Things I wish I knew in my first year


I wanted to write this blog post to discuss the many things I wish I had known in my first year.  The sudden transition and difference between high school and university can be overwhelming for many students.

I want to help future Ridgebacks learn from a second-year student and have a smoother transition than me!

These things probably would have saved me time and would have made my first year a lot less stressful. I feel these tips will hopefully make your university life better and easier. 

Get involved

I wish I had gotten more involved or joined at least one club in my first year. Although I didn’t join any clubs right away, most of my friends were a part of clubs, and have all shared that their experiences have been positive. 

Getting involved can bring a lot to a person’s experience; it’s a great way to support your community! Clubs can help you make new friends, or teach you new things. Depending on how big your involvement is, they are great for your resumé. 

I have been trying to get more involved this year despite the pandemic and am currently training to become an Ambassador for Ontario Tech. I am glad I decided to become more involved because I have already learned so much about leadership, communication, interpersonal skills and so much more. 

Three students looking at a laptop and laughing

Learn how to get involved at Ontario Tech as much as you can—you won’t regret it!

Use the services

There are lots of services at the university that could have made my life as a first-year a little easier—like the Student Learning Center. I remember spending a lot of my time as a first-year engineering student struggling with calculus and physics. The Student Learning Center has workshops and people to help with these tough subjects. 

I started using the centre in my second year, and it has been immensely helpful since it has workshops for tough courses like math and sciences. I wish I had known about it earlier so I could have saved myself time and stress!

Check out Student Life and our campus services for more info. Remember, you’re paying for these services through your tuition, so make sure you utilize them fully when you can.

Take breaks

Although studying and getting good grades are important, studying every day all day is not always necessary. I felt like I studied way too much during my first year and I was constantly feeling burnt out.

Students writing on paper between two laptops

Although I achieved good grades in my first year, I definitely believe I could have gotten the same grades while preventing burnout and not losing precious sleep! 

During my second year, I decided to relax a bit with studying, by taking more breaks. I use a 50-5 rule for myself, where for every 50 minutes I continuously study, I take a five-minute break. If you are studying on campus, try spending some time walking. The atmosphere at the north Oshawa location is very calming and often helps me reduce stress.

Your physical and mental health are the most important thing, so make sure you’re taking some time for yourself.

Ask for help

There will be times where you’re stuck on a really hard topic for a course or times where you can’t find your classes. It’s okay to be in these situations because most first-year students have been there, including me. In the beginning, I was pretty hesitant to ask for help and only did it when it was absolutely necessary. 

Now, I ask questions for clarification or even when I’m slightly confused. Don’t be afraid to ask your professors or Teaching Assistants questions—they are more than willing to help you and they have office hours for those reasons.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your peers for help, like asking for directions. More than likely, they have been in a similar position as you, and wouldn’t mind helping you find your way around.

Question mark on a chalkboard

Overall, these things would have helped me immensely in my first year, however, everyone has a unique and different transition to university. No two students will have an identical first-year experience and that’s okay! 

Blog written by: Taimour Arshad

Want to learn more about some of the services Ontario Tech offers our Ridgebacks?

Learn more about Student Life

Connect with us on social media!


Recent posts

Subscribe to Email Updates