Youthink PS

Spring 2020

Youthink PS is Western Canada¹s post secondary resource guide for high school students planning on attending university, college or other Canadian post secondary institutions and is distributed to 400 high schools across BC and Alberta.

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12 YOUTHINK PS > SPRING 2020 YOUTHINK.CA Freshman SURVIVAL Guide A former freshman explains how to make the most of your first year BY CHRISTINA LUO H igh school is coming to an end. In all like lihood, you will be continuing your education at a university or college in a city that is hours (maybe even a whole plane ride) away from where you grew up. While starting first year is exciting, it's also terrifying — but if I survived it, so can you. Here are some tips from an ex-first year you can use to embark on this brand new phase of your life. Take advantage of the "limbo" period The time between graduating high school and your first post-secondary lecture is the freest time you'll ever have. Keep busy with things to do and people to meet. "Hundreds of other first-years — equally as anxious as you — are going through the exact same thing. Don't be scared to put yourself out there and make new friends," says Vanessa Lin, a fourth-year student at McGill University. "Some people will stick and others won't, but keep making those connections." Say "yes" to invitations and attend events, how- ever corny they sound. You will quickly discover what you like. Maybe frat parties aren't your thing (they certainly weren't my cup of tea), and that's fine! Go explore the opportunities your university has to offer. There is a club for everything — join the improv club or write for the student newspa - per. Figure out the city's transit system and go to the nearest Walmart to stock up on snacks and dorm decorations. The possibilities are endless. Be realistic about your time If you aren't a morning person, don't schedule five days of 8 a.m. lectures. Your mom will no longer be your human alarm clock. The magic of choosing your own schedule means you can figure out what works for you. It may seem like everyone is taking five classes a semester, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Too many students burn out (see adjacent page) and have horrible accounts of first year because of course overload. Students often forget to take breaks, so remember to schedule those in, too! Learn to be alone When the high school bell rang, everyone would instantly scurry to their hallway of choice and be surrounded by friends. In college or university, not seeing familiar faces is scary, especially when everything is so foreign. Some - times after class you'll eat with a friend and other times by yourself — you'll learn to be OK with it. This is one of the most rewarding things about growing up. If you plan to live on campus, you are truly on your own for the first time. This means you will be cooking and doing laundry by yourself. This is a daunting proposition, so you'll need to be prepared. Chances are you are a microwave dinner pro already and maybe you already have an idea of how to sort clothing by colour, but what many students don't prepare for is the overwhelming emotional impact of living alone. When a problem presents itself, there is no longer a parent to sort it out for you. If you find yourself in a complicated situation, remember your new support system: your dorm mates, community advisers and univer - sity employees who are paid to help you. Living with a roommate? If so, it's in your best interest to set expectations so there aren't any sur - prises. Establish house rules for how late friends can be over, how loud music can be played, a cleaning schedule. You are sharing a tiny space with another human being for a year, so make sure you're both on the same page. Keep in touch Call your parents early and often. They have been there for you for these past 18 years and they worry! Coordinate a weekly Skype, Google Hangout or good old-fashioned phone call schedule with your friends and family back home so they won't think you've forgotten them (while also ensuring they don't forget about you!). Make it all worthwhile "Set realistic goals and understand what you want out of your university experience," says Michael Campbell, academic adviser at Simon Fraser University. "There is so much open to you: exchanges, job placements, field schools and more. You can make your university career into something much more than a classroom expe - rience. Then you'll have contacts, a full resumé, stories to tell, wisdom, and at the end of it all, a shiny new degree." •

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