A Guide to Financial Literacy for Students

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College is the first time many students need to be financially independent — and many are not ready. Budgeting, taking out loans, figuring out whether you need a part-time job, and saving money may all be new to you. Learning about financial concepts is key to preventing costly mistakes. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Comparing Your Student Loan Options

If you’re unable to afford tuition upfront, a student loan can be the solution. However, there are many different types of student loans — some better than others. It’s important to compare options by considering the repayment requirements and interest rates to ensure you find a loan suitable for your situation.

You may also be eligible to receive financial aid like grants and scholarships. These are preferable to loans because you never pay the money back. Make sure you research all your options and apply to any programs that are relevant to you. To receive more advice on financial aid options, you should visit the financial aid office on your college campus.

How to Budget

By budgeting, you ensure you have enough money for all your essentials. It means figuring out how much you need for each of your expenses (such as housing, food, clothing, school supplies, and entertainment) and setting spending limits. It may take you a few months to accurately calculate your budget because you’ll need to track where you’re currently spending money. Make sure you don’t forget to account for unexpected expenses.

If you have money left in your budget at the end of the month, the best way to use it is to split it into thirds. Use one-third for fun — as a reward for not spending all of your budget. Allocate the second third to debts, such as your student loan. Put the final third into a savings or investment account.

Should You Have a Credit Card?

Credit cards can make budgeting more difficult because they give you access to money you don’t actually have. Since interest rates tend to be high, you’ll end up spending much more if you’re unable to pay off your balance in full each month. Plus, missing a payment can hurt your credit score and have a long-term impact.

Financial Education

Your college may offer financial workshops and other events on campus covering topics like budgeting, credit, investment, savings, and financial aid. Take advantage of these — after all, there’s always more you can learn. Alternatively, you may be able to take an elective to improve your financial literacy while earning credit.

A smart financial choice all students can make is to move off campus. You’ll save money and be more comfortable — for instance, you’ll have your own room and be able to prepare your own meals, instead of being stuck with a pricey meal plan. For Durham College student housing, there’s Foundry Simcoe. Since our suites all are fully furnished, you won’t need to purchase any furniture. Plus, the apartments come with a washer and dryer to avoid you needing to spend at the laundromat and rent includes high-speed internet. Apply now to make your time at college more affordable.

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Does Your GPA Really Matter?

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You may think the days of worrying about your GPA are behind you when you start university. After all, you’ve already secured your spot in the school of your choice for the major you want. It’s true you should be focused on absorbing as much information as possible and developing useful skills. Plus, your GPA only reflects your performance on assessments, rather than the true extent of your knowledge. Nonetheless, your GPA is still the best way for other people to see how well you understand the material you’ve learned.

What Is a Good GPA?

To determine whether your GPA is up to standard, you need to know what is a good GPA at university. This is important because it may differ from what you considered good at high school.

Typically, a GPA of 3.0 is considered good, whereas 3.5 is very good and 4.0 is excellent. A GPA of 2.5 is satisfactory and below this is poor.

Eligibility for Financial Aid

To stay eligible for financial aid, you need to meet certain academic standards. The exact GPA you need will depend on the program, but 2.0 is typical. For scholarships awarded for academic performance, you may need to maintain an even higher GPA, such as 3.0 or above.

Admission to Graduate School

If you want to go to grad school after you finish your degree, you’ll also need a high GPA. Most universities only accept candidates with a GPA of at least 3.0. If you’re applying for competitive programs, an even higher GPA may give your application an edge.

How to Increase Your GPA

To gain a higher GPA, studying needs to be your priority over everything else. Of course, you should attend all your classes, but you may also need to cut back on social events to dedicate more time to writing papers, completing the required readings, and preparing for exams. Managing your time will make a big difference, as you may find you do have enough time in your schedule for academics and extracurriculars if you stop procrastinating.

If you’re struggling, seek support. Take advantage of the academic services on campus, such as the writing centre, tutors, and advisors. For instance, an academic advisor can help you choose the right balance of classes to give you the best chance of gaining high grades each semester and can tell you when it may be a good idea to retake a class to improve your grade.

