This 10 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make in University blog series is for any students who are still in school, or about to attend university, so that you can make the best out of your academic career!
Thank you to the dozens of people from around the world who have anonymously shared their biggest regrets in hindsight and what they thought were the biggest mistakes that people make in university. Originally, I wanted to share all 10 at once, but I received so many great responses that I wanted to do a deeper dive on each of the Top 10 mistakes. Check out University Mistake #2 if you haven’t read it yet!
It is so easy to skip classes in university because professors don’t usually do attendance. However, it is a waste of your money and opportunity. When you skip class, you are missing out on the inconspicuous tips that professors share, either purposefully or naturally. There were so many times that I picked up on tidbits of information that helped me in my assignments and exams. Even if your professor shares their slides, if you skip class, you will miss out on helpful hints, context, and details that are typically reserved for those who are present.
By skipping class, you are also missing out on the opportunity to absorb the content, filter through what’s important, and write it down to remember for your exams and assignments. Since physically writing down notes helps you with your memory, asking your friends to take notes for you is actually not going to help you .
Fun Fact: In one of my classes, I spent half my semester typing my notes and the other half hand-writing my notes. I actually found that I performed better on my exam when I hand-wrote my notes in class.
What Can You Do?
The most effective strategy is to set yourself up for success by eliminating excuses for skipping classes.
When given the option, choose classes that fit your schedule and energy levels. If you’re a morning person, then try to end the day early. If you like sleeping in, find afternoon or evening classes. Back-to-back classes are also brutal and exhausting, so try to create a schedule that has breaks in between classes so that you can recharge.
Also, do your research when choosing which classes to take. Read professor and class reviews to see what the workload, class structure, and grading expectations are like. This due diligence will help you make better decisions about which classes appeal to you and fit your learning style better. For example, if you dislike exams, choose courses that have final projects. On the other hand, if you dislike group projects, find courses that have solo assignments and exams.
Attending class and participating also portrays that you are a good student to professors, which would make them more willing to help you later in the semester. Even if your professor doesn’t know your name, they will recognize your face and will appreciate that you took a few seconds to listen, consider, and respond to their questions when dozens of other students weren’t paying attention or didn’t bother to speak up. This is where the Mere Exposure Effect comes into play, which states that the more you see something or someone, the more you will like them because of the familiarity.
What Did I Do?
I am proud to say that the only time I skipped a class was to have lunch with Manjit Minhas from Dragons’ Den in my 4th year of university. Other than important occasions like that, I always attended my classes because I didn’t want to miss out on any important tips or methods that may be helpful with my exams and assignments.
Among hundreds of other students, it is hard to stand out. However, I rarely missed the opportunity to introduce myself to my professors at the beginning of every semester. This may seem like “keener” mentality, but connecting with my professors made it easier to ask questions whenever I needed help, and they would greet me more warmly because they already knew who I was.
I also tried to attend tutorials and office hours because I found these sessions helpful for reviewing key concepts (and I usually gathered useful tips from the teaching assistants or professors who ran them). At the very least, when the end of the semester rolled around and I believed that my final grade should be rounded up, I could justify that I put in the extra effort that other students didn’t, which seemed reasonable to my professors.
Not only did these best practices boost my GPA from a 3.6 to 3.8, but by making the effort to connect with my professors and excel in my classes, I was able to find great academic references for the scholarships that I applied for!
The least you need to know
Don’t skip class because it’s a waste of tuition and opportunity.
- Do your research before enrolment to find the best professors and courses to take so that it is harder to make excuses for skipping classes throughout the semester.
- Attend your classes and tutorials to pick up on helpful tips that you would miss out on if you skipped. Handwrite your notes in class.
- Introduce yourself to your professors and make an effort to succeed in their classes. Attend office hours and ask for help if you need it.
Stay tuned for University Mistake #4 and remember to subscribe for my top 3 career resources each month!