You’ve finally made it. You’ve just started university. Not only do you have every single person around you hounding you with questions like, “What are you going to be?” or, “Do you have a plan?” but you also have your own worries about your schedule, not being the dumb kid in class and the list of textbooks you need to buy.
This is why I’m never surprised to see freshmen with eyes as wide as saucers.
As a second-year student, I’ve been through that first distressing year, and I am going to share with you the wisdom I have acquired.
Everything has a flow. Hallways, classrooms and lineups all have distinct patterns for pedestrian traffic. Don’t upset it! Be a sheep and follow the people in this instance. Otherwise you’re sure to receive glares or find yourself in a collision that sends you and your books to the ground.
When I first started university, I took a six-credit philosophy class. Philosophy is a classic first year mistake. If you like essays, faulty logic and awkwardly worded sentences, this is the class for you. My suggestion? If you are leaning toward philosophy, take a three-credit class to see how you like it.
You may think that scheduling your classes later will make your life easier, but if you start your day at 8:30 a.m. and finish by noon, you will have more time for friends, TV and napping. However, I would strongly advise you avoid math, chemistry, physics and history in the morning — the more thinking that’s involved the harder it is going to be to actually stay awake and absorb information.
You have 10 minutes until your first class but have absolutely no idea where any of your classes are. You finally realize you have to walk all the way across campus. OMG. If you didn’t make it to school before your first day to figure out the terrain, breathe. Those people wearing the yellow scarves and watching you during the first week of class aren’t stalkers. They are volunteers and will happily guide you to your destination. If someone not wearing a scarf is following you, though, you might want to run.
Don’t raise your eyebrows. Everything you have learned about professors prior to starting university is untrue, unless you make no effort and skip class. In that case, it’s true — they don’t care about you. If you’re having trouble or don’t understand the material, approach your prof and talk to him or her. But do it carefully, because they don’t like fast movements.
Let’s face it: high school didn’t do your grammar skills any good and university has high standards. Don’t feel threatened, though. The university writing centre will edit your essays for free and even has lists of editors you can pay to edit your 30-page research paper (and believe me, you will have one before you graduate).
University is supposed to be the best time of your life, where you will make lifelong friends and have important, life-changing relationships. So don’t be too nervous to talk to the person next to you. Class tests are the best way to make friends, surprisingly enough. They are practically an invitation to have a study party or make plans to go to the library with someone in your class. Don’t feel like you’re alone! You’re surrounded by people with similar interests to you at any given moment, so take advantage of it.
Finally, remember this: out of friends, sleep and good grades, you can only have two of the three. Choose wisely. You may think in the first month of classes that you’re managing everything fine and life is great, but when midterms, essays and finals come around, sleep may just have to wait.
Photo: Dave Stobbe/University of Saskatchewan