The life of a freshman is hectic. You are trying to get used to the hustle and bustle of Downtown Toronto while juggling your school work. We have all been there, or are going through it right now. Never forget that you are not alone because so many people are in the same boat as you. If you need some tips for starting out in Ryerson University, I got your back. Keep reading reading for 50 life saving tips for Freshmen at Ryerson University!
1. Find food coupons.
Every dollar is worth something to a university student. Coupons are a great way to get food from your favourite fast food restaurants while not paying the full price. You can find coupons in the mail, online, or even the newspaper. Also, certain fast food chains let you sign up for emails and within them, they have dozens of coupons.
2. Make connections!
It’s admittedly a scary thing to walk into a new environment not knowing many people. Every class might have 50 to 800 people in them, so it is easy to make friends. You can gain long-lasting friendships, or even a job opportunity if you just say “hello” to someone.
3. Study when you can.
Studying is extremely important because of the numerous tests and quizzes that happen every week. During your breaks between classes, try to get in a few minutes of studying or do some work. Even make a study group for certain courses you are struggling in. Personally, during my commute home, I complete some readings, read over assignments, or study for a test that is later in the week.
4. Take advantage of the resources at the school.
Ryerson University offers many resources that are completely free to students. For example, tutoring, counselling, legal advice, and computer services. These are great resources that can help anyone. Do not be afraid to reach out because these people are happy to help you.
5. Do not forget about walking on the path.
During the winter months, or the days you want to not go on the subway, take the Path. It’s a great way to get to school because it will take you straight into the Eaton Centre in less than half an hour. In addition, there are a lot of shops and places to eat while on your way to school.
6. We have student discounts.
Many stores and restaurants have student discounts. I recommend getting an SPC card and look at all of the stores where you can get great deals. You can get discounts on your commute too. Ryerson offers a GO discount, which is around a dollar; however, anything helps.
7. Get rewards cards.
As students, we frequent going to restaurants to get some food or drinks. Get yourself a reward card or two to places where you go every day or every other day. For instance, at many places, when you buy a certain number of drinks, you will get one free one (and free things just taste better).
8. Give yourself a budget.
Being next to the Eaton Centre is the biggest problem to our wallets here at Ryerson. In addition, with the countless food places, stores, and school supplies needed, our wallets get skinnier and skinnier. Set yourself a budget on how much money you are willing to spend every week, and try your best not to go above. If you are actually under-budget for that week, you can either save it or increase your budget for the week after.
9. Ryerson gives us Microsoft Office for free.
Microsoft Office, even with a student discount, is around $100. But, Ryerson has our back with FREE Microsoft Office subscriptions. Everything is there, from Word, Excel, to PowerPoint. Now, we can do our assignments while having an extra $100 in our pockets.
10. Do not forget to eat.
With a new hectic schedule (that is extremely different from having a set lunch time in high school), you always need to remember to eat. Pack some snacks from home that you can eat during or in between classes. Plus, there are places to take-out food everywhere. Eating is important, and no matter how busy our schedules are, take some time to eat so you do not feel sick.
11. Use a calendar/agenda.
Please, do yourself a favour and follow this tip. The key to success in university is organization and time management. It’s a bit of a struggle at first; however, when you first enter a class, they bombard you with due dates, and the dates for test and quizzes. If you write everything down in an agenda or calendar, you can visualize all of your priorities (work, parties, meetings, etc.,) along with your academic life. I believe Ryerson gives out free agenda during Frosh week too!
12. Check your Rmail and D2L.
I am not lying when I say that these two sites will never leave your computer screen. Rmail is your Ryerson email, and you can use this to contact your Professors, TAs, and other contacts. In your inbox you receive announcement after announcement (which is amazing so you can stay updated with the school). Then, your D2L contains due dates, professors’ announcements, and your class’ power points. So, check your Rmail and D2L because they will keep you updated on everything about your student-life.
13. Go to a few seminars/events the school offers.
There are so many things going on at Ryerson, that one cannot keep track of everything. Especially as a first year, the announcements are overwhelming. Numerous clubs and faculties plan events with guest speakers who are passionate and teach valuable life lessons. The events are so much fun, and if you miss out, there are always more to go to. Attending different events and seminars are a great place to meet new people and build your network.
