alter your career path and that is okay! 

 First year really puts things into perspective for many students. You may have this goal you look to achieve in the future but it’s important to consider how you plan on achieving the goal and if it’s even realistic. You also consider whether you’re in the right program/major. Are you doing this for yourself or because someone said it’s the best option for you? As a first year you really begin to overanalyze and question why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. Which leads to a lot of confusion and may even alter your career plans. Sometimes you’re left not knowing what you even want to do in the future. But University is a journey that teaches you a lot about yourself. And in the first two years (at least) you may switch programs and majors till you find the one that fits your interests. In this situation, it’s best to take time and explore by taking courses that are different from each other. For instance, maybe take a few business courses along with the science courses and decide what you enjoy more from there. In this scenario it’s also best to opt for a major that is broad and allows you to take more courses of your choice and doesn’t restrict you to taking specific courses. To sum up, it’s okay to be confused and not know what you want to do in the future. You have to give time to yourself to explore and learn as you go. And it almost becomes like a process of elimination, where you cross things off you definitely are not interested in. 

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