Your First Year

Whether you’ve landed here before school begins or during your first year, we have designed this webpage to be a resource for great opportunities for you to explore in your first year of study. Better understand yourself, connect with your peers, try out new ideas and define your goals by connecting to the opportunities listed below.

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What you can do right now

Before classes begin, be sure to register for Fall Orientation and take a look at the Online Orientation content that is released weekly from early July through to September.

Summer Series Events


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What brought you here?

Looking to the future is important, but it’s the reflection on who you are and where you come from that will help you to integrate those lessons. Help us help you to take a step back and consider what this experience is all about.

Know Yourself

To truly know yourself, it’s important to empathize and understand what makes you tick. Reflect on your personal talents a deeper level with CliftonStrengths, and expand that awareness to how you engage with people from different backgrounds in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion workshops. Finally, build your conflict management toolkit by learning about internal biases and outward tactics with TKI conflict training.

Set your goals

While they say that ‘not all who wander are lost’, it is a good idea to build a rough plan for where you would like to end up. Develop your long-term goals alongside an Academic Development Specialist to refine and realize your academic vision. Similarly, connect with people who share your interests and hobbies with the help of Involvement Advising. Finally, foster the skills needed to make it all a reality with the Ótáp ímisskaan youth leadership program.

Understand others

Self-reflection and a sense of personal empathy dramatically impact how you treat others, and enhance the role that you play in your community. Upstanders is a training program where students can build confidence and improve their ability to help others in distressful situations. Consent training focuses on inviting safer intimate connections between people. Here, you can talk about ways that individuals and groups can hold space for awkward and difficult feelings.

Chart your course

In addition to understanding yourself, your goals and the perspectives of others, reflection is also about asking ‘how will I get there?’. Explore which degree stream best suits your long-term interests with Exploratory Advising, or plan for your long-term career options in a Career Advising appointment. Are you applying to jobs or other opportunities now? Enhance your CV/Resume and cover letter or build other job-related skills at a Career Services workshop.

Rex on telephone with friends

How will you chart your path?

Learning to organize your time, energy and efforts is an important skill-set that you’ll develop during your first-year experience. They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it most certainly wasn’t done by one person alone – get help from others with time management, study skills and more.

Academic Wayfinding

Another part of academic goal setting is defining the process that you will use to reach your long-term goals. Work with an Academic Advisor from your faculty to plan for when to take which courses, and be sure to take advantage of writing and time management workshops early in your degree. Lastly, be sure to make good use of resources and collections in UCalgary Libraries and Cultural Resources, including library chat, myLibrarian, free textbook access, research databases, and more.

Mind, Body, and Spirit

Studying and attending classes are best accomplished when you’re feeling healthy, purposeful, and equipped with the right tools to succeed. If you’re looking for classroom or other accommodations, Student Accessibility Services is your first stop. A list of mental and physical health supports can be found at the Student Wellness Services website, and be sure to check out the fully equipped fitness centre and catalogue of programs through Active Living.

What’s your Action Plan?

Defining your goals and objectives during your university journey is a continuous, ever-changing process. Not sure if your current degree stream is right for you? Discuss your options with in an Exploratory Advising or Career Advising appointment. Are you looking to level-up your writing skills, time management, or financial planning game? Maybe you would like to learn more about academic integrity? The best time to begin planning is now. The second-best time is…now : ).

Community roles that you play

At some point in your degree you will have to lean on others for support, or will find yourself in a position to help somebody else with a challenge that they’re facing. Explore ways to engage in serious conversations, recognize a crisis and connect with others through the Community Helpers program in Wellness Services, the Peer Support program in the Women’s Resource Centre and the Peer Helper Program in of the Leadership and Student Engagement Office.

Rex and friend making picture

What will you create?

University is about the exchange and the development of those ideas, and whether you’re prototyping a theory, a design or an equation, the first version isn’t likely to be the best one. Practice and prototyping are key – get started today!

Gain Hands-On Experience

Why not build marketable skills while exploring your interests? The Experience Portal is an online database of long and short term on-campus opportunities geared toward developing personal and professional competencies. Take those skills and develop them further with work integrated learning – a pathway to building co-op and internship experience during your degree.

Build your Research CV

Demonstrating the ways that you apply your education outside of classes is a good way to distinguish your resume/CV. Be sure to check out opportunities where you can conduct research and present it to your community in the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Meeting with an advisor in your department is the first step toward learning about research opportunities within the faculty. Also, be sure to enroll in the Undergraduate Research Initiative.

Get Involved on Campus

Students are always being told to ‘Get Involved’ but what does that actually mean? Simply, it’s a recommendation that you use these years to explore new ideas, friendships, projects and hobbies. Connect with your peers at Unwind social events or sign-up for a hobby-based club at SU Clubs Week. Intramurals get you active during the lunch hour, and the Day of Service is an event that gives back to the community.

Put your learning into action

Some disciplines are applied through research while others are realized through making connections and practicing your craft. Hands-on opportunities like hack-a-thons and workshops can be found at the The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking where they focus on inspiring your entrepreneurial side. Also, be sure to put those skills to work in the peer and professional networking arena – opportunities which can be learned about by booking a career advising appointment.

Rex working with classmates

Who will you meet at university?

Whether online or in-person, collaboration is at the heart of your university experience. Whether it’s a passion project, a school assignment or just hanging out and meeting new people, here are a few entry points into the campus community.

Cross cultural understanding

Which cultural, geographic, and historical lenses will you view your post-secondary experience through? Make connections to your own cultural narrative by sharing with others by enrolling in the USpeakGlobal and International Student Mentorship programs. These programs offer ongoing opportunities for newcomers and locals to build connections by sharing language, advice and experiences.

Connect with a mentor

There’s no better way to learn about the first-year university experience than from somebody who has already been down that road. Benefit from the mentorship of an upper-year student or staff member as part of the Emerging Leaders Program. If you’re looking for career or department mentorship, be sure to inquire about opportunities in an advising appointment with Career Services or your faculty advising team.

Learn about your community

Your experience on campus is woven into a wider community of people, places and stories. Learn about to the social justice issues in the ucalgarycares Global Citizenship program – a unique first-year only opportunity. Are subjects of faith and religious community of interest to you? Check out events held by the Faith and Spirituality Centre. If you are looking for other ways to make a difference locally, visit the SU Volunteer Services website.

Creating Campus Connections

University is a busy time in your life, and sometimes the only time that you have for exploration is a lunch hour or spare afternoon. Why not drop-by some of the great events happening on campus, including the Writing Symbols Lodge’s regular Grandmother’s Tea Ceremony events, or connect with those interested in LGBTQ+ and women’s issues at the Q Centre and Women’s Resource Centre. Are you creatively inclined? Be sure to check out radio, video and print opportunities with CJSW, NUTV and The Gauntlet.