tips for first year students

Important Tips for First-Year University Students


The following tips, originally posted at the Student Awards Forum, were contributed by students in our membership.

1.  Don’t Overcommit

Start with school and a couple ECs. Add more if you have the time for it but don’t start September with school, 10 ECs and a job. (posted by: inthemaking)

2.  Buy Used Textbooks

Buy used textbooks (from previous students…) or find them online for free (Google Scholar, torrents, etc). (posted by: inthemaking)

3.  Drag Yourself to Class

Yes, some professors post all of their notes online. (Although most of my professors only included outlines.) And yes, you can get notes from your friends or classmates. But reading notes is not the same as actually going to class. Many professors will give subtle hints about what they will test in exams during class. For example, if a professor repeats something several times, you can bet it is important, and will likely show up on the exam. Similarly, you can pick up on a professor’s body language, as to what they consider important. Those types of things you can’t get from notes. Other professors will do more examples of problems in class than will appear in the posted notes. (posted by: CatRunner)

4.  Take Notes

If you have professors that post notes online, I recommend printing them and writing over them during lectures. (posted by: aimango)

Review the lecture notes that you have made. It doesn’t have to be right after, but try and do it before you have the next lecture for the particular classes. (posted by: MargaretClaire)

5.  Find Someone Worse Off Than You Are

I teach prep sessions. Additionally, I tell my students that they should find a friend who’s in the same class as they are and who is horribly screwed for the test and say, “Hey, let’s study together”. The friend who is screwed will probably have lots and lots of questions. And your success (or not) in explaining them will be a good indication of how well you understand the material. (posted by: jplank)

6.  Don’t Wait

As soon as you feel yourself falling behind, do something about it immediately. Reread lecture notes, ask a friend, read the textbook, do extra practice, go to office hours and tutorials, etc. Don’t wait till right before the midterm or exam to deal with it. (posted by: inthemaking)

7.  Beware of the Lost Hours

Try not to schedule one-hour breaks in between classes (too little time to go home, but not enough time to actually do anything productive unless it’s for a lunch break). Better to get them done all at once (but not more than 3-4 consecutive classes) or have bigger breaks in between. (posted by: inthemaking)

8.  Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Make use of all the services that your university offers. Most universities have centers that help students with time management, study skills, writing skills, etc. Make use of these resources! (posted by: CatRunner)

9.  Sleep

Make sure you get the hours you need and set a consistent time to wake up every day to maintain a routine. It will keep your energy up so you can get more out of your studying and classes. This can be really challenging in residence, where a lot of people stay up past 2AM most nights, but you’ve got to do what’s best for your health and school. (posted by: freebird)

10. Don’t Live on Junk Food

Try to eat healthy, even if you are living in residence. It can be tough, but it will help you to stay healthy and give you energy for all your studies. Also, try to get some exercise in. Schedule the gym in like anything else. That will help keep you healthy and energized. (posted by: CatRunner)