8 Tips to Help you Succeed in First Year

By Tess Campbell Modified on August 03, 2021

The best tricks for how to have a successful first year.

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Your first year in university or college is one filled with excitement, nerves, stress, and fun. This is the year where you start to find out who you are as a student as you take a more independent role in your learning.

To make your first year a successful one, check out these 8 tips!

1. Go to orientation

Orientation week is the perfect opportunity to make connections, learn the layout of campus, join clubs, and have fun.

Embrace the activities and get to know your home for the next few years. You’ll find that participating starts your post-secondary career off on a strong start. You’ll meet so many people immediately and those will be good connections to have as the year begins.

2. Attend your classes and do the readings

The best way you can be a successful student is to put in the work. The first step to success is simply showing up. Even if the professor posts his notes and slides online, you should still attend the classes. Often, professors will cover topics in more depth than their slides and use that information for their exam questions. This is the same for readings. They were assigned for a reason and that content will be used for midterms and exams. Don’t leave all the readings until the end, or else it will feel overwhelming. Stay on top of your work.

3. Ask for help

Just because post-secondary school is meant to be more of an independent learning than high school doesn’t mean that you can’t get the support you need. Your school wants you to succeed and they have the resources available to help you.

There are many resources such as academic advising, mental health advising, writing centres, and tutoring that are available to you.

One resource that is often neglected but is extremely valuable is your professors’ office hours. Every professor sets aside time to talk to their students and answer questions, but often their offices remain empty of students. This is the perfect time to get to know your professor, make a connection that will be beneficial later, and get any questions answered.

4. Make connections

University is the perfect place to make connections that will help you while in school and later in life. You should have someone in every class that you can study with, and grab notes from in case you’re sick.

These connections you make in classes and on campus will be a great link for you in clubs, sports, and activities.

These connections can be students and professors which will help you after graduation. A large part of finding a job is through your connections, and the more you have, the more successful you’ll be.

5. Create a schedule

Creating and maintaining a schedule and routine are key factors to staying on top of your work. Having a visual aid for your deadlines, projects, meetings, and social activities helps you delegate your time more efficiently and ultimately be more productive.

Don’t forget to also schedule some breaks into your routine to avoid burnout and stress.

6. Make sure to take breaks and enjoy yourself

University is a time to explore who you are as an independent individual. Take the time to find new interests of yours and have fun!

You need to find a healthy balance of school and socializing. Only focusing on school can negatively impact your mental health, but only partying will negatively impact your grades and status as a student.

7. Explore courses outside of your program

Part of the benefit of university is that you get to explore a variety of courses and programs outside of your major. This helps you gain a more rounded education, and you can find new topics that you enjoy. Who knows, you may end up loving a program and minoring in it as well!

8. Get off campus

Your school may seem like your entire world while you’re there, but this is the perfect opportunity to explore the city your school is in. This is your new home for the next little bit. Going off campus can help you find great study spaces and cute coffee shops.

If you’re living in residence for your first year, then this gives you the opportunity to check out the neighbourhoods nearby where you may be living next year.


Remember, first year is your time to figure out who you are and what you want. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone!


Check out how to get involved on campus!

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