Redefining a Successful First-Year

Reflecting on my first year in university, I had to re-define what success meant to me. I used to always go above and beyond academically, but I started to question that work ethic in regards to other aspects of my life. I reckoned there was a point where the work became worth less than the time spent. I thought of three major things to think about for incoming first-year students.

What’s in a grade? 

Anything from 10% to 15% below your high school grades are good grades in university, if you continue to get amazing grades (A+), that’s awesome! If not, don’t sweat it! University brings many changes and one of those is the independence to choose what’s important to you. I’ve realized that it isn’t healthy to always focus on getting the perfect grades, but instead to focus on the actual learning taking place in a university environment, through classes or clubs. In all honesty, first-year grades don’t matter much so focus on improving yourself every-day in many aspects, not just academically.

Remember about yourself

While getting caught up in all the excitement of your first year in university, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. This is arguably the most formative time of your life, so make sure you make those good habits. A few ideas are to go to the gym, make sure to get enough sleep, eat right, and don’t get too involved. Some days I barely did any schoolwork and watched a lot of Netflix in residence, but at least I continued with my good habits. Going to university required me to re-examine what productivity meant, on days like those even though I didn’t do much schoolwork, I had a self-care day and we all need those to be productive, and by extension successful the rest of the time.

Connect with as many people as possible

Human connection is the most important part of my first-year experience. This is the year you have the easiest access to meeting people, so join some clubs, go out often, and remember to have fun! Yes, it’s important to have good habits and learn a lot, but it’s imperative that you should have connections with a lot of people after your first-year. These are the people who you might collaborate with in the future, tell you about job or internship opportunities, or even be lifelong friends with. I believe making connections is the most crucial part of success in first-year.

Anthony Galassi is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Computing, specializing in software design at Queen’s University. In 2019, he won the prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship and is very passionate about mental health.

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