You are leaving home for possibly the first time, settling into dorm rooms in new cities and getting started in your first week of classes. I’ve been there, and I know it’s an overwhelming mix of excitement and nerves. I want to tell you a few things that may calm you down a little bit (hopefully).
Firstly, university (depending on your course) is easier than high school. You attend each class likely once a week, your assignments are few and far between and you have LOADS of on-campus resources to help you if you feel your marks aren’t where you’d like them to be. A majority of profs are super understanding (especially to first years) and if you need an extension because you have a lot due around the same time, or because you just need an extra day to hand in something of substance – just ask for it. Seriously, you don’t need a big excuse about how a family member is ill or some far off thing, you just need to ask. It’s insane how many profs will say yes without doctor’s notes or any questions asked. And if they say no, then they say no, that’s that.
Secondly, all the fear mongering your high school teachers did about university was (again mainly) false. You aren’t going to fail an assignment if you hand in something late. Yes, some profs are more strict than others, but I’m in my fourth year of schooling and most my profs have a 2-5% off for every day your assignment is late. Again, it varies, but make sure to read your syllabus’s carefully because the penalties may not be as bad as you think!
Thirdly, you’re going to have SO much fun! The friends I made in first year are still my best friends to this day. Today I said goodbye to my best friend Chloe, whom I met in res, as she’s off to London, England for her masters. It’s so important to get out of your comfort zone, attend events you maybe wouldn’t, and put yourself out there, you may end up meeting some of the most important people of your life.
And lastly. Everyone wants you to succeed. I know there will be days when you’ll be up late in your dorm, the weight of the world may be on your shoulders, you have more readings to do than you can keep up with, you feel like you’re missing time with your friends or haven’t called your parents recently enough. But I promise everyone around you understands or has been there themselves. Your profs want you to succeed, the departments on campus want you to succeed, your friends and family want you to succeed. You have so many people rooting for you so when you feel like you can no longer root for yourself, remember the little army of people you have behind you.
Wait, one more thing. I want you to know that it’s ok to mess up and that it’s ok to change your mind. My path through education has been a bumpy one, and although I’ve spent more time on it than maybe I would have liked, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I started in uni, switched and finished a program in college, and now I’m back at uni finishing my last year and I’m applying for more schooling this winter haha. It’s been a twisted path but it’s my path and it took me a while to figure out what I really wanted to do, but that’s ok, and it’s ok for you too. You may do badly, or even fail a course, but you can re-do it. If you switch your major, take a year off, go to college instead, anything – it’s all ok. Just remember that everyone will have a different path and to focus on you and only you.
So just remember: have fun, study hard, take advantage of all the opportunities your high school or home town may have not been able to offer you, keep in touch with your old friends but enjoy making new ones, don’t forget to call your mum every once in a while, and don’t worry about stupid things like the freshman 15, enjoy your time as a fresher because you only really get to do it once.