14. Let your parents help you (no matter how much you want to be independent).
What’s so great about being in University is experiencing independence you may have not had before. Since Ryerson is in the middle of Toronto, it’s even more fun to be independent and explore the city with your friends; however, once in a while, your parents are going to want to help you out. Let them help you in small ways because trust me, if they want to give you some money, that is blessed. Parents sometimes do not want let go of their little kid. You can take their help, especially in times of need.
15. A GPA calculator exists (and you will need it).
Every program has a passing GPA, and the anxiety around passing is something everyone feels. Ryerson’s GPA calculator is a lifesaver because we get our grades in percentages, so we don’t really know our GPA unless we calculate it. This tool will let you know if you are passing the course and the semester.
16. Pack everything you need for class the night before.
Mornings are hectic (especially when you slept at 3 am and only had three hours of sleep). It’s beneficial to take a few minutes out of your night to pack all of your school supplies (calculators, laptop, notebooks, etc.,) so you all you need to do is get ready then leave the house in the morning.
17. Do not be afraid to walk around the school alone.
Luckily, a lot of the buildings in Ryerson are a few minutes away from each other. If you are staying at school late at night, or you just do not feel safe walking around the school, there are security poles located all over the campus. The buttons on these poles call for a security guard to escort you anywhere you need to go. Whether it be to the Eaton centre, subway station, or all the way to Union Station, the security guards are happy to help.
18. Check your undergraduate course calendar.
The undergraduate course calendar contains the courses one needs to take during their time in their program, as well as information about each individual course. This gives you some information about what is to come in your student life. Also, the descriptions for liberals can be found to help you choose which course you want to go through with during your semester.
19. Download the Ryerson app.
This app is great to have as a first year student because it allows you to become accustom to different aspects at Ryerson. From booking a study room, looking at your D2L and schedule, and many more apps, this will become your tiny assistant. You will probably download this in your first year and keep it until you leave the school just so you can have all of Ryerson’s services in the palm of your hands.
20. Always find some time to relax.
No matter how much a University student has to work their hardest to succeed in everything, never forget to take time out of each day to relax. There are more benefits in taking breaks in between work sessions than studying for six hours straight. Have some “you-time” to just do whatever you want to get away from the stress of the school.
21. You are allowed to skip class.
This is not the best thing to do, I recommend you go to every class because the professors give valuable information; however, if you really need/want to, you are allowed to skip a lecture. Of course, some courses have mandatory attendance, so you should definitely go to those. But, if you feel really sick or need some extra time, you can skip class once or twice. Just make sure that you are updated on the lesson afterwards.
22. Eat healthy.
With the temptations of countless fast-food restaurants around the school, students eat there at least once a day. The freshman fifteen is a real thing, people. Just do not forget to eat healthy because the fast-food can be extremely heavy. Now, I’m not saying to only eat lettuce, but to look at healthy options and bring some food from home too.
23. You can use the gyms available on campus.
The gyms are a part of our tuition, so use them once in a while. I understand that with a hectic schedule, the gym is definitely not the first thing on our minds. The gyms are always there for your use all year long whenever you feel the need to get on that work-out flex.
24. You have the ability to opt-out on the school’s health insurance.
A part of our tuition that we do not need to pay for is the health and dental plan the school offers. You can save a few hundred dollars if you opt-out. Ensure that you are covered in some way though, then you can get money deducted from your tuition.
25. Choosing a major can be difficult, you are allowed to change majors.
The hardest thing about applying for university is picking the program you want to be in; however, you may second guess yourself. Believe me, it’s completely fine if you want to switch into another program or change your major. Never feel pressured to stay in a program because you are “stuck” there. There’s a process in which you can switch programs or change your major, and can transfer credits. Don’t sweat it, everything will turn out fine.
26. Buy textbooks used (when you can).
On the course syllabus, Professors will include the textbook(s) they will be using throughout the semester. You can save A LOT of money through buying the majority of your books used, or finding a free version online. Of course, if your Professor tells you to buy a textbook with “a brand new code,” then you have to buy it new; however, if you can find a free version, or join the “used textbooks” Facebook pages, you can have some extra money in your pocket.
