September marks a bittersweet realization to all students. It all starts with that first advertisement you see online for “Back to School Specials” – it’s that instant reminder that patios are closing, days are getting shorter, and it’s time to pull out your chunky sweaters.
As summer ’16 came to a close, I realize how little time I have had to reflect on the past 4 months. So much as changed, but overall I am super excited and happy of where I am right now. I am (officially) entering the 3rd year of my program and counting down to the days of post-graduation. Although I technically have 2 more years of attending school, this will be my last couple of semesters of a full / heavy work load. My courses are getting more specific and specialized to topics I actually care about and get excited about learning – making school that much more bearable.
That being said, I consider myself an (unofficial) expert of what it takes to survive the first couple years of post-secondary. I thought I would share some little tips and pieces of advice I wish I knew earlier on.
- GET INVOLVED
Don’t wait until your second or third year to do this – the earlier the better! Even if you can’t be a part of everything you hoped for, stay active in the school community – trust me. It’s a great way to meet new people and make connections in places you never thought possible.
Get a part-time job! If you can balance this in your life, you’re already one step ahead of the crowd and building your network is everything.
2. Drinking is fun, but the day after isn’t.
I’m not going to preach to you whether or not alcohol is good for you – but just remember to enjoy everything in moderation. It’s not going anywhere, so no need to binge that first night of university and be known for that person that puked everywhere.
3. Step out of your comfort zone.
Scared of meeting new people? I know I was. I moved to a new city with no friends, no connections, no nothing. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to anyone and everyone – because let’s be honest, half the people you meet in Frosh week, you won’t ever talk to again. But for those select few you do – those will matter the most.
Also, what better way to really commit to that “Fresh Start” you’ve been craving since high school?
4. Freshman 15 is real and dangerous.
Missing those home cooked meals yet? Just ask my non-existent abs.
5. Find YOUR Work-Play Balance
It’s one thing to be stuck in a library 24/7, and another to be hitting the bars every weekend. Find that balance in your life so you can succeed and have fun, without the stress of regrets. This might take a while, but don’t worry – we all figure it out eventually (hopefully).
6. It’s never too late.
Not interested in the courses or major as much as you thought you’d be? I’ve been there. Don’t get discouraged, and instead look for alternatives (sooner the better). You’re paying for this degree, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Find what you love, and you’ll be THAT much happier – I promise you.
7. Which leads me to this next one…don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
During my last year of high school, I thought I had it all figured out and that university would be an easy transition. Well it wasn’t. But it’s okay to be wrong or make mistakes, just don’t do it twice. Learn and move on. Simple.
8. Shower Shoes.
9. Buy USED textbooks.
The biggest rookie mistake is buying all brand new textbooks, when realistically the content barely changes each year. Unless your professor specifically says you NEED a certain book, look for alternatives / older editions and it’ll save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
10. Make a Budget.
If you’re anything like me and find yourself occasionally window shopping online, you know that soon enough this is going to become a problem. Remember that you still need to survive by buying food, paying rent, and just overall savings. Admittedly, for me, this is still a major work in progress.
11. Expect the Unexpected.
Those high school friends you thought would be your BFF’s, well looks like they’re hanging out with a new crowd. But don’t worry, you’ll soon find your very own university crew.
Grades not going the way you wanted? They never do. Just don’t get discouraged – school intelligence is one thing, but not everything.
12. Have fun!
Before you know it, you’ll be done school forever and be completely lost without the structure of school. Believe it or not, working 9-5 isn’t the most exciting thing, so enjoy the opportunities given at school because the responsibilities of the real world are just around the corner.