Things I wish I knew my first year of university

You’ve entered your first year of university. You’re in that coveted position where you’ve gained some independence but haven’t been forced into full-fledged adulting yet. You might have moved out on your own for the first time. You no longer have parents or teachers making sure you do your homework. You’re in charge of your finances, schedule, and free time. Exhilarating, right?

Even with this newfound freedom, we thought we’d share some wisdom on things we wish we’d known in our first year. We asked the staff of SAMRU, many of whom are former students of Mount Royal, what they would have wanted to know if they were to do it all over again. Here’s what they came up with:

DO…

…Meet your profs in person.
This is easier than ever with the small class sizes here at Mount Royal. Chances are your profs will know you by name so why not get acquainted? If you develop a relationship with your prof, you’ll not only have a great resource for getting extra help, but they may even be more likely to offer you an extension for class work.

…Get a tutor.
It can be hard to admit when you need a tutor, but it doesn’t have to be! Mount Royal offers a Peer Learning Program for FREE. You can register online here. Alternatively, make your own study group within your class section to discuss course material.

…Change your program if you don’t like it.
This is a scary proposition, we know, but we’d hate to see you waste your money (or go into major debt) pursuing a degree that just doesn’t fit. Wouldn’t you rather spend your hard-earned dollars on something you’re passionate about?

…See your Academic Advisor.
It is the WORST feeling to think you’re almost done your degree only to find out you missed one pesky elective or GEN-ED class that is required to graduate. Planning your courses in advance and seeing an advisor can save you a lot of headache later. At the very least, make MRUGradU8 your best friend and keep tabs on what requirements you’ve completed and which still need doing.

…Stay connected.
There are so many great, and free, services at your disposal. Make use of them! Follow us on social media to keep updated on what’s happening around campus and what deadlines are coming up. This is the best way to stay informed with all things non-academic.

…Get involved.
I know…broken record. But this is the most frequent thing we heard from staff (and still hear from alumni). They wish they had gotten more involved in opportunities on campus like volunteering and joining a club. After all, when you graduate, the events you attended and the friends you make will be some of your best memories of university.

…Stay on top of your physical and mental health.
We can’t emphasize this enough with new students. I know that getting straight A’s may seem like the most important thing, but it’s not. Your health should come first. We don’t just mean eating right and getting exercise, which is important, but also taking breaks from school and seeing a counsellor when everything seems like it’s just too much (this will 99% happen to you at least once in your four years here).

DON’T…

…Be afraid to ask for help.
Whether your worries are health-related, financial, or personal, there are support services available to you. The Peer Support Centre is a good place to start and we’ll make sure you get referred to the right place.

…Assume your marks are everything.
Marks are important, especially if your end goal is graduate school, but marks generally do not translate into jobs. More often than not, it’s the other stuff that gets you that dream job: interning, volunteering, and networking. Get real-world experience!

…Despair if you don’t get into your program right away.
Fun fact: you can still take the required courses for a program you haven’t been accepted into yet. Competition is high in faculties like Business and Nursing, but joining a smaller faculty and still taking the required courses for the degree you want will ensure you won’t fall behind students who have already been accepted. Keep applying for the program you want and you’re bound to get in without having missed a beat.

…Over-commit your involvement.
Everyone, including SAMRU, is trying to get your involvement in one way or another. It’s important to note that no one expects you to be involved in everything. We work hard to make sure students know what kinds of opportunities are available to them so they can make the decision of where they fit best. Being active in a couple of activities that you’re really interested in/passionate about is much better than being a passive member in many things.

…Buy everything on your syllabus… at least not right away.
Yes, profs include a list of required materials in their syllabus but, usually, that’s just a guideline. Email your prof about older, and cheaper, editions that will suffice. Check Amazon or other online retailers who might sell the same book, for less. Try finding your book on the MRU Textbook Buy and Sell page. Don’t forget to try the Used Book Sale in Wyckham House.

…Please others at the cost of your own happiness.
This is your time. You’re finding your footing, finding out who you are, which may be different than what others may be expecting of you. Don’t let anyone dictate what your future looks like (even your parents). Trust us, you’ll regret it.

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