Being a student at University is a lot of work! You hear everyone comment how hard it can be to read their textbooks every week, juggling multiple assignments like essays and research papers, the challenges of group work, and studying for midterms and finals… but what about making time for other fun-activities like sports, art, exercise, friends, family, TV, traveling, etc…? and what about making time for all the other things that come along when you’re an adult like doing groceries, cleaning your apartment, paying bills on time, having your oil changed, making appointments with the doctor, resolving service problems with your internet/cell phone/TV providers, etc… Well I warn you that it isn’t easy!!!! But it gets easier over time. Honestly, one of my favourite things about growing up is that you get really good, really quickly, at balancing a busy schedule. You can go as far as you dare to in life as long as you work hard for it. University is your chance to become disciplined and learn those life skills that will help make your dreams happen.
For my first two years at Nipissing University I worked as a Keyholder at West 49 and this year as a GEN1 Peer Facilitator for the GEN1 First in the Family program. There are pros and cons to working on and off campus. The university is really good at working around your school schedule and for the most part, you get weekends and reading week off. However, some students might prefer to work a lot during reading week or they might find that weekend shifts fit better in their schedules. What really matters though, is putting your school work first!
If you decide to work on the side or not, try to hang around campus as much as you can anyway! It’s easy to get into the habit of spending little time on campus but you shouldn’t do this. You can be incredibly productive doing homework at the school or in the library, and you also meet up with a lot of other students or professors from your classes. When I spent too much time at home, I found it way too easy to forget about the work I should be doing and become a bit anti-social. A good way to avoid this is to pay for a locker on campus so you can bring a lunch, put your coat away and drop off a few textbooks. Also, surround yourself by students who have similar study habits and who love being a student too. The importance of networking while you’re in school can’t be stressed enough! Take this opportunity to get involved in some extra-curricular activities like volunteering for student run groups or join a sports team to build a strong social and professional network.
One of the best things about university is the freedom to do schoolwork when it works for you. If you’re a morning person, or a night person, or you have something planned for the weekend… you can decide when to do what. But fighting that procrastination bug is key… You’re not in class for the entire day so the freedom to schedule your day as you please can be tricky. If you don’t use your time wisely, you can get overwhelmed very quickly. I still get frustrated when it seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything I need done, but at the end of the day I feel very proud of what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. Hopefully you can to!
In my first year, it was a very interesting transition from working full-time for a few years after high-school to being a full-time student. I felt like I had a lot more free time in a day because the average total in-class hours is only about 15 a week (compared to my 50 hour work-weeks). But school is about a lot more than just attending those mandatory lectures and labs, it’s about taking 100% responsibility for your success in each class. Homework is just the tip of the iceberg; reviewing your notes and reading the textbook prior to every lecture, using external resources like tutors, the academic skills centre and library resources, and getting study groups organized and more, are all things that you are accountable for. Your education is yours, and yours alone! So remember when the course load picks up, there’s no time for procrastination!