The First Week at University
How Can I Survive and Thrive?
Check Out Your Courses
You can better understand the expectations of your courses once you read the course syllabus or outlines and preview the textbooks. In the first week, before classes begin, log in to the learning system (Blackboard) on MyTrent to explore your courses.
Look at each course syllabus or outline carefully. This is not a document to quickly skim; give it your full attention. As you read, look for key information: How much reading is expected? What topics will be covered? When is the first lab or seminar? When are the assignments and exams due? What are the late policies? Be sure to attend the first lecture to learn more about the content of the course and the professor’s approach to the subject.
Note that you can change your course selection, but you will want to do it in the first or second week to avoid getting behind. Deadlines for making course changes are posted in the academic calendar. Furthermore, don’t wait too long to get your books, and pay attention to bookstore policies on ordering and returning texts and other course materials.
Trent is a very friendly place, built on a personal scale. Take advantage of this by seeking advice from as many people as you can. Ask second year students about courses and professors and talk to the professors themselves. You may find it helpful to consult an Academic Advisor if you have questions about your options in first year and beyond. The advising website includes many useful resources and information about booking advising appointments.
Explore the Campus
Learn the names and locations of buildings; check out the locations of all of your classes so you know where you are going when it’s time for class. Ask upper year students or university staff for directions if you need them. Review a map of campus to learn the names of buildings and to become familiar with helpful landmarks.
Be sure to get familiar with video conferencing software like Zoom and Google Meet and other digital tools you may use for your courses and student services.. Trent student accounts are Google accounts, so you have many tools at your disposal. Trent’s IT department offers a comprehensive list of useful technologies for remote learning.
Find a Place Where You Can Work
As soon as possible, stake out a physical space that meets your requirements. If you need isolation and quiet, look for that. If you need to be around people, search for that space. If you need food while you work, look around the cafeterias. Different people require different working conditions, so look for a place that offers what you need.
This advice is also important if you are learning remotely, which has its unique challenges. Where possible, try to make a space for your learning that is free from distractions. This might be challenging, however, so consider creative solutions such as wearing noise-cancelling earphones while you read or view lectures or working at times when roommates or family members are also working or studying (or sleeping). Watch our video on creating an environment for online learning.
Get to Know the Library
The library is the centre of the scholarly universe; it continually brings in new information and ideas and pumps them out again into the real world (libraries even call this activity circulation). Of course, material is available online via the library website and on the web at large. The library also houses many reference books, monographs, maps, government documents, archival materials and the expertise of trained librarians and researchers; you can contact librarians online to learn more about how to access these types of sources.
It is a good idea to learn how to use the library before you are required to complete research for your first assignments. The library provides excellent online library skills tutorials that are available through the library website.
Explore Support Options
Trent offers many support services at both the Peterborough and Durham-GTA campuses. Either online or in person, professional and student staff are committed to supporting you as you begin your time at university; take an opportunity to find out about the following:
- Student Accessibility Services
- Health Services
- First Peoples House of Learning
- Academic Skills
- Durham-GTA Student Supports and Services
- Peer Supports and Mentoring
The staff in these offices is committed to providing you with academic and emotional support as you make the transition to university. Do not be afraid to ask for help; indeed, asking for assistance early, before a situation has become critical, is a key way to survive and thrive!