How to navigate student life at KPU

Four tips I wished I knew in my first year

Art by Chelsea Lai

Art by Chelsea Lai

Whether you are fresh out of high school, upgrading your studies, or coming off a gap year, it’s a daunting and overwhelming experience to start your post-secondary journey. 

The excitement of living your dream quickly turns into a reality check of things to do for your courses and entering into a new environment. We’ve been there, and feeling stressed and overwhelmed is totally normal.  

If you are a new or returning Kwantlen Polytechnic University student in need of a gentle nudge in the right direction, I hope you come across this article. Here are four tips I wished someone had told me when I first started in university.  

Familiarize yourself with the place and explore 

Don’t just go to class and then head straight home. If you have a bit of time before or after your classes, explore the campus. It comes in handy to know where specific KPU services and offices are. Put some music on and explore the hallways, buildings, facilities, and even posters on the bulletin boards. Doing this lessens your chances of getting lost, physically and mentally, and increases your comfortability in the new environment.

Join clubs, volunteer programs, and organizations 

Other than studying and working, it is important to engage yourself in something you enjoy doing in your free time. I know fitting hobbies or volunteer work into a busy schedule is a luxury not a lot of people have, but getting engaged with extracurricular activities can make your university experience more colourful and meaningful. 

This is where you can socialize and build meaningful friendships and social networks with other individuals who share the same interests as you. I think of it as a “training ground” for the “real world” because while you are in university, you get to explore opportunities and equip yourself with both life and technical skills needed when you step out into the world.

Actively seek help 

It’s natural to feel shy and quiet, but don’t be afraid to use your voice when you need it. There will be tons of questions in your head, especially in your first semester. If you have questions about a lecture, maximize the instructor’s office hours, wait until the end of the class, or send them an email. This also goes for when you need help with finances, counseling, course planning, and studying strategies. 

KPU has several services and resources to help you succeed in life, such as the Student Awards and Financial Assistance department which provides financial assistance. There’s also academic advising, The Learning Centre, and KPU library services to utilize. Searching through the website with many links and tabs to read can get overwhelming, so one way to narrow your search is by reaching out to the Peer Wellness program, a student-led volunteer team that can point you to the right KPU resource or service you need.

Find the balance 

We tend to get carried away with taking on everything, especially in our first year. All the hustling late nights, and responsibilities on top of studying, like working part-time, full-time, or taking care of your family can take a toll down the line. 

I learned this the hard way, so I’m saying this to you now —  don’t lose yourself in the process because you will lose the capacity to do things if you don’t feel like yourself. Designate time to do the things you enjoy because the happiness this can provide recharges you to face another day.

Lastly, believe in yourself and that you can finish every semester with your head held high. Appreciate the wins and bounce back from the losses. Before you know it, you will be ticking off one goal at a time and living your dream.