The Mentorship Spot
Managing the Ups and Downs of First Year
By Malyika Shami
When people tell you that university is hard, they are understating it. Coming from high school, university is a completely different world. Someone told me once that first year isn’t about the marks, it's about learning how to be a student - and that is the reality of it. Coming from high school with 90 + averages, you cannot expect the same results in your first year of university because you have to learn how to be a student first. However, despite all the hardships, university is an experience. You really become independent and learn how it is in the ‘real world’, which prepares you greatly for the future ahead.
I am currently going into my second year at UofT doing a double major in political science and criminology, law and society. This program is very law-related, which aligns with my interests because I hope to attend law school after undergrad. One important tip I would give to first year students is to attend your lectures. I know it is a basic one, but when you’ve had a long night studying and then a 9 am lecture, going to lectures seems like the worst option. However, I promise you, going to the lectures and just listening to the professor will help you during exams and assignments. A lot of useful information is often only provided in lecture; they do not include that information anywhere else.
Something that I found even more important than lectures were my tutorials, and getting close to my teaching assistants (TAs). If there's one thing I would tell all first years to do is to attend all your tutorials. When you are in lectures with 500 + people, I know it is intimidating to ask questions and clarify your understanding, but that is what your tutorials are for. Your TA’\s will go over everything for you, answer all your questions, and make sure you clearly understand the topics. The TAs usually are the ones who also mark your assignments, so it’s important to get close to them either in person or through email. Most TAs are always happy to help; I always send my TAs the essays that I have written, and they even read over them and provide feedback. They are truly what got me through first year.
Lastly, just have fun! Don't stress over your first year in university. A lot of people don’t really know what they are doing. Even though you may feel like you are behind everyone else, 90% of the time, everyone else is feeling the same way. Enjoy the first year, because it truly only comes once!
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