April 7, 2021

Five things I wish I did in my first year at UCalgary

My name is Aidyn Vanattan, and I am a current undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce here at the University of Calgary! As a third-year student, over the years I have picked up on many useful things that I wish I would have done during my first year of studies! I am here to share five things I wish I did that can make your first year at UCalgary even more awesome.
Students studying

1. Go to office hours!

Office hours are a designated time offered by your professors each week for students in their class to either drop in or book an appointment to ask questions. Some professors also use this as a time for their students to get a chance to go over assignments and exams, or even to further discuss course material. Office hours are an extremely useful resource that in my first year I wasn’t aware of, but is a great opportunity for your professors to get to know you better!

2. Form study groups in every class.

If you are someone who thrives in a collaborative learning environment, forming a study group with other students in your class will be very helpful! Whether it is an online group-chat where your group can ask each other questions, or a scheduled weekly Zoom meeting to help each other study course concepts, knowing you have that support from your peers can help motivate you to stay on top of your course work! As well, this is a great way to create friendships and meet new people who will be there for you throughout your post-secondary journey.

3. Explore different study spaces.

As a first-year student, it can be easy to stick to what you know or what you are comfortable with. I found that studying in the same spot at the same place everyday became repetitive and would sometimes lead to a decrease in productivity! Whether you want complete silence, or need some background chatter, the University of Calgary has several study spaces – each with a different environment. Take a 360° tour on Google Street View of my personal favorites: the Bennet Jones Law Library and Scurfield Hall.

If you are studying at home, it might also be a good idea to switch it up from time to time. Do whatever works best for you, even if that means trying out a different room, facing a different window or using a new chair. Only you can determine how you study most effectively!

4. It’s okay to ask questions! Talk to your professor after class.

Asking questions is a good thing, so don’t be afraid to raise your hand! I quickly realized that many students end up having the same question, and that it’s also nice when someone asks a question that you haven’t considered yet. If you are not comfortable speaking in front of the class, see if your professor would be open to answering your question after class! Professors and instructors want to help their students in any way that they can to answer any questions, big or small!

5. Take courses that you are actually interested in.

Entering into post-secondary is a huge transition, and it is important to be interested in what you are studying. There might be some mandatory courses in your program, but many programs also allow you to take junior/senior options! This is a great opportunity for you to explore other interests and passions. I’ve always had an interest in poetry, so I decided to register for an introductory creative writing class. My peers told me that other classes would be easier, but I find that just because a certain class is deemed ‘easier’, it is truly different for each student and you will often succeed in what you are passionate about! There are so many fascinating courses for you to pick from, so take advantage of it. To take a sneak peek at the recommended course list for your first year and see where you’ll have flexibility to take electives, click here.