Tips and Tricks for University Success

Throughout most of my early childhood and most of my teenage years I was anything but a productive student. I was just barely scraping by with passing grades, putting forth the bare minimum amount of effort and aside from that I was not the healthiest or active kid out there. I’ve been attending post-secondary education for nearly three years now, and throughout the past four years I have learned many tricks to make learning a relaxing, enjoyable and rewarding experience. I’ve learnt how to draw a line between maintaining a healthy lifestyle and acquiring the grades that you want.

In my first year of post-secondary education I attended college, with a course load of six classes per semester, and a part-time job. To throw caution to the wind my commute to school was roughly an hour and a half going one way. It was very difficult to do, especially since I disliked my program. So my first piece of advice is to manage ones’ time – it is impossible to pile on an excess amount of courses, keep a part-time job, join a bunch of clubs, and go to the gym daily while also commuting long distances. Make a list of things you are interested in, but also make a list with a maximum amount of activities you can handle.

If you have two jobs, live thirty minutes off campus and maintain a full course load than you’ll have to pick and choose from which clubs or extracurriculars you can be involved with. However, if you’re a part-time student and live in residence with only one job, then you can handle a variety of different things. It’s important to keep your mind active but to not overexert yourself; so as a student you can plan accordingly. Over time you can get better at managing things and slowly add on more if you feel you can handle it. University isn’t easy, but is it manageable and it is crucial that you lower your workload if you feel it is unmanageable.

When it comes to studying I love to turn on a fan, a heater (or anything that generates background noise), light a candle, close my door and just lie down in my bed and read. A clear mind is an absolute necessity in order to interpret what you’re reading, and even if it’s difficult to enjoy the reading, I find these rituals keep my mind engaged in the content so I can retain the information.

When it comes to maintaining my health I consider it nearly just as important as my grades, but it is still second to me. Attending the gym daily, or at least 4 – 5 times a week is something that I find helps me not only feel great but perform much more effectively in school. Not only does it reduce my stress, but it also keeps my brain working much more efficiently. Eating right goes hand in hand with the gym; which is something to be remembered. Plenty of vegetables, proteins, fruits and nuts are a great idea. I personally love freezing grapes since they taste great that way, but also take a long time to eat so you don’t binge. Putting sweet potatoes in the microwave for five minutes will cook them much faster if you’re strapped for time. By eating healthier I save tons of money and I also feel better about myself. I feel more comfortable in my body and have less stress because I feel more confident. Confidence enables me to work harder, but also encourages socializing. Socializing is another key tip for University success since it is important to find great people who will always be there for you. People that will listen to you, cheer you on and make you feel accepted is an incredible thing. If you’re very shy you can break out of your comfort zone, believe me I’ve done it. There are always people out there who you can connect with, so it’s beneficial to find them.

Keeping your workload to a level that you can handle is essential, but always remember that staying on top of readings, attending the gym while eating right and staying socially active are all key ingredients to being a healthy student. Stay confident, be optimistic, avoid negative people and don’t overstrain yourself; you’re not Superman … or Superwoman. If you’re attending Nipissing though, there is a good chance that you are.

Shane Dunstall
2nd year Business Administration