Dear first-year me…

By Victoria Wolf, 4th year French/Linguistics student

Dear first-year me (& whoever else might be reading this),

Three years have flown by and I suddenly find myself in the first week of my fourth year. While I’m definitely not the perfect student (is there even such a thing?), I have learned a bit about the DOs and DON’Ts of university that I wanted to share with you.

1. Taking regular breaks is so important! Don’t try to power through five hours of readings in one sitting – university is a marathon, not a sprint. Try the 50-10 rule – set a timer for 50 minutes and spend that time working towards a goal with no interruptions, then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this time to take a break and recharge.

2. Take advantage of little breaks you find between classes and use this time to catch up on work, review course notes or preview slides for your next lecture. It can be easy to go home during that hour and a half gap and convince yourself you’ll be productive, but it turns into a long and guilt-filled journey into the depths of Instagram every time.

3. Stauffer and Douglas aren’t the only places to study on campus. You might like empty classrooms – they’re especially useful for group studying because you can make use of the chalkboards and projectors. Coffee shops downtown might also provide some inspiration (and fuel), as well as get you out of the campus bubble for a bit, when you’re working on daunting papers.

4. It’s okay to say “no” sometimes. When you’re surrounded by other students, it can be tempting to accept every invitation, and easy to spread yourself too thin. They will understand; they’re in the same boat as you and often wish they had the courage to do the same thing. Catch up with them next time; it’ll be much more enjoyable if you use your plans with friends as a reward for finishing a task.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who are so willing to help you (it’s their job!) – your dons, your profs and TAs, Queen’s Student Academic Success Services, Student Wellness Services and so many more. It’ll make life at Queen’s so much easier!

Cha gheill,
Fourth-year you


Photo courtesy of Queen’s University under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.