Your Checklist for Success - How to Survive Year One
Author: Kailey Guillemin
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It’s that time of year again. Students get ready to head back to university for another semester. Freshmen’s pack up their bedroom and try not to show how scared they truly are. It doesn’t matter who you were in high school, as soon as you step into the university world, you start with a clean slate.

Your first year will test you in many different ways. Can you handle the increased workload all while learning how to be an adult? Will you remember to attend class with no one forcing you to go?

Your first year will also be an exciting time that you should fully embrace. You get to meet new people, develop new relationships, and live life how you want to.

If you’re worried about surviving your first year, let alone your first day, don’t worry. Here’s a checklist to help start your first year of university on the right foot.

Find All Your Classrooms Beforehand

Do you want to be that person in the hallway who walks around clueless and have to ask everyone how to get to your classroom? Probably not. Before your first week of classes, scope out where you will be going and the best paths to take. You’ll be thankful you did when you show up to class on time.


Get a Day Planner

You may only be taking five classes in one semester, but each class is likely to have 15 assignments, 10 quizzes, two midterms, a group project, and who knows what else. Now, try and remember that for all five classes and see how well you do. A day planner will be your best friend as it will help you keep track of everything you need to complete.

Actually Go to Class

You may hear stories of kids who barely attend class and still pass with an 80%. Don’t kid yourself though. That isn’t always the case. Just go to class and learn the material. Plus, professor’s lots of the time will give additional information that is valuable to those who are in their seats.

Make “Me” Time

You may have this image in your head that you’ll be out partying every night and attending all your classes in the day. Maybe you can do that for the first bit, but there will come the point where you need some downtime. University can be very stressful. Give your brain a break and have some quiet time just for yourself (for your sanity’s sake).



Don’t forget to socialize. Find people that you can connect with. Taking time out of your week to spend moments with friends will help you decompress. These people are going through the same thing as you.

Prioritize Everything

Remember that day planner you should get? Use it to schedule out your life. Write out what you need to get done in the day, week, month, and even semester. Prioritize based on due dates and workload. It will help stop you from procrastinating and making sure you don’t begin that 10-page essay the night before.

Join a Club or Group

Whether it be a book club, fitness class (highly recommended), or a sports team, join something that gathers people together. It can be a way to meet new people, as well as take your mind off of school now and then. Find something that interests you and enjoy it.

Call Your Folks

Even if you’re attending university in the same city as them, don’t forget to call your parents. They’ll want to hear how things are going and to check in on you. Talking with them is also useful for when you need to vent and let out some steam (or ask for money).

Watch Your Health

You’ll find it is easy to let your health slip while in university. You have so much going on that needs to get done, spending time cooking a healthy meal or getting eight hours of sleep is the last thing on your mind. However, the last thing you need is to come down with an illness and miss a month of class (trust me, it’s hard to recover from that). Go to the gym, eat some vegetables, and get some rest.

Be Prepared to Have “Those Days”

You know those days – you’d rather stay in bed than face the world. It’s okay. It’s called taking a mental health day. University can be quite intensive to the point of overwhelming you. When you have those moments where you feel like you can’t do it, take those “me” days. Never be afraid to confide in a family member or friend, or if it’s getting especially complicated, utilize campus counselling services.


About author:
Kailey Guillemin

Kailey graduated with a degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Now she lives a double life in Manitoba – writer by day and dance teacher by night. When she’s not at her computer, you’ll find her curled up with a glass of red wine and knitting, or obsessively taking photos of her puppy.🐶🐾

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