Finally, you may need to take things slower. Although the idea of graduating as soon as possible may be appealing, this could mean your GPA suffers. Taking fewer classes one semester may ultimately be the best move, especially if you have problems with your family life, finances, or health.

If you’re serious about improving your GPA, you need to live somewhere you can study in peace without facing constant distractions. Move out of Ontario Tech University residence and into off-campus housing at Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have your own room and en suite bathroom in a three- or five-bedroom suite. We make it easy for you to study hard by providing all our residents with free high-speed internet. Plus, we’re right by campus, meaning you’ll always be able to make it to class on time. Apply now to take advantage of the lowest rates of the year.

The Benefits of a Social Media Cleanse for Students

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Most college students spend a large amount of time on social media. It’s where you connect with friends, take a break with some entertainment, or just kill time. However, using social media constantly can have a negative impact on your life in multiple ways. If you’re spending the majority of your free time on social media, cutting down with a social media cleanse could bring the following benefits.

1. Improve Your Mental Health

You may not immediately feel better when you stop spending time on social media. In fact, you may initially struggle with the temptation to constantly open your favourite apps. Over time, though, a reduction in social media use should increase your sense of happiness and decrease your feelings of anxiety. It’s important to acknowledge that this is due to a lack of social media — otherwise, you may return to bad habits!

2. Gain Back a Sense of Control

When social media becomes an addiction, you stop consciously choosing to check your feeds and just do it automatically. By actively deciding to limit your social media usage, you regain control and start to only open apps when you actually want to look at something or send a message.

3. Focus on Your Hobbies and Interests

Social media can suck time away from the things you care about. By committing to spend less time on social media, you’ll have more chances to pursue your interests and practise your hobbies — perhaps even to explore new passions.

4. Improve Your Relationships

When you’re always glued to your phone, you neglect the people around you — plus, chatting over text is not the same as having an in-person conversation. Talking more with the people you see every day will strengthen your relationships and help you make closer friends at college.

5. Reduce Negativity in Your Life

People almost always post about the best things in their lives. This can make it seem like your friends are doing much more exciting things than you are, which can lead to negative emotions. The situation is worse still if you follow influencers: their entire job is to show how great their lives are. Turning off social media will allow you to focus on the real world. When you stop comparing yourself to everyone else, it’s easier to enjoy life.

Another way decreasing your time on social media reduces negativity is by preventing interactions with trolls. Since people are far less likely to say mean things to each other in person, real-world interactions are, as a rule, more pleasant — including with strangers.

Instead of opening up a social media app, spend your free time meeting people and practicing self-care. As well as joining activities on campus, you can make friends at your student housing — provided you choose the right rooms for rent. Oshawa has the ideal student housing at Foundry Simcoe. You can meet other students in the common room, make friends with your new roommates, or relax in the bedroom of your fully-furnished apartment. Apply now and you could secure a unit with a balcony.

An Overview of IT Careers

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If you’re majoring in anything to do with computers, you may have a bright future ahead of you. There are numerous information technology (IT) careers to choose from, and workers are in high demand. It’s a good idea to start thinking about what kind of IT career you would like to pursue, as some are quite specialized whereas others require a broad knowledge of IT in general.

1. IT Support

You have a variety of job options if you want to offer IT support, including as a desktop support technician, IT associate, or service desk supervisor. It’s common to start in a general support role and later specialize in a particular field, such as networks or cybersecurity. The other option is to remain in general IT support but become a manager or supervisor.

2. Cybersecurity Professional

If your interest lies in cybersecurity, there’s no need to start with general IT — you can jump right into a career in security. In fact, this is a great choice because the field is expected to grow more than any other in IT. Jobs in cybersecurity involve making sure that systems and devices are secure as well as helping companies avoid unauthorized access and breaches of sensitive data. Entry-level careers tend to be in analysis and engineering, whereas experts can often find work as ethical hackers.

3. Cloud Computing

The only IT field with projected growth close to cybersecurity is cloud computing. It’s common to enter this field as an engineer or programmer and then move up to become an architect or consultant. It’s important to have specific knowledge of the cloud, which you may be able to gain by choosing appropriate classes at college and through additional certifications.

