Dear First Year Student: The DOs and DONTs of University

I graduated from university a few years ago and am now pursuing higher education. While I’m definitely not the perfect student (is there even such a thing), I have learned a bit about the DOs and DONTs of university that I want to share with you.

1. Taking regular breaks is so important! Don’t try to power through five hours of reading in one sitting – university is a marathon, not a sprint. Try the 50-10 rule. Set a timer for 50 minutes and spend that time working towards a goal with no interruptions, then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this to take a break and recharge.

2. Take advantage of the little breaks you find between classes. Use this time to catch up on work, review course notes or preview slides for the next lecture. It can be easy to go back to your residence during an hour gap and convince yourself that you’ll be productive, but it turns out that is usually a guilt-filled journey into the depths of Instagram every time.

3. The library isn’t the only place to study on campus. You might like empty classrooms. Coffee shops in town might also provide some inspiration, and get you out of the campus bubble for a bit when you’re working on daunting papers.

4. It’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes. When you’re surrounded by other students, it can be tempting to accept every invitation and spread yourself too thin. Know your limits and learn to politely decline some invitations. Your friends will understand. They are probably in the same boat and often wish they had the courage to say the same thing. Catch up with them next time, it’ll be much more enjoyable if you spend time with friends as a reward after you’ve finished your work.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who are so willing to help you (it’s their job!) – your CAs, professors, StFX Student Success Centre, StFX Health and Counselling Centre, Student Life and so many more. It will make your journey at StFX so much smoother!



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