Dear First Years…
It seems just like yesterday I was at my enrolment appointment, trying to figure out how Schulich works and what type of person I was going to be throughout my university career. Looking back on those first few days at Schulich, here’s what I wish someone had told me.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
One of the biggest lessons I learned, and that I repeat every year to incoming students is that everyone transitions differently. Some people have it easier, but for some it’s a little bit tougher. One of the worst feelings in first year is thinking that you’re not good enough for this school because you’re comparing yourself to the people around you. Don’t ever feel like you’re behind just because your transition is a little bit rougher. Take the time to figure out your own groove and your own strengths, because at the end of the day, your own development is the one that matters.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Stop being stubborn and thinking that you can do it all by yourself. The people around you are here to help you. Your own peers, upper years, the UPU, and the different academic resources on campus are all resources you can use if you ever need any help. Never feel ashamed to speak up and ask that question because it’s better than staring blankly at a piece of paper not knowing what to do. Don’t feel intimidated to talk to the upper years because we were in your shoes not too long ago, and trust me, we’re all in this together (cue High School Musical).
Build a Support System
Your support system is the group of people who will be there for you through the ups and the downs. Find friends who will let you be serious with them and get stuff done, but will also make you laugh no matter what. Find friends who you can have “real talks” with, and friends that will take breaks and get Qoola with you. Don’t forget that your parents are in this support system too. They just want to see you succeed and see you happy, so don’t hesitate to lean on them when you’re feeling stressed or you just need to vent.
Don’t Take Everything Too Seriously
Yes, school is important. Yes, getting that internship or full time offer is also important. But recognize that you are still only 17 or 18 years old. It’s okay to laugh at yourself, and at your mistakes (because trust me, you’ll make mistakes). It’s okay to still be silly and make terrible jokes that no one else will laugh at (except for a few people). Not everything about this school is serious, so you don’t have to be either.
Keep Yourself Organized
Whether you’re using a Google Calendar, an online organizer, or an actual planner, keep yourself organized. Time management is so important because with conflicting deadlines, midterms and exams to study for, and a social life, you want to make sure you are getting everything you need done, and done well. Plan out how you are going to tackle huge projects and make sure you schedule time to take breaks and catch up on the latest episode of Scandal.
The Importance of Self-Care
This is super important. It is not okay for you to pull all-nighters and eat crappy food all the time. The Freshman 15 is a real thing, so beware. Make sure you’re getting a decent amount of sleep each night, and only pulling all-nighters as a last resort (if you listen to #7, you should be fine). Try to eat healthy, because Popeye’s and Thai Express will only add to this problem (although once a week is not too bad). Now I know this last one is something I have yet to do, but try to figure out a normal workout routine based on your schedule. Key word: try.
It’s Okay to Not Know What You Want To Do
It’s perfectly okay to not know what industry you want to be in after graduation. Take the first two years to explore your options, because you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into something that you don’t really want to do three years down the line. Attend different networking events, and meet people to see how they got to where they are today, and more importantly, why? You never know where you will end up, just keep an open mind.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Everyone makes mistakes, but your mistakes are not the end of the world. A bad assignment, midterm, or exam doesn’t define your university career. There is always a way to make things better and to improve. So don’t beat yourself up over the small things, because at the end of the day, they’re just small things. You are not expected to know everything, you have time to learn over the next four years because trust me, the journey has just begun.