4. Web Developer

As a web developer, you’ll build and maintain websites or apps. You may choose to focus on front-end, back-end, or full-stack development. Since employers prefer knowledge over credentials, it’s important to supplement your learning at college with real-world experience.

5. Software Engineer

Another way to utilize your IT development skills is to become a software engineer. This is a great way to move into a specific industry you find interesting, such as video gaming, finance, or tech. You should have an in-depth knowledge of all the main coding languages and a good understanding of the type of software you want to develop.

6. Network IT

Working in networks or IT systems can lead to a diverse set of careers, making it a great option if you’d like to grow as you gain experience. In fact, if you work at a small company, your job may involve a wide variety of duties. Entry-level jobs tend to be in administration or analysis, whereas you may be able to find work as an engineer, senior administrator, or architect as you advance.

Studying for a qualification in IT is hard work. It’s important you find a place where you’ll have your own bedroom to study in peace and a good WiFi connection when looking for apartments for rent. North Oshawa students can find housing that meets all their requirements at Foundry Simcoe. Suites are fully furnished with modern fixtures and you’ll have access to high-speed internet throughout the building. Apply now for the lowest rates of the year.

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How to Cultivate Great Relationships with Your Professors

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Professors do much more than deliver classes and grade assignments. For instance, they’re the ones you’ll ask for letters of recommendation and they may even offer you the chance to participate in a research project while you’re still at college. However, if you never reach out to your professors, the only thing they’ll know about you is how well you did in class. The good news is there are numerous ways you can develop stronger relationships with your professors.

1. Find Out More About Them

Search online to see what you can find out about each of your professors in terms of their research and academic achievements. Places to look for information include your college website and LinkedIn. If you find that any of your professors share the same interests as you, definitely put in the effort to cultivate a relationship.

2. Introduce Yourself

Armed with the above information about your professors, you’re in a better position to strike up a short conversation after your first class. Introduce yourself and mention what you’re looking forward to. However, don’t expect professors to remember your name the next time you meet — they have a huge number of students every semester. You’ll need to interact with your professors a few times before they’ll put a name to your face.

3. Stay Engaged During Class

If your professors encourage students to speak up during class, make sure you do contribute (at least occasionally). The rest of the time, make sure your body language shows that you’re paying attention — this is something professors notice. Lastly, complete even optional homework assignments, and do your best. Although the homework may not count toward your final grade, it will shape your professor’s impression of you.

4. Go to Office Hours

Aim to attend two or three office hours with any professor you want to get to know better. Office hours are ideal for when you have a doubt about something you’re studying, you want more detailed feedback after a test, or you need support before you submit an assignment. During one of your office hours visits, it’s a good idea to talk about your career goals. Ask the professor for advice about what you can do to meet your targets.

5. Ask for a Letter of Recommendation Early

Instead of waiting until you need a letter of recommendation, ask your professor for one as soon as you finish the class. This will mean your professor still remembers you well — and the letter will reflect this.

6. Stay in Touch After Class

Save your professors’ emails to ensure you’re able to drop them a message in the future. For example, you may notice that an employer you’d like to work for is connected to your professor on LinkedIn. Having a mutual contact could help you gain an introduction.

You’ll have more opportunities to connect with professors and work with them on projects if you live near campus. For Durham College student housing, your best option is Foundry Simcoe. Our welcoming community is just steps away from the North Oshawa campus. You can hang out in the common room or study at the desk in your private bedroom — all the suites have high-speed internet. Apply now to secure a spot for an immediate move-in.

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6 Money Mistakes to Avoid in University

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Most students have minimal financial responsibilities before university. Then suddenly, you need to manage your own money to ensure you’re able to cover essentials, have enough for fun activities, and avoid going into debt. Be aware of the most common mistakes to ensure you manage your money appropriately.

1. Misusing Credit Cards

You may like to have a credit card to build a credit history. However, it can be tempting to use your credit card to put off paying until later something you want now. You should only take out a credit card if you know you can trust yourself to be responsible. This means only using it for purchases you’ll pay off as soon as the bill comes — as if you can’t afford to pay the balance in full, you’ll incur a high interest rate.

