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Getting Started on the Path to Success

Are you a 1st year student, wondering how to succeed at university? Or a returning student looking for a fresh start? Check out the workshops & services below and let us help you achieve your academic goals.

Meet some of our upper year YorkU students and recent grads who share tips they wish that they knew in first year.

Meet our Peers


In your first year, give yourself time to adjust and make the most of campus resources! University is a unique time to learn and grow. Try a Learning Skills workshop, use the library, or ask a classmate for help. Follow your passion, and you will feel at home in no time!

-Abbie, Senior Learning Skills Services Peer

A Learning Skills Services Peer, wearing their Blue uniform shirt, sits on the couch at home reading a book


In your first year, don't forget to have fun! I found myself overwhelmed in first year, focusing only on academics. Once I joined a club I started to make friends and find a sense of community. Make the most out of your experience by getting involved at York!

-Garrett, Learning Skills Services Peer

Tips for Getting Started

Start Right Away

Putting off tasks may feel like a method for temporarily reducing stress, but actually it's a recipe for increasing your stress levels as the term progresses. Things won't get easier later on, when the workload snowballs and your deadlines loom ever closer. You don't have to do everything at once, you just have to get started. When you begin a task, you leave behind all the worry and fear that the task is “too big” or “too difficult”. Break the job down into manageable steps, choose one small aspect of the task and get going right away.

Use Course Outlines

Once you see the course from the perspective of the professor, you’ll have a major insight into what (and how) to study for your courses. Seeing the course from this perspective is as easy as carefully analyzing the course outline and course description for the goals, objectives, and topics of the course. Equipped with the knowledge of what is important in the course, you can organize your approach to the course to focus on the main ideas of the course and their inter-connections.

Get into the Right Mindset

Believe In Yourself

Success is all about doing the best you can with what you have. Success is perseverance in the face of challenge; it means rising to the occasion; it means pulling through when times are tough. A positive attitude is a key ingredient in succeeding at university. Taking responsibility for making things happen, following through on tasks, and staying oriented towards your goals will all contribute to success.

Grow As You Go

While each course or assignment might be unique, the skills needed to perform well on them carry over from one to the next. It might seem obvious, but a key element of success is actually paying attention to and working on the feedback you receive. Grades, comments, contradictory information, stress, delight… these are all forms of feedback that can help you to improve. Instead of working harder doing the same things, change your approach gradually on the basis of the feedback that you receive.

Additional Resources

Starting Off StrongLearning Skills Workshop
Secrets of Academic SuccessLearning Skills Workshop
YU STARTA New Student Transition Program designed to support you as you make your way into and through your first Year of York.
Start Strong YU A Reference Guide to navigate in-person, online and hybrid student services.
Ask & Services York Libraries Access support services from York Libraries such as speaking with research librarians, understanding research guides, and more.