5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting University
CapU Student Ambassador, Niko Williamson, shares her experiences as a first-year student.
My name is Niko Williamson, and I'm a second-year student at Capilano University. I remember the weeks leading up to my first semester and I was so nervous. Starting your post-secondary journey can be scary, but it's also exciting. It's the start of a new phase of life and there are a lot of new things to become familiar with, and I'm here to share some of those with you.
It's also important to remember that at CapU, there will be always someone who's happy to help you navigate this new phase of life.
1) Creating a sense of connection
On my first day of university, I was so anxious. I wasn't sure what to expect and I felt alone. I started my university journey right as classes were being taught in person again and it seemed like everyone was afraid to talk to each other. So I took the initiative to reach out on the class group chat and make a study group.
We established a decent sized study group with people who would regularly attend, and we all became friends. Reaching out to people, taking opportunities when presented, and accepting invitations are great ways to feel connected to the university community.
Also, there are plenty of events that Capilano University and the Capilano Students' Union (CSU) organize to create community connections. Our volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams, CSU clubs, CSU organized hikes, and student affairs led events such as paint nights and wellness Wednesdays are all examples of spaces to connect with other students.
2) Get involved in student governance
There are many opportunities through the Capilano Students' Union to get involved and have your voice heard. There have been times in my life when I felt my voice didn't matter and that there was nothing I could do. Through student governance at the Capilano Students' Union, I've found a space where my voice and opinions matter, and I can impact meaningful change for social issues I care about.
This year, I ran and was elected to be the Capilano Students' Unions Women Students' Liaison and I have learned so much in a short time. The opportunities include running for the annual Student Union elections, joining a committee, as well as volunteering and job opportunities. The CSU's board of directors can also be addressed by any student at the biweekly meetings to bring attention to the issues that matter to you.
3) Capilano Students' Union insurance policy
If you pay CSU fees, you're covered under the CSU insurance policy. We have an on-campus medical and dental that is free for students.
The CSU student insurance covers prescription drugs, vaccinations, psychologists, massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, naturopaths, osteopaths, podiatrists/chiropodists, speech therapists, eye exams, and eyeglasses. We also have on-campus counselling that has drop-in hours.
4) What is the Learning Commons?
Here at Capilano University, we have something called the Learning Commons located in the library. It's a great resource to get one-on-one help from professors and peer tutors. It's staffed by professors from the English, Writing, and Math departments.
How the Learning Commons works is simple. There's a sign-in sheet where you write your name, and wait for one of the professors or peer tutors to call you. This resource helped me a lot when I was first learning university level writing.
5) Finding your way around campus
On my first day of classes in my first semester, I struggled to find where my classes were because I didn't understand the abbreviations used for the different buildings on campus. The abbreviation for the Cedar building is CE, the abbreviation for Arbutus is AR, the abbreviation for the library is LB, and so forth. The first digit in the room number refers to the floor it's located on; for example, CE216 would be on the second floor of the Cedar building.
If you understand how the building abbreviations and room numbers are structured, you are far less likely to get lost on your first day of classes. If you're nervous about getting lost, we offer campus tours for newly admitted students. You can request a Campus Tour through our website. It's a great way to become familiar with our campus before your classes start. During campus tours, we usually give tips about buildings, classrooms, and where to find labs, and it's also an opportunity to connect with your peers and make new friends!
Ready to start your journey at CapU? Join one of our Virtual Advising sessions here. You can also join us for a peer-to-peer session with one of our Student Ambassadors here!
Book a virtual advising session at Capilano University