10 Things That Shock Freshman: STU Edition

University is a huge change, and often times high school graduates don’t really realize how different university actually is from what they’re used to. As a pre-freshman, you were most likely warned about university time and time again, but it doesn’t hit you until you actually set foot on campus for your first day of classes. It’s a lot like culture shock. It’s a new environment and you need to adjust! Below is a list of 10 things that shock university freshman:

1. Most profs won’t give you marks for effort

During your high school years, you were probably used to having test questions and problems that awarded you marks for trying. You’d receive a two-point question that allowed you one whole mark just for scribbling something down, and another for actually getting the question right.

In university, profs are looking to know that you read the material and that you understood it, and often times they won’t hand out freebies. Answering around the question won’t help you here, either.

2. You have to start budgeting

Tuition is expensive, and you don’t really understand just how pricey it is until the first week comes around and you only have $500 in your bank account. I know from experience. Sometimes your relatives can help you out, but you’re probably going to have to start budgeting your funds. This means bringing your own lunch to campus, buying only the necessities, and occasionally saying “no” when your friends ask if you want to go to Starbucks. You’re a poor, university student now. It’s time to live the part.

3. Agendas are extremely useful

Almost every high school has their own student agenda. They get passed around on the first day of school, and you swear that you’ll use it all the time, but then a week later it’s in the trash. In university, time management is key to maintaining good grades, and agendas are amazing at keeping you on track.

The trick is to make sure that you always have it with you (opt for a smaller one that can fit in your purse or bag) and that you note any assignments or upcoming events as soon as you hear about them. Kate Spade has some really cute agendas to help you stay on track in style.

4. You will spend a lot of time on campus

Unless you live in residence, chances are you actually have to wake up and drive yourself to the campus every day. Despite the fact that living off-campus implies that you aren’t at the university 24/7, you’re pretty much going to be there 24/7, anyway. It doesn’t matter if your classes don’t start until 11 AM, you’re going to need to arrive at the campus no later than 8:15 in order to get a good parking spot.

Also, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time on campus after your classes are finished, in JDH or the Harriet Irving Library working on assignments. Going home after classes allows you too much room to procrastinate, and being in a studious environment helps you focus on what needs to get done.

5. You have to take your own notes

In high school, when you took notes down your teacher probably had all the information you needed to know set up on PowerPoint slides, and you probably wrote down everything word for word. Profs, on the other hand, usually aren’t so generous. If they present a PowerPoint, the notes are usually in point form and don’t go into much detail.

More often than not, profs will mention an important piece of info that isn't in the PowerPoint at all, and others will just assign a chapter of your textbook and expect you to take your own notes from it. Because of this, students need to really understand the material so that they can take great notes. Also, the prof won’t always tell you what is important and what isn’t, so it’s up to you and your better judgment to decide if a piece of info is worth the hand cramp.

6. You actually need to read the book

In tenth grade English, your teacher might have assigned your class to read To Kill a Mockingbird. You procrastinated and decided to just not read the book and get all of your information off of Sparknotes. However, if your prof assigns a reading, you actually need to read it.

Professors have already read the text a million times and they know it so well that they could recite it off the top of their heads backwards. They can tell pretty much right away if you couldn’t be bothered to read it and it will be like this obvious, flashing arrow pointing at you. Your profs won’t nag you to read the book and you won’t be disciplined – they don’t care, because you’re only hurting yourself. But, it will be seriously difficult to participate in a class discussion and in the case of a paper or an exam, your mark will take major damage.

7. Profs don’t take excuses

While your high school teachers might have accepted the old “my-printer-is-broken-can-I-email-my-essay-to-you-tonight?” excuse, your prof likely will not. They set a due date, and they expect every single paper handed in on time. You and your prof both know that you didn’t finish it, so don’t bother lying or coming up with elaborate excuses. If you know that there will be a problem with an assignment, talk to your prof in advance and try to fix the issue before it becomes an excuse.

Also, you can’t simply skip class on a day that an assignment is due because you didn’t finish it. Most profs equate an absent person with a late paper. This means that if you don’t show up on the due date, or you’re late, so is your paper.

8. It's really hard to get an A

You could have been a straight-A student all throughout high school, enrolled in advanced courses, and on the honour roll – it doesn’t matter here. In university, it is a lot more difficult to get an A. Different profs prefer different writing styles, they will tear you apart for comma splicing (something some high school teachers choose to overlook), and they are even allowed to disagree with you in opinion papers.

Getting an A pretty much means being an almost-expert on your topic, and it’s a lot to wrap your head around. As a freshman coming from high school, you’re probably still used to writing habits that English profs would declare as “sinful” – such as referencing Wikipedia in your bibliography. Thankfully, profs aren’t trying to upset you. They are trying to help you fix your writing from the beginning, so that you can progress at the appropriate level.

9. Nobody cares what you look like

There are so many different types of people in university that it becomes exhausting to compare yourself to them. There are just too many people who are just too different – and nobody cares what you look like. High heels and a sundress? Lovely. Sweats and Birkenstocks? Amazing. University isn’t a beauty pageant and nobody has the time to judge you for not wearing make-up (or for wearing too much), anyway. Just do you.

10. Everything is your choice

Whether it’s sleeping in, getting to campus early, doing everything last minute, or actually working really hard on your assignments, everything is your choice. There isn’t going to be anyone who nags you to do your work, and your schedule is entirely up to you. You have the freedom to neglect your priorities and go to a party, or hunker down and finish that essay. Your choices can determine how successful you will be in university, so it’s best to start these habits of getting everything done on time from the very beginning – but again, that’s your choice, too. No one will be around to keep you on track or reprimand you, and it’s entirely up to you to be responsible and decide for yourself how you’d like to spend the next four years.

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