First Semester: The Mistakes We Shouldn’t Repeat

I’m sure that first semester was quite an experience for all of us, and by “experience”, I’m referring to Professor Randy Pausch’s definition of the word: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”. We all came into university with preconceived notions of what to expect, but statistically speaking, many first-year students are shocked during first semester, when they’re hit with the reality of university. That said however, although we all may have made our fair share of mistakes during first semester, it wasn’t a completely unfulfilling experience. Hopefully, we can all learn from our first semester of university, avoid repeating the terrible mistakes we made, and make our second semester even better.

One thing that I hope everyone has accepted is that, as soon as the semester starts, we need to dive face-first into work-mode. Most people were still in the summer or frosh mindset when school started in September, and the first few weeks of school were spent socializing and procrastinating on readings. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to ease our way into the workload if professors aren’t going to ease into the course (which they don’t). We can’t start off laidback and then eventually become immersed in university life when we feel ready. Again, after that amazing winter break, it’s a struggle to go back to studying, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from first semester, it’s that we have to push ourselves to get back into that mode to avoid falling behind so early in the semester!

The next thing we should be quickly learning, especially around this time when textbook sales are soaring, is that it’s important to keep notes from your past classes. After my exams, I threw out all of my old notes as a celebration of completing the course and never having to take it again, but I now learned that was a huge mistake. That old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” could not be more true when it comes to old course notes, where the price you’re selling a textbook for can go up by ten to twenty dollars with notes included! Also, it’s important to keep your textbook in prime condition, to get more money from future buyers.

Lastly, the golden rule: GO TO CLASS! Skipping class to get a few more hours of sleep may seem like a great idea at the time, but it’ll leave you full of regret when you’re drawing a blank on the final exam because you missed an important lecture. Also, remember you pay for all your classes, even the ones you skip, so you might as well go!

Referring back to Professor Pausch’s idea of experience, he says, “Experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer”. Hopefully, you all use your first semester experiences to create an even better second semester for yourself. Good luck!


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