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How to start university on the right track

By Hannah Oegema

With the school year just starting, there is no better time to think about how you can set yourself up for a successful year. When I started first year, I didn’t know how it would go. I knew that I was paying money for school and had to take advantage of all Ontario Tech University had to offer me. Based on my experience, good habits need to be created early on in order to ensure that I don’t cry half way through the semester! After surviving first year, I would say I have gathered a list of things that I believe will help set students up for success.

Attend class

I know this sounds obvious, but I was shocked after two weeks of an 8 a.m. lecture that everyone stopped showing up. How can a class have 150 students when only 12 come week to week? I tried to go to every class, even those dreaded 8 a.m. lectures that suck, especially in the dead of winter. Sometimes it is convenient to sleep in, go hang out with friends, or take a nap during class - but the biggest thing I learned is that attending class helps me get better grades. Start the first month (and every month!) by going to class; take advantage of what you pay for!

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Get involved early

I cannot stress this enough! University is so much more enjoyable when you have something to do besides homework. Go to the Get Involved Fair during orientation. I attended last year and it was the best experience ever. I got involved with some clubs on campus that I saw as a good fit for me and I have met many new friends. It is a great way to build your own skills, meet new people, and have a sense of community on campus. If you miss the Involvement Fair at orientation, no worries, there is one in the winter semester as well, and you can find a list of all of the Clubs and Societies on the Student Union website at any time.

Establish your study habits

Every person has a different way of studying. However, for me, I find the most productive way of studying is by taking notes each week for each class. This ensures that at the end of the semester, all my information is in one place. It makes cramming for exams much easier. Another study habit I discovered at the end of the year was group study sessions. Once a week, I gather my friends and we book a library room on the third floor. We sit and go over difficult concepts from classes that week and it is a great way to learn and teach others. Find out what works for you in September and stick to it throughout the semester!

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Take care of yourself

It is so easy to get caught up in university life. The first month of school I found stressful, with a new environment, friends, classes, and schedules. It was not long until I felt burnt out and unmotivated. It is crucial to take time for yourself, whether that be going to the gym, taking a nap, reading a book, or eating your favorite snack. Now, I set aside one day a week for just me. No work, school, and minimal homework. This has definitely helped with my stress levels. If you ever feel overwhelmed during school, make an appointment with a Mental Health Peer Mentor or Counsellor.

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Be social

I know this sounds obvious, but friends can be the best part of university. The friends I made at orientation are still my best friends to this day. As an introvert, my instincts are always to stay inside by myself. However, I really forced myself to go out with friends, make plans, and attend events during the first few months of school and I don’t regret it at all. School is where you can make your lifelong friends, you just have to know where to find them. Go to events, attend workshops on campus, go to class and sit beside someone new. There are so many interesting people to connect with at Ontario Tech. It is also important to know to take time for yourself, life is a balance.

Success comes in so many shapes and forms. I hope your school year is fantastic and full of adventure.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

-Gail Devers