Starting university was one of the biggest changes in my life. I didn’t really know what to expect, even though I spent countless hours searching for advice on the internet. The amount of time I spent watching dorm room hauls is probably more time than I put into some of my classes. Honestly, though, there are a few things that I learned in university that I think are valuable to everyone who is starting out and that’s what I am here to share with you.
1. Don’t take 8:30AM Classes
Don’t do it folks. I thought it would be fine. I mean, I had to get up early every morning for high school, why would university be any different? It is different, very different. You now have the choice of whether or not you want to go to class and the answer, most of the time, is that you don’t. If you are a morning person, that’s great, but still don’t schedule yourself for morning classes. If you’re a morning person, schedule your first class for 9:30 and go to the gym before hand and have a nice breakfast after. Just don’t start your day with an hour physiology lecture at 8:30 if you can help it (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything….).
2. Schedule Your Classes Heavily on Certain Days of the Week
At my school, some classes ran only on Tuesdays and Thursdays while others were scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Try to create your class schedule so the bulk of your classes fall into only one of those categories. You will be thanking me when you only have to go to classes three days a week and then have the other two to study. This might not work for everyone but it definitely worked for me.
3. Buy Lots of Breakfast Foods
Even if you have a meal plan, you cannot buy too many breakfast foods. Breakfast is the king of all meals and can be eaten at any time of the day. I had a mini fridge in my room that was always stocked with yogurt, cheese, juice, and milk. Plus, I always had things like bagels, oatmeal, and frozen fruit hanging around too. Trust me, this will be a life saver during late night study sessions and on the weekend when all of the food places on campus are closed.
4. Start Going to the Gym
Everyone knows that exercise is good for them but not all of us put it into practice. I didn’t know the extent of what exercise could do for me until I started university. I started going to the gym on campus in my first year and I gained over ten pound of muscle that year. I used it as an outlet for stress and it really helped me get through some tough times. Even if the gym is not your favorite thing I urge you to find some kind of physical activity that you like. Physical activity is so important and I really believe that there is something out there for everyone. Whether it’s ballet or weight lifting, there’s something that you will like.
5. Live by your Syllabus
This one is pretty self-explanatory and I honestly can’t believe that there are people who don’t do this. When you get your syllabus for your classes write down all of your assignment and exam dates in a planner. Hi light all of the important things on the syllabus and stick it in the front of the notebook you use for that class. Read through the entire thing and commit it to memory. Syllabi are VERY IMPORTANT.
6. Take Online Courses
I was really scared of taking online courses when I first started and I definitely shied away from it for a long time. Here’s the thing… they rock. I will say, they will not be for everyone. You need to be a self-directed learner and be very motivated and able to regulate your own studying. I loved taking online classes. I took a minimum of one course online every semester after my first year. I even took them in the summer. It honestly feels like a nice break from lecture and I found that they were often easier than the in class courses. If you are looking to free up some time in your schedule, consider an online class.
7. Live in Dorms
I lived in dorms for my first 3 years of university and I would highly recommend it to every university student. I am a huge introvert and I didn’t do half of what was offered but it was still a great experience. It was a great transition from living with my parents to living on my own without having to be completely independent. I was responsible for myself and everything that needed to be done in my life like getting myself up for class, doing my laundry, and cleaning my bathroom (ew). But at the same time, I had a meal plan so I didn’t really have to cook for myself and I wasn’t paying rent every month (you just pay a lump sum at the beginning of the semester). The residence buildings facilitate a lot of fun activities too and I think that if you want to get the full university experience, you should definitely live in dorms.
8. Take a Variety of Courses, Even if You Think You Know Your Major
I was not bold enough with my class choices and I really regret it. I thought that I knew where I was going in terms of my studies and it ended up going in a completely different direction than I originally intended. One of the most important tips I can give you is to use your electives to take courses in many different areas. Try out some science, business, kinesiology, etc. Who knows you might just find a passion for something you had no idea even existed.
9. Buy a Small Laptop and Use it to Take Notes in Class
In my first year I took notes by hand because it is a more effective way to remember things. While that is true, carting around 5 notebooks is not practical or good for your back. I started typing my notes on my computer and then rewriting them after class in order to remember it. Leave the notebooks at home folks. This is coming from a person who despised taking notes on the computer. I thought it was terrible and I would always write in notebooks. I soon realized that it was impractical to carry all of that stuff around when I could rewrite my notes in notebooks late. Some of my professors talked incredibly fast and it was hard to capture everything they were saying without recording it on my laptop. I can type a lot faster than I can write.
10. Don’t Spend All of Your Money on Alcohol or Coffee
This may seem like it’s pretty obvious but you will not believe (or maybe you will) how many people I met in university who didn’t even have $1000.00 in their savings account. Some didn’t even have $100.00. This absolutely floors me. Most of these people went out every weekend and spent hundreds on alcohol and bar food. Don’t do this. It is not worth it. You will need this money after you graduate to pay for things that you actually need; groceries, transportation, rent, etc. Please do not blow all of your money on frivolous things. I’ve never been a big drinker but I do have a caffeine problem. I spent a fair amount of money on coffee in university and now that I’m working a 9-5 I still spend a fair amount on coffee. The difference is, I didn’t let it put me into debt and I always knew how much I had in my savings account.
These are just a few of my top tips for university. If you have anything you want to add please leave a comment down below! I love hearing about other peoples’ experiences in college and university! Everyone is different so these tips might not be for everyone but they are some of the most important things that I learned during my time in post-secondary.