Illustration/ Sinead Doherty-Grant
Illustration/ Sinead Doherty-Grant

There are many ways to survive your first year at University. Among the arguably inevitable copious cups of coffee, self-delusion, and the occasional trip to the the library in your pyjamas, here are three simple tips that helped me get through six years of post-secondary education.

Organize

Invest in a good agenda. This will help keep all those pesky—and surprisingly swift—deadlines in order so that things don’t fall through the cracks (looking at you, online Blackboard assignments). Make personal deadlines, like when you should have certain readings or first drafts of papers completed, so as to leave plenty of time for editing and the subsequent existential crises, panic attacks, et. al. (Sorry, science friends. No clue what you guys do.)

Start your assignments early. The newfound freedom may make it seem as though you have infinite time to get things done. Doing readings punctually means you won’t need to read an entire coursebook the night before an exam. Some geniuses get good grades on two hours of sleep with a cranium crammed with an entire semester's worth of info. Assume you are not one of them, until you know better. Then let everyone hate you.

Breaking up your study time will make it easier to absorb information because you won’t be overloaded.

Balance

Do your work on time, but take care of yourself, too. Take study breaks: go for a walk, have a coffee, chat with a friend—listen to someone else’s problems for a healthy dose of perspective.

Socialization is one of the greatest aspects of attending university; humans are its greatest resource. You will probably meet people who will end up being life-long friends, or at the very least, great study (commiseration) buddies.

Check out clubs or concerts that interest you and always be on the lookout for student-run events. Don’t be afraid to go alone—it provides you with an opportunity to make strangers less strange (maybe).

Learn

Your university career might include lessons learned outside the classroom. Get outside your comfort zone and try new things; experiment: discover what you like and don’t like. Breaking your usual routine also means stepping outside your social circle and making contacts that could help you in the future (the Old People call it “networking”). You never know when having the number for that one guy you met at a party—remembering names is helpful—could help land a job.

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