Class of 2024, the time has finally come: your first year of university. While your freshman year will certainly look different than expected, the core components of the university still exist. Whether online, in-person, or a mix of both, post-secondary school is a place to learn, make connections, and prepare for the future. To get ready for the first day of class, Fuzzable has compiled a list of 24 pieces of university advice for the class of 2024.
1. Create good study habits
Right off the bat, it is important for students to develop strong study habits in order to do well in classes. Remember all of the components needed for school success: doing readings, attending lectures, taking notes, and actively studying. Take the first few weeks of school to figure out a study system that works well and use it for the remainder of the year.
2. Get involved
One of the most common pieces of university advice is to get involved, and for good reason. By participating in campus activities, students get the chance to meet others, give back, and engage in their interests. If traditional clubs and sports are not for you, look outside the box and get involved within the residence, at faculty events, or through an on-campus job. There truly is something for everyone.
3. Express yourself
Growing up, did you ever feel that you needed to hold back on your personality? Maybe you could not dress the way you wanted at your uniform-only school or perhaps it was hard to express yourself in your traditional town. University is a great chance to start fresh and show off the person you really are inside. People will appreciate your authenticity and you will gain confidence along the way.
4. Meet new people
University is both an academic and social experience. Take the time to get to know new people and make connections that have the potential to last a lifetime. Social media has made meeting new people possible, despite social distancing. Join a Facebook group for your graduating class, take part in a program-based group chat, or send an Instagram DM to somebody you recognize from your Zoom lecture.
5. Keep in touch with people from the past
Just because you are entering a new chapter of life, does not mean you should forget all of the chapters before. Staying in touch with family and friends from home is not only a big help in the transition to university, but will also continue to be meaningful throughout the year. Old friends will be there for you when you need a distraction from campus life, want to reminisce on the past, or just want to have fun. Remember to stay in touch with old mentors and teachers as well. Many of them watched you become the person you are today and would love to hear how you are doing.
6. Explore the campus and city
If you are moving away for school this year, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity and get to know your campus and city. Social distancing precautions in mind, try your best to get out and explore. Go out for walks, try a new study spot on campus every week, and order takeout from different restaurants in the city. For students staying home this year, the same suggestions apply. Find hidden gems in your city that you never would have known about if you moved away.
7. Try new things
University is a place of opportunity. Schools have a number of different classes, extracurricular groups, and events that are worth trying out. Take a class you know nothing about, pitch an idea to the school newspaper, or watch a live-streamed version of a university sports game. You may be shocked by the things that you come to love.
8. Embrace your passions
Are you coming into university already sure of what you want to do? There is a good chance that campus will have a place for you to explore your interests immediately. Whether it is a faculty group or a school club, find a space that will allow you to fully embrace your passions. If you cannot find a place that represents you, make it yourself! There are sure to be other students who have been waiting for a club of their interest to exist.
9. Take classes you care about
There is nothing worse than being in a class that means nothing to you. It makes going to lectures a pain, prevents assignments from being enjoyable, and drags down the energy of school. While students are usually required to take certain courses, some of which may feel meaningless, they often have equal opportunity to pick courses for themselves. Choose electives that you genuinely think you will like. Having fun in class makes all the difference.
10. Get to know your professors
Believe it or not, professors are not always as scary as they may seem. Typically, professors are smart people who are passionate about the subject they teach and who want to help you learn. Take advantage of it! Ask questions in class, attend office hours, and get feedback on assignments. If you still feel intimidated by your professor, try talking to your classroom TA instead — they can usually assist you directly or be a liaison between you and the professor.
11. Pay attention to finances
The truth of the expression “money does not grow on trees” becomes quite apparent during the first year. There are a lot of expenses that go along with university: tuition, textbooks, technology, residence, living expenses, food, and entertainment. While some of these costs disappear due to quarantine, that is no reason to slack off. Make a budget, try to buy only what you need, look for discounts where possible, and prioritize. Keeping track of money from the beginning will be beneficial in the long run.
12. Manage time wisely
Time management skills are essential for everybody, but this is especially true for university students. Create a schedule and commit to it. Make sure to plan out everything, from attending classes, doing assignments, and having personal time. Remember that it is always better to work in small chunks instead of leaving tasks until the last minute.
