Nash Mendes, a fourth-year political science student, speaks directly to off campus students in an open letter about how to succeed and the importance of getting involved at Carleton University.

Just to introduce myself, my name is Nash, and I am currently going into my fourth year of Political Science with a minor in Sociology. I love Carleton, and I probably have a chance of becoming a poster student for the school if I maintain my level of enthusiasm for this place.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, I am here today to give you a kind of look inside what it takes to be an amazingly involved and successful student here at Carleton. The best part of this post is that I am here to let you know that you can do this even while living at home. Yes, that’s right, YOU, the off- campus student, have the potential to be that awesome student that you’ve probably dreamed of becoming.

Let’s start by talking about that awkward moment when you come into a new environment and have no idea as to what to expect and do when you get into university. Well, don’t fear, this is your official crash course of being an off-campus first year student.

First off, get to know your city and campus if you already don’t. You think you may know Carleton and Ottawa like the back of your hand, but you will be astonished as to all the new things you can learn and discover. Even I still sometimes awkwardly use the campus map. So explore and get comfortable with navigating through the city. Use the public transit and explore different routes to get home safe. The U-Pass is a great tool at your disposal for this. Some of my favourite places to explore in Ottawa are the museums, Rideau/St. Laurent Mall, and the Byward Market! And don’t forget that on campus we have underground tunnels. Explore them like you were Indiana Jones! Trust me; this will save you a headache when nature decides it is time for -20 C weather, snow, rain or possibly the end of the world.(Carleton Map and OC Transpo Trip Planner)

Think you’ve got a good grasp of direction on campus? Great. Still don’t, don’t sweat it, that’s what the other three years are for. Now, next up on your list of things to do: Get Involved! Simple, right? Well I just want to tell you that this is at the core of being both a successful and social student. Studies have shown that students who get involved are more likely to be successful inside AND outside the classroom. Now with OVER 150 clubs and societies, you shouldn’t have an excuse for not being able to find something you’re interested in. If you truly are not interested in any  existing club or activity offer, it is very simple to start your very own club/society! Personally, I got involved with the greek life on campus. This means I joined a fraternity. This helped me to discover new avenues and opportunities in which I can give back to the community. I also got to network with many individuals, some of which are now some of my closest friends and colleagues here at Carleton.

Now by this time, you are probably wondering, “Nash, all this advice is great, but I want to know how to get an A in class so I can get a great job and basically swim in a pool of money when I grow up”. Valid concern. Well this is where all the advice that your teachers gave you growing up starts to become useful. But, I will sum this up in four steps:

A) GO TO CLASS. Do it. You think you don’t have to. But trust me, go. You can sleep in on the weekend, you can go out another time, and you can even hang out with your friends later. Go. To. Class. Your grades directly correlate to your attendance in class.

B) Pay Attention in Class. If you get past step one, step two takes a lot less effort, but still requires effort. Think about it, your professor will most likely test you on the material. Plus the human mind usually learns a lot more through listening than reading. Just because the professors decide to put the slides up online, it is pointless if you have no idea what they talked about on that slide. Some slides can sometimes be literally ONE sentence. They could have spent about ten minutes talking about that specific sentence. Some professors don’t even use slides! So pay attention, you won’t regret it come the end of the semester.

C) Do your readings and assignments. Seems kind of basic, right? Sitting down and doing your readings can sometimes be the difference between you understanding the concept and ace-ing that midterm or not doing as well. Do the assignments that have been assigned. The professors here at Carleton have millennia and eons of experience! They understand what works and what doesn’t. But also note that with all this experience, they also have a wealth of knowledge about their field of study. So if you’re in doubt, ASK FOR HELP.

D) Speaking of help, make use of the ACADEMIC SUPPORT SERVICES on campus. These services are here to help you out. I still make use of them even though I am going into my fourth year of study! It is totally normal to get the help you may need. It is just all about asking for it when you NEED it. Visit the website for a more in-depth look at what Carleton offers.

So that’s about all I got. I’d rather not write an essay. But if I had to give you absolutely the bare minimum cut-out-the-fancy stuff truth, it would be the above and this: University IS the best four years of your life. You will experience new things, meet new people, make new friends and explore ideas and perspectives that will blow your mind. Make the most of it because the next four years will literally fly past you—so might as well  enjoy the ride.

Keep being awesome and defy your own limits.

Submitted by Nash Mendes, a fourth-year political science student.


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