No matter what year you are in or how you think your path is going, these 9 essential University/College tips can help you make the most out of you academic career.
I graduated University studying Geology and Geography in 2017. School is not always easy, I know there are tips I wish I knew then that I know now. I cannot move back in time, but I can help those of you that are still in your academic journey so I am sharing them with you.
Please let me know in the comments if you found any of these tips helpful and feel free to suggest your own!
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9 University/College Tips
1. C’s Get Degrees
Most students will not ever be “straight-A students” and that is okay!
A hard wake-up call in University/College is that being an A student does not come easy. I excelled in high school with mediocre effort, but mediocre just did not cut it in University. I failed my first test (ever) and had a breakdown until I spoke with some professors and alumni.
Employers and academics look for effort and progress. Adjusting to living away from home and having to self-discipline for classes is hard and may impact your first and sometimes second year grades. Oh yeah, and all that partying you are doing.
The main thing is to adapt to the new environment and put in your best effort. Achieving A grades is possible, but I just want you to know that C’s are okay and in fact I learned C’s get degrees and employment opportunities. Do not be too hard on yourself
#2 Use a Planner or Calendar
No, you are not going to remember that assignment date that the professor shouted as you were leaving class. WRITE IT DOWN.
Most schools hand out free agendas on orientation day, and if not you can always grab a cheap one at your local store. Even writing down dates on a sheet of paper or your phone/laptop will work.
It does not need to be an expensive, complicated planner. As long as you have at least monthly spreads you will be set.
Whatever planner you choose, make sure to read your syllabus and write down all important dates. If you ever have that “should I write that down?” thought, write it down.
Use your planner to record all your plans, even those that are not school related. This simple task will benefit you greatly during your school years.
Using a planner has several benefits, here are a few:
- Reduces Stress – having a plan will help deal with the stress of your workload.
- Stay Organized – you will be able to know your availability and to-dos everyday with just a glance at your planner.
- Productivity – planning ahead will help you make the most of your time.
#3 Commit to Class Attendance
It is going to help make studying and learning easier, and at the end of the year when you need to round up one of your grades, your professor is going to remember if you skipped or not.
It is okay to skip a class here and there, but you want to save your ditch days for days you really need to miss.
Not only is going to class good for your academics, it will help you socialize and make friends. It gets you out of the house and into the public.
#4 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
The worst anyone can say is no.
No matter what question you have, the worst they can say is no. I would be afraid to approach a professor and ask for a extension on a project deadline. How silly! Can you imagine how much easier my life would be if even just one professor said yes?
If you never try you will never know. Make life a little easier for yourself by asking the questions you want answers to. Need an extension? Ask. Need help with a question? Ask. Want to take someone on a date? Ask.
If they say no then you are right where you started anyways! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you ask for help.
#5 Party Hard, Work Harder
Having fun is important, but you need to figure out the balance that works for you.
I see too many people, even my own friends, throw away their careers and reputations because they have no self control.
Everyone parties, and I love that they do, but you need to know your limit. Sometimes your limit is how many shots is too many shots and sometimes it is knowing when to stay home and study.
I suffer from major FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but you have to accept that sometimes you have to miss the fun.
I once studied all night until midnight and then went out with my friends, if you plan ahead you can balance your work/party schedule. There are some people who cannot do both, and that is when you have to step back and really weigh your priorities.
University/College – as cliche as it is – can be the best years of your life. Having fun is essential, but do not throw away your future.
#6 Avoid Burnout
There is such thing as too much school. You need to take care of yourself.
I, unfortunately, was one of those people who made themselves literally sick over school. I stressed myself out to the point where I would develop migraines and throw up. My parents worried and discussed taking me out of school. This should not be normalized.
Although I could not overcome all my stress, I did prioritize taking care of myself.
I vowed to only study for certain time limits during my day depending on how busy that day was and no all-nighters. I made sure to eat all my meals and keep them healthy, went to the gym every other day to keep up with my fitness, and most importantly, I made time for life.
Life happens even when you are not paying attention. You need to make the most of your days and sometimes this means prioritizing your social life. If you have been studying all day and your friend asks you to grab a bite to eat, do it!
If something is going wrong in your life and you have a lot on your mind, please speak to someone. Your parents, friends, professor, or a therapist. Professors can be understanding if you take the time to fill them in .
You need to make sure your physical and mental health come first.
#7 You CAN Change Your Mind
Very few people find what they want to do on the first try. I know the small town where I am from people pressure us to enter school and figure our life out as soon as we graduate from high school. This is not the best attitude.
You do have the lucky ones who know what they want to do and dive right into it, but the majority have to figure it out as it goes.
If you are unsure and do not want to set yourself back financially you can always work and put school on hold until you are ready. There is nothing wrong with taking a break as long as you keep yourself committed to figuring it all out.
If you are in school, regardless if it is your first year or your last, you can quit and/or change at any time. Do not pressure yourself into finishing a study if it will not benefit you.
You will have doubts and not every doubting moment means you need to quit. Just be honest with yourself and know that everyone around you are also just trying to figure it out. If you want to change, change! Do not stay somewhere to please anyone else and do not feel like you have to finish it because you started it.
#8 Learn to Love Public Transit
I know most of you want your own car and to travel on your own time, but you will quickly learn that it is usually not the best option. Parking on campus usually sucks and parking tickets add up. The stress of trying to find a spot when you are already five minutes late to class is also not ideal.
If you are from an area like me where the winters are harsh, you know that waking up 6am and having to shovel out your car just to make it to class is hardly the best course of action.
Always check for bus routes or carpools to make your life easier. The time, money, and stress you will save is worth it even if it seems like such a small consideration. Many schools offer deals on bus passes to look into!
If you are lucky enough to live in walking distance to your school take advantage of that. I walked to school almost everyday for four years. Of course some days it was an inconvenience, but the fresh air and exercise have lots of benefits.
Make a plan for transportation, figure out what works best so transportation/parking is one less thing you have to worry about.
#9 The “Freshman 15” is Real
Your maturing body and your new living habits accompanied by stress may very possibly cause you to gain weight in places you didn’t even know you could.
Gaining weight is not always a bad thing, the focus of my tip here is more to remind you to stay healthy and make it a priority.
I had always had a small stature and a good metabolism, I never had to worry about what I ate or if I exercised that day. In high school, I had gym class and played several sports so I was actually exercising all the time even when I was not consciously considering it.
When I started university and turned 19 (the legal drinking age in Canada), I started partying 2-3 nights a week. Rockstar vodkas were my drink of choice, horrible for my heart and you do not even want to know how much sugar is in one of those drinks. On top of the excessive drinking I was eating fast food and bread almost everyday.
If I had been working out maybe I could of managed this shock to my body slightly, but I never had needed to go to the gym so it was not in my routine. My freshman 15 looked more like a freshman 20.
Once I realized what I was doing to my body I quickly began my shift to a healthier lifestyle. I opted for healthier party drinks, ate healthier meals, and fit exercising into my weekly routines.
There are a lot of changes to adapt to when you attend school, being aware of them is the first step to handling them successfully!