13. Take care of your mental health
School can get stressful. That is why it is extremely important for students to take care of their mental health throughout the year. Many universities have resources for students to relax such as therapy dogs, craft nights, and mental health workshops. Check your school’s social media pages to see if they are offering any at-home versions of these experiences. If not, there are many other DIY relaxation strategies students can try at home including meditation and journaling.
14. Look out for others
“We’re All In This Together” may be a song from High School Musical, but its message still applies in university. Even though people may be in different programs and aspire to do different things, there is one thing that everybody at your school has in common: they are all experiencing university at the same time. Just as you may hit a few bumps in the road this year, so will others. Be aware of this and take care of the people around you. Ask how they are doing, be a friend, and treat others the way you want to be treated.
15. Get enough sleep
We have all heard it before: “you need at least eight hours of sleep every night for success!” It does not matter how many times the phrase is said, most students continue to shrug it off. However, the statement is true. By getting enough sleep, you will be more alert in your classes and more productive throughout the day. Eight hours will not always be possible when exams or deadlines are looming, but try your best to squeeze in as many hours as possible.
16. Remember the essentials
It is easy to get carried away in the hustle and bustle of the university. Students can become so wrapped up in their studies, clubs, and social lives that they forget the basics of living. Remember to do your laundry, clean your room, take a shower, eat dinner, and take care of your health. The small things are easy to push aside, but these essential tasks are crucial to your overall wellbeing.
17. Ask for help
Throughout your freshman year, you will encounter a number of situations where you do not know what to do. Whether it is not knowing how to cite your sources in an essay, uncertainty surrounding the buttons on the laundry machine, or getting lost on campus, there will come a point where you need to ask for help. Do not be embarrassed. Nobody knows everything and asking for help is a sign of bravery. Remember that getting assistance will get you further than sitting around clueless.
18. Know why you are there
Take a moment to think: why are you at university? Is it because you love learning new things? Are you hoping to gain hands-on experience in a certain field? Do you simply love meeting new people? Throughout the year, reflect on why you came to university in the first place and continue to work towards your ambitions. Do not lose track of your goals.
19. Stay engaged
Many students hit a point in the year where they are just trying to get by. They go to class half-awake and work to get the bare minimum grade on assignments. Stop surviving in school and actually thrive! Try to stay present in everything you do. Look for the meaning in your school work and see everything as a step towards bigger things.
20. Take personal risks
University is a time for growth. While everybody loves feeling safe, it is important to take risks in order to fully flourish as a person. If you are shy, try to speak up in a seminar once a week. If you have had your eye on somebody in your Zoom lecture, message them first. If you have a dream completely unrelated to school, like running your own business or becoming TikTok famous, go for it. There is no better time than now.
21. Do not get discouraged
Students tend to have a lot of expectations going into university. Although it is good to have high hopes, do not be discouraged if things do not go exactly as planned. Maybe you did not meet as many people as you hoped during frosh week or maybe your first essay grade is lower than what you received in high school. That is okay. You have months and years ahead of you to improve.
22. Recognize that everybody is on their own path
Do not fall victim to imposter syndrome. According to The Muse, imposter syndrome is the “belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.” Some students at university will seem like they have their life together perfectly, making you feel like you are below them. Know that this is not the case. You are successful and there is a reason that you are at the place you are in life. Take your time, do your own thing, and try not to worry too much about everybody else.
23. Treat everything as a learning opportunity
Received a bad mark on your first assignment? Learning opportunity. Ate leftovers that had been in the fridge a little too long? Learning opportunity. Left your microphone on during a Zoom class while you were watching Netflix? Learning opportunity. Understand that things happen. While they may be embarrassing or disappointing, take a moment to reflect on the experience, find a way to learn from it, then move on. There is no reason to dwell on the past if it does not help you in the future.
24. Have fun
The most important thing to remember throughout university is to have fun! Of course students should focus on their studies, get involved with campus life, and grow their connections, but know that university is not merely a checklist of things to do. Get outside of your comfort zone, do the unusual, and look for the fun in everything. Work hard while playing hard too.
Are you starting university this year? What are you most excited about this semester? Tweet us @Fuzzable to let us know!