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A guide on how to do well in your first year

Sofia Hashi | Fulcrum Staff

Illustration by Devin Beauregard

IT’S FIRST YEAR and chances are you’ve scored a pretty sweet deal with an awesome entrance scholarship. Whether it’s a few hundred dollars or a couple grand, maintaining your scholarship will probably be a priority for you. While it can seem nearly impossible to keep that cash flowing until next year, the Fulcrum has  the advice you need to keep your money—and your grades—up.

Go to class
This is probably the most important advice anyone, first year or not, should take. Apart from the obvious teaching that goes on during classroom hours, your professor will also discuss the course material, prep you for exams and essays, and answer questions. So don’t blow off school just because you can, unless you have a valid reason. Chances are if you attend your lectures, you’ll be cruising toward a decent mark.

Listen in class
When you attend class, don’t go there just to play Tetris or check up on your hometown friends via Facebook. Pay attention, take decent notes, and ask questions. If you don’t have any, listen to other students’ questions and the answers. You’ll be thanking yourself come exam season when you’ll have something more than just the professor’s slides and the textbook to rely on.

Stay organized
It can be hard to keep track of all your assignments, essays, lab reports, and exams. Enlist the help of a good old-fashioned agenda if you want to stay on top of all your important dates. The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa  hands out free planners at the start of the semester in their office located in the university centre.

Take care of your body
We get it. You’re in first year, and it’s probably the first time ever you’ve had such freedom. But that doesn’t mean you have to party until the crack of dawn every night or stay up on your laptop until the birds start chirping. If you get the proper amount of Zs, you won’t feel tempted to skip class to sleep in, or waste precious study time snoring on your bed. Same thing goes for your overall health. Don’t get into the poutine routine every day for lunch. Eat healthy and exercise so you have enough energy to tackle your hardest classes.

It’s all about balance
University isn’t just about the parties, getting drunk, and having crazy stories to tell about your first year. Remember the main reason why you set foot on this campus: to get an education. That doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with your friends or have some fun. The key is to manage school and your social life so that neither one gets neglected.

Don’t procrastinate
It’s really easy to let things pile up in university, and before you know it, it’s midterm season and you have a million things to do. That’s why if you keep up with your readings and start major assignments weeks in advance—not the night before they’re due—you won’t be stressed out come exam time.