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The dos and don’ts of being a freshman

This fall I will be attending the University of King’s College to complete my second degree, a bachelor of journalism. That being said, I was barely accepted due to a miserable first year of university that brought my overall GPA down below a 3.0, which hurt when I began applying for post-grad studies. Now, I’m not trying to scare you or anything, but to be successful in university you have to get off on the right foot. So here are some dos and don’ts to consider as you begin your freshman year.

1. Don’t drink…too much

Okay, this is kind of hypocritical, but it’s important you don’t get wrapped up in the party culture that surrounds university dorms during your freshman year. You’re here to study and have fun, but try to keep everything in moderation. Drinking frequently will upset your sleep and make you unable to focus on lectures or assignments the next day. Also, don’t drink Great White. No one likes being bitten by the shark.

2. Do make some friends

Your parents and cheesy sitcoms have said it time and time again: university is the place where you make the friends who last the rest of your life. As cliché as it sounds, it’s kind of true. When I was in my freshman year I was in a long distance relationship and spent more time on the phone than socializing in my buddies’ dorm rooms. Don’t make the same mistake.

3. Join some societies and extra-curricular activities

My first degree was a bachelor of English and to tell you the truth I really don’t remember learning that much. What I do remember is a friend introducing me to The Dalhousie Gazette which sparked an interest in writing, made my essays more cohesive, introduced me to the friends I have to this day and got me the gig I love working as a journalist. Societies will help you make new friends and turn you on to new activities you may not have had the confidence to try in high school.

4. Don’t study too much

This probably seems counterintuitive, but in my first year of study I got a D in my intro to psychology course even though I studied the textbook for upward of three hours a day. With a full course load I was studying too much and not giving my brain enough time to relax and retain the information. Try to take study breaks that take your mind off your subject of study. That being said…

5. Don’t waste your time watching TV

This is going to really date myself, but when I was first living in residence the only show everybody seemed to be watching was Prison Break. And you know what? I don’t know anybody who remembers much of anything about that show, probably because it was pointless. (How do you guys keep getting put back into prisons!?) Don’t waste your time watching mindless television while taking a break from studying. Don’t even think of subscribing to Netflix, because before you know it you’ve watched the complete run of the British and American versions of Life on Mars and have nothing to take away from it. If you do decide to watch television, make it something thought provoking like a documentary special or something with a complex storyline like The Wire. (Just don’t start calling your cell phone a ‘burner’—that’s just stupid.)

6. Get some exercise

Probably for the first time in your life you have full-time access to a gym. Time to transform yourself. If you don’t know what you’re doing, grab a buddy who does. Maybe even join a running group and start looping the Dalplex track or going for a scenic run in the south end. Exercise decreases anxiety (which is needed when you’re writing more than an essay or exam a week) and helps you get a better sleep for class the following day.

Overall, try to limit any excessive or bad habits that prevent you from giving this degree your all. And don’t forget to try to have some fun. You’re here to study, but some of the best memories you’ll make are outside the classroom.

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