The 4 Most Important Lessons I learned in First Year

Hello friends. As the end of my first year of university is almost here (tear), I can’t help but look back on how different I was–how little I knew–just 7 short months ago compared to now! It feels like I’ve gone through a million new experiences that I would never would’ve known how to handle before university. Luckily, I’ve gotten the hang of things, which I must admit I’m pretty proud of. So here are the 4 most important things I learned during this year and that are absolutely essential to success in university and your first year especially. Hopefully you will now all be able to pick up on this stuff way sooner!

1. PLANNING AHEAD: I just started using a monthly calendar on my phone at the beginning of second semester, and the difference from first semester is staggering. It’s incredibly helpful to have your weeks planned out ahead of time, keeping track of when things are due, and what work you need to complete on certain days. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved from an overload of stress just by being able to stay on top of my work load and being as organized as possible. It’s definitely a good idea to put all your assignment due dates into a calendar either on your phone or in a planner at the beginning of the semester. You’ll thank yourself later!

2. SETTING YOUR OWN DEADLINES: Having more than one test or essay due on one day is common in university. However, there’s a simple solution to avoiding the panic of having to complete multiple assignments in a short period of time: finish things early! There’s nothing wrong with handing in a paper early if you have the time. In fact, it’s beneficial to you when you have longer periods with less due followed by an overflow of due dates later. This has been a really awesome trick for me to learn this year, and I’m still working at it. It takes a lot of discipline, but trust me, it 100% beats freaking out over work at the last minute!

3. GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP: This is also extremely important to remember. As your workload increases, you’ll notice that you’re having later and later nights which can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. In order to do your best, you need at least 8 hours of sleep. That’s a given. But it’s easier said than done with all the things you’ll have going on during the week. My recommendation is to download the free “Sleep Cycle” app from the iPhone app store if you can. It keeps track of how many hours of sleep you get each night, the quality of your sleep, wakes you up in the morning during your lightest level of sleep, and much much more. Making sure you’re well rested will help you stay healthy and happy, decrease anxiety and stress, and lead to an overall better year at university!

4. BALANCING WORK AND PLAY: Only focusing on school work can wear you out fast. It’s absolutely necessary to make sure you find a healthy balance between academic success and time for relaxation and fun with friends, as doing too much of one will only lead to more problems. So, in any way that you can, try to get out with friends and explore the city or have a fun night in with netflix and food; anything that will help you destress from classes or homework is imperative. In particular, I’ve noticed that group study really helps me to be able to do work for longer periods of time while hanging out with new friends in my program. Because we’re all in the same boat, we can chat about what we’re learning and just entertain each other during breaks. Combining these two elements of university life in a productive and useful way will allow you to have the best year of your life so far, I promise you!

While I’m already getting very very very sad thinking about concluding my first year at Ryerson, I’m glad I’ve developed new skills in conquering the challenges of university. Now, it’s just a matter of practicing and maintaining these lessons throughout my time here at Ryerson!

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