Seven rules for starting school
So you walk into your first class, sit down, open up your clipboard and immediately hundreds of students, both young and old, pour into the lecture hall and surround you. University can be quite an intimidating place – far more intimidating than high school.
Although intimidating, university is truly an amazing place to be. It takes some people longer to adjust to university than others. So, for both Speedy Sams and Slow Sallies, here are seven rules even an experienced university student should follow when adapting to the university lifestyle.
Rule #1: Don’t let a bad grade discourage you
You had a 95 per cent average in high school and you get your first essay back in university and it reads 50 per cent. Do not let this bring you down and decide the fate of your education. We’ve all been there and have had that happen. One of the most important lessons to learn in university is you must learn how to fail before you can learn how to pass.
Rule #2: Don’t be afraid to go to your professor for help
Professors are there for you. They enjoy what they do and they enjoy seeing students engage in their profession. They have an email address for a reason, so don’t be afraid to use it and contact them. Also, professors have office hours. Swing by if you need a helping hand on an essay or assignment. Just because the university has your money doesn’t mean they don’t care about you.
Rule #3: Show up to class and show up on time.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a student go off on a tangent about how stressed he or she is for a midterm or essay and how he or she has no idea what’s going on in class, I’d be able to buy a Tuesday King Deal at Burger King. Yes, I hear it that often. Showing up to class, showing up on time and taking notes is half the battle when it comes to studying .Even if you miss a class, email your professor and let them know. I guarantee they will fill you in on the material you’ve missed.
Rule #4: Don’t leave your essays till the last minute
This is a story about a fictional university student named Larry. It’s Friday and Larry has an essay due the following Tuesday, but instead of working on it, he is going to go to the bar. It’s now Saturday and his friend is having people over for beer pong. It’s Sunday and he’s too exhausted from Friday and Saturday to work on his essay. Holy last minute, Batman! It’s Monday and his essay worth 25 per cent of his grade is due tomorrow! Don’t be a “Last Minute Larry”. Essays take planning and effort and you get out of them what you put in. If an essay is due a month from when it’s assigned, take the time to plan out what you’re going to do on what days. For example, do an outline on a Wednesday, do your introductory paragraph on a Friday, etc. Planning makes the overall project less stressful and easier.
Rule #5: Study, study, study
I remember watching TV all night, gradually studying during commercial breaks and thinking, “Well, I studied enough for this history midterm.” One month later, I found out I got 35 per cent on it. If you don’t know how to study, you’ve got to find a system. For example, I like re-writing everything from my notes and I study in little 15 minute time frames. I also avoid studying when my favourite TV shows are on. Maybe study with a friend and get them to mock test you prior to an exam. You’ll eventually hit your stride. Flash cards are good for when you have to leave the house for a job or family gathering. I find that one of the best study tools for finals are your midterms. Don’t stress yourself, but manage your time when studying accordingly.
Rule #6: With all honesty, people don’t realize/care that you’re a first-year.
I often compare university to walking through a mall and the stores are all the classrooms. In a realistic way, nobody really acknowledges you and you see some friends here and there. Everybody is there for one reason: to obtain an education. University doesn’t have the same “popularity” mojo high school had. Honestly and truthfully, it’s not the main focus anymore. School is numero uno… or just Number 1.
Rule #7: Maintain a positive attitude.
Simply put, if you want to achieve an education, then you will. If a bad mark comes your way, think, “I’m gonna do my best to learn from my mistakes.” Work to improve on your school work and you will improve as a person. I find a positive attitude will take you farther than any book-smart knowledge ever could. Who knows, maybe this positive attitude will allow you to one day help future first-year students adjust to university. It’s a life skill which will stick with you forever.
This is it. This is the big leagues now. You’re up to bat and life is going to throw as many fastballs at you as it can. Remember these seven rules and everything should go relatively smoothly for your first year. You will make mistakes, but it’s all about understanding what went wrong and realizing what you’re going to do to change it for the next time.
I’m not perfect, nor is the next person. Life and university is tricky like that and it all comes down to how you to adjust to the curve balls. My best wishes go out to every first-year student. Soak up the atmosphere, utilize all your resources and, if you thought your high-school years were great and you met some amazing people, just wait for what this year has in store for you.