Back to School: Heading From High School to University

Just what I mentioned I would write about in my “High Schoolers” post.  This is just stuff I wish somebody would have either told me or wrote on a piece of paper, attached the paper to a frying pan and then hit me over the head with the frying pan.

  • If you were like me, then High School sucked…but it gets so much better!

The good thing is that University generally rocks (minus the homework).  The reason why HS sucked so much is because I went to a small school and I was just desperate to have a “group” and the only people willing to let me be apart of their group was a small handful of people that I shared next to nothing in common with.  The great thing about Uni is that all those silly HS cliques have been annihilated because not everyone in those cliques go to the same Uni.  Another great thing that I discovered in my first year of Uni is that weird people are the best people ever.  Weird people are SO much more interesting than normal people.  Once, I tried to talk to normal girls because in my second year, my roommate was a somewhat “normal” person (this was at the beginning of the year when I didn’t know that she was one of those demonic creatures who have crawled straight out of satan’s ass) and her friend, but all they talked about was boys, hair, nails, tans and shaving their legs.  Needless to say, I died of boredom.  Maybe that’s interesting to some people, but to me it’s just…boring.

So the great thing about Uni is you meet a lot of people who have the same interests as you, and if there was just one thing I could say to my younger self, it would be just to embrace my own weirdness.  With that being said, embrace other people’s weirdness.  Nothing feels better than doing stupid stuff and then turning to your friends and going:

Another great thing about Uni is because you are no longer at a small school, if your “friends” are being assholes to you, then you can just kick them to the curb and leave them in the dust.  Surround yourself with people who make you happy, because honestly, you don’t need the extra stress that comes with dealing with friends who are assholes.  The course load will be a good amount of stress alone.  One quote that I think has applied to the whole friends deal is a quote from Dr. Seuss:  Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.  On the friends front of my life, I typically live by that quote.  It is a great piece of advice.

  • You can happily be an introvert, but not a hermit.

Being an introvert myself, I know that when heading off to Uni for the first time, it can be very tempting to turn your dorm room into a fortress which you never leave.  As cool as it would be to have your own personal fortress, I recommend you don’t attempt that.  I believe part of a somewhat healthy lifestyle is having at least a little bit of a social life.  You don’t need to be a social butterfly, but I wouldn’t recommend turning into a hermit or a transporter (a person who you NEVER see except for in class or in their room.  Sometimes you don’t even realize they exist because they have mastered the art of transporting so well that you never see them AT ALL).  Honestly, those transporter people amaze me.  I knew one transporter in first year, however I never got the chance to ask her how she transported from her room to the class we both had.

Long story short, get to know your roommate!  Get to know your dorm neighbors!  When you’re doing some light work, leave your dorm room open for people to pop in and say “Hi”.  Say “Hi” to the random person who sits beside you in class.  Get to know your friend’s friends!  Take full advantage of the fun days your Uni hosts at the beginning of the year!  I’ve met all of my friends due to these methods.  At first it is pretty hard, but you never know, maybe your first conversation will go like this:

and that person will be a keeper.

I honestly aspire to start a conversation by going like this:  I don’t care what the person replies.  This just needs to happen.

  • Freshman 15 

When I went to Uni I was terrified of the seemingly inevitable “Freshman 15”  I thought that it was a fact of life that EVERYONE gains 15 lbs.  Not everyone does.  Yes, when it’s finals time, you can pig out and eat your feelings, because its finals, and everyone on campus will understand.  However, just don’t pig out all the time.  If you go to a uni with a cafeteria or are making your own food, a good rule of thumb is to get 3 different colours on your plate.  Interestingly enough, some people miraculously LOSE weight in their first year.

  • Profs

In my academic life, half the battle is learning to read the prof (the other half of the battle is making BULLET PROOF outlines/study guides).  By “read” I mean learning to pick up on verbal or nonverbal ques on what is SUPER important.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get a prof that says “THIS IS IMPORTANT GUYS” but that doesn’t happen too often (at least with my profs), so I recommend learning how to read your profs.  I can’t really give any tips here because every prof has different signals.  The good thing is that every prof has to write a syllabus for their class.  Here, they have to provide a description of what will be covered in the class AND they have to state the course objectives.  I would recommend that you use the syllabus and the quizzes to help you understand what the prof will expect you to understand.  Especially for the final.  I’ve heard of other bloggers being all like “go ask the prof what he/she expect you to know!”  Normally, I am a full supporter of asking your prof–EXCEPT THIS TIME.  This is the ONLY thing that I will NOT advise you on asking your prof: do not ask your prof what you are expected to know for a test.  They will probably say “from the beginning of the semester to Class A” or they will say something along the lines of “everything”.  The (Science) profs that I have are all incredibly independent people (or at least they seem like they are incredibly independent) and when it comes to test time and what you should be studying, they are very much “I-expect-you-to-know-what-to-study-because-you’ve-been-present-at-class” type people.  Use your notes, quizzes, and old midterms that the prof may have provided to help you study.

Additionally, if there are multiple profs teaching the same class, go to http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/  and see how people rate all the different profs and avoid needless suffering.  Also, beware classes which have the prof field filled out as “Not yet assigned”.  In my experience, these are sessional profs  AKA not permanent profs.  SOMETIMES these profs are pretty new and from my own experience I’ve found that new profs are SOMETIMES the worst profs (voice of experience).  However, there’s always the chance that the prof’s contract just needed to be renewed or something and the university didn’t want to put anything until the prof’s contract was renewed (also voice of experience).  In this case, the prof might not be that bad.  Not all sessional profs are horrible, I have had 1 good sessional prof that actually kept me very interested in Art History, which is quite an accomplishment.

ALSO FIND OUT WHAT IS YOUR PROF’S AREA OF EXPERTISE.  This will come in handy if they let you write an essay on contents covered in the class.  If this situation comes up, AVOID YOUR PROF’S SPECIALIZATION AT ALL COSTS.  Just because that has the potential to go bad very fast.  I accidentally did this in the before-mentioned Art History class.  However, the prof was nice enough to reassure me that she would not mark me harder than everyone else just because I wrote about her specialization.  But she did warn me that other profs do mark harder if you write on their specialization.  It sounds unfair, but that’s life.

Last but not least, if you are having problems with the course content, talk to your prof!  I have found that to be incredibly helpful.  Yes, the task may sound daunting, and yes, sometimes it’s scary, but from my experience, profs are happy to help you if you are willing to put in effort.  Don’t understand why you got a crappy grade on a paper?  Talk to your prof!  Can’t read your prof’s hand writing? Talk to them!  Having trouble understanding a question or a general concept?  TALK TO YOUR PROF.  Honestly, if you don’t understand something, this is the best thing you can do for yourself.  I’ve gone to a prof to ask her to write in different coloured markers because she was only writing in black dry erase markers, and that made some of her diagrams hard to read, and she actually complied (it took her a while to get used to using a bunch of different colours, but she eventually got the hang of it).  Just remember for talking to your prof about grades, their handwriting or anything be polite/understanding and patiently explain your side of the coin so the prof can understand.  Don’t burn any bridges because you may have to deal with that same prof later on.

  • Stress

Realizing finals begin in the following week:

End of Finals:

Stress is an obvious part of university–an obvious part of life, really.  The difference between the unsuccessful and successful student is (I think) how well they can cope with stress (and also their time management skills).  Work hard, but also take time to chill out.  Especially around high stress times like Midterm wave 1, Midterm wave 2 and Finals.  At my university, they put on Wellness Weeks where they have lots of activities like pumpkin smashing, free yoga classes, free booster juice/cookies/candies, or they bring in animals like guide dogs/dogs trained to be calm that you can pet.  I recommend taking full advantage of these things.  You could also watch part of a sports game and support your school’s team.  OR you can hang out with your friends, play games with them, drink tea, etc.  OR if you really don’t want to talk to people, I recommend watching cute animal videos.  It sounds dumb but it really helps me to just watch cats do either stupid or adorable things.  For some reason this video ALWAYS makes me happy no matter how stressed I am: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awf45u6zrP0

Figure out some sort of healthy coping mechanism.  Drinking a day or two before a final is not a good coping mechanism.  Trust me, it will backfire.  I did this once and I was still drunk the next day and studying went horribly because I couldn’t remember anything.  On the plus side, I didn’t wake up with a hangover.

To everyone who is going into their first year of university, CONGRATULATIONS!  University can be an absolute blast (minus the homework).  I hope your first year of uni is just as great as mine was.  Just be open to weird people (or whatever type of people float your boat) and new experiences and everything will be just fine.  Balancing a social life, healthy life style, and all the homework can be challenging, but you can do it!

To everyone returning to Uni–well you know what it’s like.  One last tip for this group specifically is that if you are REALLY motivated, I would recommend that you spend a couple days before classes start and just skim over stuff that you learned from last year, because profs WILL expect you to remember EVERYTHING from last year.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s