First Year Jitters: Staying true to your purpose and goals

Ryerson shoot at the SLC March 22, 2018.

University life and the pursuit of an engineering degree is, and always will be an emotional roller coaster for the most. In the last 3 years, I’ve noticed that at the beginning of the academic year many first year students begin to feel disconnected from their program and that is a natural human response to sudden change. I want to tell you something; stay true to yourself and your goals.


The common first year of engineering is a little boring and difficult because of the sudden transition to university from high school, as well as the step up in academic difficulty levels. Don’t let these intimidate you. Striking a balance between education and personal life is the key to a successful run in university. I remember I had a difficult time finding this balance, and the thought of switching out of engineering came up a number of times in my first semester. You must be strong in the face of this challenge and stay true to goals. 


With the pandemic still raging on, finding this balance may prove difficult. It may seem like there’s nothing you can do, but the key here is patience. We’re all experiencing “pandemic fatigue” after so many months of social distancing. Be patient and try your best to get involved. All groups, societies, and course unions have moved their events online. Give these events a chance. Join student groups, case competitions and webinars. Attend special events and try your best to be social. Here are some things you can do to help you power though this year:


  1. Check the REDI website often to see what new events are coming up soon. Stay tuned for newsletters which signal case competitions, events and more. 
  2. Join the newly conceived Discord channels and follow your favourite student group on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest developments.
  3. Find a hobby and stick to it; an activity that keeps you engaged and calms you down. This can be anything from going to the gym, coding or reading a book. Your hobby needs to be an integral part of your schedule which will force a balance between your academic and social life.
  4. Tidiness can help you immensely in your studies. Keep your notes clean and organized, have a schedule for studying and try your best not to waste your weekend. One thing that always helps students is using a tablet or hybrid laptop to annotate slides and write notes. It helped me immensely when it came to studying effectively as the tablet would keep me actively engaged with the course content. Another bonus is the ability to search your handwritten notes when writing reports or studying.


There’s so much more to engineering than the things you learn in first year. They may seem dry but they are the necessary foundations for something great. Once you enter second year, especially the second semester of second year, things will change for the better. You will have far more interesting course content. 


To summarize, power through! You made the right choice when you decided to join engineering. Stick to your decision and be patient. If you absolutely feel like there’s no way forward, talk to your academic advisor to find a better path forward. Dedicating 4 years of your life to a degree is not much in the grand scheme of things but they pay off is massive. Good luck with your studies and I wish you all the best for the years to come!

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