Going to university as a first year student is like discovering a brand new planet. At first it’s very interesting, but slowly you realize that you don’t know how to survive there. All the things that you’ve become accustomed to all throughout elementary school and high school are nowhere to be found. Gone are the days where you can sweet talk your way into a higher grade or a test redo. But, do not to fret help is always there.

Mustang Beginnings 

Before I had gone to my very “first” day of university, I had made plans with a fellow peer of mine to survive first day jitters. So, we had met up at the place that would soon become one of my favorite places on campus, the Atrium Lounge. Then we had gotten our student ID’s and our O-kit. After that, I met the people who would soon become my lifeline in university.

During my first few moments of O-week, I had met my Sophs and future friends. Together we all got acquainted to university life. We learned about the many different academic resources that we have access to. As well as how to get to the many buildings in which we would have our classes. The whole thing was a breathe of fresh air. It was exciting, exhilarating, and absolutely terrifying. You’d think that the process of getting into university would be the stressful and scary part. Except, learning how to survive is much worse. But I didn’t learn that till much later.

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Lessons to Remember

Despite all the many different emotions that we all had experienced during O-week, one thought remained in our heads through it all. “WE MADE IT!” That thought is something that we were constantly reminded during O-week. Previous Alumni’s had given us words of wisdom many of which had helped pave the way to us, to me surviving.

  1.  A’s are rare. So adjust you’re standards and don’t freak out.
  2. Ask for help. There is nothing wrong with feeling like you can’t handle everything that university throws your way. It is absolutely normal and everyone has experienced what you’re going through.
  3. Learn to thrive and not just survive. University is a brand new experience but don’t forget to learn from you’re mistakes and to try new things. Because at the end of your university journey the thing that will stick with you, are the ones that happened when you just let go and went for something.
  4. Your mental health is important. Yes, grades are important but don’t forget to take time and practice self care. University can get overwhelming without a doubt, so make sure you take some time to focus on you. Overworking yourself will do you no good and will only cause you to become more frustrated and to burn out much faster.
  5. Last but not least, YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE.  There will be moments when you will feel as though you aren’t ready for what university is throwing at you. Despite all of it, you HAVE to remember that you are the reason that you’re there. No one put in the effort, or time, or energy into your grades or extracurriculars but you. So, believe in yourself and that you WILL pull through.

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Club Week

By the time that club week had come around, I have already experienced my first two weeks of university. The 8:30 classes filled with a hundred kids and a teacher who spoke through a microphone just to make sure everyone heard what he was saying. As well as the class that makes you second guess you’re learning habits. I’ve even experienced my favorite class and financial freedom.

Still, I wasn’t as educated on university life. Going into club week made me feel like a child going into a candy store. There was a club for everything. From ethnic clubs to hobby clubs and everything in between – be it religious, academic, or a volunteering club.

To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement that’s for sure. I could not make up my mind on where to start. It was so cool to see that there was something for everyone. So, I did what any excited first year would do, I signed up for  so many email list. I’m pretty sure I signed up for all if not most of the clubs that were there. By the end of my rounds around all the information booths my hands were full of pamphlets, and club cards. And I was nowhere close to deciding on which clubs I wanted to join.

Eventually I narrowed it down to four. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without one of my Soph telling me how he had experienced the same thing. And like me he wanted to join everything in sight. He ended up joining quite a few of them, but by the end of the year he had realized he only went to a handful of events from each of the clubs he joined.

I definitely wish that I had narrowed down my list even more, and that I had stuck more with things that I am passionate about. But, you live and you learn right.

Midterms Season Stresses

Another thing that I was not ready for was the fact that midterms arrived much earlier than I expected. The first month had passed by in the blink of an eye. One moment I was starting my university journey. Then all of a sudden everyone around me is panicking about midterm season.

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Depending on the program and the classes that my friends had they weren’t as freaked or panicked about midterms. Me on the other hand, boy was I freaked. The reason for this was all due to the fact that university teaches you things in a completely different way than high school. So, I couldn’t tell if I had fully grasped anything I was learning.

Not only that but I didn’t know how to study. You see I’m the type of student who likes to talk my way through my classes when I study. But, not everyone is like me. Most, if not all the people that I know prefer to re-read and re-write their notes to study – which I couldn’t relate to at all.

Eventually, I had done my first university midterm EVER and it was definitely an experience. Prior to getting into the exam room I had almost thought myself into a panic attack out of worry that I’d fail. Afterwards, I was in a daze because the exam felt as though it was too easy and I was panicked that I’d just failed my exam.

Let me tell you something, the grade I got was definitely a shocker. My gut was correct in a sense. I had gotten a grade high enough that I had passed but low enough that by my standard I had failed. But despite that I continued to study just as hard for my next exams.

Being aware that A’s are rare is the reason that I hadn’t lost it right after I got my marks. So, definitely keep that it mind.

The Burn Out is REAL

It is very easy to burn out in university. It is something that has happened to me a little too often, especially after having an exam for a class that I struggle with. But what I had experienced was that midway through midterm season I had lost motivation to study. I was more worried about the fact that I wasn’t worried about failing than actually failing. It was a weird phenomenon that even my friends had experienced.

University is definitely something. Still, despite the burnout that we were all feeling we were aware of the resources that were available to us.

We had our Sophs for emotional and mental support. There was the student center in which there is Peer Assistance Learning – which is basically free tutors to help. Not only that but there were numerous Talks and Classes that were given to help students to study more efficiently and survive midterms and finals.

So, when you go to university or if you’re already there make sure that you are always aware of the resources that are available to you. Because trust me when I say that they will be what relieve you of your burnout.

Final Remarks

If there is anything that I wish I had known prior to going into university it would have to be that high school doesn’t prepare you for it one bit. All through high school the only thing you are told is that university is hard and everything that you learn in high school is something that you’ll need to know for university. Which isn’t the case always the case.

University is more than just academics. It is a sum of all your experiences – good and bad. Because despite the main goal of university is getting your degree by the end of the four years, all you’ll remember are the good times. In the long run, the bad grades that you’re stressing over in the beginning won’t matter. But what does matter is if you come out of university with your mental health in tack or if you’ll feel worse because of the pressure.

Remember that high school is nothing like university. So, make sure you come into university with no expectations. Make sure to look at the bigger picture once you do get to university. Lastly, enjoy the little things – the all nighters, procrastinating study session with friends, and even the bad grades that you’ll get once in a while.

Time passes by before you know it. That’s why seize the moment and make the most out of your time in university.