Advice to a New Student

My niece is off to university in a few days, so I asked girlfriends who I went to university with what their could have, should have, would have advice was – what they wished someone had told them. And here is what they said (although I have changed their names to protect them):


You need not throw up in 7 garbage cans to illustrate you've had a good time.

Kraft dinner mixed with fried ground beef is remarkably good.

No one looks good in a toga.

If a new friend asks you home for her family birthday party one week into term, say yes.(ed note, that was me, we've been friends for 25 years this week)


You can meet your best friends there

Generally the men are temporary

Your education is your most important job

Never again will you be as independent without responsibility (except your grades)


my two cents for the girls

philosophical: The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting. (Plutarch)

practical: Find some friends who like to study as much as they like to drink beer.

Some immediate thoughts that come to mind:
Keep a balance of social activities and studies – particularly in first year when soooo much is new. I found out the hard way (when I got my first year interim grades) that there are many distractions that can easily keep you from studying. A healthy balance is good 
Get involved in rez life & extracurricular things that interest you – you will meet fantastic people – that one is obvious now when I look at how blessed I am to have my best university friends
I wish I had had the confidence to try out for a sports team (basketball in particular) at a more competitive level. I kick myself for not trying out


If only we could have maintained the "balance" we had back then....felt like a pretty good balance of work and play in lots of ways - I like what whoever said about lack of responsibility too - that went a long way towards the feeling of balance!!!!

Should have eaten my veggies!!!! I was so sick when I went home in the summer and ate proper food and I think it was because I ate such crap at school.

Would have been lost without my great friends. I love Elizabeth’s beer/study motto. Made it a lot easier to have slightly geeky friends to head to the library with, eh Liz? But then also friends to go out with instead of constant studying...
And, as one of the young'uns in our bunch - it was fantastic to have some older friends - for all-round wisdom, coursework support, just to get your head above the clouds and to introduce you to some options all the first years are unlikely to know about, give you perspective. I think I was very very lucky - with all of you and with Fart. The opportunities for those relationships may come through res, extracurriculars, whatever.

Not exactly the correct could have/should have/would have - but close enough!

Really - go with your gut - about people and studies. I think of all the people I know who have been unhappy in their jobs, and/or have had to go back and retrain, it is because they didn't follow their passion and did what they thought was "right" or what someone else told them to do, or what they thought would make them more money...Just had a friend quit her job on Monday - at 40 - after realizing she hated it! - she is weeping with happiness....beware of older male graduate students...just go with the gut.

Do I remember she is going to [place that she is going to] or did I make that up? Seems like a happy balanced place on the whole...

Mei Mei:

I would emphasis that education is your most important job - if you do well it opens up lots of opportunities.

Make sure you are interested in what you are learning. This is your chance to take or listen in on different courses and find out what you are passionate about. Never again will you be in a situation with so many resources and people with knowledge about such a wide range of things at your finger tips - take advantage of it!

Don't be afraid to go and talk to your lecturers/tutors ask them questions etc take advantage of their expertise - they can point you in some interesting directions!

Enjoy it!


Don’t be afraid to ask help to chart a new course if what you are doing isn't working out but stick things out that seem rough …. That is the tricky part.

Try really hard. Not just to get the mark that you can get but to push yourself to see the best that you can be – wherever that ends up.

Figure out the cost of a single hour of class by adding up your tuition and residence and dividing it up over the hours of classes – the cost is so high you won’t miss a single class.

The girlfriends that you make in university will sustain you through life and you’ll learn about new worlds through their learning.

Be a tortoise – slow and steady definitely wins the race.

Try to do something you wouldn’t normally do every week (not dangerous) to challenge yourself.

Exercise, sleep, eat & don’t leave your drink unattended.

Have a great time and call me for help if you need it.

Auntie Sue Sue