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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting University

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Tips and Tricks for Post-Secondary Students

Entering the world of post-secondary education can be overwhelming. You are no longer “spoon-fed” in terms of keeping up with homework, utilizing resources, attending class or even getting to school. Whereas in high school your teachers may have given you detailed instructions for each assignment, stayed on top of your attendance by calling your parents when you skipped, and so forth; in university or college, you are left to fend for yourself. You need to figure out your assignments on your own and get to campus on your own. Not every professor cares if you skip class; failing grades are your own responsibility. Assignments may be vague, and you are responsible for figuring things out. Maneuvering your way through these stressful years can be difficult, so here are some tips and tricks to make your transition easier.

  1. Always back your notes up using a cloud-based program, such as OneDrive or Google Drive. This will come in handy in case you lose your computer or notebook. The best thing to do is create your notes on this software itself, instead of using a traditional paper and pen. That way, you can’t lose anything. Through my own experience, I have realized that USBs can be more trouble than they are worth – they can easily be lost or fried.
  2. Do not take everything on yourself – join study groups! However, be selective. Do not join a group that you know just meets up as an excuse to socialize. You will find yourself falling way behind. Instead, join a dedicated and hard-working group, that focuses on helping each other.
  3.  Always check the used bookstore for textbooks or look for e-books, as early as you possibly can. It’s pretty frustrating, but most courses designate a book as “mandatory” but only end up using a tiny fraction of the publication for teaching purposes. As such, save your money!
  4. Do some research on your instructors or professors. Websites like www.ratemyprof.com are great for this. Most courses have multiple teachers, and finding the best-rated one could be the difference between an A and an F.
  5. Work-life balance is extremely important or else you will definitely burn out. Study as hard as you possibly can during the week, and relax and have fun during the weekends. Your post-secondary years are the best time to meet new and interesting people.
  6. If you get a parking pass, make sure it’s actually close to your classes. Passes are usually pretty expensive, and if you have to walk really far from your car, it may not even be worth it. Some campuses have free transportation from the lot to the campus. Plan it out.
  7. Print your notes at school. It’s usually cheaper to do this, than to print at home. Most campuses have a copy and print centre with good rates.
  8. It’s better to cram all your classes into a couple days during the week, than to have one course per day over five days. For example, if you cram your classes into Tuesdays and Thursdays only, you have Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off – with lots of time to study!
  9. Look into booking study rooms on campus, if you know that you cannot study at home. If you are disciplined and focused, great! If not, rooms are usually available for study purposes when classes are not in session.
  10. Librarians are overly helpful. It’s their job! Use this resource as much as you can, especially when making bibliographies or reference lists that can become hard to figure out. Always cite your sources