For first-year students, entering university can be like entering a new world. And when walking into a university or college class for the first time, students are often surprised at just how large they can be.
“One big change was that some classes had 200 people in them,” says Andrew Gniewek, a fourth-year commerce student at Dalhousie University.
He says the size of the class can be intimidating to some students and prevents them from asking questions. Gniewek recommends visiting professors during their office hours or calling them if people aren’t comfortable speaking up in class. “They want to hear your voice,” he says.
Gniewek has some additional advice to help with the adjustment to university life, including paying attention to how marks are weighted. This is something that caught him by surprise in his first year. Expecting that midterm exams were worth the same as high school tests, Gniewek was shocked to learn some of them were worth 30 to 40 per cent of the final mark.
From that point forward, he made sure his study time factored in how much quizzes and midterms were worth.
Gniewek says students should also realize university curriculum is much more challenging than it was in high school, so it will be necessary to work harder to achieve the same grades they previously had.
As the president of the Dalhousie Commerce Society, he recommends first-year students get involved in different extracurricular activities, be it a society, club or intramural sport.
“Nowadays, GPAs aren’t everything,” he says. “You have to be well-rounded.”
As university students, students will be frequently asked about what they are studying and plan to do after graduation. Gniewek recommends students don’t worry about this perpetual question.
“Just focus on school,” he says. “I think everyone will tell you that you will figure it out as you’re going to school.”