As most students realize, college either can be the best four years of your life—or the longest, most painful, bankrupting experience if done wrong.
While post-secondary students more than likely were successful high school kids living with their parents, moving out on their own can be a difficult pill to swallow.
But after receiving a degree at the end, it can be the most rewarding experience, as well.
“I wish I knew it’s not as scary as everyone makes it out to be because it’s so fun,” said Lauren Davis, who spent last year at the University of Ottawa majoring in psychology.
“There are so many great people to meet and so many ways to get involved in,” she enthused.
“It’s a totally different experience. It’s hard work, but it’s not just work.”
While Davis admitted being worried about the lifestyle change heading in, she can’t wait to head back for her second year.
“I’ve never lived away from my parents, I’ve never lived in the city, I’ve never even been to Ottawa,” she remarked.
“And it was weird at first, but I adjusted pretty quickly and learned how to do things on my own, and I wasn’t so scared anymore.”
But for some students, their first year can be an eye-opener to how hard college or university can be.
“I found out that I needed to be more focused on my school work and more disciplined, and needed to get my homework done and assignments done beforehand,” said Kali Hamilton, who ventured off to the University of Manitoba, taking University One courses.
She has been accepted into nursing come September.
Hamilton also said she wasn’t scared about moving away from home, but rather was looking forward to meeting new people.
She also enjoyed having to act like a grown-up for the first time.
“Being able to take care of myself and be responsible, and feel like an adult,” she noted.
“I did enjoy the classes, too,” Hamilton added. “It was a different atmosphere, and there was a lot more people in your classes and more professional.”
But one thing she regretted her first year was not living in the dorms.
“For advice for new incoming students, I do say definitely go into residence to meet people,” stressed Hamilton, who instead chose to live with family friends in Winnipeg.
“I didn’t go into residence so that was probably something I would have changed.”
Hamilton said meeting new friends was one of the problems caused by not living in residence.
“It’s quite difficult [making friends], actually, because you only see these people every so often,” she remarked.
“Once I’m in the [nursing] faculty, I’ll be able to see the same people, same faces, over and over again so I can get to know people.
“It’s quite hard to make friends first year.”
She also passed along two pieces of good advice to the next set of students who move away from the comforts of home in the coming weeks.
“You have to have fun and you have to enjoy your classes, but you also have to be disciplined and get your stuff done,” she stressed.
“Set goals and achieve them.
“It’s easy, and it makes you feel a lot better about yourself when you set goals,” she reasoned.
Former Fort High class president Moreta Onichuk is one of the students leaving home for the first time, heading to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay for the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education programs.
With this being her first time away from home, Onichuk has mixed feeling about the move.
“I’m nervous,” she admitted. “I come from a big family so being in Fort Frances, you see a lot of people and say, ‘Hey.’ But going to Thunder Bay, it’s not going to be like that so I know that it is going to be a lot different.
“My best friend is staying here to go back to school, and I know a lot of people staying back to go back to school, so I don’t know that many people that are going, so it’s going to a huge new experience,” Onichuk added.
She is following Hamilton’s advice and living in residence—a move she’s now looking forward to residing with a roommate.
“I was really nervous for it at first, but we got in contact through Facebook and we have been Facebook messaging back and forth and we have a lot in common,” she noted.
“We have been preparing together for it, so it has made it a lot easier on my mind that she is not crazy.”
With less than a month before the big move, Onichuk is busy preparing for her new adventure.
“I’ve been making lists and I’m actually going down [to Thunder Bay] in a couple of weeks to do a tour to see what I can bring,” she remarked.
“I worked two jobs, so this summer I’ve had three days off, so I’m working hard to save up money to come home as often as I can.”
Onichuk offers this piece of advice to her fellow freshmen getting ready to head off.
“You’re never too prepared,” she suggested. “Think of everything because it’s an experience trying to find everything you’re going to need.
“I know a couple of other girls who are going who never thought to bring bandages with them since they never thought they were going to get cut,” she noted.
“Not knowing the little expenses, like shampoo and Q-tips, that they are going to need to pay for themselves now.”