Freshman year is a lot to handle. If you were my little sister or brother and just entering university, here are the things that I’d warn you about.
1. Junk food
The university offers a lot of meal options… the hard part is choosing the healthier ones. Make sure to have a balanced diet (man cannot live on meal replacements, cereal, and bacon alone…). You need to eat vegetables. Real ones.
Many people face this in their freshman year. Sometimes depression is triggered by the drastic life changes, sometimes it’s the stress of being in a new environment. You may find that your support network – parents, friends, boy/girlfriend – is distant or difficult to access.
Make sure to keep the lines of communication open with people whom you trust. And be open and honest.
If people don’t know you’re struggling, they can’t help you. Keep in mind that Glendon has counselling services in the manor that you can come to anytime. If you feel embarrassed about looking for counselling, don’t be. We all face hard times.
3. Lack of extra-curricular involvement
Many students miss out on getting involved in clubs and activities during the first few months of school. Then they mistakenly think that they’ve missed their chance entirely! It’s never too late to join clubs. Getting social isn’t just fun, it’s foundational for the rest of your university experience. The connections you make with friends, teachers, and staff can carry you through hard times, and even lesser struggles (e.g. looking for a place to crash overnight, getting a job reference, asking for lecture notes you missed).
4. Feeling trapped in a major
You always have a choice. Remember that. Many, many people change their major during their first, second, or even third year. Remain flexible with your program, plan ahead, and don’t feel pressured to stick with a degree that you’ve realized isn’t for you (I’m saying this from experience).
5. Being ignorant of campus services
York University has a ridiculous amount of programs, staff, and amenities
that can help you in almost every aspect of your life. Don’t miss out because you don’t know.
A final note: Don’t look at the potholes.
Although it’s good to know about these pitfalls, I think it’s better to focus on the positive in the long run. My driving instructor once told me “don’t look at the potholes… you’ll drive towards what you’re focusing on.” His point: focus your energies on where you want to be, rather than where you don’t want to be. That’s sound advice.
Ask yourself: What person do you want to become at the end of your degree? What career or lifestyle are you aiming for? What things do you value?
The earlier you start thinking about the end, the more prepared you’ll be when it comes.
Vision is a powerful thing.