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Five Tips for Starting University

What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before I Started College


1. Stay organized.

Do not buy a planner and then lose it in two weeks. If you want to survive university the easiest way possible, you’re going to want to eliminate that “Oh, crap!” panicked feeling that comes from realizing you have a paper due in two hours. I prefer to write things down by hand, but even if your planner is on your phone, utilize it. University is a lot of fun, but it can be extremely busy and overwhelming right off the bat. Professors expect a lot out of you, and they all think their classes are the most important, so you’ll be expected to complete all assignments to the best of your ability. Write everything down in your planner so you don’t forget to do them!

Pro tip: University professors treat their syllabi like it’s the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. At the beginning of each term, write all of the due dates down in your planner and update as needed.

2. Feed yourself.

Something I always hated about being on campus for long stretches of time is how hungry I would get. It’s also important to stay hydrated, and sometimes in class, you just need a drink of water. I learned to always have a protein bar (they’re gross, but just in case of hungry emergencies) and water in my backpack. My campus had fast food like Panda Express, Starbucks, and Chipotle, but you don’t realize how sick of those places you’ll become after the first couple of weeks. Plus, it’s not exactly health food for the most part, and it gets expensive. There was one term where I had class from 10 AM to 7 PM, and I didn’t always go home for the two-hour gaps I had, so snacks were essential.

3. Formulate a schedule so you will actually go to class.

Speaking of that last sentence above, don’t spread out your classes if you can. When you get home, you’ll want to stay home. Make it your best effort to plan your classes closer together. A 40-minute break between classes is actually pretty short because you can eat or go over notes, so don’t sweat it, but two hours drag on for a lifetime, especially if you have multiple of them. I knew people who were lucky enough to schedule all of their classes two days of the week, so they had time to work or study on their off days. Sometimes that’s not doable though, and your required classes will fall on different days of the week, which is what happened to me. I just made sure to A) never take an 8 AM class and B) not have two-hour gaps in between classes. 8 AM classes and two-hour gaps between classes kind of just ensures that you’re going to skip class. I’ve done both, and I can wholeheartedly say that it’s not worth the struggle.

4. Meeting People Without Being in a Sorority/Fraternity

If you have a legacy to fulfill or you want to join a sorority/fraternity to make friends then go for it. But they’re expensive, and there’s a lot of responsibility that goes into them, so if you’d rather opt out for one reason or another like I did, then don’t be scared that you won’t meet new people. It might take some soul searching, but eventually, you’ll find the right major, and people from the same major will start to fall into your life. You’ll have multiple of the same classes with people, you’ll start talking to one another, and even if you don’t end up best friends, you’ll still gain a sense of community within your major. A big part about university is finding out who you are, the kinds of people you like being around, and what you want to do in the future. You don’t have to work that hard at it though, these things just come with going to University, so no pressure.

5. Find balance between that newfound lifestyle and academic routine.

If you’re a freshman going to a university that’s farther away from home and this is your first lick of independence away from your parents, be careful. By all means, enjoy it, but be careful. In my experience, a lot of freshmen tend to go overboard when they’re finally away from their parents. They party a lot, they don’t take as much care of themselves, and their schoolwork would suffer. It’s all about balance. The infamous “Freshman 15” saying comes from the amount of unexpected stress and craziness that comes from that first year of university. People tend to overindulge on campus fast food, they drink a lot of alcohol (all sugar), and they might not exercise or sleep as much to keep up with their schoolwork. Experiencing all that college has to offer is definitely a must, including lifestyle and academics. But finding a happy medium between schoolwork and entertainment is necessary.

These experiences/opinions are entirely my own. I just graduated, and here’s what I would have wanted to be told going into university. For any upcoming freshman or transfer students, good luck and enjoy!