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  • Writer's pictureMatt Shaw

10 Tips For First Years

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

By: Mandy Chouinard

#1: Don't Stress

Remember, you are one of 5000 first year students. University is new to all of you, so you will learn how to take on papers, finals and assignments together.  If you are confused- chances are you aren’t the only one. Your professors know that University is new to you as well, and they give plenty of instruction to keep you informed. Before you know it, first-year students will be asking you for advice!


#2: Pack Well

You may end up on campus for long days; between classes, extracurricular activities, and social events.  Make sure to fill your nap sack with anything and everything you might need – after all, nothing is worse than getting to the library and realizing you forgot a highlighter.

Writing utensils, chargers, headphones and snacks are a must. Consider packing the night before to ensure you think of everything.


#3: Experiment

It will take a long time to figure out the study methods, ways of taking notes and research strategies that work best for you. (Some fourth years are still trying to figure it out). First year is a great time to exercise all of your options and learn your preferred study strategies.  For example, try taking notes one week on your computer and another week by hand.


#4: Ask Questions

Asking questions is the only way to gain new information, and you probably aren’t the only one with that very question.  Asking peers about study habits, note taking preferences, or assignment specifics can help clear up any confusion.  You might be able to help your peers in turn, too.  Asking your professors questions about materials in class shows that you’re engaged and you may highlight something that other students aren’t sure about either.


#5: Get Involved

Carleton has over 260 student clubs and societies - I can guarantee you will be interested in at least one.  So whether it's heavy metal, quidditch, intramurals, your academic society, Greek life or celebrating diversity, try to get involved with extracurricular events on campus.  Being involved with my student society has given me so many useful skills, lifelong friends and unforgettable experiences.  Carleton’s Co-Curricular Record even recognizes your campus involvement in an official document upon graduation!


#6: Talk To Your TA's

Teacher’s assistants are often the people grading your assignments.  Just like your professors, they hold regular office hours every week where they set aside time to talk to students.  Talking to TA’s before writing an assignment can help you figure out what exactly they’re looking for.  Talking to TA’s after getting an assignment back can help you understand where you went wrong.


#7: Use Campus Services

Carleton University offers many campus services, they are available to you, you just need to reach out and find them!  Career services in 401 Tory Building offers free resume reviews and career advice.  The Paul Menton Centre for students with disabilities located in 501 University Centre offers accommodations for students and volunteer opportunities such as note taking.  The Writing Tutorial Service located on the 4 floor of the Macodrum Library will review your paper or help you get started.


#8: Go To Class

Simply attending lectures drastically increases your understanding and ability to retain course information. Profs are also more likely to give out exam hints and assignment reminders in class opposed to online. You’d be surprised how much you remember with the help of professor’s videos, slideshows and metaphors!


#9: Sleep

The night before an exam, or the day before a paper is due, it can be easy to talk yourself into pulling an all-nighter. However, you will be much more alert and aware if you let yourself get a good night’s sleep.


#10: Have Fun

University is such an exciting time; take a deep breath between classes, assignments and studying. Skate on the canal, go to a Carleton event or read for pleasure.  University will be stressful at times but it will also hold some of your favourite memories. I hope you love your experience at Carleton as much as I do!

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