Getting ready for a successful first year at university
So, you’ve applied to university and been accepted. Summer is nearly over and it’s time to start a new and exciting chapter in your life! Here are some tips for getting off to a good start at university.
Participate in Orientation Week
Orientation Week, also known as ‘Frosh’ or ‘Welcome Week’, is the period before the start of classes in which first-year students are invited to participate in activities and events designed to help them integrate the university community. Typically run by the student union or university staff, orientation weeks generally offer information sessions about university services and campus tours that can help set you up for success.
Other events are more social in nature. Participating in scavenger hunts, friendly competitions and parties with fellow members of your residence or program can be a fun way to familiarize yourself with your new environment and make friends.
Always read the course syllabus
Most professors will provide a course syllabus shortly before the start of the semester. While it can be tempting to ignore it and enjoy the last days of summer vacation, checking it out before the start of classes can be very beneficial. A syllabus usually contains all the information you need about a course, including a description of the class material, assigned readings, required textbooks and any tests or projects that will make up your final mark. You can also usually find your professor’s office hours, contact information and attendance policy.
Check your emails regularly
Email is a primary method of communication at universities; a lot of important information and messages will be shared with you this way. Professors, teaching assistants and academic advisors all tend to use email to communicate with students and it is often the best way to reach them when you have questions.
Set your academic email up on your phone or make it a habit to check it every morning so that you don’t miss an important deadline, a change in your schedule or other important news about your studies.
Don’t be afraid to try new things…
Universities not only offer a wide variety of courses, they also have many clubs and extracurricular activities worth exploring. Who knows, you may discover a new interest! Whether you want to learn a new language or take up a new hobby, universities often have just what you’re looking for. Trying new things can also be a great way to meet people with similar interests to your own and develop skills outside your area of study.
Most universities also have a variety of facilities available for students, such as gyms and media labs. Take advantage of using the tools and equipment you don’t have access to at home!
…But stay on top of your coursework
University students have more freedom than highschoolers when it comes to their studies. And with so many things to do on and around campus, it can be tempting to focus less on academic pursuits and more on having fun. While it’s true university should be fun, you shouldn’t let that interfere with your coursework.
Instead, stay up to date in your courses by attending every class, doing the assigned reading ahead of time and keeping track of your assignments. With good time management, you’ll have time to do all your coursework and still enjoy your time at university!
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Starting university can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Whether it’s because you’re living alone, having to make new friends or managing a heavier workload than before, it’s normal to feel tired and stressed out. There is no shame in that! It’s important to recognize when that is the case and take breaks to avoid overloading yourself.
Universities offer support to students struggling with coursework or adapting to university. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, check out the services available to you. Remember, your health and well-being is most important.
About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.
Assistant Director, Communications