Three Tips For Surviving Your First Year at University
By Emma Duke, Features Editor
The weeks leading up to your first day of university are both utterly exciting and completely nerve-wracking. Back-to-school shopping, fun! Registering for various Gen Eds and clusters and..wha?
The first time you step into the halls of Mount Royal University (MRU) is equally as thrilling and confusing an experience. We’ve all been there, but that thought isn’t necessarily comforting when you are lost in the halls and can’t find your first class, you wore the wrong outfit, and everyone appears to be a lot older and cooler than you. You feel like a baby, and NOT the kind that Taylor Swift refers to in Anti-Hero.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic.
I was homeschooled, so I imagined my time in university would mirror Cady’s high-school experience in the Mean Girls movie (surprise, university is nothing like Mean Girls). Now, in my fourth-year, I can say with confidence that university can be rich, fulfilling, and fun…if you know how to make the most of it.
Here are three practical tips for your university journey.
1. Don’t put yourself in a box
You might be coming into university knowing precisely what career you want to pursue and how you’re going to get there. It’s good to have a focus, but it’s great to keep your options open. For example, maybe you’re a Communications major who loves astrology— don’t let the fact that your field isn’t science related stop you from taking a class you think you’d find enjoyable. I’m a Broadcast student who took on a research assistant role, and it expanded my horizons and brought me into a totally different, and fascinating world! An added bonus is that it can also diversify your resume.
In the same vein, you’ll hear a lot of vague and fluffy talk about stepping outside of your comfort zone, but I think the most practical tip is this: don’t always do what you’re good at. You might be a great writer, but less good at speaking in front of a class. Maybe in one of your classes, you give up the writing role, and take on the presentation role. University is a place to learn, and while doing what you’re good at is extremely comfortable, trying new things might lead you to find something else that you’re passionate about! If you’re not necessarily passionate about the new role you just tried, you will at the very least be slightly more comfortable and knowledgeable if you find yourself in that position again.
2. Use the resources available to you
You pay a ton to be here, so make use of the resources available to you as a university student. This doesn’t just include MRU’s resources, including the library’s very useful citation guides, Student Learning Services’ (SLS) academic success workshops, and student counseling, but it also includes resources outside of the University.
Money is a struggle for many students, and there are many great student discounts that you can take advantage of. UniDays is a free discount website that hooks students up with deals from meal kit companies like HelloFresh, to discounts on Dropbox, as well as fashion, travel, entertainment, and tech deals. Local to Calgary, independent cinema The Plaza Theatre is a place that offers students a reduced price for movie tickets, as does the Telus Spark Science Centre for single-tickets and memberships. These are just a few, among many examples, of where Calgarian-students can get a deal. Before you go somewhere, it’s good practice to check if a student discount is up for grabs!
One of my favorite resources in university has been the book How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students in which Cal Newport, an associate professor at Georgetown University, shares proven strategies to get the most out of your post-secondary experience. His book is full of actually useful, unique, and practical tips for becoming the most successful student possible. Newport’s other book, How to Become a Straight-A Student has also gotten quite a bit of buzz and is likely worth checking out at your nearest library.
3. Take a public speaking class
Whether you’re in a program where public speaking is considered a necessary skill or not, this class will make you more confident in your speaking abilities, whether you are giving a presentation, a toast at a wedding, speaking up in a meeting, or simply looking for a way to express yourself more confidently. Intro to Speech (SPCH2001) is a beginner class, so more likely than not, everyone else will be a little nervous too. I absolutely recommend this class as a way to build confidence at the start of your post-secondary journey.
Most importantly, take care of yourself, ask for help when you need it, and have a killer year!