Things I wish I’d known in first year
by Zoey Duncan
* Plan out your general education requirements ahead of time so you don’t get stuck without the prerequisites necessary for higher-level classes.
* If you’re on campus four or more days a week, get a locker from Transportation and Parking Services for the year for $75.
* Plan parking pass acquisition ahead of time. Consider carpooling. Sure, you can try parking illegally in nearby neighbourhoods, but at $40 a pop, once you get your fifth parking ticket of the semester, you’ve already racked up more than the $180 parking permit rate. (Fall 2011 permits go on sale July 4.)
* It’s OK to change your program, and to do it multiple times — but choose one eventually.
* It’s OK if you don’t finish school in four years — but get it done eventually.
* Liberty Lounge indulgences, eating campus fast food and pulling all-nighters. Everything in moderation.
* Keep track of how much money you spend partying in a single month. The next month, consider saving 50 per cent of that cash for something with a little more substance.
* In your four (or five… or six…) years in university you’ll learn more outside the classroom than in — if you play your cards right, meet good people and open yourself to opportunities.
* You will make friends, but sometimes you have to make a special effort. In the first week of class, sit next to someone who looks friendly — chances are that your prof will make you introduce yourselves and then you’ve got an easy way to start chatting. Become Facebook friends, grab a coffee or beer after class to discuss what you learned (or were supposed to learn) and you’ve got a new pal.
* You’re not the only one crying over an essay.
* Know that there are academic resources on campus to stem those tears of exhaustion and frustration. Counsellors in the EnCana Wellness Centre can help you work through academic difficulties, and Student Learning Services in the T-Wing will read over parts of your essays to provide feedback and they hold study strategy workshops all week long.
* Learn how to take care of yourself: drink responsibly, eat your veggies and get some sleep. Your brain and stomach will thank you.
* Don’t try cramming all your classes into two days a week. Who wants to sit in class from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and eat from the vending machine all day?
* Profs are people too: they’re not always right and they’re often open to having a discussion, if you’re mature about it; they’re often very, very smart and you should use this to your academic advantage; they’re often available to help you during office hours if you’re feeling lost in that class and it’s worth asking for the help.
* Read your textbooks. Seriously. There’s good stuff in there and you’ll spend a lot less class time confused and bored if you know what your prof is talking about.
* Resell your textbooks — the money you get back is worth the effort of going in after classes or during exam period. The BookStore will immediately pay you up to 50 per cent of the new price if the book is being used at Mount Royal still, while Copywrite in Wyckham House lets you set your own price, of which you receive 75 per cent once your book sells.
* You’re living your real life right now. University isn’t just an expensive means to an end, so enjoy the ride, slow down, and check out the world around you.
* Oh, and contributing to The Reflector will not only get you great work experience, but great life experience. Keep that one in mind, too.