Going into first year at University of Toronto might be exciting but scary at the same time so I have some tips that might help you throughout your freshmen year! Heads up, it’s gonna be a long read!
1. Attend Frosh before school starts
It was the best week of my first year. You basically have a whole week to cheer and party your hearts out before class actually starts. It is the best time to get to know your fellow first years as well as upper years. Your Frosh Leaders will show you around the campus so you won’t get lost on your first day of classes. Not to mention all the fun activities (e.g. Formal nights, boat cruise, block parties, club fairs, parades) that you will be doing throughout the week and the good food that you will be having! Even if you are an introvert like me, just give it a try and see if you like it. You can always pick and choose the events that you want to go.
2. Wait for the syllabus before buying textbook
Wait until you see the course syllabus (basically, the course outline) or the prof tells you what textbook you will be using before you get them. Most profs tend to change textbook from year to year and you really don’t want to spend money on old textbooks that you won’t be using. ALSO TRY NOT TO BUY THEM FROM BOOKSTORE unless they are not being sold anywhere else, they are pricey and should be your last resort. There are multiple facebook group where upper years try to sell their used textbook. Talk to your frosh leaders and upper years that are in your program! You can also check tusbe and amazon. For me, I haven’t used any textbooks in life sci courses since first year.
3. Get involved when you are in school
Join clubs/teams/organizations/intramural or even create your own. There are a lot clubs at UofT and I guarantee you that you will find something that interest you. Not only you will be meeting more people and making new friends, you will also be developing skills that you will not be learned from a textbook or in a classroom setting. It is also a great way to relieve stress and enjoy the social part of university. For instance, I joined my college’s ultimate frisbee intramural team which I had no previous experiences whatsoever, but I really enjoyed it and saw how great and supportive the ultimate community is. Not to mention all the awesome friends that I made throughout the years playing ultimate! Find something that you are interested in and don’t be afraid to try them out! You might be spending your free time on Netflix anyways.
4. Make use of your university resources
University will be hard and stressful but there are abundant of resources that you can go to. You will have to work a lot harder than you’ve worked in high school. Remember that you are attending one of the best universities in the world. You are expected to have a great level of competency. However, most people do struggle in first year and mostly because they are not used to the environment. So if you do struggle which is quite normal, don’t hesitate to talk to an upper year friend (most of us have been in the same situation before and we could offer some advice), do go to prof/TA office hour and ask for help, do go to the registrar and talk to the counselor. They are more than happy to help you out. Also don’t let little things bother you, if you fail a quiz, learn from it and move on.
5. Explore but know your limits.
There are many other aspects of university aside from academics. Academic is important but so as your social life. You really don’t want to spend all four years of your undergrad in the library. Please don’t just stay at Robarts 24/7. Remember that the campus is in downtown Toronto, one of the best cities in the world and there are a lot of things that you could do. (Coffee shops, bars, food markets, festivals, lake shore, so many things, just read BlogTO) But when you do go out, just be mindful of your studies and midterm dates.
6. Midterm dates, NOTE IT DOWN after you get the syllabus
Do plan to study ahead of time since you are most likely to have multiple midterms cramp in together. The first round of midterms are usually 4-5 weeks into the semester. If you are in life sci, make time for each course and you are gonna get hit hard when it comes. Pain is temporary, GPA is forever.
7. Try and have a healthy university career
You are going to university now and no one will be telling you what to do anymore. Profs do not care if you skip classes, quizzes and tests anymore. No one will tell you to eat veggie and exercise (remember that you paid a lot of money for AC, hart house and Goldring. Food trucks will be all around campus and you will always be tempted to get them (well I know I am..). Energy drinks are all over the campus, they might help you for a day but harms you in the long run. and What is sleep anyways right? Study hard (and party hard) but just remember that your body is the most precious thing you have.
8. Learn to be yourself and be independent
The best studying style for your peers might not be the best one for you. Consider people’s opinions, but don’t let it justify your own decisions. Someone might say that the midterm was a piece of cake, but for you may find it to be difficult. Their opinions should not alter your studying attitude. For me, I skipped most of my classes and just listened to the recordings but some people might just say I am a slacker. Also, don’t fall for peer pressure. Learn to say “no” to tequila shots or you are gonna have a bad time….
9. Keep an open mind and be optimistic during your university year
You are going to face some hardship and fear throughout university. Just keep in mind that your attitude determines how you behave. Remember that whenever you are struggling, you are making progress. Just like a video game, if you are not facing higher level enemies, your won’t be leveling up any time soon.
10. University is gonna go by really fast
I felt like my frosh week was just last weekend but I just graduated and I am study to miss my undergrad moments already (minus all those studying and exams). Please do make time for your friends and family. Cherish and enjoy every moments of your university career. Good luck!