Adoption and Family

Things to Do Before You Start First Year University

By Payton Schuck

Note from Paula – My daughter Payton starts university in September. First Year University! Let me first of all say, we are so proud of Payton and can’t wait for her to start, but also it seems like it was yesterday when I was dropping her off for her first day of kindergarten and here we are almost starting university.

She graduated from high school and has been accepted at her top three choices. Two of those are in town and her top choice came through first, so that was exciting to see. Her face lit up that day when she got the first acceptance email and then when the package came in the mail.

What to Do Now Before First Year University or College Starts

So you have been admitted and you have those letters of acceptance in hand! How exciting! I was over the moon when I got the email that said Congratulations, Payton we are pleased to offer you admission to King’s and then came the one from Brescia!! It felt like a huge load off of my shoulders.

And then the pandemic hit and school stopped. Slowly, we have shifted to learning online but there’s a lot fo uncertainty about what Summer and Fall look like here in Canada. That part is hard, especially if you have anxiety as I do. Anyways, there are a few steps you can take now to be sure you are ready when school starts. Fingers crossed the pandemic is under control here soon and life is sort of normal again. I can’t wait to start first year university!

Tour the Campus

Take as many tours as you can, or as needed; however, online would probably be best at this time. All of the universities and colleges are doing virtual tours right now during the pandemic. Make sure you know the basic layout of the campus to make it easier to get around. Memorize landmarks such as the library, lecture halls, cafeteria and student centre.

Talk to Staff on Campus

Getting advice from seasoned staff on campus will be incredibly helpful. You can call them or email asking them questions. 

Talk to Students/Peer Support Students About Campus Life. 

Getting a feel for campus life and what to expect whether you’re in residence or at home, getting connected and meeting people will create a support system if you’re unsure of anything in your first year at university. Maybe a small group of students from your high school started there a year before you. Connect with them, even if that’s via social media to ask what they like or don’t like. Many will be sure to shower you with advice quickly. 

Set Good Organization Habits

Ideally, you worked on those throughout high school, but if you didn’t do really well that way, then start working on that now. Right now, a lot of you are probably doing online learning, just as I am, so stick to a schedule every day and get used to working independently. That skill will be increasingly important in first year university. 

Find Out About Parking and Parking Passes if You Have a Car

Where is the lot? Is the lot always overloaded? Is it far from your first class? What happens if he can’t get a spot in the lot one day where do you park? What is the back up plan for that? Also, if you were on your own in a different city and you have a vehicle, what is your plan for car maintenance should the car not start one morning or should it be stuck in the student parking lot? 

Bus Routes or Shuttles or Both

How will you get to school every day? What bus route is it on? Is there a shuttle system from main campus to your smaller college or just around the campus? This could be invaluable.

Get a Planner or Planning App

Get a planner or begin using an app on your phone now. (time management is super important, especially during your first year which is often one of the busiest)

Meet Other First Year Students

Meet other first year students. Fresh week? Orientation? 

Meeting people in the same position as you will ease your nerves by knowing you’re not alone. And meeting people in your program will give you the opportunity to have à good experience in class and to help each other. 

Explore Campus and Amenities Nearby

Explore campus and surrounding amenities. If you need a bank nearby, a grocery store or a restaurant, you should know where all of those things are.

Meet Your Professors (establishing a good relationship is essential)

This may not be possible until the first day or week of school for some of you. But, connect with them as soon as you are able and figure out when office hours are and what the email is as well for when you have questions or need clarifications.

Things to Do Before You Start First Year University

Set Goals (productivity is key) 

What do you want or expect out of first year university or college?

Have an IEP?

Do you have an Individual Education Plan? Then you need to get that organized, before you get to post secondary, whether that’s college or first year university. Actually, you might need a whole new assessment, so find out when and where and how that gets done. Also, involve your parents because they might have to pay or send to insurance for coverage before you even set foot into a classroom.

Clean up Your Social Media

Remove anything you don’t want future friends or faculty members to see.

Health Care

Know where you are expected to go to find a doctor for mental and physical health. Plug-in mental health support right away, if you might need it. (YOU will need it.) First year is a big adjustment, especially if you might be living away from home. Don’t take chances with health. Also, ask your parents what the situation is with insurance. Are you still covered under their plan? Is there a student plan?


This is one my mom insists that I add. Speak with your parents about what the budget is and how everything is being paid for. How much money from your summer job goes towards tuition or residence or daily living expenses? How does the RESP work? If you have an emergency expense pop up, what is the expectation?

First Year University is Exciting

You are about to start studying something you love and want to study. I mean in high school you had to take a few course you had ZERO interest in, right? For me, that was math. Hated math most years. But art, sociology and psychology!!! Happily all day long!

I hope that soon there is some clarification about what first year will look like for you and for me too. Good luck!!

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.