Everyone’s first year at university is stressful. Being prepared is key.
It’s a whole new environment and you will now be one of 26,000 undergraduate students at the University of Manitoba. With classes starting after Labour Day weekend, there is fortunately lots of time to set yourself up for success. Take the beginning of September to visit campus and learn where your classes take place. Get a feel for the campus, it is very large and the U of M is unique with its tunnel system connecting almost all buildings. The tunnel system will be essential for when the Winnipeg temperatures drop and it often feels like a giant maze so becoming familiar with it is key.
The beginning of September is also a great time to get these 4 essential items for your first year at the U of M!
U of M Essential item number 1: Upass or Parking Pass
You’ll need some form of transportation to commute to and from campus. A universal
bus pass (Upass) is included with your tuition if you are enrolled in 3 or more classes a
semester. I highly recommend taking advantage of it: you’ll be saving over $100 a semester with the Upass. Upasses are activated at the University of Manitoba’s Students’ Union office in
If you are looking to drive to campus every day, you’ll need a parking pass. Parking passes will run a student around $600 but that includes both the fall and winter semester. Applying for a parking pass early is recommended: some parking lots will work better for you than others and it is first-come first-served.
As an FYI, biking is a viable option for commuting to campus – there are multiple bike racks outside every building on campus.
U of M Essential item number 2: Laptop
We live in a digital world, and while you may be used to taking notes on paper, you’ll find your
university life a lot easier if you are able to afford a laptop. 95% of classes at the U of M will
have some form of online component. UM Learn is where all course materials are kept. This is
where you’ll complete quizzes, get announcements from your professors, find lecture material
and most importantly see your marks/progress. There are many computers on campus so if a
laptop is not in your budget you are still able to succeed as a student – but a laptop will help you
U of M Essential item number 3: Locker
Unlike in high school, every student is not assigned a locker. Also unlike high school, you’ll find
yourself spending more time on campus than not. I recommend making a locker your home away from home. Most lockers are controlled by the student associations on campus. For example, if you are in the Faculty of Science you’ll want to see the Science Students Association for renting a locker for the year. Like parking passes, lockers are first-come first-served so showing up on the first day of classes is recommended to get a locker that is central to all your classes.
Alternatively, you could seek out lockers in places that may not be close to class but close to a frequently-attended part of your day on campus such as a cafeteria or library you enjoy. Also consider purchasing a gym locker. Like the Upass, the U of M gym membership is included in your tuition fees so take advantage of the new multimillion dollar facility. Use your gym locker as your school locker to kill two birds with one stone.
U of M Essential item number 4: School Supplies
Stating the obvious here, but make sure you have all required items for your classes. If you have
science labs make sure you have closed toed shoes, lab coat and lab goggles. I recommend
purchasing lab items from the graduate students association, they sell them cheaper than the
bookstore. If you have classes that require printing of essays and papers, make sure you stock up on print credits at the start of the semester so you’re not scrabbling for loose change the day your assignment is due.
When it comes to textbooks, this is the one time I recommend not being proactive. Your Aurora account will state what textbooks are “Required” but you won’t know for sure until your professor states the purpose of the textbook. Often you’ll find a textbook will be labeled as “required” only to find out it’s for supplemental purposes only. The drawback to this
is that proactive students will be able to hop on the cheaper ‘used textbooks’ at the book store,
although I think missing out on used textbooks is a small price to pay for not having to risk the
purchasing of an unnecessary textbook.
Bonus item: Find a “home base”
Find a place on campus that’s ‘your spot’ to eat, study and hang out with friends. The campus is very large and it’s easy to get lonely as you won’t be seeing as many recognizable faces in the hallway as you did in your high school. Search the campus for quiet places, study
spaces and infrequently used classrooms, and make one the hangout spot!
I hope this article helps you for your first year on campus, and if you ever need help or have any
questions come on down to University Centre to the UMSU Service Centre.