YOUTH VOICE: Seven tips for first-year university students

Having completed my first two semesters at university, I have learned a great deal about both myself and the university system.

I am glad to say that the post-secondary experience has thus far been quite rewarding. However, looking back in hindsight, I know it was just last September that a nervous first-year student entered the university.

One will find many practical tips and tricks on how to navigate and excel in the university system. Aside from hard work and diligence, I have compiled the following seven pieces of advice for high school students entering their first year, this September.

Learn your citations

Almost any university subject requires students to know how to cite. This can be in APA, MLA, Turabian or other formats.

Hence, it is important for students to learn how to cite their work properly. Otherwise, one could be penalized for plagiarism, which is an extremely serious matter.

Oftentimes, university libraries will organize workshops, and make citation guides available online. Although citations can be a long and meticulous process, they will help you throughout your university career.

Create a balanced schedule

Creating a balanced course schedule is imperative if one wants a variety of experiences in first year.

Sometimes, students rush into university thinking that they are fully aware of what they wish to major in.

Although one should have a general idea of what field he or she wants to pursue, it is not necessary to have your whole four years lined up.

Pre-read in the summer

In the summer, prior to entering university, I would recommend students pre-read some of their subjects. Preferably, students should pre-read two weeks prior to the first day, if they’ve already purchased books.

Entering university can be an overwhelming experience. By reading some material prior to the course, one is already ahead of the game.

Join one club or team

Although academics should be the main focus of any university student, leading a well-balanced lifestyle is equally important.

Make a goal of joining at least one club, council or team in your first year, so that you can get a post-secondary experience.

Plan for exams

When exam time rolls around in university, it can be extremely stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.

As soon as exam month begins, use a planner or print out a calendar so that you can count how many days you have left until exam day, and divide up the chapters or units accordingly. Do this for each subject so you can slowly work your way through the semester’s work.

This may seem simple enough, many students still cram in the last week of exam time.

Search for scholarships

Though many scholarships are available to high school students, first-year university students are often unaware that scholarships are also available for them.

Continue to check out your institution’s website for internal and external scholarships and bursaries.

A little extra money never hurts.

Interested in research?

For those students interested in pursuing research, do not make the mistake of thinking that opportunities are not available for first-year students or that it is too early.

Having called a few professors myself, I have learned that many prefer first-year students because the researchers are able to guide these students from the start.

Even if you are unable to get a position, stay in touch with professors that you want to conduct research with.

Japreet Lehal writes monthly for Peace Arch News on youth issues.

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