This is your first step into adulthood. It’s a big step, and a step you should be proud of, even if your legs tremble along the way. University is daunting for most. With the media portraying University as an endless social scene of frat parties, sorority bitches, drunk teens, and drugs galore, it can seem a little overwhelming at first.
The media’s been lying to you. Contrary to what modern media wants you to believe, University is not a nine-month long party. Everyone’s not banging like rabbits. Drugs aren’t being passed around like Tic-Tacs. There aren’t cliques. No one’s really screwing the professor.
That’s right, your university experience does not necessarily revolve around participation in social scenes. It can be, if those are the types of people you associate with and what you enjoy, but most students aren’t there solely for partying purposes.
Frat and sorority parties aren’t that big of a deal. You’re under no obligation to attend, and very rarely will people judge you for your choice to stay home in a onesie and catch up on Game of Thrones.
You’re not going to be an outcast if you don’t party or drink. Especially if you surround yourself with people who respect your choices. On another note, if you find yourself around people who pressure, guilt or taunt you to doing something that you are not comfortable doing [whether it be drinking, smoking, doing drugs, or having sex], gather your confidence and break ties with these people. You deserve to have friends who support your decisions, and respect you enough to accept your boundaries.
Not to mention that the next four years of your life will be much happier with friends that you genuinely like, and who genuinely like you!
Your roommate may or may not be your best friend. And that’s okay. It may be a major downer if your roommate is the definition of a slob, or a capital B-I-T-C-H, but it’s not the end of the world.
Most students despise their roommates with the fire of a thousand suns, but there are also lots of students who form amazing friendships with their roomies. In the worst case scenario, you may be forced to find friendships outside of your dorm room. It may be with floor-mates, or in your extracurriculars, and you may find people in the same predicament as you.
Sometimes you hit it off really well with your roommate, but there is a possibility that the friendship dwindles once you two stop seeing each other 24/7.
Don’t stress about being movie-esque best friends or not — it’ll be over in a few months.
Leave your door open. It’s the infamous university myth that leaving your door open will help you make friends, and there may in fact be some truth to it. A well decorated room, a poster from your favourite fandom or artist, or some killer music, can encourage a passerby to duck their heads in and start up a conversation.
An open door could indicate that you’re home and available for studying or talking. You may even find yourself invited to some floor-restricted activities that you otherwise may not have known were going on.
Find something within your comfort zone. Do you like writing? Photography? Dancing? If so, take the step to join a club. You’ll be surrounded by people who have at least one thing in common with you. It’ll be a reason to get out of your room and your own head, not to mention open up other opportunities for social connections.
I know that stepping into a room full of strangers can be very daunting — especially for socially anxious people — but most clubs have an ice-breaker day that helps get you acquainted and settled.
Your grades are going to drop. Sometimes they’re gonna drop dramatically. Don’t panic — it’s common and it happens to everyone. Most people are taken aback when they realize their above-average grades in high school takes a tumble into a 60% average. I repeat: don’t panic.
The hard truth is that high-school grades are terribly inflated, and a high-school 90% may be a university 60%. Not only is inflation a factor, but you’re also placed in a 500 student classroom with students at the same intelligence level. The bar is set higher, and you’re no longer getting brownie points for handing something half-assed in.
Don’t panic. Talk to your professors as much as possible (it’s not a sin to email them constantly), and seek advice from TAs about your work. By second year, you’ve got the basics and your grades will most likely begin to rise again.
Don’t skip class. Not unless you absolutely have to. Some professors are very anal about attendance, and some don’t put everything into their online notes. Show up, even if you end up sitting there on Tumblr (which I also don’t recommend).
Get a calendar. There are a lot of dates you’re going to need to remember. It’s better to write it all down in one place than have to jump between syllabuses to figure out when something’s due. A missed quiz or exam may seriously impact your marks. Don’t take the gamble that your ‘chill’ professor will give you an extension.
Get a portable charger and always keep your laptop charger on hand. Portable phone chargers are a must-have, especially with back-to-back classes and your commute music draining the battery. Keep your laptop charger as well. You’ll be surprised how quickly a laptop will die in a 3-hour note-intensive lecture.
Bring snacks to class. Everyone’s tired, and everyone’s hungry. Stay ahead of the curve with a non-crunchy snack or even a container of food. However, for the love of everything good in this world, do not bring anything crunchy or smelly.
Learn emergency numbers. Put your RA’s number into your phone, along with the numbers to campus police and emergency response team. No one knows what might happen, and it always pays to be prepared.
Do basic research on medical techniques. Learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver and handle seizures. Whether you’re a party-bug or not, learn how to handle intoxicated people and understand the signs of alcohol poisoning. Knowing the difference between drunkenness and being drugged can save a person’s life. Be someone’s saviour — learn how to protect yourself and others.
You are not alone. Don’t torture yourself with worrying that you’ll be an outcast. Thousands of students, just like you, are being thrown headfirst out of high-school and into university. They’re just as terrified as you are. Some may just be waiting on someone to break the ice, and that could be you. You’d be amazed at the results!
First things first, University is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. Everyone’s grappling to find a place and a friend, even the once popular high-school kids. Everyone feels alone sometimes, and most people experience the overwhelmingness of leaving their comfort zone. University, however, is a massive community. Everyone’s looking out for everyone else.
Leave your high-school woes at the door. Here, you’re not the weird looking nerd or the shy kid. No one knows who you are — and this means it’s your opportunity to be the most confident version of yourself. Be genuine, and you will undoubtably attract friends.
Most importantly, you are not alone in this.
Photo credit to University of Western Ontario.