Now that I’m graduating, I thought that I would pass on some knowledge that I’ve gained over the years while at the U of A:
10. You don’t have to take 5 classes every term
Most first year students dive into university by taking five classes in their first few terms. It almost feels like it’s the expectation, and in some departments, they require it. However, if you’re a little nervous about how hard university is going to be, and you’re entering a general degree program (such as general Science or Arts), I would advise you to think about it first. University can get overwhelming really quickly, and you probably don’t want to be dropping out after one year. This is why I suggest starting off with four courses. It’ll help you get acquainted with university course loads so that you don’t feel like you’re burning out. Besides, you can always catch up with required courses by taking a couple of spring or summer classes.
9. Go to Orientation
No seriously, sign up for Orientation. Not only will they give you a tour of campus, you’ll also get to meet other people in your program, and learn tips and tricks for navigating through university. There are always people who will tell you that Orientation was a waste of their time, but hey, if you’re really interested in starting university on the right foot, I highly suggest that you attend. More information can be found on their website.
8. Register for classes ASAP
If you haven’t already registered for your classes, you should definitely be looking into them on Bear Tracks. Classes can fill up really quickly especially if they’re super popular and have small class sizes. Keep this in mind for February as well. You’ll get an enrollment date sometime around then, and you should be picking out your classes for the following year.
7. Food on campus is expensive
It’s extremely tempting to buy all of your meals on campus since it’s very convenient. However, food can be quite expensive (if you aren’t solely eating at Tim Horton’s every day), so I recommend watching your wallet. Between tuition, textbooks, coffee, and other things, packing a lunch might not seem like such a bad idea.
6. Don’t be afraid to start talking to the person sitting next to you in class
First year classes are usually the most terrifying places to meet new people (or maybe that’s just me). But I digress… I promise you that you’ll have a much better experience at university by meeting new people. Especially if you’re registered in a science lab, the person that you sit next to will probably end up being your lab partner for the next few months, so play nice!
5. Study with a classmate
(This is why you should meet people in your class.) I started university by studying on my own because I thought it was more effective. However, it wasn’t until fourth year that I realized that this wasn’t really working for me. I suggest (if you’re interested in pulling in some As) that you find other classmates who are equally focused on doing well. That way, you can always ask each other questions and test each other on the material.
4. UAlberta students get some sweet deals
Concert tickets? Cheap movie tickets? 50% off at Domino’s Pizza? Need I say more? Check out your local Infolink to find out more!
3. Start studying early
With the recent trend of having two or more midterms in each class, this usually means that your first midterm is just around the corner. If you definitely want to do well in university, you should probably start studying for your courses the second week in. Otherwise midterms, papers and assignments really start to build up.
2. Get to know your professors early
Professors usually offer office hours throughout the week to help answer any questions that you might have. My advice: take advantage of this opportunity as soon as you need it. Getting to know your prof will help you in other ways as well; they may suggest some opportunities such as research or scholarships, and they’ll definitely be more willing to write you a reference letter if they know who you are. The latter is extremely important if you’re planning to go to grad school or enter a professional program.
1. If you need help, ask for it
There are tons of services on campus that offer academic help to students on campus. Need help with a first year math or science course? The Math and Applied Sciences Center (MASC) offers courses during the year and prep sessions right before exams, to help you review the material for class. The Student Success Centre (SSC) offers workshops in a wide variety of subjects from how to write for University, to mastering the multiple choice exam. If you’re struggling with that English paper, or any writing in general, visit the Centre for Writers. Appointments book up quickly so make sure you think about it in advance!