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I’ll be using this lolcat in my classes for sure :-)

funny pictures of cats with captions

And seeing it spurred me to write a bit about studying at university, for those of you who’ll be heading that way this year. Namely, that it’s not like being at school.

At uni, you’re expected to take responsibility for your own learning. You’re not going to be chased up to come to class, for example. (Having said that, I do e-mail to anyone who’s missed two or more lab classes, asking what the story is.) Although you shouldn’t take that as licence to wag lectures – too much goes on in them that you can’t really afford to miss. Most lecturers will probably provide their first-year students with study guide notes, but the lecture itself is more than going over those notes. They’ll be put in context; there’ll be interesting little anecdotes, quizzes, all sorts of stuff.

And you certainly shouldn’t miss a lab class without good reason. They’re an essential part of the paper, & if you miss more than 1-2 without providing a medical certificate or some other documentation, you may end up failing the course. Not a good thing at all. In fact, failing to attend a compulsory class, or hand in a compulsory item of assessment, might have the same result. If you know in advance that you’re going to be away, or that you need an extension on an assignment (for a good reason! "I didn’t get around to starting it until last night…" is unlikely to be viewed with any degree of sympathy), then talk with your lecturer or tutor & see what can be done. I’ll do all that I can to help someone who comes to me early when they recognise that they need help, but there’s next to nothing I can do for someone who turns up at my office for the first time, the week before the final exam.

Which I guess brings me to the point of the lolcat – don’t procrastinate. Manage your time properly. Make lists. Plan ahead. Don’t leave things till the last minute. The potential penalties for not doing this can be quite severe. Our registrar & I are working on approving enrolments at the moment (in fact, both of us were in the office for most of today, which is a bit dire on a lovely sunny Saturday!), and every so often a ‘re-entry appeal’ crops up. These are from people who, for whatever reason, have failed more than a certain proportion of their year’s program of study, & so are not automatically eligible to return to the university. Some are on medical grounds – but in all too many of these appeals the reason given for failing is along the lines of ‘I didn’t manage my time &/or workload properly’, often accompanied by ‘I didn’t ask for help when I should have’. If someone in this position is given re-entry, then they’ll have to repeat the papers that they failed or, if they change programs, take different ones at the same level. There’s a big cost in this, in both money & time – it may extend the time taken to complete the degree by up to a year, & that’s a lot of fees & student loans.

Procrastination can be expensive. Don’t do it.