Ten Tips for Success for First-Year Students

Emerson Csorba - Fri Aug 26, 2011

Stepping onto campus for the first time can be daunting. Only two years ago, I was in the same position. Entering a room in CEB for Students’ Union Orientation, I did not know what to expect, and was frankly nervous when meeting many new students.

However, two years later, it is safe to say that university has been a phenomenal experience. For those beginning their university adventure, here are ten tips:

  1. Get involved: Hit the ground running. Make the most of Orientation by signing up for student groups at Clubs Fair, volunteer for Orientation 2012, write for the Gateway or think about running in the Students’ Union elections. I guarantee that you will learn so much from your volunteer experiences on campus. And the year to start doing this is in year one.

  2. Be active: In my first year, I let the physical activity slip a bit; it’s tough balancing academics with volunteering and maintaining personal fitness. But for the last year, I’ve been training for a marathon and feel much more energetic. You can balance school with volunteering and physical fitness. It takes dedication, but it is so important to put your personal health ahead of anything else.

  3. Get to know your professors: Rather than passively ingesting material you see and listen to in class, challenge your professors. Get to know them, ask them questions and think about pursuing an undergraduate research opportunity during the summer.

  4. Meet new people: University is all about meeting new people. Get to know people that are different than you – maybe someone from a different country, or a person with different political views. By doing so, you’ll allow your perspectives to be challenged, which is both humbling and enlightening. And who knows, you might actually meet life-long friends, or your future husband or wife.

  5. Travel: Whether it is hiking in Jasper or studying abroad in Ghana, make sure that you leave Edmonton every so often. Traveling opens a person up to new ways of thinking and to all types of cultures. Plus you get to know amazing people!

  6. Attend varsity sports games: The University of Alberta has some of the top men’s and women’s varsity sports teams in Canada. Whether it is soccer, football, hockey or any of the other sports, attempt to attend some games. Most games will be played at Clare Drake, the new Go Centre and Foote Field on South Campus.

  7. Stay ahead in courses: With four to five classes per semester and challenging course materials, I recommend that you stay ahead in your classes. By doing so, the semester can be a breeze. It is better to be calm, confident and energetic once midterms and finals hit, than exhausted and unprepared because you waited to complete assignments and other projects at the last minute.

  8. Ask questions: Be inquisitive. Be curious. Respect your peers and professors, but maintain skepticism throughout your learning. The questions that you ask in class, one-on-one with your professor or on your own not only clarify concepts that you might need to understand, they might spark lively discussions and enrich your thinking.

  9. Apply for scholarships: The university and the Students’ Union offer many different scholarships. Apply for as many of them as possible. Spend some time each week perusing the internet looking for scholarships available in Edmonton, Alberta and Canada. Chances are you’ll win some of them. With persistence, scholarships might just pay your way through university.

  10. Take time for yourself: With studying, volunteering and perhaps a part-time job on your plate, it is easy to forget that you need down time. But that relaxation, where you can read, run, spend time with family – or do anything else that you enjoy – is absolutely critical. Make down time a part of every day.

So there you have it: ten tips. I have tried to create a diverse list, but there are many ideas that are not included. If you want to talk one-on-one about university success tips or about the Students’ Union, give me a call at 780.492.4236, come to the office in SUB 2-900 or send me off an e-mail at