If you’ve never had a credit card before but you want one for the credit history, use it just for recurring payments like subscriptions. Set up autopay for payments — and never even take the credit card out of your apartment. This will make it impossible to misuse your card.

2. Spending Your Entire Budget

Although spending all your money before the end of the month isn’t quite as bad as going into debt with a credit card, it’s still a bad habit. You have unlimited opportunities to spend at university, but you need to set restrictions for yourself. Turn down invitations to activities that are too expensive or after you’ve already spent all your fun money for the month. There will almost always be free events taking place on campus that make great alternatives.

3. Thinking Scholarships Are Not for You

A misperception many students have is that scholarships are only for those at the top of their class and star athletes. In fact, there are most likely a few scholarships out there that apply to your situation — you just need to look for them. You’ll need to dedicate time to researching and applying to scholarships, but this can pay off big time.

4. Only Searching for Jobs in Obvious Places

Whereas it’s worth considering jobs on campus and nearby that pay an hourly rate, these are far from your only options. Turning to entrepreneurship will allow you to start work related to the career you want to pursue. It’s also likely you’ll enjoy your job, and the experience will enhance your resume in a way that a standard job never could. Plus, the options are endless: you could offer landscaping services, help locals move, do freelance web design, provide childcare, or sell your own branded university merchandise. Provided you possess the necessary skills and there’s demand for the service, you can turn an idea into a profitable business.

5. Waiting Until Graduation to Apply for Jobs

Unless you’re going on to study a master’s degree, it’s best to have a full-time job lined up for as soon as you’ve graduated. It’s likely that your university offers support for finding a job, such as by holding regular job fairs and publishing job posts aimed at recent graduates. Be sure to take advantage of these resources.

6. Living on Campus

Student housing can be one of your biggest expenses at university. Whereas living on campus may seem like a logical choice, it’s certainly not the best decision financially. Not only is the rent lower when you live off campus, you’ll also save money by preparing your own meals compared to paying for a mandatory meal plan.

An alternative to Ontario Tech University residence is Foundry Simcoe. Our student housing will give you a room in a fully-furnished suite or townhouse located just steps from campus. Plus, to help you save even more money, rent includes high-speed internet and a washer and dryer in your unit. Apply now while immediate move-ins are still available.

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Which Laptop Should You Choose for University?

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There are many laptops available on the market, and it can be difficult to know what will meet your needs for university. To narrow down your options, you need to consider how you’ll be using your laptop and what kind of functionality you want. Here’s a brief guide to get you started in making an informed decision.

1. Price

Look for a laptop that will provide you with everything you need at the lowest possible price. If there are qualities you’d like your laptop to have but that are nonessential, consider if you can afford a slightly better model. For instance, you may like to have a laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a regular hard drive, as these laptops are faster and less likely to break.

2. RAM

The amount of RAM you have will impact how much software you can run at once. You need at least 4 GB of RAM, but it could be worth spending more for 8 GB to make your laptop a better long-term investment — it will be able to cope better with programs in the future that are more demanding.

3. Battery Life

Think about whether you need your battery to last a long time, as a longer battery life will mean you sacrifice performance. If you don’t need a great deal of RAM and want to use your laptop throughout the day without needing to constantly search for an outlet, a long battery life could be ideal.

4. Portability

If you’ll be on the go with your laptop, you’ll also want it to be lightweight and reasonably small. Bear in mind that this is another characteristic that will reduce processing power. It will also mean your laptop has a smaller screen, which could be unsuitable for graphic design and other tasks that require attention to detail. However, if you’ll mainly be using your laptop to take notes and write papers, this is unlikely to be a problem.

5. Screen Resolution

As well as screen size, you need to compare display resolution between different models. Since even the most basic laptops today have a high resolution, you should only pay extra for more than 1080 pixels if you do need this kind of resolution.

6. Hard Drive Storage

When you have a large amount of storage, you never need to worry about running out of space for files and apps. However, you can always store some documents in the cloud. You can probably manage with 128 GB of storage, unless you’ll be working on media files.

