Starting university is a huge transition that can be accompanied by a lot of stress. You may find yourself feeling lost when adapting to a totally new environment (and sometimes even a new city or country!).

However, starting university doesn’t have to be a stressful event. It can actually serve as a perfect opportunity to set new goals, step out your comfort zone and get ready for success. Here are six tips to start university on the right foot.

1) Arrive on Time

If you went away on vacation or are coming from another town or country, make sure to arrive on time. If possible, try to arrive a few days before your classes start, to make sure you get over any jet lag and get used to waking up early again.

Taking a few days to settle down and get to know your new surroundings will help you feel more confident and less lost.

2) Attend Orientation Week/Week of Welcome

Make sure to attend your academic orientation and participate in as many orientation activities as you can! Academic orientation sessions tend to be mandatory for a reason. This is a crucial opportunity to learn the academic expectations of your program and get to know your professors and peers.

Orientation Week is full of fun events around campus that are designed to bring students together and integrate them into campus life. Ryerson also has varied and inclusive programming targeted to international, mature and LGBTQ+ students, parents, and others.

3) Get Connected

University is about more than classes and exams – it’s about making connections! The more connected you feel on campus, the better chance you have to succeed. Extracurricular activities like student groups, volunteering or working on campus are great ways to start building up your resume, keep you interested in school, discover your passions and expand your network.

Who knows if the person volunteering with you now may become a colleague, supervisor or business partner in the future?

4) Develop Healthy Habits

The newfound independence that university students enjoy may be fun and alluring, but is also full of new responsibilities and multiple stressors that can take a toll in your immune system. Make sure to enjoy nutritious foods, get regular moderate exercise and sufficient sleep, cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and energy drinks, and if you smoke, try to quit!

5) Get Familiar with Your Campus

Although orientation week is full of activities to make you familiar with your campus, it’s important you make an effort to locate your classrooms and key resources to help you succeed. Knowing where things are will help you feel comfortable in your new environment. Get a campus map and make sure you locate and visit key areas such as the library, your faculty and program office, the Counselling Centre, the Registrar’s Office, the Business Career Hub, and tutoring and academic support.

6) Manage Your Finances

University can be expensive. Beyond tuition and books, there are many smaller items that add up and may become a problem if not managed from the beginning. Try to create and stick to a budget where you may track your transportation, food, photocopies and educational materials, going out, etc.

There are multiple free cellphone apps that can help you get organized with your money such as Mint, Dollarbid, Pocketguard, YNAB Classic. Sharing your rent, cooking at home, and packing healthy snacks and lunches may help you save money, but will also demand extra time and organization.

Ryerson offers a free financial literacy course called RU Debt Free, available to all graduate and undergraduate students at Ryerson.

Researching and asking about scholarships and bursaries is time well spent. Applying for as many scholarships as possible will maximize your chances for funding and will help you minimize your student debt.

Posted by Joana Londoño

Joana Londoño is a Learning Strategist in TRSM’s Academic Success Centre. She has worked at Ryerson University for 11 years and has a rich blend of experience from various roles that have supported student achievement. Joana believes that academic achievement doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and brings her broad Ryerson experience and network into the Learning Strategist role, to keep TRSM students engaged and motivated. She firmly believes that with the right balance of challenge and support all students are capable of thriving beyond their expectations. Joana holds a master’s degree in Communication & Culture and is fluent in Spanish, French and Portuguese.

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