How to Survive Your Freshman Year

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Posted July 26, 2012 by Annie Shim in Advice

Whether you’re a fresh high school graduate or going back to school after taking a year or so off, if you’re starting university or college this September, this post is for you! You’re on the brink of starting the next (and best) chapter of your life. You might be terrified about your future and the change it may bring, or you might be super excited about it, you might even be somewhere in between. These are completely normal emotions at this stage in your life. Whether you’re moving out and living on your own for the first time, or even if you’re staying home to attend school, big changes definitely await you! But don’t worry, they are mostly good changes.

 How to Survive Your Freshman Year

Here are some tips on surviving your freshman year!

Reinvent Yourself

Be the person you always wanted to be but were hindered from being back in high school. This is the time to learn about who you really are and find your identity. If you want to change-up your style from your typical t-shirt and jeans to something a little more ‘you’, go ahead and do so! If you want to be more outgoing and spontaneous, who’s stopping you? If you want to stay exactly the same as you are, that’s also great.

Meet a Lot of New People and Make a Lot of Friends.

Attend all of the events that take place during your first week at your new school. And when I say make lots of friends, I mean make good friends. You’ll meet different kinds of people who you may never have had the chance to come across earlier. That doesn’t mean everyone you meet will be a good match for you, but it’s all part of the experience. During your first week, everyone will seem like the friendliest bunch you have ever met, you may become like this too! It’s because everyone is new and they are all trying to make friends in a strange, new environment. Take advantage of this and meet new people, but be careful of the ones who seem fake after the first week. And don’t let your upper classmen belittle you. You may be young and new to your school, but you’re not a child – not anymore! Those upper classmates were in your spot just a year or two ago.

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Study.

You may be tempted to skip out on studying because “it’s just first year” or “marks don’t matter anymore, I got accepted”.  Even though it’s your freshman year, now’s the best time to learn good studying habits. And marks do matter – you need a certain average to continue in your program, get into an honours specialization or grad school. What’s important is not studying harder, but studying smarter. It involves understanding how to study effectively. You’ll eventually acquire this skill throughout your four years in university. And don’t be too discouraged by the marks you earn on your first few essays or exams. What worked in high school is not going to work in college, but you will get the hang of it. Get help from your professors, T.A’s, your classmates or the essay help clinic – take advantage of these sources!

Note: For essays, professors don’t want just good points and quotes; they need a thorough analysis of the material, which includes its  significance! Spitting out a summary of what you learned in class or your textbook is not enough – your prof’s want to see you think critically and think for yourself!

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Have Fun.

This is your first year of being away from your parents, or as some would say, your first year of ‘freedom’. Whether your idea of fun is going out partying with tons of new people or staying in and talking about boys with your floormates all night, go do it! Say yes to opportunity and don’t coop yourself up in your dorm room. Go to your floor/residence meetings and events or O.C. (off-campus) events, try different extra-curricular clubs and try campus events. I guarantee your school will have a lot to offer!

The key is moderation. Once you start school, you’ll notice that some people always say ‘no’ to hanging out because they are studying, and some people will be partying and hanging out with people all day every day, even during exams. You need to be able to find middle ground.

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This is just some advice that I wish someone told me when I began my freshman year and I hope you are able to soak this in and begin a great school year this September.