Relationships

How to survive university

Author: Canadian Living

Relationships

How to survive university

The first few weeks of classes are an opportunity for you to enjoy the results of all the preparation you have undertaken so far. All that you anticipated is now a reality. It will be exciting and very busy. There are some administrative things you need to know to ensure you get the classes you want, and some strategies for setting you up on a solid platform for the term ahead. We discuss them in this chapter.

1. Full classes
Pleading with the professor to get into a full class because "it fits into your schedule" generally won't get you in. On the other hand, if you have a truly compelling reason for having registered late, need the class as a prerequisite, or are genuinely keen on the course content but did not get in, approach the professor in person and explain your case. While full classes are a problem for students and professors alike, you are much more likely to enlist the professor's support if you have good academic reasons for your request.

Tip #1: Have all the necessary paperwork on hand to make it easy for the professor to approve your request.
• Generally you will need a course add/drop form. Fill out everything on the form that you can before presenting yourself to the professor. Obviously, presenting the professor with a blank form to complete seriously undermines your argument that you are keen to take the course.

Tip #2: If you have trouble getting an appointment to see the professor, attend the first few classes, sit near the front, and participate.
• Show your enthusiasm and commitment in person;
• Your e-mail request won't stand out versus the others the professor is probably receiving;
• If someone drops out, you can offer to take his or her place. Your presence will help support your request.

2. Course outlines
In order to be successful you must understand what is expected of you. In short, course outlines spell this out.

Tip #1: Read the course outline carefully to understand the learning objectives and how marks will be allocated. This gives you important context for all that follows in the course.

Tip #2: Highlight important information and keep the outline in your course binder. Refer to it each week. It is your road map.
• It tells you where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going;
• It tells you what to do, and for key items, when to do them;
• It tells you the allocation of marks to tasks, and in some cases, the principles underlying the awarding of marks;
• Of all the questions asked by students at a professor's door, probably 90 per cent are answered in the course outline. Imagine how bad you look asking your professor for information that is written on the course outline that he or she gave you and that you should have in your binder.

Write an e-mail to your professor if you notice that a test or exam has been scheduled on a religious observance date. If you let him or her know early enough, the date may be changed. Otherwise, an accommodation may be made for you to write on an alternate date. Check your university's website and undergraduate calendar for full information on religious accommodations.


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Excerpted from University Matters by Sharron McIntyre, MBA and Michael McIntryre, PhD, CA. Copyright 2005 by Sharron D. McIntyre and Michael L. McIntyre. Excerpted, with permission by Creative Bound International Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

3. Course changes
Tip #1:If you don't like a professor's style, try to switch sections.

Tip #2: If the course content is different from what you expected, drop the course and register in one you like better.

Tip #3:If you are having trouble deciding which course or section to take, find some classes that aren't full yet and attend a few lectures to see if you like the subject matter and the professor's approach. This makes for a very full schedule in the first few weeks, but it is well worth the extra effort.

Tip #4: Consult an academic adviser before dropping a prerequisite for your program. Prerequisite structures can be complex webs, and missing out on one early on may affect your ability to register for a full load of courses in the future. This is an area where academic advisers often have a lot of expertise, and can be very helpful.

Tip #5: Ensure you follow the correct procedures to withdraw from a course or you may have a failure recorded on your transcript. Once you are registered in a course, the only options are to be awarded a mark or to withdraw. If you don't withdraw you will be given a "fail" on your transcript, even though you never showed up for a single lecture.

Tip #6:Most employers recruiting at the university will ask you to include your transcript with your résumé when applying for a job. You don't want to have to show them one with a failure on it. They have no way of knowing whether you did miserably in the course and failed, or simply forgot to withdraw.

Tip #7:Act early when withdrawing from a course to maximize any available fee refunds.

Tip #8: Withdrawing from a course could change your status from full-time to part-time. This status has nothing to do with how much time you spend on your university studies and is determined only by the number of courses you are taking. There could be implications:
• Various bursaries, scholarships, student loan arrangements, residence eligibility and other such things may require full-time enrollment and may be withdrawn if you do not meet this requirement. For example, in some cases, a student bus pass is available only to full-time students;
• Income tax savings for you or your parents will change, as the education deduction will be reduced from $400 per month to $120 per month. Refer to Chapter 15.6 for more details.

4. Getting to know your classmates
Tip #1:Say hello to classmates. Refer to Chapter 12.1 if you find it difficult to initiate conversation.

Tip #2: Get acquainted with classmates early so you can figure out which individuals you want to work with in study groups or for group assignments. Refer to Chapter 9.1.

Tip #3: Develop a buddy system
• Team up with two classmates, exchange contact information and agree to provide notes to each other if one of you is sick and misses a class.
• Reviewing two sets of notes will clarify the key points, and one classmate might explain some points better than the other.
• Don't abuse this courtesy. Your classmates will quickly become resentful if they perceive they are being used as your note takers.

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Excerpted from University Matters by Sharron McIntyre, MBA and Michael McIntryre, PhD, CA. Copyright 2005 by Sharron D. McIntyre and Michael L. McIntyre. Excerpted, with permission by Creative Bound International Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

5. Getting used to your new environment
Don't underestimate the stresses associated with a new place, new people and new routines. Give yourself some time to adjust.

Tip #1: Many students who were popular in high school feel a sense of loss and confusion when they enter a new environment where they feel insignificant initially. Give yourself a chance to get settled. Smile at everyone. Refer to Chapter 12.1.

Tip #2: The sooner you get to know other students and develop a sense of belonging in your new community, the sooner you will be able to focus on enjoying life as a university student.

Tip #3: Check out what you can do in the local community, such as attending poetry readings or listening to local bands.

Tip #4: Attend meetings and talks on campus to broaden your thinking.

Tip #5: Go to a varsity football, hockey or basketball game with a couple of other newcomers. A varsity sporting event on campus can be lots of fun!

6. Homesickness
If you are living away from home, you will probably feel homesick. For some the feeling is minor. For others it can be a larger issue. Minor feelings of homesickness arise because the familiar has been replaced with the unknown, which causes most people some level of anxiety. You have probably left behind some very special people and you may miss them more than you anticipated. You may also feel you have fewer friends than you are used to, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. This can be unsettling if you usually feel confident and in charge of your life.

Tip #1: Many other students will be feeling the same way you do. Reach out to them, smile, and share your concerns and anxieties.

Tip #2: If you find you are having difficulty with homesickness, go to Health Services to discuss how you feel. They are there to help you.

Tip #3: Explore the local community to get a sense of your new environment. Invite another newcomer to join you. Go to the local tourist office so you can get a good sense of what's in town.

Tip #4: Get involved in campus activities as soon as you have a sense of your time commitments for academics.

Tip #5: Remember that sleep deprivation, hangovers, and insufficient nutrition will magnify the things that cause you to worry. Give yourself the best shot at adjusting to your new environment by looking after your health.

Tip #6: Keep in touch with family and friends back home, but make sure you direct your energy towards saying hello to someone new every day.

Tip #7: Give yourself some time to settle in. Resist the urge to go home every other weekend. Pick a date, like Thanksgiving, and look forward to seeing your friends and family then. Most students have very positive experiences if they give themselves the time to settle in and make new friends. New friends don't replace old friends; they are additional friends.

Go to www.universitymatters.ca to view a complete index of the book University Matters.



Excerpted from University Matters by Sharron McIntyre, MBA and Michael McIntryre, PhD, CA. Copyright 2005 by Sharron D. McIntyre and Michael L. McIntyre. Excerpted, with permission by Creative Bound International Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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