a guide to surviving university and college









Think back. Remember the fear you had on your first day of school when you arrived at this strange, big, scary place. Remember meeting those new kids in the playground and first day of school when you arrived at this strange, big, scary place. Remember meeting those new kids in the playground and hoping that they would want to play with you too? Having to share your toys, missing your mommy?

Well, you are going to experience all of those feelings again when you start your first year of post-secondary education (except this time you won’t wet your pants when your parents drop you off). Ahhh... relax, you’ve got a cheat sheet to get you through it this time ‘round.


Just before classes begin each year, all schools set aside a few days (sometimes even a whole week!) to introduce you to your new world. Not only is Frosh Week (as it’s called @ universities) a great opportunity to get to know the guys and gals you’ll be hanging with - but it’s also a chance to figure out practical things like where your classes are, how to use the library computers and where to get the best coffee.

As well as events run by the faculty, Second and third year students often organize activities for frosh - like softball games, barbecues, midnight scavenger hunts and all night parties. These events have one purpose only, TO HAVE FUN! But before you let your imagination run too wild, there’s one thing to keep in mind… ANIMAL HOUSE WAS JUST A MOVIE!

Thanks to John Belushi, most people are left with the impression that Frosh Week involves a lot of full frontal nudity, panty-raids and other pranks which may involve explosives and toilets.

While this may have been true in the past (ask your teachers for more details), universities and colleges now have strict rules which everyone must follow. These rules are different from school to school but they can be summed up into one simple sentence: Don’t do anything stupid!

Use your common sense. Don’t place anyone in a situation that may be uncomfortable. Remember, your orientation time is the first impression you make - be sure it’s a good impression.


We don’t want to freak you out, but the fact is you’re going to be facing new pressures in your life next year. Not only will you have a ton of school work to do, (and yes, everything WILL be due on the same day. It is a conspiracy!) but you’ll also have to juggle all the other responsibilities that come with independence and freedom.

It might sound scary or a bit overwhelming, but this can be a great time for you to sit down and figure out the best way to manage your stress...

Grades usually drop when you go from high school to university or college. If this happens, don’t stress, instead just work hard at improving your performance one assignment at a time.

Sometimes you’ll have no other choice but to pull an all-nighter to get your work done on time. Other times, taking a break can be more productive than burning yourself out. Work as long and as hard as you can, but when you find your mind wandering, take a break.

Putting off doing little tasks is an easy mistake to make. It’s tough to concentrate on work when you’re thinking about that unpaid phone bill or the fact that you haven’t done
laundry in a couple of weeks and you smell. If you have little tasks to do, get them out of the way as soon as possible. You’ll be able to focus better on the bigger and more
important things in life.

Sleep is your body's natural stress buster. It’s an opportunity for your conscious mind to shut down, and for your subconscious mind to sort things out. Getting a good night’s sleep is
the best way to keep a level head and improve academic
performance. Sleep is a fun and easy thing to do. Try it out.


A big part of your new found freedom is learning to be responsible with your cash. There are a couple of things you should know...

For most college and university students cash is tight. Expect to fork out a couple of hundred bucks for books for EACH course you take. The thing to keep in mind is that the books on the reading list may not be all the books you need. Always hold on to some dough in case your teacher springs a few surprises on you throughout the year.

TIP: Buy used books. They're cheap, and if you’re lucky,
the important bits will already be highlighted
(you’ll see student postings around the school).

Many classes you take will also have ‘course fees’ attached to them. These fees shouldn’t be too expensive (anywhere from $15 to $70) but it adds up if you’re taking six classes a year.


As much as your parents would like to think that the library is the hub of social life at university and college, for most students its the pub.

The majority of universities and colleges have pubs and/or dance bars either right on campus or within a quick bus ride from the school. They are often the place to study, to relax at night or meet with friends in-between classes. Sometimes teachers even hold classes in their ‘favourite drinking
establishments’ (if you’re lucky).

For many students, Thursday night is "Pub Night". However, PUBCRAWLERS BEWARE, for some students, every night is pub night and this might be where you get into some trouble. The fact is, university and college students drink about twice as much as other people their age.

Tip: Cool drinking does not interfere with your health, your job, your studies or your relationships.

The best advice we can give you on this subject is don’t overdo it. There are a lot of opportunities to drink at school (morning, noon and night). Pick your time to party and pick your time to ‘not party’.

(Yeah, we knew you'd skip to this part first.)

Look, it’s not our place to promote either sex or drinking. At the same time, it would be stupid to ignore the fact that sex and drinking are part of some students’ lives. All we want to say is that if you DO decide to drink or have sex... don’t mix the two. It’s that simple.

Over half of all college women who report being a victim
of acquaintance rape had been drinking or using drugs.

When you party, your thinking gets fuzzy. And it can be
very easy to find yourself in a situation you would never
let yourself get into if you were sober.

Even if you’re in a relationship, drinking and having sex is a bad idea. Almost everyone knows about AIDS, herpes and other sexually transmitted deceases, but you can quickly forget about these dangers when you’re tanked. Besides, nothing ruins a romantic evening faster than puke.


What can we tell you about sexual harassment?
How about that it can happen to anybody, male or female; that it creates an atmosphere that is both intimidating and hostile, and that it is unacceptable by all standards.

As a student at university or college, you are now in the adult world and may encounter or know someone who encounters sexual or gender harassment.

Behaviour such as…
unnecessary touching
suggestive remarks or other verbal abuse
leering at a person’s body
compromising invitations
…is sexual harassment!

You get the picture…
If you or anyone you know is being harassed, don’t try to handle it on your own. The numero uno thing to remember is that it isn’t your fault! The number two thing is get help right away. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away on its own. Universities and colleges have centres to deal with this problem and they will keep your visit strictly confidential.


Here’s a question we get asked a lot... Is the workload at college and university really that brutal? As much as we hate to be the bearers of bad news, the answer is... yes, the workload definitely does increase. But before you call your school of choice to see if you can get that deposit back, you should know this...

For most students, you are not required to be in class for the whole day, every day. In fact, you may even find you have an entire or partial day off during the week. Use this time wisely! It’s easy to skip off to the pub or sleep all day, but remember the reason you are given more free time is so that you can keep up with the workload.

You may also find that you are given one or two assignments in a class that aren’t due for months. Get started on these right away. An "all- nighter" can’t make up for the work you avoided for months. "Freedom" tends to be the catch word once you move on from high school. Use it to keep on track.

The bottom line is, you CAN get it done (promise!). You’ll never have more work than you can handle if you use your time wisely and practice some discipline.