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5 Tips to Survive University

A person holding textbooks and having headphones on

The start of the semester can be challenging and you’re probably looking for some tips, and advice on how to survive! I want to acknowledge that if you’re trying it’s already a step towards success. I find myself struggling with those areas sometimes, but the secret is just to keep trying. Try to set small goals. You won’t be on top of your things by tomorrow miraculously. Let’s take it one day at a time together!

Try cooking at home more often!

At the start of term, it is easy to get sucked into buying lunches out at Poulet Rouge or buying Starbucks coffee. Do you really need a Pumpkin spice Latte to go through the day every morning? This lifestyle will leave you surviving on baked beans towards the end of term. Instead, try to buy food in bulk to cook. And please don’t give me the excuse that "I don't know how to cook". You can use Hellofresh (they provide step-by-step recipes) or Tasty. There are plenty of resources and apps out there. If there is a will, there is a way!

Stay focused

Yay! You managed to take some of your classes with your friends. But don't get lost in the chitter-chatter. Yes, last night might have been epic, but you can wait until after the lecture to tell your friend about it. Ask yourself, is that a very important matter, is it life-threatening? Well, if not it can wait!

Prepare before your lecture

Yes, the professor will cover the subject during class, but come prepared. You won’t go to a networking event without at least looking for the companies that will be there and looking up what they do. Well, do the same for your classes. Take some time before class to read a little ahead in the textbook or PowerPoint. You could follow better and develop enough confidence to ask questions since you already gave the material some thought. Reading ahead it’s an investment, but it pays off by making your classroom experience a valuable use of time.

Know when to go home on a night out

It's easy to get carried away on nights out. "Shot, Shot, Shot” or "Just a few drinks" usually become many more. Instead, when you’re going out try going to a cash machine and only taking out what you're happy to spend. When that's gone, head home. I know it’s hard when your peers are pressuring you to stay out longer than you planned, but try your best to resist.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

One thing you should always keep in mind is that if you’re lost, probably others are too, and they really appreciate someone having the courage to speak up. Ask questions during lectures or if you’re really shy go talk to your professors after class, send them an email, or book time with them (if they have office hours). Professors are willing to help and they usually want to talk to their students (until they say otherwise, which I doubt). Asking questions is not "wasting their time." Success comes from asking questions. They want you to succeed (so they can brag about this great student they knew, who’s now doing amazing things).

For additional resources to help you navigate university, please visit Telfer's resources page.


Maclean's. (n.d.). 21 Tips Every First-Year Student Should Know. Retrieved from [URL:]

Save the Student. (n.d.). 13 Skills to Help You Survive University. Retrieved from [URL:]

Skills You Need. (n.d.). Surviving Student Life: Skills for Success. Retrieved from [URL:]


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