Camosun offers new students some tips for thriving at college or university

Camosun College and other institutions offer orientations and welcome weeks. New students should take advantage of the opportunity for a fun and easy introduction to campus life.

By Ivan Watson

For the Saanich News

I remember my first day at university. My parents and I loaded up the mini van and we took the early morning ferry to Vancouver. Arriving at a crowded residence hall at the University of the British Columbia we unpacked all the essentials – mini fridge, computer, stereo system, textbooks, etc. and when everything was set up and my parents said their goodbyes, I remember sitting alone in my dorm room and thinking: “what now?” With the back to school season in full swing, many people will face a similar situation. The following are six top tips for thriving at college or university.

Instructors are people too

It is natural to feel lost in a cavernous lecture hall or intimidated in a small seminar discussion. One of the best ways to get yourself noticed and to achieve academic success is to understand that your instructors are people too. Instead of signalling disrespect by cocooning yourself with headphones and a laptop in the back row, sit near the front and contribute thoughtfully to class discussions (a couple times per class when appropriate). If your professors see you as attentive and respectful and get to know you by name, they will naturally feel more inclined to reward your hard work with good grades.

Help is available – if you ask

Most institutions offer orientations and welcome weeks that provide a fun and easy introduction to campus life. Sign up for these. You’ll gain great advice and may make lasting friendships – people you can rely on for class notes and a helping hand over the course of your studies. As you get deeper into your first term and may need some extra assistance, take advantage of the many options focussed on student success, from instructor office hours to counselling and financial aid. The most important thing to remember is that people are available to help and they want you to succeed.

Take advantage of campus life

Clubs and sports teams offer something for everyone. In my first year at UBC I joined intramural soccer and ballroom dancing and later got involved in public speaking and volunteer service clubs. Your college days will be richer and more meaningful if you say ‘yes’ to the opportunities for personal growth and fun. Learning takes place both inside and outside of the classroom and when you graduate some of your best memories will be from these structured activities. When you send out resumes in search of a good job, you’ll find that the skills learned through campus leadership experience are in demand and transferable to many industries.

Libraries are your best friend

It’s tempting to believe that everything is available online, but professors often complain that students rely too much on Wikipedia and other easy online sources. Differentiate yourself with comprehensive research. Librarians are trained professionals who can advise you on the range of specialized databases, journals and research tips related to your field. Libraries also offer writing and exam preparation sessions and special seminars. Your campus library should be your first stop, not your last when writing that important paper. They’re also great places to relax and focus when you need some time to yourself.

Presentation matters

My dad often tells this story from his university days. One time, he accidentally handed in his handwritten final essay draft along with the typed version. When he picked up the marked assignments, the typed version had an ‘A’ and the handwritten one received a ‘D,’ yet they had the exact same content. Paying attention to instructor preferences for style, structure and presentation of assignments is as important as following the proper style guide and making well researched arguments. If something both looks good and has good content, you’ll earn a good mark.

Take care of yourself

Getting enough sleep and exercise and eating healthily will improve your mental and physical health and ultimately your grades. Campus gyms are open early in the morning and late at night to accommodate your preferred schedule and there are many places on campus where you can spend a few minutes in peace and quiet when you need to recharge your batteries. Sometime all it takes is a good walk in the campus gardens to come back refreshed and ready for your next challenge.

Ivan Watson is a marketing and communications strategist at Camosun College’s Interuban campus. Email: watsoni@camosun.ca Twitter: @watsonivan

Just Posted

Group seeks to build honorary RCMP sculpture in Sooke

Sooke RCMP officers work long hours protecting the community, and a local… Continue reading

Refugee family gets help with rent

Sooke council changes scope of $3,600 grant

Central Saanich police chase down speeding biker

A motorcyclist from the Lower Mainland was caught on the Tsawout reserve… Continue reading

Sooke high school welcomes new principal

Laura Fulton was formerly vice principal at Belmont High and Spencer Middle schools

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait seeking re-election

So far, Maja Tait only declared candidate in mayor’s race

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Saanich lights up Layritz Park with solar-powered lights

Saanich plans to install more solar-powered lights after installing them in Layritz… Continue reading

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Most Read