Advice for first year university students

Upper year and graduate students tell The Morning Edition what they wish they had known in their first year of university.

Upper year and graduate students say: join clubs early and don't rush to the bookstore

About 1,500 first year students are taking part in welcome activities at the University of Regina this week. (CBC News)

Moving from high school to university can be a big jump. Classes are larger and there is a heavier workload. To help make the transition a little easier, CBC Radio's The Morning Edition spoke to some upper year and graduate students to get their words of wisdom for first year students.

Over and over again, older students stressed the importance of joining clubs and student groups early.

"Get involved with anything and everything," said Petra Kujawa, a fifth year software systems engineering student. She said during her time at the U of R, she has joined several clubs and through them she has met people with common interests.

"Homework isn't all that school is about," Kujawa said.

Ryan Ambrose has just moved to Regina from Halifax. On Tuesday, he had his first day of classes as a master's student at the University of Regina. He said by joining clubs, he made some valuable connections that have helped him in his professional life.

"It doesn't matter so much what you know, it is who you know," Ambrose said.

He said he wishes he had joined clubs and organizations in his first year instead of waiting until his third and fourth year of university.

This week, the U of R is welcoming about 1,500 new students to its campus. To help the students make new friends and adjust to university life, the school is holding a variety of activities, from dance parties to an outdoor movie night.

The student's union is putting on a club's fair Wednesday where students can find out about the different groups on campus and sign up to join them. 

Laura Lim came to the University of Regina from Calgary five years ago. She says new students should do everything at their own pace. (Facebook)

Moving from another city or country

Many new students at the U of R are from a different city. Some are even from a different country. Five years ago,

Laura Lim, now entering her last semester of university, came to Regina from Calgary. She said she came to the city not knowing anyone.

"Go at your own pace and feel it out," Lim said, advising students not to panic if they only have one familiar person they sit beside in class, or a few friends they go out for coffee with every once in a while.

"You will be fine," Lim said. "You don't have to do it all at once."

Like Kujawa and Ambrose, Lim said she made most of her friends through students clubs. However she said she wished she had been braver in first few years of university when it came to joining them.

When to buy textbooks

Matthew Litke, graduated last year from the U of R with a kinesiology sport and recreation management degree. He said students should wait until they start their classes to buy textbooks.

"A lot of the times the textbooks aren't fully used, or at all used, or you can find them on the Internet or rent them from the library," he said.

Make sure you are in the correct program

Litke also said students need to make sure they are at university and in a program for the right reasons. "If you aren't comfortable doing what you are studying, just listen to that," he said. "Don't go into something because your parents or friends think it is for you."

The Morning Edition also sent out a note on social media, asking people what they would do differently if they could go back to their first year of university. Many people offered their advice.