Things I Wish I'd Known Before University

Nervous about coming to Thompson Rivers University (TRU)? Don't worry, this fear is something we have all experienced. From our acceptance letter jitters, to arriving on campus for the first time, starting university can be an emotional rollercoaster.

Coming to TRU, I experienced many of the same feelings you're probably feeling right now. From the fear of making new friends to the physical size of campus, it's a lot, and that's okay.

My biggest fears when starting university

To give you some reassurance, I thought I'd share my biggest fears — and how I overcame them.

1. My age

As the new kid on campus, it feels as if you are a tadpole in an ocean. It can be nerve-racking, but that's understandable. When I came to TRU, I was just sixteen years old — I didn't even have my driver's licence yet! On my first day of university, my mum drove me to school and took my photo outside of Old Main. I walked into my first class nervous that I would be an outsider, too young, or worse: alone.

As my class continued, I participated for the first time in... forever. I felt welcome and hopeful that this was a new start for me. My classmates accepted me and talked with me like I was any other student. It really wasn't as bad as I thought. In fact, I actually enjoyed my first class and came out with a smile.

Starting something new is never as bad as you think. Of course, we all have doubts and worries but most of the time everything turns out all right. And if you are nervous about coming to TRU, just remember that it can't get worse than having your mum drive you to university and pause for a photo-op (or if that happens to you too... at least you know you're not the only one)!

2. Making friends

Making friends on campus was definitely the part I was most nervous about when coming to TRU. Arriving on campus, I didn't know anyone... But by the second week of school, I had already met some of my best friends.

The biggest advice I can give for making friends is join extra-curricular activities. Personally, I am not enough of an extrovert to make friends in class (although I did eventually), which is why I joined a sports team in my first year at TRU. For my first year, I was on the WolfPack Cheerleading team where I made a ton of friends, and the best part was that we shared a common interest.

Now, I'm not saying you need to try out for the WolfPack in order to make friends, but I am saying that participating in an organized sport or activity is a great way to meet people who share the same interests as you. I found the friendships I made in sport to be the strongest friendships in my life because of our shared interest and passion for being active. This is also great if you are an introvert like me and have a harder time going out of your way to meet people.

By being in an organized activity, you are more likely to talk to people because you are all there for the same reason, which I found comforting. TRU has many opportunities to join clubs, intramural sports, and many other organized activities!

3. The size of campus

My final fear when coming to TRU was the size of campus. Although TRU does not have a particularly large campus in comparison to other institutions, it is still a big adjustment when coming from high school.

Personally, the best way I familiarized myself with campus was taking a campus tour. I was shown around by a peer, which made it way less stressful when school started. I was able to see where my future classes would be located, the best places to study, and where student services are.

If you are anything like me and love to be organized and prepared, I highly recommend going on a campus tour with the Future Students Office before classes start. This made coming to campus a lot less scary and made me feel confident for my first week of school. Who knows, it could even be me leading your tour!

What I wish I'd known...

Now that you know how to overcome your fears, or at least how I did, I want to give you some advice on how to navigate university and make the most of your time at TRU!

1. Explore classes that interest you

The first piece of advice I have for you is to take classes that interest you. Although you may have a major in mind, I recommend not committing to it right away. For many students their topic of interest changes while in university, and that's perfectly normal.

Your time in university is meant for exploring your interests, which will ultimately help you decide what you want to do in life. In my first year at TRU I took courses that sounded cool and interested me. Although a lot of them had nothing to do with the major I was thinking of, I took them anyway to explore my options.

This may sound like a waste of time (trust me, I thought so too), but the courses you take will still count as electives towards your degree.

As a communications major, I have taken anthropology, sociology, and rock music history; none of which have a direct correlation to my degree. They were all part of my exploration of interests here at TRU which in turn helped me make my decision and feel confident in my future studies.

2. It's okay to change your mind

Another thing that I wish I had known was that it is okay to change your mind. It's okay to change your degree, style of study, and even course load. Five courses for two semesters is not for everyone and I want to remind you that it's okay to choose your own path.

Personally, I have changed my course load, work schedule, and even sports just based on my needs throughout my time at TRU. My first year I took 3-4 courses, worked a part time job, and was a student athlete. Now in my third year I am taking 5 courses and am a Future Student Ambassador.

My priorities as a third-year student have changed from when I was in my first year. It's okay to not take the path that is expected — TRU is flexible and allows for you to find yourself while in school.

3. Being a student can be a full-time job

The last thing I wish I knew was that being a student can be a full-time job. Being enrolled in a certain number of courses is considered full-time for a reason. And although I recognized that when coming to TRU, I didn't take it seriously until this year. I always thought full-time students have a part-time job or do more than just study.

And although that may be the case for some, it doesn't have to be considered normal. Putting pressure on yourself to do everything and work yourself to the bone is not always attainable. Everyone's situation is different, but be mindful of your workload, as you don't want to experience burnout.

Well, that's it! These were my biggest fears, how I overcame them, and what I wish I knew. I hope this helps you as a prospective student to be as successful as you can when coming to TRU. And all I can say is to make the most of university and to not to rush your studies, because everyone finds their path at different times — just enjoy the ride!

Check out more advice from TRU students