University is incredibly tricky to acclimate to, especially fresh out of high school. You are forced to transition into an environment completely different than anything you’ve known for the past 12 years and you have to do so relatively quickly. Needless to say, it’s not always smooth sailing the first year of a post-graduate degree, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to make it a little bit easier for yourself. Below are 6 mistakes to avoid as a university freshman so that your experience isn’t as rocky as your predecessors and so that you can make the most out of the next 4 years.
- Buying new instead of used books for your classes
A simple way to save a bit of money in your first year of university amongst student loans and dorm payments is by opting to purchase secondhand course books instead of brand new ones. This is particularly advantageous for courses that require novels instead of textbooks because novels will always stay the same, where as textbooks are typically republished in other versions every few years. If you are taking an English or history course, look at your local used bookstore or thrift store for any copies that might be extremely marked down before looking at a chain bookshop for them. This could save you hundreds of dollars depending on how many courses you are taking each semester.
- Not budgeting for the year, especially if you live on campus
Creating a budget as early as possible, even before you begin university, is key in ensuring you have enough funds to help you live comfortably throughout the year. If you are living on campus instead of at home, then this is especially important because most of your money will be going to rent on top of food and course expenses. Consider everything that you will be spending your money on and decide what you can cut out or if you can afford to work part-time during your schedule so that you can supplement any money you may be spending throughout the year.
- Being sloppy with your notes
Taking good, concise notes can make or break whether you pass or fail a course. They will be what you use to study for exams and what you can look back on throughout the years of your degree as references for similar classes. Be proactive with your note taking and be sure to include as much information during your lectures as possible—you never know what will be on the final exam or what you can use in your midterm essay. Furthermore, be sure to store your notes somewhere safe because losing them at the last minute before an exam can be devastating. Some opt for external hard drives, while others prefer to keep them all on a secure virtual data room such as Firmex’s, so that they can access them from anywhere and at any time they need to. Keep them close at hand and clean them up as often as possible so that they are easy to study with.
- Eating out all the time
While ordering in some comfort food on a particularly dreary night during exam prep can be exactly what you need to feel better, eating out too often throughout the year can leave you feeling lethargic, affecting how you perform in every aspect of your university life. Not only will constant take out really cut into your budget for the year, it will also affect your overall physical and mental health during an already tiring and arduous time. Try and limit your eating out habits to once a week and instead shop for fresh fruits and vegetables to keep up your energy levels during the day and giving you all the nutrients you need to conquer exam month while still feeling healthy for the next semester.
- Relying too heavily on your project partners
Group projects seem to always be dreaded because not only do you have to worry about your own mark, but your participation in it can also affect the marks of others in your group. The key to surviving these necessary, albeit incredibly irritating, group projects is by not relying too heavily on the work of your group members to propel you into a high grade. Not everyone is accountable and you should take control of your part of the work to ensure your own success. This stress of working in a group can also be alleviated by storing and sharing all relevant information within a virtual data room so that all parties can access it and add their own input even if you all can’t meet up in person to do it. Collaboration is important, but it is just as pertinent that you stay accountable of your own work and do your best at it.