Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Remember those really awesome high school teachers you had? They would always let you re-write a test or give you extra time to do your homework if you were sick. They would also put together a packet of work for you to do if you missed a few days of school. Those people don’t work at the university level.

  • Your attendance is not foremost in a professor or lecturer’s mind, especially considering some classes may have over 200 students.
  • The marks of most classes will follow a standard bell curve. Your placement on that curve is your responsibility.
  • Most professors and lecturers will not give you extra work to “make up” a bad mid-term grade. Mid-terms can be worth a lot, often 25-40% of your final grade. Don’t underestimate their importance.

The one major difference between high school and university is who is responsible for the learning. In high school, the teachers are responsible to make sure that you learn how to solve equations, play the trombone and spike a volleyball. At university, you are solely responsible for how much you learn.

Fortunately, most professors and lecturers will respond very positively to someone who takes ownership of their own learning. You will recognize these people, partly because they are always lurking around campus at all hours of the day and night. They are students who keep up on the readings without having to be told. They are students who study when there isn’t an exam looming. They are students who ask intelligent questions in class and make a point of visiting the professor’s office hours to ask even more intelligent questions. But most importantly, they are the students who ask for help when they need it and end up succeeding the most. These are not always the smartest people in the class, they are just the ones who know it’s their job to learn and treat school that way.


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