27. If you have a part-time job, think of cutting down your hours.
The university-life is extremely time-consuming. Many students have a part-time job to make ends meet, which is extremely understandable. Just remember that, during exam and midterm season, you might need to take a day off or two (especially if they are scheduled during the time of a shift).
28. Never forget about personal hygiene.
Please, take your showers. The rest of the school needs to work as a team to save our noses. Use your deodorants, perfumes and cologne (not too much), and soaps. This is some basic advice. Is it lifesaving? Yes, especially because no one wants to sit beside someone who hasn’t taken a shower in three weeks.
29. Be careful about what you post online.
This is probably something you have heard over and over time again however, it is completely true. University is a time when there are parties and socials happening all the time. Just be really careful when you are drunk and about to post something. It may cost you a job down the line if you accidentally post something inappropriate.
30. You do not need to walk outside a lot.
Getting from building to building without taking a step outdoors – this tip will save you from the freezing cold or boiling hot weather of Canada. If you want to get from TRSM (Ted Rogers School) to Yonge-Dundas/Movie Theatres, you can walk through the Eaton centre and the Dundas subway station. Also, the SLC, Library, POD, Jorgenson Hall, and Kerr Hall are all interconnected. So you can get from one building to another, as long as you know where to go (and which staircase to take).
31. Learn how to write papers in the different forms of citations (MLA, APA, Nature, etc.,).
There are weekly assignments in school. Whether they be small reflections, essays, or research papers, your professor will state what citation style they want their students to write in. Luckily, Ryerson has resources available which show teach you how to do the different types of citations. You need to do this so you do not get accused of plagiarism.
32. Walk into class with the mentality that you will try your best.
Yes, everyone wants to get a 4.0 GPA; however, do not beat yourself up with thinking that not receiving a 4.0 is the end of the world. Try your best in every situation that university throws at you. Aim for that 4.0, but still be happy when you don’t get that grade because there is more than enough time to bump up your grade.
33. Learn the subway system.
Many new students to Ryerson come from suburban cities, and the TTC is a brand new concept. Learn it slowly, because you may need it when you are in a rush getting to school. Learn which side of the station you need to be on because you never want to get onto the wrong platform and travelling in the opposite direction you are aiming for. If you find that you make this mistake, just get off at the next station and get to the other platform of that station.
34. Make a study group (or two).
Study groups are a great place to learn new techniques for studying the countless amount of tests, quizzes, and later, exams. They can give you an incentive to study for a set amount of time every week with a great group of people. Just make sure you pick a hardworking group, especially if you are covering the class you don’t understand well.
35. The SLC elevators are a hassle.
The SLC itself is a place where thousands of students go to everyday to hang out and study. Since people love going to the upper floors, the elevators are a Godsend to the lazy people (a.k.a. everyone). My tip to you is, if you need to get to a floor on a certain time, go to the elevators a bit early so you can make it on time. Or if you are just there to study or something else, expect to be waiting for an elevator for half an hour (or less).
36. Use protection.
It’s not difficult to have safe and consensual sex with your partner(s). Free condoms are available (or you can buy them at the drug stores). Protect yourself from STIs and unwanted pregnancy through different techniques of protection. Also, never forget: no means no.
37. Learn to be independent.
University is a new start of a brand new chapter for every freshman. The brand new independence is extremely overwhelming, remember that there are people on the same page as you. Take your new found independence day by day. For instance, walking from one end of the campus to another, giving yourself a weekly budget, and commuting alone, are great and small ways to learn to be independent.
38. Be confident, while not being obnoxious.
You can make tonnes of new friends and contacts in class. It’s a great thing to be confident; however, try your best not to be over-confident. Sometimes, you may not catch yourself when you are being rude to people, so just be careful and watch what you say.
39. Do not lose your Ryerson ID card.
Your Ryerson ID card is the key to many things. Such as, access to the gyms, allows you sign out library books, and is your form of identification for exams, tests, and quizzes. Also, you can put money on your card to use around the school. Of course, if you lose it you can use an official form of identification, and can always get a replacement card; however, you have to pay a fee to get it. Just memorize your student number just in case.
