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Starting Post-Secondary School? Here are 10 Tips to Get Started on the Right Foot!


Beginning post-secondary school is a major transition period. Between navigating new

social circles, adapting to a new learning environment, and discovering who you are

along the way, post-secondary students have a lot on their plate! It is no wonder that

most students feel nervous, or even overwhelmed at times. Thankfully, we have some

practical tips that you can implement today that will help support you as you embark

upon your post-secondary journey.


1. Create a Routine

We get it; it’s tough to find your groove when so many things are new! Creating a

routine for yourself can be a great way to provide some structure and

consistency while you adapt to being a post-secondary student. Try waking up

and going to sleep around the same time each day, and add a few things in your

schedule (e.g., going to the gym; eating meals; class times) that you can rely on

to give your days some consistency and structure.


2. Establish a Sleep Schedule

This skill tends to be simple, but not easy! With so many new things to do and

people to meet, setting a sleep schedule might seem… well… kind of boring. But

trust us – having a sleep routine can make a world of difference to your mental

health and overall wellbeing! Try setting a regular time to go to bed, as well as a

routine wake-up time before you begin classes. This way, your body is used to

your sleep schedule by the time the semester starts, and you can start the school

year feeling refreshed and ready to go!

3. Explore Your Campus… Before Classes Start!

Lost on campus – it’s a canon event. Most students have at least one story to tell

about struggling to find their class… after the class began! One great way to

avoid this common stressor is to visit all of your classrooms and lecture halls

before the semester actually starts. That way, you know where you are going,

and perhaps know where the nearest coffee shop is along the way.


4. Connect with New People

If this tip sounds a bit daunting, rest assured, you are not the only one feeling this

way. Most first-year students are new to the campus (and maybe even the city!)

and are seeking new connections too. If you are living on residence, introduce

yourself to your neighbours! You can also try starting up a conversation with a

classmate (asking what program they are in, or if they are living on campus can be a great place to start). Joining a club, sports team, or a society is also a great way to connect with likeminded students. Oh, and don’t skip the first-year orientation events. Some of the activities might seem a bit corny, but everyone who attends is along for the same ride!

5. Remember to Nurture Old Relationships Too

If you are starting post-secondary school, chances are you couldn’t pack up all of

your old friends and bring them along with you. With that said, those old friends

are still important, and keeping up with them can help keep you feeling

connected and supported. So, create a group chat or schedule in a phone call!

Continuing to prioritize time for valued relationships almost always pays off in the

end.


6. Create a Budget

Whether you are still living at home or have moved out for school, having a

budget can help reduce financial stress and make sure you allocate expenses

realistically advance! Remember to include the necessities first (e.g., food,

parking, etc.), and then consider adding in some room for unplanned expenses

(e.g., social outings, nights out, etc.) afterwards.


7. Get A Calendar Going

Whether it’s a virtual calendar, or an old-fashioned agenda, having your semester

planned out in advance (in writing!) is one of the best ways to reduce stress and

reduce your chances of missing things. When you get your course syllabi, write

down all of the big dates (e.g., assignment due dates; exam dates; etc.) and

when you plan to start working on them. This way, deadlines don’t creep up on

you, and you can allocate your time accordingly!

8. Keep Your Living Space Tidy

It can be hard to focus when your space feels cluttered or disorganized! Plus,

depending on the size of the mess, cleaning up can also be an added stressor.

One of the best ways to keep things neat and tidy is to get things organized when

you first move in (and before classes start!), and then regularly maintain your

living space on a regular basis. If you have roommates, having an agreed-upon

chores schedule can also help!


9. Set Achievable Goals

The transition into post-secondary school can be overwhelming at times. Setting

reasonable and achievable goals can help boost your confidence and keep you

motivated to keep moving forward. Try setting two or three attainable goals for

your first semester, write them down somewhere where you can see them, and

see how they go! Pro tip: look up ‘SMART goals’ online – it’s a great format for

making sure your goals are not only attainable, but well-structured too!

10. Seek Support Early

One of the most effective ways you can take care of yourself heading into post-

secondary school is to make sure that you have supports in place in advance (or

at least know where to access them). For example, if you need learning

accommodations, seek out academic support services before your classes start

so that you have all of the tools you need to get started on the right foot.

Likewise, if mental health support is something that feels of value, get connected

with support services early. You don’t have to struggle on your own or wait until

things hit a breaking point to get the support you need to thrive.


Remember, if you find that you are really struggling with the adjustment, reach out to your support network, university counselling services or a private therapist for more support.

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