We asked our alumni what they would say to students walking the halls at MacEwan for the first time. Here’s their best advice.
Sign up for something. Anything.
We’re pretty sure at least one person in your life has shared the age-old university advice to “get involved!” There’s a reason why it comes up again and again, says Kennedy Anderson (BCom ’17). “Joining a club or group on campus is the best way to make friends.”
If you’re not keen to commit for the long term, then try volunteering (email firstname.lastname@example.org and they can help you find the best fit).
Or just go to a campus event or try making friends in your classes, says Kirsty Keyes (BA ’18). Being part of your school community isn’t just about helping you find school/life balance, she says. It’s also about “building up a support system of people who get what you’re going through.”
If you don’t already know who your advisor is, find out. Now.
We mean it. Right now! Go to your faculty’s main office and ask. “Advisors are full of knowledge,” says Amber Killam (BCom ’12). The kind of knowledge that can help you make sure you’re not spinning your wheels taking the wrong classes.
Next stop? Your prof.
Not everyone is comfortable with this (if that’s you, here are some tips for talking to your professors), but Shreen Ismail (BA ’15) says fear not. “Don’t be afraid to go to office hours and seek help. Don’t be afraid to email your professor for help.”
Your profs really can make things easier, says Angele Morrison (BA ’09). Not only by answering your questions, but by sharing their research and their own educational journeys. Talking to her profs, says Angele, “opened my eyes to all the possibilities that exist after I complete my degree.”
Know when to say no
"Sometimes you have to say no even when it’s a great opportunity. My honours supervisor, Dr. Kathleen Corrigall, gave me some great advice."
Angele’s study spot was the upper deck of the pool. Jackie Schelpe (Acupuncture ’13) preferred a spot tucked away on the ground floor of the Robbins Health Learning Centre. “There’s couches and it’s always pretty quiet.” (Though maybe not so much now that we’ve told everyone.)
Take things seriously.
“Get to school early and treat it like you would the job you want after graduation,” says Adam Klassen (BCom ’14). “The more serious and disciplined you are about going to class, doing the work and participating, the easier it is to transition to the working world.”
But not too seriously.
“Work and study as hard as you can, but also take time to enjoy the experience – and life,” says Jackson Woren (BSc ’13). “Make sure you take time for yourself and treat yourself with love and compassion.”
Go outside, says Basia Rogers (Theatre Arts ’18). Even when it’s cold. Taking a break from studying and working to take a walk outdoors, she says, “saved me from becoming a sad, anxiety-ridden zombie.”
Melanie Morrill (Acupuncture ’17) wants you to remember to use your health benefits and the services on campus. Counselling, Sport and Wellness, the health centre, and student massage and acupuncture teaching clinics all offer free or discounted services. They’re the kinds of services that Melanie says will help you “have a healthy body for a healthy mind.”
And while we know that finding the perfect balance between school life and family life certainly isn’t easy, it’s important. “Make sure to see your friends at least once a week – even if it’s just for a quick coffee,” says Jackie. And as Shreen says, “Call your mom sometimes.” (Or whoever you need to talk to so you remember that there is life beyond studying, exams and papers.)
“You’ll be happier at the end of the day, and at the end your studies,” adds Leah Heron (Legal Assistant ’00).
When things go wrong (and they will), keep going.
“Don’t give up,” says Julia Tamayo (Travel ’18). “It can be hard and there will be struggles along the way, but you can do anything and everything.” Keith Pineau (Business Administration ’80) agrees. “You’ll be amazed at what you can handle,” he says.
Because, believe it or not, you’re going to be done before you know it.
“Your time at MacEwan will fly by. Enjoy every second of it!” says Jackson.
Thank you to all of our alumni who shared their best advice. If you have advice, wisdom or tips to share, Pass It On.
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