Navigating the Journey: Essential Tips for College Success 

Group of students walking in college campus after classes, back view

Graduating high school and venturing out into the real world can be an intimidating experience. College is an exciting journey that will help you discover yourself, allow you to open your mind to new avenues and set you on the path for your career.

But before you pack your bags and grab your AirPods, here are five things to remember as you head off to post-secondary in the fall!

1)    Goal Setting.

Now that you’ve accomplished all the goals you set for yourself in high school, it is essential to make note of the ones you aspire to achieve in the college or university you’re attending. Setting goals will provide you with a sense of direction and purpose. While college is a period of self-discovery and experimentation, it is equally important to have specific objectives you want to achieve. These goals can vary from academic pursuits, personal development, or career aspirations. With these particular goals in mind, you can focus your efforts and make informed decisions regarding what you wish to achieve during your time in post-secondary education.

2)    Time Management 

Now that we’ve established that you need to set specific goals, the next step is determining how these goals will be managed and prioritized. As a new student, the campus can offer a multitude of exciting opportunities to explore. While it is encouraged to branch out and insert yourself into different clubs, it is important to keep track of time and be able to manage your time independently. Start by prioritizing your goals. This will allow you to allocate your time and resources accordingly. By creating a structured schedule, setting deadlines and creating action plans, you can ensure your goals are being met while allocating time for yourself and other extracurricular activities. Furthermore, functioning on a set schedule will allow you to manage your time wisely and remain stress-free.

3)    Academic Expectations 

One of the primary challenges you will encounter at college is the academic rigor. While you might only have one class a day, those three-hour lectures can be demanding for many students. An excellent way to maintain your GPA and meet academic expectations is to ensure you are attending each class regularly, completing your readings and exercises before coming to class, and being an active participant during class discussions. Review the syllabus before coming to class and seek clarification from your professor if you have any questions. Familiarize yourself with the grading system and review the guidelines for each assignment carefully to ensure you have a thorough understanding before attempting it. The most important thing to remember is help is always available. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors if you need help. Additionally, campus tutors can be an invaluable resource if you find yourself struggling and need extra support.

4)    Financial Aid 

One of the most important factors to consider is the financial aspect of post-secondary education. Each college and university offers scholarships and bursaries for students; make sure you check their website and read the instructions carefully before submitting your application. These funds can be utilized for tuition, books, transit and other miscellaneous expenses related to your education. Another common source of financial aid that students often explore is OSAP. OSAP is available for all students residing within Ontario, granted they meet the minimum requirement. Once you have acquired a loan, it is highly encouraged to keep track of your spending and create monthly budgets for yourself to manage your finances effectively.

5)    Mental Health and Well-being  

While heading off to college or university sounds like a ticket to freedom for most students, the dark side of post-secondary is often overlooked. Stepping into the real world is a massive change that can take a huge toll on the human brain. Most students experience challenges to their mental health due to the competitive nature of universities, the pressures of academic performance, being responsible for yourself, and feelings of loneliness. Fortunately, numerous resources are available at each post-secondary facility to support students facing mental health challenges. Campus counselling services and outside resources are available to the students year-round. Students should remember the importance of stress management, self-care and, most importantly, seeking help when needed.