In a conversation with a recent graduate, I asked for his thoughts on the university experience. He was kind enough to provide me with the following response. It is worth reading through to gain more insight in to what is on the horizon for you:
“I don’t think people recognize the struggle a first year student actually endures.
Having to acclimatize to a new environment; having to juggle numerous new courses, midterms, and assignments; having to make new friends and maintain some level of a social life; all of these challenges can contribute to a difficult, and ultimately ‘unsuccessful’ first year of university.
I went into university with a very clear vision of what I was wanted.
I wanted to find time for music; I wanted to find time to make friends; I wanted to go to social events often enough; I wanted to study well, in libraries, or outside – just like the pictures show.
And while I was able to achieve some level of a few of those things, for the most part, I was unable to achieve a great many of those things because I was grossly unaware of what was coming my way.
Coming up on half way through my first semester of university, I found myself overwhelmed by writing assignments, midterms (Calculus, in particular), and the constant struggle of trying to figure out where things were around me on an exceptionally large campus.
Soon after, my first year took a turn for the worse and I found myself lacking a substantial social life, obtaining poor academic results, and eventually I lacked any sense of direction moving forward.
Unfortunately, it came to a point at which I actually wanted to drop out of university – and that’s something that my parents can even attest to. I didn’t see the point, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and I wasn’t sure how I was really benefiting, when truthfully all I felt was stress and an undying form of pressure.
I turned things around in my second year with a better prepared mind set and some support from family and friends, and come graduation four years later, I can safely say I’m glad I stuck around.
But it doesn’t detract from the fact that my first year wasn’t as good an experience as I thought it would have been – or as good an experience as I had wanted it to be.
University is set up to prepare you not just academically, but personally and professionally too. In my first year, I backed myself up into a corner that forced me to focus on the academic side of things, and leave no time for the personal or professional care I should have been taking for myself and my future.
If there was anything I could do to better my first year, it would without a doubt be, quite simply, to prepare myself a little better for what was coming my way. I should have better understood my surroundings and the challenges I was going to face, such that when they came about, I’d be infinitely more prepared to tackle them.
University is an incredible experience, and with the right preparation, my first year would have been equally as good as the years that followed. I hope new students will find a way to best prepare themselves too!
- Michael, (BComm, 2017)
Fortunately, the opportunity to give yourself the best chance to do well in your first year in now easily available. The Smooth Start workshop has been built from the ground up to get you ready to deal with the bumps and obstacles that arise in that first term.