21 pieces of advice for first-year students
Grads and current students offer words of wisdom
It was a little back-to-school question that resulted in a huge response.
As U of T News planned different ways to tell a few of the many stories inspired by the start of a new year at the University of Toronto, we reached out to some of our oustanding recent grads as profiled in our 2013 Convocation feature, "Where the grads go," and asked "What advice do you wish you'd received in first year?"
After those grads were so eager to offer words of wisdom, we thought we should open the conversation to the University of Toronto Facebook group. The outcome was an avalanche of advice for new students, posted in one of U of T's most-commented-on Facebook threads of all time.
What follows are the best, most interesting, and most useful pieces of advice for first-year students.
1. GET INVOLVED
"Welcome to U of T! You made it!" said Oloruntobi Ogunbiyi, a recent Computer Science graduate now working for Toronto startup, Divnotes. "Feeling excited and overwhelmed is inevitable as there are so many students with lots to do. Settling in shouldn't take too long," he said, so long as students take the initiative to get plugged-in to the university community through volunteering and clubs, and make an effort to introduce themselves to professors and teaching assistants.
2. MAKE USE OF OFFICE HOURS
"Profs hold office hours for a reason, so use them!" echoed Emma Cancelliere, an alumna from the Biological Anthropology program who convocated last June. "All of the best answers, advice, and opportunities that I got at U of T, I got during office hours."
"I know it can be insanely intimidating to go to office hours at first, but it's worth it. Once I actually started crying after leaving my prof's office, feeling completely shaken and disheartened by the critique my assignment had needed. I kept going back every week, though, and my grade skyrocketed as I listened to the suggestions and advice being offered. That same prof became somewhat of a mentor to me, and even wound up being one of my references when I applied to grad school," she said.
"Office hours are also a great chance to dive into meaningful, one-on-one conversations with experts in your field. My professors were all so passionate about what they did, and I learned the most brilliant, interesting things about their work by talking to them during office hours, since there's never time in lecture!"
3, DON'T STRESS ABOUT GRADES
"In terms of marks, try your best to find a balance and to not fall prey to over-confidence and/or fear," says Chesarahmia DojoSoeandy, an award-winning alumna who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from U of T last June.
4. JOIN A CLUB
"Also, trying out new things definitely adds to a positive experience at U of T," she suggests. "U of T has a variety of different clubs and activities. Maybe you have always wanted to try martial arts or learn to make origami or photography or dance-- U of T probably has a club for whatever you have in mind. If not, start one!"
The remaining pieces of advice were all gathered via the following Facebook thread:
5. MANAGE TIME WISELY
6. ACTIVELY SEEK OUT NEW FRIENDS
7. DON'T GIVE IN TO PROCRASTINATION
8. KEEP FOCUSED ON YOUR END GOAL
9. GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
10. GET STARTED ON READINGS RIGHT AWAY
11. LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR STRESS
12. KNOW THAT YOU'RE NOT ALONE
13. UNDERSTAND THAT EDUCATION IS MORE THAN A DEGREE
14. KNOW THAT STRESSING OUT IS HARMFUL, NOT HELPFUL
16. ALWAYS TRY YOUR BEST
17. STAY AFTER CLASS
18. TAKE QUALITY STUDY NOTES
19. PLAN YOUR SNACKS
20. JOIN A SPORTS TEAM
21. REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN