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Calling all first-years

Here’s how to smooth the transition to university life
By Marilla Steuter-Martin


Returning students may be ready to dive back into the study routine. First-years, however, can find that university is very different from CEGEP or high school.

Dealing with class schedules, understanding academic expectations and adapting to a new environment can be hectic, so whether you’re a veteran Montrealer or just arrived, here’s some advice to help ease you into the school year.

Student responsibilities

University-level academics require a lot of independent work and a sense of individual responsibility. Students are expected to engage actively in their learning, attend classes regularly and stay on top of assignments and readings. Even if attendance is not taken during class, skipping class often results in poor performance in the course.

It’s also important to be aware that academic offences, like plagiarism, are taken very seriously. In order to avoid getting into trouble for improper citations, consider signing up for a Concordia Libraries workshop on how to correctly cite and credit sources. Understanding academic integrity is important — so get to know the Academic Code of Conduct.  

Academic advising

Another important element to making your first-year experience great is to reduce uncertainty. Seeing an academic advisor early on is an excellent way to find out about what classes to take, how to declare a major or minor, or just ask any questions you may have.

University schedules offer a certain amount of flexibility and choice, so making an appointment with an academic advisor through your department is a good way to ensure you’re on track.

Student services

There are a wide range of Student Services to help you make the most of your student experience — both academically and personally — from tutoring and mentoring for academic performance to health services, counselling and fitness programs to support your well-being all year long.

The Student Success Centre is your support network from first-year to graduation. Here you’ll find tutors, mentors, study groups, workshops and a community who want you to excel and perform at your best.

If you’re a new student, you can request a mentor who will provide you with personalized support and guidance, and help you to figure out how to succeed at university.

Starting in September, First-Year Experience seminars will be held on a variety of topics, and there are also seminars available for returning undergraduate students and graduate students.

Career and Planning Services can help you focus your interests in particular fields, and it’s never too early to plan.

Personal counselling appointments are also offered through Counselling and Psychological Services. For new students who might feel the pangs of homesickness or culture shock, having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

Getting involved in student life

The best way to enter a new campus environment is to become involved in clubs, societies or activities with people who share similar interests.

Joining a group or volunteering is a great way to enrich your university experience. But with this in mind, make sure not to overload your schedule with too many commitments early on. Wait to get settled before taking on too much! Visit the Dean of Students office and the LIVE volunteer centre to learn more about getting involved.

Dive in

No amount of helpful tips and advice can completely prepare you for the adventure of university life, but that’s the appeal. Whatever challenges await, the best way to make the most of your first-year experience is to embrace it with open arms and dive into the adventure headfirst.

See the Guide to First Year for incoming students.

Register for a New Student Success Workshop.


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