Note: This blog post was written on April 26, 2018 right after my last week in college.
Wow. 4 years in college. Doesn’t it sound intimidating? To me, 4 years ago, it wasn’t that much of a big deal because I really needed to graduate and get that diploma. But halfway through it, it became scary. I mean, I’m halfway through but why does it seem so overwhelming now? I was ready to drop out (again) because of circumstances but thankfully I didn’t do it. And here I am, I just finished taking my graduation photo and #gradwaiting. I mean, my grades aren’t up until next week, hopefully I pass all my subjects, but I am awaiting for the convocation eventually. So, how did I do it? How, as a new immigrant in Canada, did I finish 4 years of college here? It wasn’t all ups, there were a lot of downs as well but one thing is for sure… God is with me. Along with that are some of my tactics on how I survived college:
1. Be friendly towards your classmates
Canadians are naturally friendly. So naturally you are expected to be friendly as well. Where I came from niceness sometimes can lead to the wrong idea, it’s either you are called “plastik”, a fake person, or you’re naïve. But here, it’s the norm and one of the reasons why I like being in Canada because they are genuinely nice. You will survive college if you’re not a rude person because if you’re friends with your classmates, they can update you if you are absent in class regarding the lesson that was discussed and groupworks won’t be hard for you.
2. Be open minded
Don’t be small minded or thinking just inside a bubble. Think outside the box and use your imagination. Also, use Google for almost everything you think of. Accept love and don’t tolerate hate. Accept and understand different religions because Canada is a diverse country with different nationalities living here. Never get pride get away with your emotions or think you are better than anyone or else you won’t get any friends in college.
3. Check your school email regularly
The school email is like, the Daily News, per se. It’s where the teacher communicates with the students, not only the teacher but the Dean, Course Coordinator, Advisor and the head of the school communicate with the student. It’s where you’ll know what will happen to class, what you can ask the teacher what happened to class if your absent or any information you need to know you can email directly the teacher. I mean, you can call them, but mind you, they prefer email because they can reply faster there.
4. Use the tutoring services/ career services
When I first started going to college, I was advised by my mentor (from the SMILE program) to use the tutoring services for almost everything that you could think of if they can help. I asked them for tips in essay writing for my english courses, I had a weekly tutor for math and accounting subjects and even general education courses they can help as well. As for career services, I attended workshops on how to build resume, cover letter, what are my career goals and steps, etc. They can help you succeed, and indeed they helped me succeed in college.
5. Your school website is your best friend
The school website has everything. It has your class notes, your grades, references, resources, MLA Citation tips, many to mention. You need to know it by heart if you want to survive college. Usually the username and password gets changed every now and then for security. If you have a Laptop, Tablet and a Phone (who doesn’t by the way), download the app for the website so you can access it anywhere. They have computers at school as well so you can log in anytime at school if you need to print a document or make a last minute presentation.
6. Get a part time job or volunteer
You don’t have to use your brain all the time in going to college. Use your body as well so it’ll balance out. Get a part time job so you can have money and explore the city so you can unwind. If you think getting a job is too much stress on top of school, you can volunteer so it can be at your own time. OSAP isn’t enough to sustain you though, I’ll tell you that, that’s why I prefer you to get a job at least in the first half of college life and in the remaining half you can now concentrate on graduating.
7. Have fun sometimes but not all the time
All work and no play makes James a dull boy. I think that’s the phrase. Anyway, it’s true, if you can’t learn to unwind once in a while, you might become nuts! And mind you, you don’t want to experience that (Been there). You can hang out with your friends, or family, and go out and eat once in a while. Go bowling. Check out the scenery in Toronto. Go snowboarding when it’s winter or ice skating. Whatever. Just don’t forget that assignment that you’ve been putting off because the deadline will surely come. Do your best to live life but don’t forget your priorities as well.
8. Surround yourself with people who believe in you
This is significant. For me, I surrounded myself with people who are go getters only, not toxic people because if they fall, you will fall as well. Gratefully, I have a family who believes in me even though I was at my lowest point that I didn’t think I would finish college anymore. Thankfully God is with my family, they helped me get back up on my feet and run the race once more. When you surround yourself with people who believe in you, you rise up and in the end hit that goal that you’ve been wanting to reach.
9. Friends are important in your journey
Friends are friends even if it’s a small circle. I had a small group of friends back home in the Philippines but here I only have 3 friends, nevertheless I thank them for being understanding of what I went through and for being a beacon of light to my darkest days. I’ve met many acquaintances whom I thought were friends in the end they just let me down. You really have to choose your friends in college because it can make or break you.
10. Understand that everyone has different time zones
I was supposed to finish college in 3 years. But because life has its many surprises and mysterious ways, I ended up finishing college another year due to (again) circumstances. But nonetheless, the Lord is still good. You have to understand that college isn’t a race or a sprint, it’s a marathon. Even though you may not finish in time that your peers, it’s okay, as long as you can get there and get that diploma. It took me 7 years in total, shifting from nursing school in the Philippines to business school here in Canada. But in the end, it’s the same. You will still get that diploma no matter how long it takes.
And there you have it, my tips on how to survive college here in Canada. I hope you got something out of the things I have said. By the way, feel free to comment below your thoughts on my write up.
‘Til next time,