Whether you stay at home or move away, starting university will be a major period of transition in your life. It’s a time of
academic transition, which is usually fun and exciting, but sometimes challenging. At every university, there are people and services available to help you make your way successfully through this transitional time.
Living in residence: Many first-year university students choose to live in residence, which is a great place to meet new friends and be immersed in campus life, not to mention have most of your meals taken care of! Every university residence has something different to offer, so take a tour if you can.
- Take a virtual tour of the residences at Queen's and see what an actual student dorm room looks like.
- Here are the top ten great things about Queen's residence.
Living off campus: After first year, most students choose to move off-campus, into a rental unit with friends, or by themselves. For these students, and for those who choose not to live in residence in first year, universities’ websites have helpful links to approved rental sites, as well as information about your legal rights as a tenant. As an example of the sorts of information you might find, check out Queen’s Community Housing.
Part-time jobs: Working a part-time job, especially one on campus, allows students to broaden their social horizons and meet new people, as well as save up some extra money. Universities will often give preference to students who demonstrate financial need and are seeking employment, through work study programs. Because these jobs are on campus, your supervisors understand that your academic study is first priority, and will make the necessary accommodations around your class, study and exam schedules.
Extra-curricular involvement: Getting involved in clubs, teams, and volunteering will add enormously to your university experience – and there’s no shortage of ways to participate! Pursuing something you enjoy outside of the classroom will help you maintain balance, which will ultimately help you academically as well. At Queen’s, there are close to 200 ratified clubs, endless volunteer opportunities, and lots of varsity, intramural, and recreational sports opportunities.
Student Support Services: Whether you’re having a personal crisis, or just looking for a friendly and objective person to talk to, universities have support networks set up to help you.
First, the obvious: the university learning environment is different from what you’re used to in high school. Here are some of the main differences, and the places you can go to get help:
Class size: Some classes might be a lot larger than you’re used to, and some first year lectures can be as big as 500 – 1,000 people. This is not the case with most, however, and you’ll also take much smaller seminars, with just 5-10 people. Class size will vary depending on your program and the institution you’re attending.
Professor vs. Teacher: You probably won’t see your professors every day, but rather two or three times a week for lectures. Professors will have set office hours when you can drop by and ask any questions you might have, and you can also ask your T.A. for help.
Tutorials/Conferences: Weekly tutorials with your T.A. will delve deeper into what the professor covered in that week’s lectures.
Independent Learning: You likely won’t have your parents there to tell you to go to class, and not all professors will take attendance. This means it’s up to you to make the most of your university academic experience, and manage your time effectively! Humanities and Social Science courses like History, Economics, English, or Political Science will usually require a lot of reading in your spare time; you won’t have as much class time because you’re expected to do a lot of independent study. Science and Applied Science classes will usually involve more class time, during which you’ll work in labs and in teams.
Access to Programs: Depending on your program, you may have your class schedule determined for you, or you may have a wide variety of choices. Whatever the case may be, take advantage of this opportunity to explore new and different areas that you didn’t experience in high school.
Academic Student Support Services:
- If you’re not happy with the marks you’re getting on essays, or if you’d just like to brush up on your academic writing skills, there are group and one-on-one workshops and tutorials to help you at the Writing Centre.
- Peer tutors are available for all programs – learn from upper-year students who’ve taken the same courses.
- Is English your second language? Join a conversational ESL groups at the International Centre.
- Full and part-time English language courses available at the School of English.
- Always ask the universities you visit what kinds of academic support services they have for students.