Textbooks are expensive, this is not new news. Now don’t get any ideas, this is not me telling you to torrent all your textbooks off an illegal website but rather to be smart about your purchases. For most courses, you will only need the textbook for one or two nights, aka when you will be making notes for a certain chapter that you need for the test (which is the next day). Instead of forking over $180 on the newest edition, make sure you absolutely need that one or better yet consider settling for a previous edition. I suggest first going to class where the prof will let you know if the text is even required or “suggested”. If it is, INITIATE BARGAINING. Most likely your school will have a website where you can buy and sell used textbooks, allowing you to snag the best deals (check Facebook). Mission Accomplished. To take this step even further you can also spilt the textbook with a friend. Also be sure to sell your old no longer needed textbooks to an eager student the next year. If you don’t manage to sell these quick enough you will be doomed with updated versions turning your textbook into an expensive paper weight.
Study Smart not Hard
Don’t be that person who spends 10 hours doing every single practice question for every class. That method WILL prepare you the best, but in the long run you will end up burning yourself out. It is important that you prioritize by focusing more on assignments and tests that are worth more of your mark. You should make it a habit to attend EVERY lecture and make detailed notes on what the teacher talks about. This will better prepare you by enabling you to focus on what content the course will be tested on instead of studying an entire chapter. More importantly attend review lectures for hinted exam questions and remember to sit in the same spot most classes so the teacher can recognize you (because you ask such amazing questions….right?). Studies have proven that sitting in the middle and front (T- shaped) is proven to improve class attention and note taking so make sure you sit in those spots! It is also very beneficial to make friends in your classes, but be sure that they share the same goals as you. Knowing someone in the class allows you to get notes if you miss class and gives you an advantage if there are ever group projects. But beware of sharply dressed students with Hipster glasses, they may appear to be helpful at first, however they may end up to be free loaders…shoot I just revealed my identity.
Family & Friends mean EVERYTHING
Moving away from your family and friends can be hard but you will adapt to the new changes…..eventually. Everyone always promises to stay best friends forever but the hard truth is that you can’t stay friends with everyone, as you grow up, you meet more people and aren't able to hold on to everyone. This does not mean you weren't BFFL’s, but rather that life forces you to grow up (so I keep telling myself). It took me an entire year and switching my program to find the right group of friends who had the same goals and dreams as me. It is important that you constantly evaluate your ambitions and only keep people in your life who love and support you, forget the haters! With that being said, it is in every students’ best interest to keep a strong relationship with their family. Everyone is busy, but it is important that you remember to make time for the people that really matter, whether a phone call or a visit, make sure they know you’re okay and that you love them.
Marks aren't Everything
Coming into post-secondary school I had the mindset of getting the perfect 4.0 GPA and to focus all my energy into my studies. When the first midterm marks came back I had not gotten the perfect score I had dreamed of, only an average mark. Months passed and my goal of getting that perfect GPA faded further and further away. But not getting that perfect mark should not discourage you (or any future career plans). If there is one thing I have learned in my first year it’s that you have to persevere. It is important that when school is not going your way you don’t give up, you always have options (talk to a guidance counselor, they don’t bite!). There are days when you might not get the marks you are hoping for but failure is the best way to learn and move forward. Take each course as a learning experience that keeps coming every year except harder and harder. Thankfully, after having done research into this whole grades dilemma and talking with industry professionals, marks are not the be all and end all. Most firms are looking for well-rounded individuals so if you are a student hovering around the C/B average don’t stress, work hard and you’ll be more prepared than ever. I’m not saying marks don’t matter; try your hardest and if that doesn't work don’t be discouraged. Soft-skills and involvement on campus are also just as important in the real world so make sure to get started early!
Get Involved, but know your limit
As cliché as it sounds, getting involved in after school activities will allow you to enjoy your post-secondary experience the most. It’s a great way to get in touch with people outside of your program and to see what interests you. It’s also a great way to try different activities, who knows you might learn you are a natural archer. Make sure that you take risks and step outside your comfort zone, how else will you ever know what you’re missing! I chose to get involved in clubs outside of my faculty to learn more about transferable skills that can be used in every field. Organizations such as DECA U, JDCC and McMaster Believe 4 Kids, etc. help build multiple facets of your professional skills, such as public speaking, networking and problem solving. Clubs are located all over your campus and I feel everyone should take initiative to join at least one club.
Remember to be your own person and to not follow the crowd! First year I saw way too many of my friends fall victim to the trap of peer pressure doing things to “fit in” or justify their actions by saying “everyone does it”. This doesn’t have to be the case for you. Be true to yourself and eventually the rest will fall into place. These are meant to be the best 4 years of your life, so don’t be too stressed, save that for your work life.
This blog post was written by Bukhtar Khan, a 3rd year Honours Commerce student at McMaster University.