Been there, done that

August 25, 2014

10 great tips for first-year students

Illustration of two speech bubbles in conversationIt’s the first day of the fall semester. You have a list of a classes in your hand, a smile on your face and a backpack ready to be filled with crisp textbooks. You take a deep breath as you get ready to walk through the doors of MacEwan University for the first time as a bona fide post-secondary student.

Wait! Before you take those first steps into the next stage of your life, there are some things our students, faculty and staff think you should know. Here’s their advice:

1. Put yourself out there

Get involved and connect with people. Get to know your roommate, if you have one. Don’t hide in your room or at home talking on Facebook to all your high school friends. Get to know people, go to events, or get involved with a club. Meeting people, making new friends and building relationships help make the transition to university life easier.

—Tim Lade, residence life coordinator

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff

There are obviously going to be ups and downs – I had them – but don’t let them get you down. Keep moving forward and don’t underestimate yourself. You probably don’t even know your own potential.

—Shaun Harper, fourth-year student, Bachelor of Science

3. Talk to people

I have a friend from the very first class I took who I still meet for lunch every single week. A simple “hey, how’s it going?” turned into a four-year friendship.

—Lucas Ward, fourth-year student, Bachelor of Commerce

4. Don’t forget to buckle down

There are so many amazing opportunities in university – clubs, fun, travel – but don’t forget the study rule – for every hour you spend in a lecture, you should be spending two hours studying. If you’re in lectures for 15 hours a week, that’s 30 hours of studying. Forty-five hours a week is a lot of work – more than a full-time job, so make sure you don’t get behind. You’re paying $40,000 to $80,000 for your education. Make sure you get your money’s worth.

—David Fischer, student advisor/recruiter and MacEwan University alum

5. Big decisions take time

If you’re not sure what major or minor you want, take three courses in the first term and see how you feel. There’s no rush. For me it was a process. I started in immunology, then I wanted to do nursing and now I’m in biology. Take your time and listen to yourself. There are obviously people out there who are interested in nursing or biology and are passionate about it, but at the end of the day you need to decide what your passion is.

—Selam Beyene, MacEwan ambassador and third-year student, Bachelor of Science

6. Fourth-year students won’t bite

First-year students often seem to think that second-, third- and fourth-year students aren’t interested in talking to them. I would love for a first-year student to come up to me and ask where a room is. Students here are welcoming – feel free to ask for help when you need it.

—Jane Vasylysyna, MacEwan ambassador and third-year student, Bachelor of Commerce

7. Have fun

Do something you enjoy every single day – a hobby, exercise or volunteering. Schedule it and take the time out of every day for it. You’ll reduce your stress and feel more relaxed.

—Adi Agrawal, MacEwan ambassador and third-year student, Bachelor of Commerce

8. No cruising allowed

Many students can excel in high school with very little effort. I’ve met with a lot of these students and I can tell you that the naturally gifted student who did that in high school can’t do it in university. You need to make sure you have a foundation of study skills to be successful.

—Frances Billingsley, associate registrar, records and registration

9. Check your email

Get in the habit of checking your MacEwan University email address regularly or redirect it to your personal email account. Programs share a lot of important information by email – it’s really the only way we have to communicate with you. We lay things out as clearly as possible, but if something doesn’t make sense, make an appointment to see your program advisor. We’re all here to help you.

—Karyn Hall, academic advisor, Bachelor of Commerce

10. Ask for help when you need it (or sooner)

If you find yourself in trouble – financially or academically – make sure you ask for help. If you’re concerned about your finances or are thinking of withdrawing from a course, see a financial aid advisor before you do anything else. There is funding available and there are often many options that you don’t even realize are out there – and you don’t necessarily need to be at the top of the class to qualify.

—Heather Nally, student advisor, prospective and financial aid advising


Looking for more advice?

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