Congratulations! After four years of early mornings and extracurricular activities, you made it! You have that high school diploma under your belt and now you’re ready for bigger and better things: post-secondary education.
But university or college is a whole new world compared to high school. So here are 10 tips to help prepare you for the big transition.
1. Your grades will likely drop.
This can happen for so many reasons. The bigger classes and lecture-style teaching method can be a difficult adjustment. Or maybe you’re trying to balance school with a part-time job. Whatever the case may be, don’t beat yourself up. Most students slip a bit in first semester and it’s totally normal. Just remember to ask for help when you need it. Take advantage of professor and TA office hours so you can learn how to do better next time or partner up with a friend for a study group. Speaking of which…
2. It’s harder to make friends.
Good-bye small classes with 20 of your closest friends, hello humongous lecture halls with 200+ students. Making friends in big lectures can be intimidating, but it’s easier to do it in your smaller classes like a tutorial, workshop or a lab. Outside of class, there are tons of on-campus clubs and groups where you can connect with other students with similar interests. Go to your school’s clubs fair at the beginning of the year to see how you can get involved. Which conveniently leads me to my next tip…
3. You should get involved.
This can be the difference between an unforgettable campus experience and an average one. Some of the best friends I made in university were the ones I made in school societies and clubs. But beyond the social aspect, getting involved in university allows you to explore your passions and gain useful job experience. For example, if you want to get into marketing and love drama, try applying for a position as an events or social media coordinator for your school’s drama society. That way, you get to learn beneficial job skills and have fun at the same time! It’s a win-win.
4. Know your resources.
Whether you caught the cold going around the dorms, or just need some advice on what courses to take, I guarantee that there is a campus office to suit your needs. Check out your school’s website to find out where and what they are because you never know when you might need them. Don’t be afraid: it is literally their job to help you out.
5. With great freedom comes great responsibility.
Okay, that’s not exactly the quote from Spiderman, but when it comes to university, you have way more freedom than you did in high school. However, that also means your decisions have more impact. If you skip class no one will chase after you, but no one will care if you fail either. You have to keep yourself accountable. Don’t forget: the number one reason you’re there is to learn so take good notes, do the readings, and don’t skip class.
6. Consider studying abroad.
I didn’t do a study abroad in university and it is definitely one of my bigger regrets. You don’t get many chances in life to totally immerse yourself in a different culture with little to worry about but your classes and having a good time. And if you study abroad somewhere like Europe or Asia, it’s super easy to travel around to nearby countries while you’re there. But doing a study abroad might put you behind in your degree so talk to a program advisor and see what your best options are.
University is awesome. You get to live and party with your friends, study what you actually want to learn, and at no other point in your life will having a three-day work week with multiple nap breaks be acceptable. Make sure you balance the fun stuff with the school stuff and you’ll be just fine.