General, Student Life

First-year Fears

Notes on top of an open textbook, in-front of a window.

Note to self: studying with loose papers in front of an open window when it’s windy is a bad idea!

“I’m not really stressed at all,” I said, actually very stressed.

I like to tell everyone that I’m not an anxious type of person, which is usually true. But this didn’t exempt me from the pre-frosh week jitters. Even when equipped with information and advice, it’s hard not to start fretting, especially in the days leading up to the first day at school. Here are a few of the things I did before the start of my first year, some of which could have been a colossal waste of time, but ended up being surprisingly helpful.

1. Mapping Out My Entire Degree
Anyone you ask will probably tell you that this is a bad idea at worst, and unnecessary at least. Plenty of first-year students aren’t even sure what major they want, let alone the specifics of their future classes. However, my “definitely not stressed” pre-first-year-self didn’t heed these warnings, and I’m glad. While planning so far in advance didn’t give me exact specifics for my Program of Study (POS) because of changes in course offerings, time conflicts, and my own goals, it put me at ease to know every degree requirement, and to have backup plans for my backup plans. I also found it a helpful way to determine what POS interested me, beyond the name on the surface of the degree.
If you want a productive stress release and haven’t already mapped out your program of study, this chart of what you need to get your U of T degree in the Faculty of Arts & Science will help. It’s easy to forget about the 6.0 FCE maximum for 100-level courses (something to be especially mindful of if you have transfer credits). Also, don’t overlook the breadth requirements!

2. It’s Not the Apocalypse (But Does it Matter?)
Five giant bags of raisins, four boxes of granola bars, two boxes of cereal, six bars of chocolate: dorm packing list or bomb shelter stockpile? Before starting school, I bought way more food than I thought was necessary. After all, I was heading to U of T, not the desert. But by the end of the first semester, I surprisingly had gone through my entire stash. It turns out that having food on hand when you’re in a rush to class in the morning is often a lot easier than heading to the dining hall, especially when you’re running late. So, if you’re living in residence, buying some food to keep on hand is a real time saver.

3. School Supplies

A photo of calculus notes.

In University, two things changed. One- I started using my laptop for notes. Two- I didn’t have to take calculus anymore!

Every back-to-school shopping trip in high school went something like this: binders, binders, and more binders. At the end of every school year, I’d take into account which binders were falling apart (to a degree that duct tape couldn’t fix), and made my annual wallet-paining trip to Target. When packing for university, I wasn’t sure what types of supplies I needed, or if my high school routine was still necessary. As it turned out, I never ended up touching the three binders I packed. Of course, this could be a different scenario for you, depending on your classes and preferred note-taking style. But with the newfound liberty of being able to take digital notes, binders ended up being a waste of space. TIP: If you’re interested in taking notes on your laptop, make sure to download OneNote! U of T gets access to the entire Microsoft Office 365 suite for free (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote)!

That’s all for the trials and tribulations I experienced in last year’s back to school season. Did you bring anything to dorm that ended up being unnecessary? Leave a comment below!