The transition

Write things down

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you have a lot going on at once, so try to get things down on paper. To-do lists, charts, alarms, notes, whatever method you have to make some of the planning process tangible. In other words, try to turn the tasks that are stressing you out into something manageable that you can touch, refer to, and check off or shuffle around.

Join things

The real way to meet people at U of T is to  join things! Recognize that you’ve been handed a rare opportunity to just try stuff, that everyone else is also just trying stuff, and that it’s OK to be a beginner because so is everyone else. Join a student newspaper (like The Varsity, perhaps), join a religious club, join a crafting club, go to a commuter student centre (sometimes they have free food), see a play, meet someone for coffee. Try to take the first steps, and don’t be afraid to have a bit of a rough time at first.

Do your readings

This seems self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised. It’s easy to fall behind if you miss the first few weeks, so make the effort to read and annotate at least one reading per week. Even if you couldn’t get to all of them, power through and make sure you understand the main concepts. Side note: it can be helpful to print readings and go through them with a pen and highlighter rather than reading PDFs off a screen — the library printers are cheaper when you print four-on-one-page and double sided.

Develop your own tricks for studying

Everyone has their own study routine that works best for them. For example, I’m easily distracted, so I use a browser extension to block social media for half-hour intervals and 5-minute breaks. I also like to get myself tea or coffee or something to reach for besides my phone when I get bored. Colour coding is an effective strategy — sticky tabs, highlighters, and pens are your friends.

High school is over

I am 100 per cent serious. There are no popular kids, everyone is a nerd, and if anyone has time to be cliquey, that’s because they’re not doing their homework. Friendships will naturally form, so just try to be pleasant and open-minded.

Prioritize

Time is not an infinite resource, and while the options are endless, focus your energy on the things that matter to you the most — it’s a strategy that usually helps keep the big picture in sight.