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5 things I wish I knew as a first-year student

Convocation is fast approaching with only one week until hundreds of Red Deer College students cross the stage at RDC’s 55th Convocation ceremony.

Graduating is exciting and nerve-wrecking. Your responsibilities are about to change. No longer will life be about handing in assignments, writing final exams, figuring out random class schedules, and spending way too much money at Tim Hortons, Starbucks or the Farside.

After looking back at my time spent at RDC, if there were five things I would have told myself two years ago, they would be this.

  1. Get involved. You are never going to find so many people in one place who are just like you, so get out there and meet them! Attend the events put on by Campus Recreation, you are bound to like at least one of them. Join a Society on campus. Sign up for the Agora Undergraduate Conference. If you don’t like public speaking, try joining the committee or just attend the event, you will be amazed at how talented your fellow RDC students are. Cheer on your Kings and Queens at a game, we have amazing athletes on campus and admission is free for students!. Attend the Long Night Against Procrastination events in the Library Information Common. Stay up late, eat pizza, snacks, get assignments done and meet new friends. I decided to be on the Agora Undergraduate Committee and a Student Representative on the Academic Council for the School of Arts and Sciences. I met other students and got to know more about my instructors. Getting involved on campus is not only a great way to increase your fun had while you are here, but it is also a great addition to your resume when you head into the real world to work.
  2. Learn the campus services because you never know when they will come in handy. Whether you are super stressed or you need help with writing your resume and cover letter, the Counselling and Career Centre is your go-to. Not feeling well? The Health and Wellness Centre has a nurse, and once a week a doctor to help you out right here on campus. The Library Information Common has staff there to answer citation questions and a Writing Centre for all those essay needs. The study rooms are great for group projects, too. The Print Centre can assist you in making your projects come to life.
  3. Pace yourself and stay organized. For me, my life was on the app called iStudiez Pro. As soon as the syllabus was handed out, all of my assignments, quizzes, and exams went into that app which was set to remind me at least a week before they were due. It ensured me that I also knew what was coming up and I never missed a due date. They were organized by class and colour. The app for Blackboard is another one that is great to stay organized. If a class is cancelled, room change, or your grade is updated you will get a notice right there on your phone. It keeps the panic to a minimum.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone on campus is here to help you succeed. Attend the office hours of your instructors if you need to, and ask if you are unsure of anything. Personal problems? It never hurts to give your instructor a heads up. I found that when instructors knew you were going through a hard time, they weren’t surprised if you asked for an extension or if you were not in class. Or, they were just a great person to talk to. By the end of your time here at Red Deer College, you will get to know instructors very well. Some you will love, some you might not but they are going to get you to your end goal.
  5. Remember that everyone is going through the same thing that you are. Don’t enjoy public speaking, presentations, or essays? Don’t worry, most people feel the same. But you are all in this together. Support each other. I remember giving a speech in one of my classes in my first year, I was absolutely terrified. But I looked up and made eye contact with a classmate of mine. He smiled, gave me a nod and that was everything I needed to take a deep breath and keep going. I guarantee he doesn’t remember that but over a year a later that is still a strong memory of mine. My second year, those class presentations were no big deal because I has the support of my classmates and my instructors.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself and make memories. Remember the laughs, the good times and the hard times because they all help make you who you are. In five, ten or twenty years, you are not going to remember the late nights, early mornings, the stress of exams or the research papers. You are going to remember the people you met, your favorite instructors, the events you went to and the activities you got involved in so make your college experience count!


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