Tips for a Strong Start to the Semester

August 14, 2019

Self-improvement is a common theme when the new year starts, evident in packed gyms and stricter budgets. The same spirit can be applied to the start of an academic semester and for incoming freshmen, the start of an entirely new life experience.

It's easy to get caught up in classes, but it's important to set time aside to experience the clubs, activities and organizations that make Canisius unique, if only for a much needed break. Here are just a few ideas on how to make the most out of your Canisius experience. 

Give back.

Being men and women for and with others means immersing ourselves into new situations and learning from everyone, everywhere. Serving others is a common New Year’s resolution, and at Canisius, there are plenty of chances to do so. Campus Ministry organizes an array of service opportunities, from international and national trips to local outreach.

Build houses for those in need through Habitat for Humanity. Serve meals to the hungry at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. Make and deliver sandwiches, hot chocolate, and cookies to the homeless through Sandwich & Spirituality Ministry. View the list of community partners and find an opportunity to use your gifts to help others.

Research outside the classroom.

No matter your major, there are opportunities to engage in what you’ve learned in your courses outside the class. With a 1:12 faculty ratio, our professors are engaged in your success, and they’re there to help you learn through coursework and practical application.

As early as freshman year, you can take part in research opportunities at Canisius, and many students even present findings at national conferences and get published. Talk to your professors and explore your program’s webpage to see where and how you can conduct your own study and make new discoveries.

Take part in other enrichment opportunities, such as the Contemporary Writers Series.

Each major has a series of extended learning opportunities, whether that’s an academic-based club, a speaker series, a mentoring program, or even affiliation with a research institute on campus.

For creative writing students, one of these opportunities is the Contemporary Writers Series. Each year, the Creative Writing program invites renowned writers to share their work with students and the community. Regardless of your major, you’re invited to stop by and enjoy the work of these distinguished writers!


Canisius has around 48,000+ alumni around the globe, and they’ve accomplished some impressive stuff. Take S.J. Velasquez, for example, who graduated in 2007 and works as a journalist and digital producer for, or Emilee Flynn, MD, 2008, who is in the first year of her pediatric global health fellowship in Harper, Liberia. Adam Zyglis ‘04 graduated with a degree in computer science from Canisius, and now, he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner for his editorial cartoons. The list goes on and on. Our alumni are leaders in their industries. Reach out and get to know their stories.

Get help from the Griff Center with your own professional development.

So we’ve talked about the impressive careers of our alumni. Let’s talk about your success story -- which you’ve already started writing. The Griff Center has programs, services, and resources to help you achieve great things, academically and professionally.

Get your résumé reviewed by a pro in Career Services. Identify your strengths and learn how to use them for success. Work on time management and study skills with an academic mentor. Through workshops, events, services, appointments, and more, the Griff Center is here to help you achieve your goals.

Explore Buffalo.

At Canisius, we’re all about community -- our own campus community and the one that surrounds us, the city of Buffalo. Our city is rich in culture, history, and entertainment. The city’s been receiving national attention, even making the New York Times’ “52 Places to Travel in 2018” list.

When you have some downtime, explore the city. Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to the Buffalo metro system.

Get involved.

Joining a club or organization on campus has a plethora of benefits. Professionally, it’ll help you expand your résumé, gain leadership and teamwork skills, and network. Socially? You’ll meet new people, learn about yourself, and have fun, too! There are countless reasons to get involved with clubs, and with 100+ clubs and organizations at Canisius, we guarantee something will spark your interest. Get involved with a new organization this semester, and maybe even challenge yourself to seek a leadership role in a club. Browse your options here.

Cheer on the Griffs.

Show your Golden Griffin pride at some games! If you're a member of C-Block, you'll receive prizes throughout the semester just for supporting our Division I teams. If you're wondering when to catch a game, check out the athletics calendar and find your favorite sport. Go Griffs!


At Canisius, there are plenty of opportunities for international travel -- semesters, seminars, immersion trips, and internships abroad, for example. Check out your options, and consider what you could learn around the globe.

Eat healthier.

Maintaining a healthy diet can help your body fight diseases, boost your energy level, and improve your mental and physical health. If maintaining a more balanced, nutritious diet is one of your resolutions, consider eating more vegetables. Try Pitchforks (located in Economou Dining Hall) for tasty plant-based foods!

Explore your spirituality.

Take time for reflection this semester, and explore your spirituality on a Campus Ministry retreat. These retreats are an opportunity to get away from the distractions of everyday life, explore real-world spiritual questions, and form deeper relationships. On retreat, you'll meet new people and learn about yourself. Consider a Campus Ministry retreat such as Kairos, Magis (freshmen only), Always Our Children, or Senior Retreat (seniors only). 

Work hard, but have fun.

Before you know it, you'll be celebrating the end of a great semester at Griff Fest, a favorite Canisius tradition brought to you by the Student Programming Board.