40. During exams, tests, and quizzes everything will be in alphabetical order.
Personally, all of my quizzes, tests, midterms, and exams are done with a scantron involved. The professors and TAs set up the room so that the scantrons are places in alphabetical order, so make sure you are in the right seat and writing on your specified exam. You don’t want to be sitting there giving someone else the 90% you deserve.
41. Facebook groups might become your new best friend.
Facebook groups are made for literally anything and everything. There are groups from “Accepted Ryerson Students,” “Free Food Locator,” to “Used Textbooks.” You can learn information about the school, your courses, and get some help about school work from your peers. You can also make a few connections with people in your classes here before school starts, which is a great thing so you have someone to sit with during lectures.
42. Go online and listen to reviews.
Look at reviews for different restaurants and stores around Ryerson. I recommend to look up articles about great and cheap food around the campus. These reviews can save you from going places, spending your money, and realizing it was a waste. A lot of places are great to eat at; however, there is a place or two that is a one-star rating on Yelp, among the numerous three-star+ ratings, that you do not want to go to.
43. Make a university bucket list.
This isn’t a tip, it’s more of a suggestion. You can experience so many new things during university, especially because Ryerson is in the heart of Toronto. Aim to go to different events happening at the school and around the city. For instance, Ryerson’s week of welcome or Rams games, or going skating at Nathan Phillips Square and heading over to the distillery for their annual Christmas Market. There are so many great experiences you can gain when you stop your non-stop studying for an hour or two.
44. When it is time to pick your courses, be there.
Before the Fall and Winter semester, RAMMS opens up for people to pick their liberals and other courses. The real struggle is that this happens at around 6 am, and the website is always freezing and crashing. So, if you really want to get into a certain course, be on RAMMS long before the portal opens so that you don’t get intertwined in the chaotic “Hunger Games” of Ryerson.
45. Have your résumé handy.
There are countless of opportunities when you make connections with other students at Ryerson. Always have a résumé ready on your computer that you can print out easily. You may need to give them to professors, clubs may ask for one during the application process, or if you want to apply for a job at the Eaton Centre. It’s always beneficial to have one, and you can constantly make changes and ask career hubs to look over (edit) your résumé.
46. Read your course syllabus.
This is something that will take you a few minutes, but can help you in the long-run. Every course has a syllabus which is the summary of the course. Including supplies you need to buy, weightings of assessments, and the textbook. A lot of your questions about the course can be answered by looking at the syllabus. Of course, if you have a questions, you can ask the professor and TAs (just be prepared to not receive an answer until after a few business days).
47. RateMyProf can really help you out.
Every student receives their weekly schedule before the course selection Hunger Games. In these schedules, your professors’ names will be there. A beautiful website called, “RateMyProf” is a truly a lifesaving website. You can read what other students have to say about your professor, and if the ratings are not the best, you have the ability to switch classes if there is room.
48. Stock up on school supplies.
Most people use their laptops during class to take notes (and to do anything other than schoolwork during class); however, at some point you will need your regular school supplies. Go buy your basic school products before the semester begins so that you don’t need to go back and forth to the store if you forget or lose something. Professors will post on the D2L if need to buy certain products (like calculators), so buy them before all of the stores in the area sell out of them because of the 1000 other students looking for them.
49. Take naps!
Always remember that you are allowed to relax. Admittedly, commuting every day is tiring, then adding the stress of school, many people need some time to take those tempting naps. Close your eyes for a few minutes so that you will be well-rested before you need to do some work. It’s better for you to be wide-awake after a nap and doing great work, than to be pushing through the sleepiness and doing mediocre work.
50. You can go to the washroom without asking the professor.
I don’t know why, but this is my favourite tip because it is something that everyone has told me whenever I ask them for some advice. In elementary and high school, we always needed permission to leave the room, in university you really do not need to. In a lecture hall with 1000 kids, it’ll be a bit embarrassing to ask the professor to go to the washroom, just go. Unless, you are in a smaller class and the professor tells you that you need to ask them before you leave the room. Just try to go to the washroom before or after the lecture, if you want.