Samantha Goverde is a fourth-year Honours Specialization (Sociology) student, with a major in Leadership, at Brescia University College. The Cambridge, Ont., has been heavily involved in student life as founder and president of the Brescia Leadership Association and vice-president (events) for the college’s students’ council. Goverde plans on continuing her education by applying to master’s programs following graduation.
Here’s her advice to first-year students reflecting on what she has learned thus far:
Use the services
- The Registrar’s Office is there to provide support and help you find all the right courses for you. Make sure you look at all your options and consider the requirements of your degree.
- Got a question? Ask.
- There is no such thing as a stupid question when you’re starting university. In three years, I have never heard of anyone who wasn’t willing to help you find the answer. Make sure you access all the resources available – Sophs, council, Student Services, the Registrar’s Office – even a student just walking by will point you in the right direction.
- Access everything. There are many amazing services available to you that you pay for in your annual fees. Learn about all the services available to you and make sure you access them if you need them. Some good ones to keep in mind include health services, career services and the Student Success Centre.
Make your own experience
- Take at least one course outside of your program. It will provide a nice change of pace and you might find a new interest.
- Buy a Frosh kit and go all out during O-Week. It may seem childish with all the cheering, matching T-shirts and over-excited Sophs; you may think you are ‘too cool.’ But it will definitely be the most memorable week of your degree.
- Attend as many of your lectures as possible. You pay thousands of dollars to attend a university. When you split your tuition up by class, you essentially throw away about $50 (or more) for every three hours of lecture you skip.
- Try to keep up with as much of your assigned reading as possible. People always look at a syllabus and think ‘a midterm, a final and in-class participation? I got this.’ But there is nothing worse than cramming seven chapters of Intro Sociology the night before your exam.
- Venture to the other campuses; they all have so much to offer. If you can, try to take a class at each one throughout your undergraduate degree. It’ll broaden your perspectives and help you meet new people.
- Get to know your student government. Whether it’s the University Students’ Council (USC), an affiliate council or a faculty council, they are there for you. They have all the information about various services offered by the university and often have advice for any problem you may be facing.
A little saving
- Opt out of your USC health and dental plan if you don’t need them. If you have coverage through your parents, opting out of the student plan provided by the USC is a great way to get back a couple hundred bucks.
- Explore all the opportunities getting involved – clubs week, student government, residence activities. Find some things you like and go for it. University is as much about what you learn outside the classroom as what you learn inside the classroom.
- Don’t be afraid to volunteer in graduate research. Grad students are always looking for undergraduates to help them complete their research. It’s a good way to help out a fellow student and who knows; maybe one day you’ll be the one looking for volunteers.
- Take advantage of opportunities to broaden your portfolio. Work study or on-campus volunteering are a great way to boost your resume in a way that is still accommodating to your academics. If you can manage, make a commitment to do some sort of volunteer activity at least once a semester.
Learn your new home
- Included in your fees is a 12-month bus pass, so learn how to use the London Transit Commission (LTC) city buses. There are tons of routes through campus and they can get you (almost) anywhere in London. You could need to go from the train station to the mall.
- Get off campus. So much of the student experience happens beyond the Richmond Gates. The biggest mistake I made in first-year was not exploring London and all the wonderful things it has to offer.
- Don’t let the opinions of others stop you from doing something. We all have that friend who doesn’t get excited about anything. Don’t let him/her stop you from doing things you might enjoy. University is about your individual experience, and you don’t want to look back a wish you’d done things differently.