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Surviving freshman year (in eight steps)

Posted by Panagiota Panagakos on: Tue, 29th April 2014 1 Comments

Getting adjusted to first year of college or university is one of the biggest shocks you’ll face growing up. It doesn’t matter what you did in high school, or how well you did it. Post-secondary is a different ball game. You may have had top grades, you may have spoken as  valedictorian, but guess what? Chances are that the people at your current school and in your program have some pretty amazing accomplishments themselves. You’ll be competing with the crème de la crème from across the country. 

Conversely, you may not have performed as well as you would have liked in high school— don’t panic. Post-secondary education is different; here, everyone starts with a clean slate. 

One big difference between high school and post-secondary is the amount of freedom you get. With a few exceptions, you’ll probably only have about 20 hours of class per week. Attending classes is not mandatory, and you’ll be living on your own for the first time. So not only will you not have your parents around to make sure you’re studying, your professors won’t even notice, or care, whether you’re attending classes.

According to a recent Statistics Canada report, Persistence in Post-Secondary Education in Canada, about 14 percent of first-year students drop out and don't complete their studies. So, how can you make sure this isn’t you? 

1. Attend frosh week

 Not only is frosh week an opportunity for you to meet other first-year students, and have lots of fun, you’ll also learn your way around your campus. By being familiar with your campus, you’ll know where to go and the proper person to speak to if an issue ever arises. 

2. Go to class

 The temptation to skip class is strong, especially if you were up late the night before, have a ridiculously early class, the weather is beautiful, or if your friends who don’t have class  want you to join them at the pub. Make an effort to attend your classes. In addition to learning the material, you’ll also learn about what your professors expect for your upcoming essays and assignments, what to anticipate on your tests and exams, and changes in due dates.

3. Get organized and plan ahead

 Every professor will provide you with course syllabus that include all assignments and due dates for the course. Take the time to add all your due dates into your calendar so you don’t miss any of your assignments. During crunch time you’ll find that you have several assignments, tests and even exams all at once. It’s imperative to plan ahead and begin your assignments and studying  in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

4. Use the study resources available at your school

 All schools have a variety of programs in place to ensure your academic success, like peer tutors and writing labs. Find out what’s available at your school and take advantage of the services. Doing so can make a significant difference in your grades.

5. Visit your career centre

Seek out the assistance of the career professionals at your school. They’re a wonderful resource that can assist you to plan and map out your career and educational path.

6. Eat healthy

 In order to fulfill the academic expectations of university and college, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential. A healthy body is important not only to perform physical activities, it’s necessary in performing mentally stimulating ones. Your physical stamina is extremely important. You’ll need it to endure the long hours you’ll be spending studying. Your grades will suffer if you’re not in healthy physical condition. Which brings us to…

7. Exercise

Getting adjusted to your new schedule and academic expectations is stressful. Make sure to schedule exercise into your routine at least 3 times a week. Exercise will not only help you burn calories, it will make you feel better, allowing you to focus better on your studies.

8. Sleep! 

Most post-secondary students stay up late studying, surfing the net, watching TV or socializing. It’s recommended to have 8 hours of sleep every night. So make sure you’re rested for your lectures and exams.

Although adjusting to life as a post-secondary student isn’t easy, it can be a lot of fun. Some of my most cherished memories are from my years as an undergraduate student. And let me tell you, none of them have anything to do with studying. So while you’re taking the necessary actions to make sure you’re on your game, take time out for yourself and enjoy the ride. 



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