This feature edition of the Manitoban serves as a survival guide for new and returning students at the University of Manitoba.
To alleviate anxieties and provide general insight about university student life, the Manitoban’s editorial team has compiled some snippets of advice. Read. Ask questions. Get involved. Make friends. Remain critical. Be practical. That basically sums it up, but tease through our tips to find out what some of our editors have learned or wished they would have implemented over the course of their own university experiences.
The down-low from Dana
Ask questions about coursework in class. Chances are that you are not the only one wondering, but be mindful of hogging the floor. You are not an expert, and your colleagues are not paying for and attending post-secondary education to hear your opinions and potentially ill-informed inquiries.
Sometimes it is best to contact your instructor outside of class for direction on coursework. You are not expected to be an expert, either, so try to remain relaxed while reasonably prepared and on point with your questions.
Don’t expect immediate responses from instructors. They may have anywhere from a few to 300 pupils in a similar position as you, on top of various other work and research-related commitments, and – surprise – a life outside of the academy.
Seek help as issues arise. Procrastination and panic are normal, but can be averted.
Invest in a backpack. Look for a spacious separate main compartment, sizeable additional zippered partitions, comfortable, adjustable shoulder straps, and chest and waist straps to take the weight off of your shoulders.
Don’t worry too much about grades, even if you have scholarships that depend on them. Spend your time at school learning as much as you can and the grades will take care of themselves.
Read outside of class. Read widely both inside and outside your chosen field. Today’s university doesn’t offer a liberal education. If you want to be a well-rounded person, you have to become one on your own time.
Get to know people with similar interests. If you weren’t very social in high school, it’s probably because you didn’t like the people that surrounded you. You’re more likely to find friends at university.
If you’re not doing a professional degree (law, business, engineering, education) don’t expect your degree will give you much of a leg up in the job market. Study what you can’t not study, or else switch to a professional program or drop out.
Lauren lays it out
Get involved. It’s way too easy to get so wrapped up in studying that you forget there’s a world outside of your textbook.
Take a break; grab a beer (or five) with some friends; talk to the person who you always sit beside in class; read a book that you actually want to read. Get out there, experience more, and try to enjoy yourself.
It’s okay to skip class to go out for breakfast or sleep in every once in a while. Your GPA is not the be-all and end-all of your university career, nor is it the deciding factor for potential employers. Grades lower than you were hoping for happen. Suck it up and move forward.
I really wish I had known how to effectively use any spares or blank spots in my schedule when I first enrolled in university.
You may have just started your post-secondary education, and so have many of your friends from high school and elsewhere. Even if you’re in different faculties or programs, you’re all bound to spend many days on campus simultaneously. My advice is this: think twice about trying to find one another during your spares. Especially on a campus the size of the University of Manitoba, you’ll spend much more time looking and walking around than actually socializing.
Grab a beer or a coffee on campus, or invite your buddies over to hang at the end of the day. The hour or two you might have to yourself in between classes is best used studying or working, so you won’t have to when the day is truly done.
Do not waste this period in your life. While you may feel that you are automatically on the path to success by the sheer fact that you are a university student, that is the wrong attitude. Resolve to engage with the university community and to discover what you are passionate about.
A university degree is not a ticket to a good job and your professors are not baby-sitters. You are here to learn and to work, so take it seriously.
Forget about “C’s get degrees.” Good grades pay dividends. Nothing comes easy. More often than not, you will fail. But keep learning, asking questions and debating with professors and colleagues. Regardless of all the late night parties and myriad distractions, hard work and intellectual discovery is why you are here. These four years can either act as a solid foundation to a good life, or they can haunt you with regret, so put down the king can and crack the books!
Chantelle chimes in
Making friends might feel difficult in your first year. Don’t feel bad if you go through an entire semester and haven’t made a new friend. Everyone is sort of scared, awkward, and wants to stick with their high school pals.
The best way I’ve found to meet people and make friends is by volunteering or joining a student group. There are many opportunities on campus that cater to a wide variety of interests and experiences. Find one that interests you and join. If you don’t feel like you fit in right away, don’t feel discouraged. A lot of groups have an established social dynamic, but with time you’ll fit in, too.
Many of my closest friends on campus I met through student groups and volunteer opportunities. They are part of what has made my university experience so enjoyable.
Real talk from Mike
If you’re struggling, whether that be mentally or emotionally, and don’t feel comfortable talking to any of your friends or your parents, I would highly suggest checking out the U of M’s student counselling centre. It’s located at 474 University Centre and is totally free to U of M students due to fees you pay in your tuition. The people there are great and really help make you feel comfortable talking about whatever is on your mind. I didn’t go there until my third year and I really wish I had used its services earlier. It’s a great asset to have on campus.