5 Ways to Ruin Your First Year in University

Written by Andres Salazar

For many people, September is the time when we all return to class. For returning students, it simply means having to wake up again early for those 9 a.m. classes and continuing the path toward that precious postsecondary degree. However, for a large section of students, September also marks the beginning of their educational journey. While coming back to university seems second nature to those students in their second, third, or even seventh year, new students might struggle to get the hang of the university groove. All the studying and partying is so hard to juggle at the same time. We’ve all come across countless articles talking about how you can build success early in your university career. Those cheesy blog posts tend to focus on how to build an easygoing school-life balance by setting time limits and advising you to carefully watch your diet. Those guides, however, tend to forget one big detail: students are not perfect robots. Students, like all humans, can and do make mistakes. While many may enjoy the typical success-gearing article, we also need to look at the other side: the things that can bring about disaster. So, for those who need to know, here’s how to ruin your first year at the University of Lethbridge!

  1. Skip Class!

First-year students tend to relish the newfound sense of freedom when they go to university. New students find it so refreshing not to be hassled by school staff when roaming around and feel limitless when professors don’t recognize them in the streets. An incredible way to make sure you enjoy your first year to its fullest extent, just don’t go to those boring lectures. Especially for first-year students taking 1000-level courses in huge auditoriums like PE250, skipping class is easy to do. With classes that have over 300 students, professors likely won’t even notice your absence. Take the lecture time to grab a nice lunch, hang out with friends, or work out. Some classes may dock points for your absence or lack of participation, but it’s probably only about 5%-10% of your final grade, points you can easily make up for later. 

  1. Freshman 15? Come on, bring those numbers up!

Talking to senior students about their first-year experience will usually bring up the idea of the famous “Freshman 15”. A seemingly canon event in every university student’s educational journey, the freshman 15 refers to gaining roughly 15 pounds, mostly from eating all the food from the cafeteria. Instead of meal prepping and keeping track of your macros, put that wallet to use in the SU cafeteria. Why pack a balanced, healthy lunch, when you can get a large beef donburi from Hiroba? Your arteries will probably be clogged from all the salt, but a good Hiroba meal after an exam just feels so right. The smart thing to do would be to keep the cafeteria food to a minimum, to ensure a healthy lifestyle. But hey, you only live once, right?

  1. Party all the time!

When people think about what the first year of post-secondary looks like, the images of getting to know new friends on a new campus come to mind. A time of hope and excitement, post-secondary presents a new beginning and the start of an academic journey. What comes to mind equally as often is the copious amounts of alcohol consumed and all the different nightclubs that you visit. Partying is synonymous with the first year of university, and with there only being one first year, it’s a good idea to enjoy the party lifestyle as much as possible. Go out and meet new friends, go to every happy hour available in town, and give those livers a run for their money. Whether or not you’ve got a midterm soon or an essay due at the end of the week, you can always find an opportunity to party. If anything, you’ll probably remember the late-night beer pong better than the 1000-level courses you barely paid attention to. 

  1. C’s Get Degrees.

High school has taught us that grades are very important. The letter and percentage you get at the end of secondary school dictates what colleges or universities you can attend, and the level of your courses also determines what programs you can or can’t do. Things change, however, once you hit post-secondary. After graduating, most employers won’t care about whether you got a B or a B+ in Spanish 1000. So, use that to your advantage. Instead of putting in long hours reading through your textbook, go watch a movie. Rather than participating in group study sessions, go grab some food at the Zoo. Keep your grades within the C to B- range; chances are, you’ll have that beloved bachelor’s degree in no time. Will you miss out on a bunch of scholarships, constantly be on the verge of academic probation, and risk not getting into competitive fields like the education program? Probably. But that’s okay because instead of crying over your essays and midterm studies, you will have more time to catch up on your favourite Netflix show.  

  1. Homework? You’ll get to it later. 

Every course you take will have some sort of work that will have to be done at home. This can include something as simple as reading a particular textbook chapter to stuff like lab reports and prepping for a big presentation. Common practice says that a slow, steady burn through your homework is the best to ensure high results and a healthy mindset. But there are always things more important to get to first. Why do your homework now when you could always do it later and enjoy the time hanging out, relaxing, or exercising? Leave your homework to the last possible opportunity and grind through it just before the due date. If your homework is a physical assignment, complete it the morning of, and for your online homework, challenge yourself and try submitting it as close to the digital clock’s cutoff as possible. Sure, the couple of hours speedrunning your homework will be excruciatingly stressful, and you may hand in something that is later deemed incomplete, but the power nap you’ll take in the library after your first all-nighter will feel like a luxurious stay in a 5-star hotel.


Being a first-year student in university brings about a load of exciting beginnings and adventures. You get the chance to meet new people, explore new academic topics, and join new social clubs. However, those in their undergrad often stress too much about the pressures of the academic world. Being a student also includes the importance of enjoying your time in school and, maybe even more importantly, learning from your mistakes. Follow this guide and you’ll be sure to make your first year an absolute nightmare. Although, it is sometimes more entertaining remembering how bad your experience was and how you were able to become a better student after ruining your first year in university.

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