7. Operating System

You may like to choose an operating system according to what you feel more comfortable using. Having said that, since you’ll likely pay less if you choose Windows than MacOS, you should also consider your budget. Furthermore, one operating system may be recommended over the other for your major: Macs tend to be the preferred choice for creative majors, whereas Windows is sometimes necessary for certain software, such as for statistics.

If you don’t already have a laptop that’s suitable for university, it’s likely to be one of your biggest investments. The good news is there are other ways you can save money — in particular, by finding affordable student housing. Instead of living in Ontario Tech University residence, move into Foundry Simcoe. Our suites and townhouses are fully furnished and the rent is all inclusive, meaning you won’t have any extra expenses for furniture and utilities. Save even more by signing a lease now to receive our early bird pricing.

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How to Make the Most of Long Lectures

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Love them or hate them, lectures are critical for helping you understand the material for your classes. Unfortunately, long lectures can feel like a slog, especially if you struggle to pay attention for extended periods of time. Nonetheless, it’s important to make the most of them to take full advantage of your education. Here are some ways to get more out of your lectures.

1. Select Your Seat Wisely

If the lecture hall is large, you may struggle to hear well sitting near the back, particularly if the professor lacks a microphone. Avoid missing information by choosing a seat near the front of the room. You should also sit in the middle to have a clear view of the PowerPoint presentation.

2. Improve Your Note Taking

Experiment with various note taking strategies to figure out what works for you. Try both writing and typing — you’re likely able to type faster, but writing can help you retain more information. Using more than one colour is also useful, as is including diagrams.

3. Consider Recording the Lecture

If your college allows it, you may like to record the lecture with your phone. This could prove useful if you miss parts of the lecture due to your mind wandering. Having a recording is also helpful if you find that your notes are unclear in places, as you can listen again to what the professor said.

4. Ask Questions

It’s important to clear up any doubts you have about the lecture. Some professors welcome questions during lectures, whereas others prefer students to stay quiet. In the case of the latter, you can either stay behind for a few minutes after the lecture or make a note of your question and pay the professor a visit during office hours.

5. Stay Hydrated

Bring a bottle of cold water with you to your lecture to stay hydrated. You’ll find this maintains your energy levels better than large amounts of caffeine or sugar, as you won’t experience a crash when the effects wear off. If you have a couple of long lectures on the same day, this will be crucial.

6. Make Friends with Your Classmates

It’s easier to handle long lectures when you attend with friends. If no one you already know is in the class, put in the effort to make a couple friends. You’ll be able to study together to compare notes, discuss ideas, and generally support each other.

7. Choose Interesting Classes

Even the longest lectures are enjoyable if you’re interested in the topic. On the flip side, though, sitting through a long lecture for a class you find boring can be challenging. Read class descriptions and talk to other students before you come to a decision about what classes to take, and drop any classes you dislike early enough to take something else.

Making the most of long lectures is just one way you’re more likely to succeed at college. Another is dedicating enough time to studying on your own — although this is often easier said than done, especially if you face numerous distractions due to living in student residence. The solution is to move into an apartment. For Durham College off-campus housing, there’s no better option than Foundry Simcoe. Our fully-furnished suites and townhouses are designed to suit the student lifestyle. Sign a lease now to take advantage of our early bird pricing.

empty dorm room

9 Decorating Ideas for Student Apartments

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An exciting part of moving into student accommodation is the chance to decorate your apartment however you like. If you’re unsure where to begin, try incorporating some of these ideas.

1. Display Some Photos

Bring a piece of home to your new apartment by decorating with photos of friends and family. You’ll be able to turn to your favourite moments from high school and family vacations whenever you’re feeling homesick. There are several ways to display photos, although top ideas include creating a collage and hanging photos on a clothesline.

2. Soften the Lighting with a Lamp

An overhead light can be too intense in the evenings. For softer lighting, install lamps next to your bed and beside the couch in the living room. It’s best of all to choose one that allows you to adjust the level of brightness.

