From High School to York U: Things to Consider

Posted by Arshia on May 14, 2015

Academic Success | Student Life

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Tackling some of the most talked-about issues about starting life as a York U student.

Even if you’re a commuter, there are tons of ways to make new friends.

Though York University is known for being one of the largest schools in Canada, it’s actually much easier to make friends here than you might think, regardless of whether you live in residence or commute, or whether you have classes at Keele or Glendon. Here are some of the ways you can make friends.

Clubs and Volunteer Opportunities: There are more than 300 clubs and organizations on campus. Each club is made up of students like you who are hoping to make friends with common interests. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might be interested in joining Keele campus’s Ministry of Magic or Glendon’s Order of the Phoenix/L’Ordre du Phénix. If you’re a social activist and want to meet others who support the same cause, you could join Leave the Pack Behind (LTPB), a tobacco-control initiative encouraging YU students to think twice about smoking. Or, you could take part in the RAK Project (Random Acts of Kindness), an official York U club helping people feel better about their day. These are just a few of the groups you can be a part of that can give you a strong sense of community.

Check out one of RAK’s latest acts of kindness:

The Aurors: the Ministry of Magic’s Quidditch Team. Image Source

For more info on clubs offered at the Keele campus, click here.

To learn more about clubs at the Glendon campus, click here.

On-campus jobs: Who says going to work can’t be fun, convenient and rewarding all at once? For many York students, having an on-campus job is all of these things and more. Not only is it great having a school-friendly schedule, but getting to know fellow Lions in a professional environment is one of the best ways to make friends. This way, you can meet people from different programs who you may not have crossed paths with if you weren’t working together. York U offers an awesome job search portal, the Career Centre Online System, and you can also try YU Connect, which you can use as soon as you get a student login.

Peer Mentorship/Buddy Programs: This is where a first-year student (the mentee) is paired up with another student in second, third or fourth year of university (the mentor) to make the newbie’s transition to university life smooth and a little less scary. Signing up for this program would better your understanding of campus resources and services, and at the same time, it’s an awesome opportunity to make a friend. YU START is another amazing program that helps new students adjust to university by guiding them through the course-enrolment process and connecting incoming students with peer mentors on questions of all things York (I totally wish I had the opportunity to use it myself in first year!). If you’re an international student, be sure to check out the Wor(l)d Cultures Buddy Project, a peer-to-peer project that partners international students with students registered in programs from the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics.

Expect the workload in university to be more than what it was in high school.

University (in general) is full of courses that require you to do quite a bit of reading, possibly in addition to assigned homework questions. It’s fair to say that in high school, as long as you pay attention in class, you should be able to get through your assignments and tests without worrying too much. However, a key difference between high school and university is that in university, you are expected to do your readings ahead of time, and only then are you able to fully follow what your professor is talking about during lecture. As long as you make goals for yourself and don’t procrastinate on your readings and assignments, you should be able to handle your university workload like a pro. If you need some guidance in learning “how to learn”, York’s Learning Skills Services (LSS) offers workshops, one-on-one sessions and more that I really recommend you check out.


15 restaurants at York Lanes + 9 food vendors at Student Centre = Fast-food heaven. But don’t shy away from all the healthy food offered on campus!

You might be a little surprised to see just how much food York U has to offer, with fast-food chains like Popeyes and Hero Certified Burgers being popular places to grab a bite in between classes. Yes, it might be tempting to stuff your face with hamburgers, fries and butter chicken wraps from Indian Flavour every day, but it doesn’t have to be that way! There are plenty of healthy options all around campus, not just in York Lanes or at the Student Centre. York University has partnered with Eat Smart! and Toronto Public Health, so it’s super easy to eat yummy and nutritious food by looking for an Eat Smart! logo at locations like the TEL building café, the Café du Glendon, Central Square Market, Winters Dining Hall, and Stong Dining Hall.

The York University Farmers’ Market (YUM) is open every Thursday at the TEL Building, offering delicious healthy food for the York U community. Check out their website Regenesis and their official Facebook page to learn more.

It’s still important to stay fit.

In my opinion, getting a gym membership at Tait McKenzie Centre is definitely worth it. Trust me, of all the ways to avoid gaining the “freshman 15”, working out at the gym is probably the best option. If you sign up for the Student Basic Membership, you’ll receive free access to the gymnasia, pool and squash courts. Spending $15 for the Student Fitness Membership will give you all of the above and access to the Fitness Centre and unlimited drop-in fitness classes for the entire year. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

York is always trying to look out for its students.

You may have heard many different things about the Keele campus when it comes to personal safety, the level of security on campus or other issues. When you interact daily with more than 55,000 students, basically a small town, it is almost inevitable that incidents like petty thefts or other such nuisances happen. There can also be more serious issues, and York works hard to provide its students with services that make their campus experience safe and comfortable. On February 23, the Board of Governors approved the Policy on Sexual Assault Awareness, Prevention and Response, and there are security resources available at all times. For example, a simple call to goSAFE Services will give you two York goSAFE employees to walk with you from one point on campus to another to ensure you arrive there safely. I’ve used goSAFE several times to walk to my residence late at night, and I find it to be extremely convenient. There’s also a mobile safety app; see how it works here. Finally, be sure to keep your eyes open – for your safety, but also to see if someone else might be in need of help. Be an active bystander – York is a community!

I have always felt quite safe on campus, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been moments of stress. Mostly these have come from a sense of overwhelm due to school work or even personal circumstances. York has support services in place for those, much more common, instances as well. If you think all you need is a little guidance on how to better manage your workload, Learning Skills Services (LSS) are an amazing resource. If you feel you need someone to talk to (about any worries or concerns), York’s Counselling & Disability Services (CDS) offer personal counselling and always have an open door for the entire York community.

Hopefully I’ve covered most of the topics you might be curious about! Questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below 🙂


Arshia is a third-year international studies major at Glendon College. She no longer blogs regularly for the YU Blog but may post on occasion as a guest-blogger.

See other posts by Arshia