The First Term at University
How Can I Survive and Thrive?
Study Throughout the Term
Leaving your studying to the night before the exam is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Instead, spread your studying out over the whole term. The easy way to do this is to preview the reading before each lecture, review the lecture notes as soon as possible after each lecture, and review the previous week’s notes before the next lecture. Not only will this make cramming for exams unnecessary, but it will help you to fit the lecture and reading material into a “whole” and give the course shape in your mind, something which will also help you write your papers, participate in class, and make reading less daunting. The more often you read and re-read the material, the more sense it will make and the more useful it will become.
Review Your Progress and Adjust Your Plan
Keep an eye on your grades for assignments, quizzes, and exams. You may receive grades that are lower than you expect; many first-year students experience a decline in their grades from high school, so don’t panic. Review any feedback you receive from your professors, and consider how you can adjust your work habits. Also, keep some perspective: everything has its short-term ups and downs. If you see a pattern of poor grades through the term, don’t hesitate to talk to your course professor, meet with an academic skills instructor, or seek out academic advising.
Seek Help When You Need It
Too many students make the mistake of thinking that they are in this alone. They are not, and you are not. Trent has numerous sources of support for students in need: Professors can be reached during office hours and by email. Academic Advisors and the Careerspace counsellors and staff can help with understanding majors and goal setting. Student Accessibility Services support students' access to accommodations for disabilities; Health Services and Counselling provide personal help; and, of course, Academic Skills instructors can help with reading, writing, math, and listening skills. There are also various peer supports available to you as you navigate your new experiences at university.
Ask around. The help is probably there: you just need to find it.
You can survive and thrive at university
Much research exists from psychology and education to suggest that student achievement cannot be solely predicted by previous performance or ability; rather it is the attitude of a student which is more closely linked to success at university. This means your approach to school, your willingness to participate and seek out assistance or advice, and your openness to ideas all affect how well you do in your studies.
The events of the past few years have been unprecedented, and we have learned valuable lessons about patience, resilience, and adaptability. These are lessons that undergraduates often learn in their first year of studies at university, so you are already well equipped! Our final pieces of advice to support you in your first term at university:
- Find ways to be an engaged student and member of the Trent community this year – join in-person or virtual events hosted by your college, your department, or a club that represents your interests.
- Know that adjusting to a new learning and social environment takes time and everyone experiences this adjustment differently. Show yourself the same compassion you would show others.