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From one student to another

Three students sharing information with each other on a laptop.

Let’s face it – post secondary education can be just as stressful as it is fun. So, for those of you moving on from high school to a new chapter in your life, here is your one stop shop for tips to get the most out of post-secondary education!

Get to know yourself: I was 19 when I began University and up until that point I had been floating through life like a jelly fish. I learned quite quickly that in order to succeed I needed to do some serious self-reflection. The thing about post-secondary education is that you don’t have anyone to hold your hand. Your professors will not hound you for your essay or call your parents if you miss a test. If you don’t know who you are, your strengths and weakness, and what you want in life it can be difficult to guide yourself through this process.

Know what you want: “So, what do you want to do AFTER school?” This is a question you will be asked over and over again. If you’re anything like me, your answer will change almost every time. You’ll often hear people say that you don’t need to determine what exactly you want to do until your last year of school. This is semi-true. If you’re considering a post-graduate program, you don’t have to apply until your last year of school. Despite this, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of researching your options as soon as possible. Each post graduate degree has its own admission requirements- these may involve GPA levels, volunteer experience, or required courses. It is very stressful to start researching graduate programs at the last minute, only to find you do not have the requirements to be considered for the program you want. It is important to know what you want ahead of time so you can avoid facing this type of pressure at the end of degree/diploma/certificate.

Financial Assistance: It’s no secret that school can be financially draining. Tuition is high, textbooks are expensive, food costs money and fee’s pop up where you least expect them. Financial assistance can help to alleviate some of the financial pressure that school can rest on your shoulders (Yay!!). However, it is important to note that the pile of money you may receive at the start of each semester is not a lottery winning. Although it sounds like a drag, budgeting can help you to manage your money and prevent overspending. Another great way to reduce the financial burden of student loans is to check out the scholarships and bursaries your school has to offer (no, you don’t have to write essays for all of them!).

Coping Strategies: Picture this: it’s the end of the semester and you have two essays due and a final exam on the same day (Yes, this is a possibility). What do you do? School can be immensely busy and students can easily become overwhelmed. It’s important to know what helps you to cope when things get tough. One thing I felt was very helpful for me during times like these was to be aware of my schedule. This allowed me to avoid that dreaded moment of panic that occurs when due dates sneak up and you’ve hardly written anything. If you’re genuinely overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to approach a professor. Most of the time (but not all) they’re happy to give you an extra day or two to help you out.

Socialize: This is one of the most rewarding aspects of post-secondary education. You have the opportunity to make life-long friends. However - don’t get discouraged if this isn’t something that happens immediately. Volunteering can be a great way to meet new people and develop relationships. Don’t be afraid to approach people. You’re probably not the only one looking to make new friends!

Your experience in post-secondary education is highly dependent on what you put into it. So be sure to research what your school has to offer and fully immerse yourself in your education. If you need help, don’t worry! Check out your school's Counselling office or visit mindyourmind's Wellness section for some handy tips to help you handle the transition, cope with stress, plan your future and stay healthy!