Preparing for First Year University/College

Preparing for First Year University/College
Preparing for First Year University/College
If you or someone you know is moving out this year and are feeling overwhelmed, please remember that this is a normal feeling to have. To help ease some of the stress, we have compiled a list of helpful tips and strategies to consider implementing over the weeks leading up to the start of school.

First off, we would like to congratulate you!! It is no small feat making it this far in your academic career.  You should be very proud!

And what an exciting stage of life to be in! Endless amounts of freedom, countless new people to meet, unique and exciting extracurriculars to partake in; the list goes on. But despite the wonders of all this newfound independence, adjusting to post-secondary life can often mean dealing with many new things all at once. It’s no wonder first year students often feel very anxious and uncertain about what’s to come.  

If you or someone you know is moving out this year and are feeling overwhelmed, please remember that this is a normal feeling to have. To help ease some of the stress, we have compiled a list of helpful tips and strategies to consider implementing over the weeks leading up to the start of school.

  1.       Learn your campus

College/University campuses can be quite large and confusing. If you wait until the 1st day of classes to learn your lay of the land, it can be quite overwhelming. This is why we encourage you to learn your campus the best you can in the weeks leading up to school. Along with your lecture halls, we recommend finding the following buildings:

  • Cafeteria
  •  Library
  • Dorm building
  • Student centre/ University centre
  • Health services - including mental health support
  • Campus security
  • Gym
  • Bus stop

You can familiarize yourself with your campus in several different ways:

A) Printing off a campus map and learning where all the various buildings are

Extra tip: Print off your class schedule as well and highlight each building you have a class in

B) Visiting campus early

Bring your class schedule along so you can make a point to visit all the various buildings you have classes in (and ideally classrooms themselves) as well as any other important buildings you may need to visit during the year

Extra tip: If your school allows it, consider getting your student ID card made while you are there to beat the crowds

C) Using google maps/google earth

Google maps and google earth are two wonderful tools to use to get a virtual tour of your campus without actually visiting the school. You can use these programs to see what the various buildings will look like and even what your walking path will be between buildings

Extra Tip: some colleges and universities even have interactive maps you can use to navigate the campus

  1.       Explore the extracurricular activities available at your school

Whether you continue on with an activity you already enjoy, or you try your hand at something new, getting involved with any one (or more) of the endless supply of extracurricular activities is a fantastic way to reduce stress, meet new people, and make the most out of your post-secondary education! This could mean joining a club, team, intramural, student body, etc.

Getting to know the various ways to get involved with your school before classes begin allows you to have something exciting to look forward to over the next few weeks! It also ensures you do not miss any deadlines for applications, as well as making sure you bring all necessary items with you to school.   

  1.       Contact your roommate

Oftentimes, colleges and universities will provide you the contact information for your roommate(s) before you arrive to school. This can be an excellent way to introduce yourself ahead of time and break the ice! It can also be extremely beneficial to plan who is bringing what to the dorm to make sure you don’t end up with multiples of one thing and then none of something else. By doing this ahead of time you can also set boundaries and establish any expectations you may have, before you even arrive to school.

  1.       Contact your professor

Reaching out to your future professor ahead of time comes with many benefits. Not only does it help introduce yourself to them, but it can help set any expectations ahead of time. This can include asking for the reading list in advance. This can be beneficial for a couple reasons. Not only can you get a head start on the work if you so choose, but you can also start looking for used textbooks/books. Textbooks can be extremely expensive so saving money where you can, can relieve some financial stress. Some professors even encourage you not to purchase a textbook, so it can never hurt to ask!

  1.       Set communication guidelines with your family/friends

If there is someone you communicate with on a regular basis – be it a family member or friends – it is important to set expectations in advance before you leave for school, regarding how much you will communicate. Post-secondary life can be very busy, making it difficult sometimes to stay in touch with everyone in your life as much as you once did. By setting guidelines in advance, you are ensuring neither party is let down or feeling stressed about the changing relationship. Afterall, just because you may be communicating less does not mean you care for this person any less- and vice versa.

On the other end of the spectrum, the first few weeks/months of school can be very stressful or lonely. Scheduling weekly calls for example ensures you have someone to talk to whenever you are having problems or are looking for advice, as well as staying up to date on each other’s lives.


We hope these tips will serve you well as you embark on this next stage of life! Remember to take it one day at a time!

Don’t forget to checkout our list of items to bring with you to school to help ease your anxiety and relieve some stress.

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