1.) DSS Note Taking! Why? Because you get access to any notes for all other classes.
Yes, you heard that right! I was once a note taker for one of my classes a couple semesters ago and let me just tell you, the perks are amazing! We all know how hard it is to go to class, especially those dreadful 8:30 am classes. If you are like me and need a little bit of incentive to go to class, then being a note take is perfect! One you are obligated to go anyways, two get to practice making stellar notes (which can be really helpful come midterm and final seasons) and finally, you get an all-access VIP pass into the holy grail of notes from all your other classes. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
2.) Don’t carry your textbooks around:
We’ve all been there, right? It’s the first week of classes, our textbooks are shiny as ever, no tear or scratch in sight! It is perhaps this squeaky clean look that causes some students pile these textbooks onto their backs. We all think we will use/read our textbooks on a daily basis, but let’s get real; they don’t open until our lecture notes are totally confusing and we need another reference or the professors explicitly say you need to read certain chapters.
3.) Talk to your professors!:
As intimidating as it is to send that email you spent two hours proof-reading to your prof, asking for help is always better than crossing your fingers and hoping a particularly difficult topic doesn’t end up on your final. Also, know that you don’t only ever have to talk to your prof if you have a question or need clarification on a specific topic. Most profs love to get to know their students and won’t mind if you meet with them after a class just to say hi and ask them about their research. Trust me, NOTHING will get your Prof. more excited than asking them about their research. As an added bonus, keeping in touch with your prof may help you out when you need a reference, letter of recommendation, or a summer research project later on.
4.) Check all your options before you buy new textbooks:
True story: I was once able to buy two physics textbooks from Kijiji for $15 each. Don’t miss on opportunities to get textbooks infinitely cheaper than the ones at the bookstore. It’s a good idea to wait until the first day of classes before buying a book to see if the prof recommends buying the textbook at all, or if they accept earlier editions. Most of the time, buying earlier editions is just as valuable as buying the latest edition and you can save a ton of money. Also, don’t forget that the library also has textbooks that you can borrow whenever you need them (they’re usually underclass reserve), and they’re FREE. You don’t need your textbook 24/7 so just borrow it for a couple hours from the library when you actually do.
5.) How much you will start missing your mom
Moms, aren’t they just great? Because I don’t live alone, I didn’t every miss my mom, until finals came around and I basically lived in Murray Library for nearly two months. I went home literally to eat dinner and sleep and usually by the time I got home, my mom was asleep and by the time I woke up, my mom was gone for work. Moms are the best because they make you lunch/food, clean the clothes you have been wearing for the month, and love you through it all. You will appreciate your mother so much during finals! Go home one in a while, before she falls asleep. Set a day aside just to hang out with her, whether it be going out or staying in! After finals finished in December, I went home and spent an entire two days at home with her. I forgot how well she cooked, how nice she smelled and how comforting just sitting with her was.
6.) The importance of easy electives:
Many of us have been stuck with an elective that was more difficult and demanding than our mandatory classes. Maybe they were recommended to us by friends who thought astrophysics was a piece of cake, or maybe they sounded interesting like a history class on the Renaissance that had you writing an essay a week. Always do your research before choosing an elective and ask advisors or (your normal) friends for recommendations of easy electives. Beginner language classes like French and Spanish are usually easier electives to take (unless of course you struggle with languages, and there’s nothing wrong with that) and Music 101 is another easier elective that a lot of students take. But always be wary of recommendations and who they’re coming from and know your own personal strengths before registering for electives.
7.) Don’t underestimate that 10% for participation/assignments:
It’s so easy to shrug off going to class or tutorials or doing assignments with the justification of “meh, what’s 10% going to do anyway?”. Take it from us, the answer to that question is A LOT. And sure, some days it feels like skipping classes to catch up on a little extra sleep to make up for those late nights of studying (or binge watching a new Netflix original series) doesn’t seem like a big deal. Or maybe you feel like your French Tutorial is a waste of time, or you’d rather use the extra study time to focus on your upcoming midterm than working on an assignment. We too have exhausted every excuse in the book and looking back, we still regret that missed opportunity for the extra boost in our final marks. So if not from your prof, take it from us, and from the wise words of Shia LaBeouf: “JUST DO IT”.