Are you a freshman at uOttawa? Are you having difficulties with where to start with your studies here in the Capital of Canada? If so, this is the article for you! The transition from high school to university can be a challenging feat if you are not prepared. A busy school schedule and a new environment can prove to be very stressful; hence, here are some useful tips to help you stay on top of your heavy workload to get you through your first year as a fellow Gee-Gee!
1. It is time to get organized
Becoming organized as soon as possible for the fall semester is essential to ensure a smooth transition into university. It is essential to have your course schedule in order; further, it is highly beneficial to take time to organize your class assignments and mark important dates and deadlines. It is very easy to fall behind; therefore, planning accordingly will keep you on the ball of things and keep your stress levels low! Try Google calendars to keep track of assignments and important deadlines or use a prompt app, such as Reminders to keep you updated on important dates.
2. Check out the new Virtual Hubs
Accessing the university’s student services, especially during COVID can seem like a daunting task; however, uOttawa has worked hard to create THREE new virtual hubs so that students are able to still access vital services online. Reach out and chat online with someone from The Wellness Hub, The Academic GPS, and/or The Career Corner, depending on what services you are wanting to seek out! Whether you are searching for mental health and wellness information, academic support, or wanting to hone your skills for your career aspirations, uOttawa has made every effort to bring these three Hubs online for all students to access. For more information, click on the following link: https://www.uottawa.ca/gazette/en/news/three-new-virtual-hubs-quickly-find-information-you-need
3. Take study breaks
There is a fine line between staying focus and overworking yourself; therefore, schedule in regular study breaks between allocated work blocks. For example, work for fifty minutes on your academics, then rest for ten minutes before starting the cycle again. This allows for your mind and body to relax and reset after uninterrupted, long work periods.
4. Minimize distractions
I am talking to you Smartphones and Tablets! Technology is continuously improving, thus also becoming one of the biggest distractors from work! Try switching your smartphone or tablet to ‘Silent Mode’ and only using it during your allocated study break. If you really want to challenge yourself, place your Smartphone or Tablet in another room or out of sight to keep you fully focused on the task at hand.
5. Ask for help!
A lot of students, especially First Year students, are scared to ask for help on assignments or lecture notes! Life is about learning, do not be afraid to ask for help because odds are someone else in your class is wondering the same thing you are. As university students, we are all here to not just improve our learning, but to improve ourselves!
6. Give yourself some ‘Me Time!’
If I could go back in time to my first year here at uOttawa, I would tell myself to rest and relax more often. This is the biggest transition in your life and it is draining mentally, physically, and emotionally. If there is one piece of advice I would give to all First Year Gee-Gees, it is to schedule in some ‘Me Time’; go out and do something fun, binge watch your favourite Netflix series, or treat yourself to a spa day. Take one day or at the very least, 6 hours off during the week to treat yourself.
7. Prioritize SLEEP!
Sleep not only improves your cognition, mood, and overall well-being, it improves your grades, too. Us university students are not meant to pull all-nighters to study for tomorrow’s midterm. Instead, university students are actually supposed to receive between 6-10 hours of sleep per night! Creating a healthy sleep routine now will help improve your health AND your grades.
8. Academic Support System
Do you want to improve your writing skills? Check out uOttawa’s Writing Help Centre to improve the formatting of your next paper. Need extra guidance on your class homework? Check out uOttawa’s mentoring centres according to your faculty to get the help you need and better your understanding. The university also provides an array of academic accommodations if necessary, as well as personal counselling. Follow this link to learn more: https://sass.uottawa.ca/en
9. Talk to an academic advisor in your discipline
The role that the academic advisor plays in your undergraduate degree is key. This is the person who will assist you in making big decisions about your degree, such as what you want to major and minor in, if you need to drop a course, future career possibilities, and most importantly, talking to about your GPA and CGPA. Keep in touch with an academic advisor throughout your undergrad to make sure you are on the right academic path. To find an advisor, visit your faculty web page and email your faculty undergraduate studies.
10. Have Fun!
University is not just about academic success, it is also about enjoying your time while you are here! While properly social distancing from your peers, get social and make friends, explore the downtown core in a safe manner, or pursue a new hobby! It is all about balance!