No one needs to be reminded about how complex your first year of post-secondary education is.

Thousands of students started their first semester this week. Students freshly graduated from high school can be anywhere from drowning in stress to walking on air in excitement. It goes without saying that stepping into a completely new world brings mixed feelings.

The real question is, how can new students transition to first year without being completely clueless as to what their next course of action should be?

1. Organize and adapt

Things work differently in post-secondary education. Believe it when you hear that the constant reminders about deadlines you got from your teacher in high school is a privilege
you will soon miss. Build a timetable, hang it on a bulletin board in your room, or on your
refrigerator. Make sure you have access to all the books you may need, stay updated, take
notes, and follow guidelines.

Attending lecture may seem hard at times, but it will always be worth it to push yourself and attend. (Southern Arkansas University // flickr)

This one is the most important: Go to class! Missing those extra hours of sleep, rushing to the lecture hall with a coffee in your hand, ending up in class with messy hair, and your eyes half open at 9 a.m. will definitely make you want to drop out; but at the end of the year, you’ll be thanking me!

“Go to class!”

2. Bid farewell to procrastination

Leaving assignments until the last minute just seems to run in the blood of a first-year student, and possibly even beyond the first year. We have all been there. Pulling all-nighters the day before an assignment is due or an exam is held may seem like an easy thing to do, but those dark circles around the eyes and the cranky behaviour from sleep deprivation tell a different story. Get your work done beforehand to save yourself from the mental breakdown you could be encountering.

“Get your work done beforehand…”

3. Begin to participate

A lot of students often end up missing out on several opportunities to mix with others, gain additional knowledge, or explore something new due to the lack of involvement on campus. Interact with others, look for clubs, and join any that grab your attention. Not only will this help you get to know more people, but it may also add to the list of skills you possess.

“Interact with others…”

4. Just say hi

Everyone around you is human, just like you; they won’t bite.

Get out of your comfort zone to make new friends. Communicate with people around you, help them out if they are ever in need, and spend time getting to know each other. At this time, the friendship could last a lifetime, so don’t be afraid to take chances.

“Get out of your comfort zone…”

5. Make the campus your second home

The first few days on campus just might cause homesickness, even if you are not an international student. You will probably spend your time in class daydreaming about how you could be on your bed, curled up in a blanket, watching Netflix and munching on your favourite snack.

However, the more time you take to explore the campus and finding things that interest you, you will become more attached, and you will begin to find excuses to not go back home. You may also end up discovering the perfect study spot where you spend time to boost your GPA.

… explore the campus…”

6. Resort to resources

All money invested in the non-academic expenses should be used wisely. Why not make use of the payment you are making to access all the resources available to you around campus? Take time to find out what your campus offers. You will come across everything you could possibly need – from tutoring centres, to health facilities. Stay updated and try to attend events that take place. It could be a knowledge booster and stress reliever as well, so why miss out?

“… access all the resources available to you around campus…”

7. Don’t live on junk

Whether junk food and frozen meals are treats to reward yourself for all the studying you have been doing, or simply a result of being too lazy to cook, somehow these unhealthy

Do not underestimate how much your food and exercise habits can influence the other areas of your life. (Azri // flickr)

alternatives are always in the picture. Refrain from consuming an excessive amount of junk food, it makes your body weaker. If you get sick, it will be hard to keep up with your studies. Strive for a healthy balance and remain active. The “freshman 15” will not be worth it when you realize you have to buy new jeans.


“Refrain from consuming an excessive amount of junk food…”

8. Flaunt your personality

A common mistake made by numerous first-year students is changing who they are to fit in. Post-secondary education is not a puzzle; you often do not need any special requirements to join first-year groups or make friends. Let others embrace your qualities, including the imperfections that make you who you are. Do not let anyone feel like they need to mould you into a certain shape.

“Let others embrace your qualities…”

9. Don’t get lost in books

Make sure your education has more memories than just studies and books. (Danny Nicholson // flickr)

There is no doubt that you could be swamped in your studies. This makes it difficult to take your head out of your books and simply look around. You may have to lose sleep, cancel plans, and completely ghost your friends during certain scenarios.

But every now and then, you need to take a break, live in the moment, and create
memories that don’t involve lecture notes and piles of books. The most obvious reason why
people get into university is to get an education, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason. Getting
into university broadens your horizons in several ways, but you have to give it the chance to do it.

“But every now and then, you need to take a break…”

10. Prepare for the worst

When you are new to the university, setbacks or failures can make you feel as though the world is ending. Do not let yourself spiral into devastation, try not to panic. Everyone goes through this. You are not alone. Stay in position and be ready to catch whatever is thrown at you, and you will be okay. All of this may seem quite overwhelming, but just know that you are not in this boat alone.

“You are not alone.”

By Remi Stephanie Rozario

Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.