7 things newbies will learn at college or university


When I started my first year of college in September 2016, I thought the transition from my small high school in the country would be extremely difficult. I was afraid for such a drastic change in my life. Not long after, I realized there was nothing to be afraid of.

While attending college and university you will learn a lot about yourself and life in general. For fresh-from-high-school students, these lessons can be extremely eye-opening. Here is a list of seven things newbie students will definitely, maybe, learn:

1. It’s okay to not have your life figured out yet.

Students are pressured into making one of the biggest decisions of their lives at age 17 and 18. Yet at that age they’re still asking their high school teachers for permission to go to the washroom.

Even once students apply to a post-secondary school, not many of them actually know for sure if they have made the right decision.

Then they start college or university and may love their program, but sometimes still have no idea what path they are going to take once graduation comes.

Despite how high schools portray students’ uncertainty in a negative way, it is okay to not have your life figured out yet.

Third-year psychology student at the University of Ottawa, Destiny Sanderson, strongly believes there is no reason to feel pressured to know exactly what we want at such a young age.

“I’m 20. I barely know what I’m going to do this weekend, let alone when I’m 40. I’ve got time,” said Sanderson. “As long as I come away from a semester happy, I consider it a win.”

2. No one will call your parents if you don’t show up to class – but you should still go. Really.

Students are often afraid of skipping class because they don’t want their parents to find out. They knew that if they were late or absent they would get that call home: “A student in your household…”

In college and university, students have complete freedom to come and go as they wish. There is no discipline if they skip class, so a lot of them think it’s no big deal. However, it can still have some negative consequences on students’ education.

First-year travel and tourism student at Algonquin College, Amanda Guindon finds it easy to miss her classes.

“If you decide not to go to class one day no one is going to tell on you,” said Guindon. “On the downside you are paying so much to go to school now and you would miss a lot.”

3. You’re probably going to buy your lunch even if you tell yourself you won’t (and even pack a perfectly good lunch from home).

Let’s face it. You are a student. Can any of you really afford to buy your lunch everyday? Probably not.

Instead, you pack a lunch and leave the house proud of yourself for not spending money.

Then lunchtime comes around and you start to compare your packed lunch to the food you can buy on campus.

Second-year Carleton University journalism student, Emily Wilson tends to find that two dollar slice of pizza irresistible more often than not.

“Deciding what to eat for lunch can be one of the most fluctuating decisions,” said Wilson. “But what else would college be without questioning decisions and pondering your choices, even if it’s just about what you want to eat.”

4. Coffee is even MORE essential than before.

As soon as kids are finally old enough to drink coffee, most of them jump at the opportunity. However, not many people can say they loved coffee after their first cup. So they give it another shot and probably don’t enjoy that cup either. Then finally, students tend to find their love for caffeine in high school. Although, it’s still not an everyday thing.

Once students reach post secondary, coffee becomes essential for many. You eventually can’t even remember what it’s like to not have caffeine or how you even functioned day by day.

Second-year biomedical and electrical engineering student at Carleton University, Adam Rocco needs coffee to help him stay focused.

“I hardly ever drank coffee in high school, it wasn’t necessary,” said Rocco. “You hardly even know what tired is until you’ve been to university.”

5. You have to take your homework seriously.

If you were to look back on high school, would you see yourself spending late nights doing every last bit of homework you ever received?

What about cramming for every quiz you ever had?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re probably lying. If you said no, congratulations. You’re just like every other student.

Many students tend to neglect their homework and its importance in elementary school and high school. It definitely doesn’t take long to realize you cannot get away with this in college and university.

First-year practical nursing student Bailey Holder recognizes that homework is essential to meet her goals while attending school.

“Homework sucks but it’s really important for our future and needs to be done,” said Holder. “If you never actually do any of it yourself, you won’t learn what you need to succeed.”

6. Group projects are one of the scariest things about college.

High-school-you is sitting in your desk.

The teacher introduces a new project for the class. You try and listen to the instructions but are too focused on hoping they’ll say to work in groups. You even look at your best friend and give them that look while gesturing for them to be your partner.

Group projects meant more fun and less work back then.

As we get older, students’ opinion on them seem to change. Group projects can be one of the scariest things in college. A huge percentage of your mark is based on the level of cooperation from your teammates.

Second-year psychology student at Carleton University, Katrina Kozij finds group projects quite terrifying.

“In high school you love them because you get to work with your friends,” said Kozij. “In university and college however, you could be paired with complete strangers and have no idea what their work ethic is like.”

7. You CAN do this.

Your first day at a new school is scary. Your first day at college and university is terrifying.

New people, bigger turf and no clue where your classes are.

The atmosphere itself is intimidating enough. To add to it, a lot of students fear how hard it will be and how much work it will be.

They doubt their abilities and whether or not they are fit for this level of education.

College is hard, university is hard but you CAN do this.

First-year nursing student at the University of Ottawa, Nicky Berthelet was afraid to start university because of how she had perceived it her whole life.

“It’s easy to get overwhelmed but it’s essential to focus on one thing at a time,” said Berthelet. “Which will ultimately allow you to stay on top of your assignments. Believe in your capabilities.”



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