Your first year of college or university might be the scariest, but there are plenty of ways to prepare yourself for the change of scenery, change in workload, and change in lifestyle. Check out helpful resources and tips from current and previous students below! These resources and tips are mainly for first year students, but can apply to students from any and all years!
*No specific institution was the focus of this article. The details included here are insights from current university students*
Tips from Current and Previous Students
Study Groups and Study Hubs:
Many institutions offer school recognized study groups for your classes. These groups are a great way to meet other students, make new friends, review class material, and prep for your tests and assignments. If you are looking to join one of the recognized study groups for your course, speak to your professor or visit/email your course faculty or student union.
Study hubs are similar to study groups, but are not course specific. Any student from any course can attend a study hub. These peer-run hubs are basically just study sessions where like-minded students can find a safe space to study. The hubs help students who struggle with focus and procrastination, time management, and goal setting: they provide a supportive community where quiet and welcoming spaces allow students to complete readings, work on assignments, and prepare for tests and exams. If you are looking to join one of your institution’s study hubs, contact an academic counselor, check your student union’s newsletter or visit/email your faculty or student union.
Students Offering Support runs Exam-Aid sessions at 25+ colleges and universities across Canada. Our Exam-Aids are three-hour group review sessions that occur prior to a midterm or final test. Each session is taught by a student volunteer with exceptional communication skills, who has previously excelled in that particular course. They will take you over the material covered on the upcoming exam through a fun, and interactive session, full of relevant examples and opportunities for questions. Afterwards, you’ll get a take-home package to help you ace your upcoming exam!
Some of the benefits of attending an Exam-Aid include:
Access to Take Home Study Packages and digital recordings of sessions.
Asking questions in a judgement free zone to clarify your doubts.
Our Tutors will help you find the right mental state to overcome anxiety and stress during exam season.
Our sessions guarantee to leave you prepared and confident to ace your next exam.
Services are generally focused on pre-requisite courses such as Sciences and Business.
Read more about our Exam-Aids and find those taking place at your campus here:
Students with learning disabilities, mental illness (ex. anxiety, depression) or special circumstances can benefit from academic accommodations. Speak with your institution’s academic adviser or registrar to learn more about the accommodation programs offered at your school and the eligibility requirements.
Some of the benefits of academic accommodations include:
Access to course notes from volunteer note-takers
Access to your institution’s testing center – Testing centers often offer quiet test-writing spaces for students who have difficulty concentrating and increased writing times for students registered with accommodations.
Dismissal of missed classes (within reason, and for a good reason)
Here are some articles on immigration FAQs, recent immigration policy changes, post graduation work permits, and immigration landmines – written especially for international students by an immigration law firm:
There’s even a great webinar created by the law firm that takes you through all the topics listed above:
Check out our directory for more great resources! The directory button is on our main page.
Student Life Network:
Student Life Network is a resource hub for all things school. The network helps you improve your grades, find the right school, reduce your debt, and line up your dream job. They also run contests like the Canada’s Luckiest Student contest, which includes a $50,000 prize bundle for the winner and tons of great perks and free memberships – to apps like Spotify – for those who join in. Their website includes helpful blogs, concert ticket giveaways, and tons of student deals – go check it out now!
Textbooks can be extremely expensive. Find some tips on cutting textbook costs below:
Get your textbooks used or rent them from your institution’s bookstore
Buy your textbook second-hand from a previous student – Join textbook exchange and for-sale Facebook groups associated with your institution to find these
Buying an online version of your textbook is often cheaper than buying the physical version
Amazon often offers textbooks for cheaper prices than your institution’s bookstore
Some textbooks can be found for free online by googling the following:
“[name of textbook] free pdf”
“[name of textbook] google drive”
Below are some great resources for finding the right Canadian scholarship for you:
Opting Out of Fees:
If you already have your own health and dental coverage, you can opt-out of your school’s plan by providing proof of your existing coverage. You will then be reimbursed for the health and dental plan fee that your institution charged.
You can also opt-out of some incidental fees. However, opting out of some fees can affect your access to certain resources associated with those fees. Before opting-out, make sure to read about the use of each incidental fee and its associated resource carefully.
DO NOT plan any vacations or trips before you get your exam schedule!
Your institution will not make any exceptions or schedule a re-test for you, if you miss your exam for any reason other than illness or accident.
Join all of the school related Facebook groups that you can!
Find groups to join by searching your institutions full name and its abbreviated form in the Facebook search bar under the ‘Groups” heading.
Joining these groups will help you stay posted on networking, campus and extracurricular events. These groups are also great places to post questions and connect with students from your classes.
Make a LinkedIn Profile
Make a LinkedIn profile and visit your school’s career counselling center for tips on how to improve and perfect your profile. Use your LinkedIn to connect with classmates, professors, TA’s and those you meet at networking events – this will open doors for you in the future!
It’s okay to not do well
Your first year of college or university will be a rough learning experience, as you learn to acclimatize, not only to a new city, but to a new set of learning expectations, as well. The first two years of college or university are meant to be hard – they will help you learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can use them to your advantage. Making mistakes is more than okay, as long as you take the time to learn from them!
Check out the sites below for more great tips on how to succeed during your first year:
Professor – A teacher of the highest rank in a college or university.
Study Session – A period of time during which two or more persons meet to pursue a particular activity.
Academic Counselor/Adviser – An academic adviser is a type of counselor who works with students usually at the college level. They are the ones responsible for helping students choose a major and a minor and ensuring that they meet all the requirements to graduate with a major in that field.
Registrar – An official in a college or university who is responsible for keeping student records.
Incidental Fees – A fee used to make up for a budget shortfall or to fund particular projects. Incidental fees are often associated with college tuition expenses and are used to pay for services other than instruction. The small fee is levied on students and is collected along with tuition.
Faculty – A group of university departments concerned with a major division of knowledge.
LinkedIn – A social networking website designed for business professionals. It allows you to share work-related information with other users and keep an online list of professional contacts.
Student Union – The students’ union is the students’ organization in a university or college which organizes leisure activities, provides welfare services, and represents students’ political interests. It is also the building where the students’ union organization has its offices, and which usually has a shop, a coffee bar, and a meeting place.
Googling – To search for information about (someone or something) on the Internet using the search engine Google.
Life as an international student offers exciting new experiences. But, this transitional period of change can also present a significant challenge for even the most talented and well-supported of students. Our guide helps international students learn the skills, knowledge, resources and where to find them to transition more easily, as they begin the next stage of their educational journey. The International Student Guide provides blogs, videos and a resource directory that students can use to navigate their Canadian transition experience; from pre-arrival to post-graduation job hunting – based on the experience of current Canadian post-secondary students.