Tips to Survive and Thrive at University
Opinions / August 31, 2016
It’s not hard to make the most of your time here
Being a college or university student is an opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, make mistakes, and just generally figure your shit out. Whether you’re just starting at university for the first time or you’re a returning student, here are a few helpful tips to get you through the year.
Try new things. For example, if you’re a business major, don’t limit yourself to only taking courses that sound like they’re business-oriented. Take Visual Literacy (COMM 1200) or Environmental Issues (ENVI 1121)— or whatever you would like, really. Vice versa, nearly every degree offered requires a certain amount of electives outside of your major anyways, so experiment a little!
Join a club. KPU has a ton of student-organized clubs on campus, like the Gaming Guild, ARTversity, the Students of Colour Collective, and Sustainable Agriculture Student Association, to name a few. A full list of clubs can be found at www.kusa.ca/clubs, and a look inside some of the more active clubs can be found in the very paper you’re reading now. If you don’t see any that appeal directly to your needs, consider starting your own. With nearly 20,000 enrolled students, a few others are bound to be interested as well.
Get involved. Aside from clubs, the Kwantlen Student Association has a ton of different services and committees for you to take part in. From the Executive Committee to the Student Life Committee, these are the people who help determine what the KSA does with its money.
Visit with an Academic Advisor. They exist for a reason, and that reason is to advise you through your academic career. They can help you sort out prerequisites, program requirements, semester planning, and discuss other program options that might better fit your future career goals. The last thing you want to do is take a bunch of courses only to find out they don’t actually get you closer to achieving your goals.
Make use of instructor office hours. Few people make use of the office hours every instructor is required to have. It’s a great way to get to know your instructors, especially if you’re enrolled in a program within the faculty they teach. You’ll probably see a lot more of them over the next few years. A good rapport with your instructor can lead to industry contacts, volunteer opportunities and upcoming jobs in your field. It’s also a great time to ask those questions you have but were too afraid to ask in class.
Stay healthy and resist the urge to skip. Missing a class can sometimes be detrimental to your semester, especially if that class is offered only once a week for 3 hours. Not only will you miss that day’s lesson, you could miss out on important reminders or information on upcoming tests and assignments. If you absolutely have to miss a class or two, make sure you’ve made friends with someone you sit next to. Exchange emails or phone numbers and give them a heads up that you’ll be missing from class and ask them politely to let you know what you’ve missed.
Relax. Seriously, school can take up a lot of your time. Between friends, family, work, and whatever else you probably have going on, make sure you carve out a little bit of time just for you. Read a non-school related book, go for a walk, do yoga, or whatever else calms you down. Try to take a few moments each day to be mindful and relax so you don’t burn yourself out just before exams hit. KPU Sports and Recreation Facilities even offer 30 minute and 60 minute mindfulness yoga sessions to help you master relaxation techniques.
While some of these tips may seem like common sense, they are easy to forget in the middle of the semester, when midterms are fast approaching and essays are piling up. Remember to relax and ask for help when you need it. School can be hard, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and filled with endless opportunities to build relationships. You might even learn a little bit about yourself in the process.