8 Ways to Survive University and College

Written by: Pina Capuano, Emily Guterres, Jocelyn Lubczuk, Tommy Nguyen, Bryant McNamara, Nani Moleko, Kristie Van Vloodorp Taylor, and Meagan Winsor.

Edited by: Pina Capuano, Bryant McNamara, and Shannon Murphy 

We reached out to public relations and communications students and graduates from the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College to help new students get the most out of their University and College careers. We asked them what pieces of advice they had been given by professors or colleagues, how to smoothly transition into post- secondary school, and what tips they had for new students. Here is what they had to say:

1. Get Involved and tear down your comfort zone 

Consider a new club or talk to someone at one of the tables during 101 week. Not a risk taker? Talk to people who are interested in joining an intramural sports team or people who are involved in the things you do love and are comfortable with. Even if you don’t join, you’ve just made a connection! This is a great way to shed your shyness and get even more out of your university or college experience.

2. Network

It’s one of those daunting words that you’ll hear forever but networking is all about being yourself and getting to know other people. Don’t be a statue though, remember to add your own flare and be personable too.

3. Plan, plan, plan

Time management is the best skill you can learn. The better you are at it the less stress you will have and the happier and richer your school experience will be! Developing good habits by starting projects when they’re made available will kick start the creative process. Grabbing a pen and paper and WRITING down a to-do list will help you keep track of what needs to be done. You will remember things better if they are hand written and you can crack open those fresh new highlighters you’ve been waiting to use.

But most importantly: do NOT bite off more than you can chew. Set small, reachable goals for yourself. Even something as simple as choosing your outfit before you go to sleep WILL save you lots of time.

4. Take something away from each class

If you write down three questions, interesting statements, or areas of confusion for each lecture you will be more likely to remember that particular concept or lesson. It doesn’t sound like much, but it works like a charm! Try it in the margins of your page or as a text bubble on your laptop – what is there to lose?

5. Form Study Groups

If you haven’t noticed by now, you are not the only person starting this adventure through post-secondary school. Break out of your shell and talk to the people around you. If you are in the same class chances are you already have a few common interests. Even if you prefer to study alone, talking about the course material with someone else will help you remember important information and point out the areas you are totally lost in.

Speaking of being lost:

6. Yes, that’s a C, don’t panic!

Grading is a little different at the post-secondary level. It’s a big transition so don’t beat yourself up if your high school straight A’s don’t carry on through your first year of university or college. You might also have to take some intro courses to that seem irrelevant to your major but embrace the new topics and you might be surprised with how fun these classes can be. Above all, if you average drops remember: it’s normal and you’re not alone.

So how can you keep your grades and your morale up? Aside from following these guidelines be sure to take advantage of the resources you have.

7. Ask for help

If the professor is intimidating, send the teacher’s assistant (TA) a message. They have been in your shoes and are always available to lend a hand. Heck, they actually want to help you succeed and understand.

University and college are great so while this information might seem overwhelming we hope that these tips and tricks will make more sense as your first semester gets going. If none of these resonated with you we hope you take one thing away from this list:

8. Be confident in your abilities

A lot of changes and decisions lie ahead but you should never doubt yourself. If you really don’t know what you are doing remember: everyone who ever walked into this school felt the same way and they’re thriving all around you.

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