As any other high school student, I spend the majority of my final two years of my time there being told how terrible Cegep would be for me and how its a jungle that will chew you up ad spit you not if you're not careful.
Having just completed my two years at John Abbott, I have come to realize that the way these high school teachers speak is more of a cautionary tale rather than what actually happens for the majority of students.
I have come here to dispense some valuable information: Cegep isn't actually that hard. Here are ways that you can make your life WAY easier on and off campus.
1. Get To Know Ste-Anne-De-Bellevue
Luckily for you, you'll be studying at the nicest Cegep campus in Quebec which also happens to be a five minute walk away from the Ste-Anne Boardwalk where you can either go eat, hang out with some friends, or just turn your brain off from the stress of school
It's important to remember you schedule though because if you time the walk there and back wrong you could end up being late for class so make sure you have enough time to properly enjoy the trip there or else it won't be worth it.
2. Schedule Making
This is the most important parts of every semester and it's before you even set foot in a classroom. The way you set up your schedule is the way you're going to be living your life for the next four months. Just so you know, there is no perfect schedule for everyone because you all value different things like if you're a morning or an evening person.
how did i manage to wake up for morning classes every day for hs, now my schedule has two 8:30 classes and i'm thinking bout droppin out— Scott Campbell (@_scottcampbell_) August 14, 2017
If you like long breaks then a schedule that has an hour and a half every day may seem ideal for you to recharge or get some homework in. If you're the opposite then you can cram all your classes together and shoot for a day off. It is entirely subjective so figure out the way you like your schedules quickly because they're the difference between having a great time and hating every single day. Omnivox is very helpful and very user friendly and there is always staff ready to answer all you questions. You can either complete it at school or at home.
Your single greatest ally, more so than Wikepedia or coffee, is this website. Make sure to look for honest ratings on profiles of teachers with lots of reviews. Make sure to weed out the butt-hurt students that just want to trash a teacher they don't like and most importantly; find a teacher that suits your style of student.
If you're a better writer, find one that assigns a lot of essays. If you prefer studying then look for one with lots of readings and/or tests. Make sure to use your critical thinking when reading the reviews and take everything with a grain of salt, but I have learnt that it is extremely reliable and have yet to be deceived and that's with 23 different teachers taken throughout my two years.
4. Join A Club
Most of you are already starting at John Abbott with a set of friends you're going to be seeing. However, everyone has their own schedule and they are very unforgiving which means you might not see some friends more than once a week at school, if at all.
Luckily, there is a plethora of clubs available that you can join which are like mini communities where everyone has at least one common interest (usually more than one). There are sports clubs, hobby clubs, and cultural clubs to enjoy. I joined the Model UN club during my second year and my only regret is that I hadn't joined during my first year.
5. Get To Know Someone In The Student Union
Like I said in the intro, the high school horror story about evil teachers is extremely rare. In fact, most teachers are quite accommodating if you talk to them. However there are always exceptions and John Abbott's Student Union is always there to help you out with your student's rights and help you out with anything related to the College.
Knowing someone that is involved there will help you massively as you have someone to talk to about whatever it is you need but you also learn more about what's going on with regards to the internal workings of the school that might affect you.
6. Prepare For Lazy Teachers
My very first day at Abbott, in my first class ever, the teacher missed the class because he forgot what time the class was at and was half an hour late. Regardless of what high school you went to, you were accustomed to a certain hierarchy and structure. Well in Cegep, that all gets flipped on it's head. Everything is so much more lax that you will definitely be thrown off for a bit.
There are no more teachers harassing you for homework or supervisors stalking you down the hallway. It takes some getting used to but it should all be fine with a brief adjustment period. Just try to focus more on getting a good routine for the week.
7. Don't Abuse All Of Your Freedom
You're finally in Cegep and you have all this freedom which is totally great but it's also a double edged sword. You have to make sure that your grades don't suffer in your first year because that's when your R score maters most.
You may be tempted to blow off a homework assignment or skip a class to stay with your friends because the teacher isn't as strict or persistent on those things but you'll definitely end up by falling behind. Speaking from experience, trying to catch up on time lost all while keeping up with the new material will end up by wearing you down.
8. Buy Your Books Secondhand
Regardless of what program you're in, textbooks are very expensive and buying second hand can save you literally hundreds. Go onto your book list on Omnivox to find the information you need and follow this website. There you can contact students and organize a meeting place to buy.
9. Bring Your Own Lunches
The cafeteria as well as the in house café or the Tim Hortons is ridiculously expensive and unless you live in residence with the meal plan it's unsustainable and you'll find yourself broke in no time.
That being said, it's a solid backup plan if you're late for class and couldn't pack a lunch or if you forgot it. Ideally though, bringing your own lunch is both healthier and a whole lot easier on your wallet.
10. Get A Job At The School
Little known fact about John Abbott, they hire students. They hold interviews periodically for positions in the library, the book store, the gym, and other spots in and around the school. Not only do you get a job at school that is catered to your schedule, but it pays well above minimum wage as for menial tasks such as organizing books or selling textbooks.
On that note, I wish you all the luck in the world for what I hope is two of the best years of your young lives because it certainly was mine. Make sure you study hard but also have a great time. Meet new people and make new memories because high school is done, now you start living.