Celebrating first semester success

August 20, 2014

…and 4 ways to reset if your first semester wasn’t what you expected

CCCtowers_Icon_150x200It’s a new year and a new semester. You survived your first four months as a university student—which may be more of a milestone than you realize. You did well, you’re happy and you’re healthy.

Cue the confetti, canned applause and Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.”

But if your first semester was less than stellar and celebrating isn’t on your agenda, it’s not too late to make some changes. And now is the perfect time to get started.

1. If your program isn’t what you hoped…

If biology is a bust or math is making you sweat, talk to a program advisor—either with the program you’re already in or the one you think you might want to be in.

And if you’re back to square one and are not sure what you want anymore, see an advisor in the Office of the University Registrar.

“They can help you figure out what isn’t hitting the mark, what you’re interested in and what you might not be getting out of the program that you’re in,” says Frances Billingsley, associate registrar, Records and Registration.

2. If university life isn’t what it was cracked up to be…

You’ve settled into your university routine and have a sense of what’s expected of you, so give some different campus activities a try.

Joining a club, signing up for intramurals, applying for the ambassador program and volunteering are all great ways to meet people outside of class. And these experiences help connect you to the university in a different way.

3. If your marks left you underwhelmed…

First and foremost, you’re not alone—even if you’re on academic probation. “A lot of students whose marks were outstanding in high school don’t do as well as they’re used to in their first semester of university,” says Frances. “But when you realize that something needs to change for you to be successful and you decide to take control of your own situation, you can do it.”

Frances says that now is the time to ask yourself some tough questions. Are you going to all of your classes? Are you doing all of your assigned readings? Are you giving yourself enough time to do a good job on your papers and assignments?

If not, the very first thing you should do—and sometimes the hardest—is to ask for help.

“It’s difficult for people to help you in the final hour before your exam, so talk to your instructors and access resources in Student Life, like Writing and Learning Services and Counselling as early as you can.”

Don’t forget about your program advisor. “Program advisors can help make sure you are choosing the right courses and take a hard look at your course load,” says Frances. “Depending on the courses you choose and other commitments—a part-time job, sports or anything outside of school—you may need to adjust the number of courses you take in a semester so you can do well and focus on the courses you find most challenging.”

And if you can’t seem to pay attention in class or you’ve tried and just can’t get organized, you may want to stop by the Services to Students with Disabilities office. Whether you have a diagnosed disability or not, you’re welcome drop in and talk about what’s happening. They can point you in the right direction and help make learning more accessible.

4. If money is your main worry…

Look at scholarships, awards and bursaries—no matter how you’re financing your education. “There are scholarships and bursaries that go unawarded simply because students don’t apply for them,” says Frances. “We encourage students to apply for anything they think they may even remotely qualify for. And the best part about scholarships and bursaries is that you don’t have to pay them back.”

If you’re feeling the financial pinch, take another look at the 7 things you can do to avoid student financial stress.

Here’s to a great Winter semester!

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Changing Minds Footer Image - 3 DotsThis story is part of Changing Minds: Creating a healthy campus – an initiative that makes mental health a priority. The program connects training opportunities, support services, resources and stories from real people across the MacEwan University community.

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