Making the adjustment to university can be a difficult task. Not only do you have to adapt to new surroundings, you have to cope with more work than in high school and higher expectations from those who teach you. But you also have more control over your learning experience than you had in high school. Remember: you alone decide how much you are going to get out of your courses. It takes time, energy,and perseverance, but if you work out a solid strategy for managing your work load and follow it, you can achieve both success and satisfaction in your program. If you don't know where to start, ask your professors for assistance. They are there to help you succeed. In fact, every incoming music student is provided with a faculty mentor as part of our ongoing program to ensure caring, personalized guidance throughout the student's academic career at UPEI.
Below are a few general tips for surviving your first year:
Learn to manage your time effectively. It may help to create a weekly calendar (or purchase a small appointment book) in which you can schedule not only your classes, but also your practice times and study periods. Without a schedule, you may quickly find yourself facing a number of deadlines without knowing how you will ever meet them. By adhering to a schedule for your out-of-class time, you will be less succeptible to procrastination and you will also feel good, knowing that you are working toward the completion of tasks and the accomplishment of goals.
Keep up with the regular work of each class. It's easy to fall behind. With your applied study, it is crucial to maintain a rigorous practice routine if you wish to perform well in juries and recitals. For your academic courses, strive to stay on top of course readings and assignments so that the workload remains manageable.
Break down large projects into smaller parts. This allows you to work toward a series of small goals instead of being overwhelmed by one very large goal. If you have a major paper to write, set deadlines for various stages of your work so that you won't have to scramble the night before it's due to complete it.
Seek help when you have difficulties. If you have difficulty understanding certain materials in a course, make an appointment with the professor to discuss it. Your professors are eager to help you (particularly your faculty mentor)! Don't wait until until the problem is insurmountable: find a solution immediately so that you can get on with the rest of the term. Your fellow students may also be good sources of assistance: by working through an assignment with another student, you help each other (and the task can be more enjoyable, too!). If you encounter non-academic problems (i.e., financial or personal) that prevent you from achieving your full potential at UPEI, the experienced staff at Student Services are ready and willing to help you work toward solutions. You are not alone on campus!
Eat healthy food regularly. When you become deeply involved with your work, it can be hard to take the time to eat properly, but it is essential that your body receives sufficient nutrients to perform adequately. So take time for three meals each day and, if necessary, keep a healthy snack and a bottle of water in your knapsack for those times when you find yourself too busy to sit down for a proper meal.
Sleep. Make sure that you give your body the rest it needs every night. By depriving your body of sleep through the school year, your performance (both academic and musical) will eventually suffer. Frequent "all-nighters" are much less successful than a well-thought-out and carefully-followed schedule of work and study.
Keep fit. By engaging in some kind of regular physical activity during the term, you will have more energy to tackle your school work and you will feel better, too. Even if it is simply a short brisk walk around the campus, the break can help to clear your mind and allow you to return to your work with renewed vigour.
Have fun. If all you do at university is work you will miss out on many of the other wonderful aspects of UPEI life. Sure, it will be difficult at times to tear yourself away from your studies in order to socialize (and many times your studies will have to come first), but it can also be a healthy change of pace. The key is finding a balance between your studies and your social activities; when you strike a good balance between the two, you not only get the most out of your courses, you also get the most out of your whole UPEI experience.