10 Steps to First Year Success
Get Your Priorities Lined Up
It can be overwhelming beginning your 1st year, so before you start your first classes sit back and think about what this will mean. Give yourself time to make friends and get to know the campus or city; very few people know everything right off the bat. Most importantly - don’t forget why you’re coming to UFV. Manage your time between social and academic activities; no one likes all nighters to finish term papers!
HINT* Find the SUS (that is - Student Union Society) office in Building C and pick up a planner. There are a lot of due dates to remember and trying to remember everything can cause stress.
Know the Rules of UFV
Read over UFV’s policies. You can find these off of UFV's Services webpage, in the services manual. This is important so you can know what UFV has to offer and what to expect.
Consider this: You (or your parents) are paying a lot of money for your program. A key thing to remember is that 1 hour of class should be equal to 2-3 hours of studying, and you should plan your schedule accordingly.
HINT* If you feel like you need help studying, or maybe you’re not sure what kind of notes to take, get in touch with the Student Services office, as well as participate in the events that will be happening for 1st year students, such as Orientation!
Think Before You Act
Your first year of University is going to be a time of transition not only in where you go to school, but in who you are as well. Explore new ideas but think them out first; just because you can doesn’t mean you should. While you should try to avoid hasty decisions, try to not pass up opportunities to explore new avenues.
HINT* While spontaneity is fun, ask yourself a few questions before you go through with what you’re planning: will I regret this in a few years? Will this add to my personal growth? Can this hurt me physically/emotionally? Could this be an amazing opportunity I want to take? Will this hurt my school work? Can I make new friends/connections doing this? Will this hurt my finances?
Watch Your Cash Flow As a student you have a lot of expenses: tuition, text books, food, housing, car insurance, clothing, utilities… the list goes on. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying with scholarships, grants, loans, through your parents or by yourself, remember:
- Estimate your costs before you start your 1st year. Use websites, such as this one to calculate costs.
- Avoid ATMs. Some charge you a fee per transaction - this may not seem like a lot, but it adds up fast!
- It’s easy to forget how much you spend!
- Try to bring food from home and learn to cook for yourself instead of eating out
- Try to limit your coffee budget! It's a lot cheaper to make coffee at home and bring it in a reuseable mug.
- Try to avoid credit cards – they seem like a great idea at the time that can get you in a lot of trouble later
HINT* Check out this website for financial planning advice and tips (including how to prepare a budget!). Also pay a visit to UFV's Financial Aid & Awards department!
Use UFV’s Resources
Be it a personal crisis, a cash shortage, or having a disability, UFV’s got something to help you. Make sure you know your resources; they’re there for you and you pay for them through your tuition. Trouble editing your papers? Need help with Math? Go to the help centres that are provided. Asking for help will only improve your experiences here at UFV.
Do you really want to talk to an instructor you enjoy? Want to make new friends? Making connections will make your undergraduate studies a lot more enjoyable. Most instructors are more than willing to chat with you and there are plenty of people on campus that you could make friends with. How? Student Life has Campus Recreation programs as well as many events put on through the year for students to attend (or volunteer to help out with) - which will introduce you to lots of new faces.
Learn to Communicate
UFV has a huge population of students coming from all over Canada and around the world. Try to be open-minded and learn to communicate effectively. Try to pay attention to what people who’ve been here longer than you have to say; they may have some really helpful advice.
Keep Your Health Up
University shouldn’t just be about strengthening your mind. Make sure you keep your body fit too! Avoid the notorious “First Year 15” by eating as healthy as you can, drinking lots of fluids, and exercising. Try joining an intramural team, work out at the gym on campus or use your U-Pass at a local recreation center to work off some steam. Your physical health will directly affect your ability to study, so keep fit!
Make Your Experience Meaningful
School isn’t just about a getting a degree. While that is a major key element to why we undergo undergraduate education it doesn’t have to be the only thing you experience at UFV. If you make the effort to volunteer, go to extra lecture series that happen on campus and connect to UFV’s social scene, it will make your experience more enjoyable and reduce your stress.
**Adapted from R.A. Raycroft's "Freshmen Survival Advice for Life", Winter 2010 **