Completing high school is something that many students look forward to as they await the next chapter of their lives. It can be an emotional roller coaster, some can’t wait to get the heck out of their high school in their crappy town and others are afraid to leave a place with lots of memories and loved ones to somewhere brand-new.
Fear not, the switch is not terrible. I mean, there is a lot to learn, many people to meet and too many assignments to complete in a short period of time. The campuses are way bigger, people may not always be as nice and your professors will almost always not know your name.
I am now going into my fourth year of university, but when I look back to my first few weeks in my first year of undergrad, I nervous laugh. How the heck did I get through it?? The first time I went to class was the second time I had ever taken the train to downtown Toronto by myself.
The town that I’ve lived in for the past 9 years has a population of roughly 80 thousand while Toronto has a population of close to 3 million. In my experience, I was just lucky that my program had just over a hundred people, but there are many programs on campus that have thousands of students in each year.
Assuming you figured out what program you want to study and what school you want to go to, congratulations, you already passed the hardest part!! The rest is a piece of cake.
Firstly, if your post secondary institution has a frosh (also known as freshers week or freshman week or orientation week of events), GO TO IT. No ifs ands or buts. Frosh will make a huge difference in how your first year will go by. Whether the people you meet will stay your friends over the next few years or not is up to you. However, they will make the first little while a little less taunting. Having a few friendly faces on campus is always helpful.
Make sure that you know exactly what you need to succeed in each class. That means you should definitely have a copy of the syllabus handy. Understand what type of assignments will be expected from you and how long you have to complete them so you don’t find yourself lost throughout the semester.
You pay a ton of money to be in post-secondary, so make sure you get your money’s worth. Find out what services your school has in terms of education, mental health, fitness, etc and take full advantage of it. These services are meant to help you in areas of your studies but also to make your experience one that is memorable and enjoyable
For the love of everything, buy an agenda, a planner, a calendar, one of or all of the above. This will help you map out your entire semester so that you don’t find yourself up the night before your summative paper is due scrambling to get it done. Your marks will suffer, but so will your mental health.
Take things one day at a time, especially when you are feeling as if it’s all happening at once. It can be daunting going from your high school where your teachers most likely held your hand and were flexible with deadline to a place where your instructor most likely doesn’t know you and will not be lenient in giving you extra time. The switch won’t be easy, but with the right tools, it can be possible.
If possible, find a part-time job. It can be very difficult to work while studying, however, you will soon realize that expenses for post secondary hardly end. Once you think you’re done paying for something, you’ll have to start paying for the next thing. It’s a never ending cycle, so be sure you’re being smart with your money and saving up what you can.
Keep your head held high while you go through the changes of becoming a post-secondary student. Watch your bank account, take care of yourself, make friends and try to make the best of your time there. Have your goals in perspective and ask for help when you need it and you will be just fine. When you’re done, you’re in the real world, so have fun while you can.