An open letter to university students in their first year


Congratulations on being accepted into university. It is an honour that many cannot afford and you have been chosen to attend. Your first year will be a whirlwind and it may take you that long to wrap your head around it all. Don’t worry, I have been in your shoes.

After a long struggle of hard work and fighting for what I believed was right, I graduated in May. It was a long time coming. Starting next week I am back in university, this time as a teacher candidate. For some of you it may take three years to complete your degree, some five and some eight, depending on your field of study. I was in university for thirteen years, thirteen long years, but I persevered through it all. Life happened. Things happened. The most important thing to know is that I made it through everything that was thrown at me, making me a stronger person because of it.

There will be times when you feel overwhelmed. It is okay. There will be times when you suddenly feel a wave of anxiety and it creeps up from nowhere. It is okay. There will be times when you feel like your whole world is caving in and the mountain of assignments, impending deadlines, and numerous block of midterms or finals are suffocating you. It is okay. You’re going to feel like no one understands your schedule or your future plans. No one could understand why I chose Criminology as a field, but it made complete sense to me. “Why in the world would you want to work with dead people?” I heard it all the time. Unless they have been in your shoes, no one will ever understand the life of a university student. The money you have forked over, or the debt you have incurred in order to fund your post-secondary education. The blood, sweat, and tears you have shed… only you will know what it is like.

Your life is about to become extremely busy and incredibly stressful. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you want to do, or let anything (or anyone) step in the way of your goals. Everything will work out and it will be fine. I am here to tell you that everything will be okay. Don’t kill yourself by studying too much, it’s okay to take a break and let loose. Don’t shield yourself from your family or friends, you need to spend time with them (if you can). Don’t ignore your own mental health, because, it’s your life and you are incredibly important. All that you need to know is that everything will be okay and you will come through your university years a successful and strong person.

Become an organized student. Creating study schedules will help you deal with all of those assignments. Don’t do a last minute cram session because your brain will purge all the important information. Take a day out of the chaos to spend time on yourself – date night for one, a manicure/pedicure, go out for coffee; go for a walk, go to the gym, binge watch your favourite TV show on Netflix. Take care of yourself.

To the students half way there or completing their degree this year – keep going and don’t give up. The light at the end of the tunnel is almost there. You may not get a job right out of university, but keep trying. Everyone has to start from somewhere. Working hard means you will get to reap the benefits, just have the patience to get through it. Have fun, work hard, and don’t stress too much.

Good luck and best wishes to you all. Keep your chin up, kid.

Don’t forget to breathe.