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Getting Through First Year

So, you got into university. Congrats! But, now what? You study hard during the next 4 or so years to get a degree? Often times, students find themselves asking this question. And while academics are very important, university, especially in this day and age, is much more than merely just receiving a degree to graduate. Below, I am going to share some valuable advice and tips gained from my first-year university experience to help you get through your university career!

1. Maintain Academic Excellence.

Getting good marks alone may not get you far, but good marks in combination with a number of other things (mentioned below) certainly will, so this is still important. Don't forget that university can get competitive and to most employers looking for students, good marks have become a basic expectation.

2. Study smart. So, how do you go about maintaining academic excellence? Here are a few tips:

Time Management - Do not procrastinate. This is crucial. Get in the habit of making a schedule. Buy an agenda. You’re going to have a lot on your plate and resorting everything to memory is risky. You don't want to forget your assignment or job interview because you didn't bother buying an agenda, of all things.

Commit to study groups and a fair share of independent study time as well. Being in a study group is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, expose yourself to new ways of studying, and clarify content. Just as important, is independent studying, where you can really put yourself to the test to see how well you know your stuff.

Get rid of distractions. I know it is tempting to get the latest updates on social media, or go out with friends, but reserve this for leisure time. You’ll thank yourself later. Learn how you study. Of course, do not spend all of university trying to discover how you study best though. Within the first semester of your first year, you will have many midterms, assignments, and exams. Treat this as “leeway” to discover what study methods help you succeed the most, be it by using flash cards, making flow charts, or anything of that matter. Stick to this newfound personalized and effective study method throughout university to help you do well.

3. Network.

Meet your professors. Go visit their office outside of class hours to personally introduce yourself and get to know them. Meet other professors of genuine interest to you who may not teach you, and get to know them as well. Do not limit yourself in terms of getting to know brilliant minds in your fields of interest.

Attend events. These include information sessions, study sessions, conferences, competitions, and anything of the sort. You never know what you will learn, or who you will meet there. You could even meet a potential employer. Do not underestimate administrative

and student-run events.

Meet upper years, graduate students, PhD students (especially your TAs), and ask for advice. This is especially valuable because the responses you get will be tailored for your specific school or program. Also do not forget that these are people that were once students in your position too.

Meet people outside academia. This includes a whole host of people. For example, if you are a pre-med student, meet nurses, doctors, researchers, etc. The same goes for students in business, law, engineering, an any other discipline. Go out of your way to meet the right people who can share their opportunities and experiences to enhance yours.

4. Summer.

Travel. Relax. Take some time off. Grow as a student in your field of study. I know, getting through a successful school year can be a burnout. But, summer is the perfect opportunity to gain experience, extracurriculars, and to expand your knowledge in a way that traditional university courses cannot. You do not need to be a pre-med student looking to get into med school or a business student looking to enhance their startup. Everyone, in every field of academia, should spend their summer doing something valuable for themselves. This can mean so many different things. Take summer school, if necessary.

Get a job. And of course, any job is better than no job, but aim to get more serious. You're in university now. Try to get a job that relates to your field of study if possible. Apply for an internship, a research position, or a volunteer position. Work with your professors, odds are that they have some type of work that could use a student volunteer whether it be in their research, “administrative work” or anything else.

To conclude, university definitely has its ups and downs, but do not let that get you down. At the end often day, every hurdle you face is just another opportunity to help you succeed in your first year (and the rest of your years). Follow up on this advice. Try your best to get out there. Do not graduate a merely just another student number because university is so much more than that.

~ Written by Jassy Singh

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