9 tips for surviving your first year of university

Sarah Rae


I remember my first day of university like it was yesterday. I was very anxious about the change and was worried about how I was going to fit in and find my own way. While university can be quite the change from our past high school experiences, it can also be a very exciting time in our lives.

The start of university is when we can begin to branch off on our own and become our authentic selves. Looking back at my first year at Ontario Tech University, these are a few tips that I would consider helpful for incoming and prospective students:

1. Attend all of the orientations/info sessions

I know, do you really need to attend all of your orientations even though you are feeling somewhat comfortable already? Yes!

Orientation is a great way to meet new friends, as well as upper-year students that can be of benefit to you throughout the school year. Orientation is also a way to familiarize yourself with the campus to lessen your chance of getting lost on the first day of class and get a feel of how school life will be.

2. Become organized

If being organized is already one of your specialties, great! If not, get ready to buy a planner or a calendar of some sort because organization will be half the battle during your university career.

University is different than high school in the way that university professors expect you to be prepared! You have to know your due dates in advance and manage your class schedule as well.

Having a planner or some form of organizational system will minimize a lot of extra stress throughout the year.

Person creating a calendar in a journal

3. Join clubs and societies on campus

In other words, GET INVOLVED! This tip is one of the most important tips from my point of view, as I wish this was something someone told me in my first year.

Not only does getting involved on campus allow you to meet new friends and build new relationships, it also allows you to discover more about yourself and what your own interests are.

Not to mention, there have been studies done that indicate students who are involved on campus actually have higher grades than those who are not (crazy, right?!).

4. Attend your classes

Speaking of grades…make sure to attend all of your classes! Yes, all of them. I know that this is a pretty obvious point to make, but I can’t stress it enough.

Not only does the professor go over in detail the class material for that week, but they will also relay crucial information about midterms, assignments, finals, etc. (which might not always be listed in a PowerPoint somewhere)

Anyway, just go to class, promise?

Gif of bored student dropping head to desk

5. Don’t procrastinate

This is for all the students out there, who like me, enjoy leaving things to the last minute in hopes everything will work out in the end. While this method may have worked in high school, it’s important to remember that this is now university and the same method might not work so well.

I would highly recommend when given an assignment, to get it done as soon as possible so it’s one less thing to worry about.

6. Seek help when you need it

Finding the help you need, when you need it, is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Whether it's help with school or help with mental health, the campus has many resources to offer.

Everyone at Ontario Tech is here to support you and to stand with you through the good times, as well as the tougher times.

7. Remain healthy and keep a healthy diet

Though at times it may seem like getting a full eight hours of sleep is the last thing on your to-do list, please make it the first. Keeping your health intact is crucial for excelling at university as your mind and body are ultimately working together to lead you to success.

Remember that physical exercise can not only be used to maintain physical health but is also a great way to maintain mental health.

two dogs running on a treadmill

8. Find balance

While your main purpose of being here is to study and earn your degree, it is also important that you make connections with new people and create memories. As the saying goes: Work hard, play hard.

9. Be yourself 

If you’re going to remember anything from this post, please remember this. Stay true to yourself throughout your time at university. You will be happier and more successful if you feel good about your choices and peers.

It’s hard, especially as a first-year student, to not get caught up in what everyone else around you is doing. Remain focused on who you are as a person, and let that shine through!

Gif of someone saying "You're awesome, enjoy being who you are."

University is an incredibly rewarding experience that opens many doors for your future. The course load can certainly be stressful, but I hope these tips will help you navigate your university career and make it a little easier. 

Interested in seeing our programs to find your fit at Ontario Tech? 

Download your viewbook

Connect with us on social media!


Recent posts

Subscribe to Email Updates