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Youth holding a world

Heading off to College or University? What You Need to Know!

Many young people are beginning their journey into post-secondary education. It is an exciting time of new-found independence, an energizing environment, endless possibilities, and the promise of additional experiences and friendships. It also can be a time of anxiety as expectations change, demands and challenges  intensify and an unknown world unfolds. Here are some tips for students that can be helpful to students embarking down this post-secondary path.

It’s Okay to Not Have a Major/Program Declared in Your First Year

Use your first year to determine what you enjoy and where your academic interests lie.  It is common for first year students to change their major or program at university and college.  Explore courses that you’ve never thought about studying and take these opportunities to explore.  Take the opportunity to develop your knowledge base and expand on your interests.

Your Academic Advisor is an Important Resource

Make sure that you make time to meet with you academic advisor at school.  Your school will provide you with an academic catalog of courses offered, the prerequisites and requirements needed for each course and program of study, and graduation requirements. Check in with your advisor early on in your first year, and touch base with them occasionally —they can help you with scheduling issues, course selection questions, career options, and graduate program options.

Build Relationships through Campus Involvement and Community

Aside from academics, your social life is a large part of your post-secondary experience. Getting involved within your school and community in clubs, organizations, sports, volunteer opportunities, study groups, social events, council, or social activities within your faculty will help you to meet new people and develop relationships on campus. Creating friendships, building networks, and developing supports are significant during your school experience.

Balance Work and Play to Increase Enjoyment

A work/life balance can be challenging while managing an academic schedule, volunteering, clubs, physical activity, part-time work, and a social life.  Focusing too much time on academics and work can create long-term stress.  Ensure that you enroll in the number of classes you feel comfortable taking on.  Get involved in activities outside of school, and if you work at a part-time job, try to work a few flexible hours per week.  Remember that you need to make time in your schedule for rest, down time, and social events.

Get to Know Your Professors

Make sure that you speak with your professors: introduce yourself, ask them questions related to course work, visit during office hours, and make sure they know your name.  You will begin to develop relationships with your professors and, as a result, you will benefit from their support and they may act as references later on in your academic and professional life.

Get to Know the Services Available on Campus

Familiarize yourself with the facilities, services, and campus at your school.  These include: the health centre, student centre, registrar’s office, sports and recreation centre, student clubs and organizations, career centre, counselling services, support services, bookstore, on-campus and off-campus housing, and libraries.

Talk With Friends and Family About School

Develop a support network of friends and family who you feel you can share your school experiences with.  Many of the people around you have experienced life at post-secondary school, or are going through the same process – speak with them about your successes and challenges!

Keep Up With Classes and Reading

It’s common to feel overwhelmed with the increased workload that post-secondary education presents, especially in your first few years of school.  Make sure you keep up with course material and reading – don’t forget to follow along in your textbook!

Separate School Work and Home Responsibilities

It can be a challenge to focus on your academic schedule and fulfill responsibilities if you live on-campus, off-campus, or at home.  Balance time between school and home, ensuring that you allow yourself a proper workspace free of distractions and disruptions.  Create a study schedule, find space in a library or on-campus, and communicate your needs to those who live with you.