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High School

My Advice to Future Freshmen

This is it. You’ve almost made it. You’re seventeen, going on eighteen, and you’re just about ready to end this chapter of your life. Four years of your life, filled with haywire hormones, incessant breakouts, maybe some/a lot of tears, and perhaps an awkward romance (or just a crush you couldn’t bring yourself to act on). Perhaps these were the best years of your life, and perhaps they were the worst; just as all things, high school is coming to an end.

By now, you’ll have filled in applications for the post secondary institute of your dreams, and perhaps a few other backup options. If you’ve received acceptance, your teachers will be hounding you to keep your grades up. If you’re still waiting, you’re wondering what on earth is taking so long- don’t worry, you’ll get it. Either way, come September, you’ll hopefully be taking your first steps in your home for the next four years.

University is an experience. As a first year student, you don’t really know what to expect. You meet so many new people, and try so many new things. If you’re living in residence, the freedom of being away from your parents is a new and intriguing experience. With so much happening around you, it’s difficult balancing your social and educational lives. Luckily, I’m here to help- I’ve compiled a list of eleven things that I feel every first year student should know.


Mental health matters:

I think this is the most important thing I could ever tell you, and that’s why it’s first (though this list is in no particular order). It’s very important that you stay in a state of good health in all aspects of your life, whether that is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. I can’t stress enough how important this is- you need time to yourself to take advantage of the resources all universities provide, such as counselling, campus events, working out, etc. If you need a day where you lay in bed all day and watch Netflix while eating pizza, take it (I do it on a weekly basis!)



Don’t give in to peer pressure:

University is a place where you’re suddenly exposed to all sorts of people within a few  short days of O-Week. You’ll be trying all sorts of new things, and while that’s all great, don’t be afraid to say no to something you don’t feel comfortable with. At this point, you’re used to petty high school dramas in grade sizes of maybe 500-ish kids. In a university, filled with tens of thousands of students and faculty, it won’t matter if a handful of people think you’re weird for not doing something, because there is definitely another handul that will be totally cool with it.


Be yourself:

You don’t have to change yourself to impress someone or a group of someones. Be yourself, and you’ll naturally find people who are impressed by you because they are the same.


Join a club:

Find a club that interests you and actively participate in meetings. It could be an activity club, or perhaps a social organization. There’s no easier way to meet you people, and usually, they’ll be people you actually enjoy being around.


Failure isn’t the end:

Inevitably, at some point in your university career, you will fail something, or come dangerously close to it. The majority of university students have been at that point, and it’s not that big of a deal. Don’t stress too much on failure, because all it means is that you have room for further growth.


First year courses usually suck:

In first year, the majority of your courses will be pretty general, aligning with a bunch of other programs. For example, I’m in a science major that centers on human anatomy and movement, but in first year, I had to take a course focusing on biodiversity. Weird, right? Unfortunately, that’s the reality of first year. You’ll find yourself taking courses that bore you to sleep during lectures, and that you have no motivation to do any work for. The important thing to remember is that once you get through these, they WILL lead into the fun courses that you’re actually interested in.


Your grades will drop:

When I say this, I don’t mean by a few percent- I mean by entire grade levels at times. If they do, don’t be discouraged. It’s a very common thing that happens to the majority of first year students, and you will bounce back once you get adjusted to the new routine.


Dat workload doe:

One of the biggest things I wish someone had told me when I started uni was exactly how heavy the workload gets. It’s not easy keeping on top of things, and often, it’s an uphill battle. More often than not, you’ll find that you need to focus more on one course in particular than another, and the next week, your priorities switch. To keep on top of it, I find taking twenty minutes to review your notes after class helps to better understand what you’re learning, preparing you for midterms way before they even begin.

Don’t study too much:

While studying may be important, it’s not the sole thing that you should focus on. It may be one of your top priorities, but too much of anything isn’t good for you. Be sure to keep up with your social life, and participate in events around campus. University is an adventure and a half, and you won’t be getting the most out of it if you’re cooped up in your room all day! These are possibly some of the best years of your life, so be sure to experience them.


Sleep is your bestie:

Is staying up till 4 a.m. really fun every now and then? Of course it is! Is it healthy to be doing it constantly on a near daily basis? Unfortunately, no. Maintaining a relatively normal sleep cycle is one of the best possible things you could do for yourself during the semester.  Not only do you stay focused for longer periods of time, you feel so much more active in pretty much any day to day activities.


Time management:

This has probably been stressed to you about a million and one times by your high school teachers. So, for the million time, manage your time wisely! University moves very fast, and deadlines have a nasty habit of sneaking up on you. Without proper time management, keeping up with work will be made much more difficult.

This list is far from idealistic, because university doesn’t always go the way you want it to; your plans will constantly be adjusted, and then the adjustments will need to be adjusted. The most important takeaway is that university is both one of the most fun experiences you’ll ever go through, and also one of the most stressful. However, both the level of fun you have, as well as the level of stress you experience, are somewhat manageable. To a degree, you choose how much of both you go through, so make wise choices, but also maintain a balance. Making university an enjoyable experience is what is truly difficult; best of luck!