Test Your Post-Secondary Survival Skills

By Monika Marescaux

At this point, you may have considered everything and picked your school. So now what? It's now just a matter of time before you start preparing for your first day of classes. But wait! Are you really ready? Test your post-secondary school survival skills by checking off the boxes listed below. If you have checked off all of the boxes, consider yourself on the right track.

Map Out Your Schedule
Your first week will be stressful enough without you arriving late for a class after accidentally walking into a lecture hall filled with at least 500 eyes starring at you because you just interrupted a lecture. Try to avoid this sad turn of events by picking up campus and individual building maps and locate your classes. Just don't forget to go there before school starts.

Course Calendars
These wonderful little booklets (you can either find them online or in the program department) provide an informed glimpse into courses offered in your program of study. They usually contain a description of each course, a list of readings, a grading scheme (letting you know if grades are based mostly on tests, essays etc.), prerequisites, and all of the times they are offered.

Student Services
Unfortunately, many students are unaware of all the invaluable and free services many schools have to offer. Some include career services (often offering resumé assistance, tutorials and work fairs), writing centres, and services for students with specific needs.

Used Books
Too many poor, unsuspecting first-year students have near heart-attacks after walking into the campus bookstore and over to the shelf holding an item that will inevitably send a surge of shock and disgust through their bodies. Books can be very expensive but many teachers re-use the same texts year after year, which means there will be some used copies floating around. Most campus bookstores carry them, although the quantity and diversity will vary. Some students even post for-sale signs around campus. You can also try http://www.Books4Exchange.com and find out if anyone out there has your book.

In addition to very important assignment due dates, there is another date you may not have considered, but is definitely worth remembering. Don't forget drop-deadlines. Of course, this reminder may not necessarily be needed since everyone plans on doing really well. But, just in case, keep those dates in mind.

Take Care of General Requirements Early
Your program may specify that you successfully complete a set number of general requirement courses (GMC). Try to get these out of the way early so you won't forget about them. They will probably not be in your area of concentration (e.g. if you're enrolled in a Media Studies program, you may have to take a course in the Natural Sciences, ugh!). Ask your academic advisor if GMC's apply to your program.

Please keep in mind that the information listed above is designed to guide you through some of the many wonderful challenges you'll be facing. You may find that you will need to adjust some of the suggestions noted above according to your own personal preferences and/or disregard many of them. As long as your planning and preparing, you're on your way to making your post-secondary educational experiences some of the best and finest moments of your life.
Modified on April 23, 2009