3. Hang Some Fairy Lights

Another way to improve the lighting in your bedroom or living room is with fairy lights. Hang some strings across one wall to make an accent wall or around your photo collage to make it the centrepiece of the room. You can even find lights that change colour in sync with your music.

4. Buy Some Potted Plants

Plants can instantly add life to your apartment, lifting your mood. Choose low-maintenance plants that won’t die if you forget (or if you’re unable) to water them for several days.

5. Update Your Bedding

Instead of bringing the bedding you have already, treat yourself to some new sheets and a quilt. You can find some in a style you love to welcome you back home in the evenings.

6. Give Your Bed a Headboard

If your bed doesn’t already have a headboard, it may be worth purchasing one. As well as adding to the aesthetics of the room, it will make your bed more comfortable if you want to sit there to read, watch a series, or scroll through social media.

7. Throw Around Some Pillows

Make your bed even more comfy with some more pillows. Choose fun designs that match the style of the rest of the room. Don’t forget to also bring a few pillows for the living room couch.

8. Warm the Floor with an Area Rug

A thick plush rug can make getting out of bed for your early classes more bearable. In the living room, it can give your guests a place to lounge comfortably on the floor. Plus, area rugs come in all kinds of colours and designs, meaning you can find one that matches your style. You could even make your own shag rug using yarn, a latch hook, and a rug canvas.

9. Create Seating with Ottomans

If you want to invite friends over often, it makes sense to have seating. An ottoman is ideal because it doubles up as storage. You can fill it with things like extra bedding, textbooks, or just odds and ends.

Before you get too excited about decorating your new home, remember that you still need to find an apartment! Foundry Simcoe is the perfect choice for Durham College student housing. You’ll have a private bedroom and bathroom in a suite with two roommates or a townhouse with four other people. Our apartments all come fully furnished with modern fixtures, including stainless steel appliances, a wall-mounted TV, and a large couch. Sign a lease now to take advantage of our early bird pricing.

Teenagers on first day of college

How to Ease First-Day Jitters

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Your first day at university can feel a bit daunting. You’ll need to figure out where to go for classes, talk to a bunch of people you’ve never met before, and generally navigate a whole new life. This can lead to anything from mild jitters to full-blown anxiety. Wherever you fall on this scale, there are certain things you can do to ease your nerves.

1. Remind Yourself That Everyone Feels Like You

Although some students are better at hiding their feelings than others, almost everyone will be anxious on their first day. It will take a while before faces become familiar, but you’ll find that the conversations gradually become more natural — and you’ll be making friends before you know it.

2. Find All Your Classes Beforehand

Never wait until right before a class starts to figure out where you need to go. A good strategy is to walk around campus a couple days beforehand, figuring out how to get from one class to the next. You’ll feel much more confident knowing that you’re unlikely to get lost or arrive late.

3. Ask Your Professors What You Need for Class

To avoid wasting your money, it can be worth waiting to buy textbooks until you’re sure that you’ll need them. The downside of this is that it’s anxiety-inducing to even contemplate the fact that you may neglect to bring something you do need. The solution is to message your professors in advance to ask them what books and other materials to bring. An added advantage to doing this is that you’ll also have introduced yourself to your professors before you meet them.

4. Remember That You Can Drop Classes

It’s often difficult to know what to expect from a class by its description alone. If you turn up to a class only to discover that it’s not what you expected, consider dropping it. Do this by the deadline and you may even be able to switch to a different class without incurring any fees. If you’re unsure how to drop a class, reach out to your academic advisor — student services exist to help you navigate university and ensure you have a positive experience.

5. Set a Bedtime

Sleep is an excellent way to calm you down. Aim to go to bed by a certain time on your first day of university — it will mean you feel better prepared for the second day. In fact, it’s a good idea to stick to a bedtime every night (or at least on weeknights) to stay healthy. Getting enough sleep regularly will work wonders for preventing anxiety over the long term.

It’s easier to settle in at university when you have a comfortable home to return to at the end of the day. An alternative to Ontario Tech University residence is Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have your own bedroom, an en-suite bathroom with either a shower or deep soaker tube, and high-speed internet to complete your homework in peace. Book a tour to check out where you could be living when you start university.