Things That Universities Don’t Want You To Know

There are many things that universities tell you that you need to do in order to pass your classes.  My favorite is when they tell you that you need to prepare for thirty minutes ahead of class, then for every hour in class you’re supposed to study for two hours.  At three classes per day, that puts you at around ten hours of academics per day. I have yet to meet anyone who followed this guideline.  I had a buddy who figured out his schedule and saw that if he followed the university recommendations he would have had -4 hours per day for sleep.  My advice for any student out there is to read and react to your professor’s ideal characteristics and match your course load. You can use Rate My Professor to get a feel for your instructor before signing up for the class. Not all classes will require a demanding study schedule, especially if you excel at the subject. Don’t be intimidated and do not believe everything, sometimes people slack off and give professors a bad review just to get back at them.

Related: The Power Of Rate My Professor

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After a few years of school I started thinking that some professors were making a commission off the textbooks that were “required”.  Every year the required textbook always changes to the newest edition and the professor assigns homework from it, forcing you to buy it. In my experience, the only thing that changes from version to version are the page numbers where the assigned reading is, and the questions at the end of each chapter.  Professors should have a copy of the textbook on reserve at the library so you can copy the questions from there if need be. You can also use Amazon or Chapters to buy used textbooks, or you can even share one with a friend.  Out of five years of school I managed to buy only ten textbooks. I either shared, borrowed, or used the library copy.  There were times when I wish I had bought the book just so doing homework would have been more convenient.  Stopping at the library to get the assigned questions wasn’t the end of the world and in the end I appreciated the savings.

Check for Equivalent Courses

In order to graduate you will need a set amount of credit hours as well as a passing mark in all of the required courses. Sometimes programs will have some pretty difficult courses, but they don’t mention the courses that are far easier and are considered equivalent to the difficult one! In my situation Financial Accounting was my brick wall, I couldn’t get past it at the U of M. I dropped it once and failed it the second time taking it.  To be fair, I wasn’t the most focused student in the class, but at the same time, that subject wasn’t my strongest.  I talked to my program advisor about it and he suggested that I take it online  from another university.  This was the first I had heard of that option and I realised that was because the university wouldn’t make any money off it, and that is why they didn’t tell me about it in my course selection.

The course material was exactly the same, but here was the break down of the marks:

Financial Accounting: University of Manitoba

Quizzes: 10%

Midterm: 35% (If you get below a 50% they force you to drop the class)

Final: 45%

Financial Accounting: Athabasca University

Quiz 1: 5%

Quiz 2: 10%

Labs: 20%

Case Study: 10 %

Mid Term: 25%

Final: 30%

The breakdown for the distance education course was much more favorable to me as opposed to the U of M version.  I was able to focus on different areas of the course and that way it wasn’t too overwhelming. Since it was online, I slacked off, and finished the first half of the course in four months. I finished the last half of the course in a week over spring break and wound up with a B+. It required a lot of discipline and to be honest, if I wasn’t feeling the pressure of graduation at the end of the semester I probably couldn’t have pulled that off.

While working as an office admin, I would talk to students as they waited for their advisors. I talked to an international student who had the same problem I did with that course. I suggested taking it through an online university and he was concerned about the cost. International students pay about three times as much as students who live in the country (this is due to government subsidization). After crunching the numbers, we discovered that taking the course distance ed was the same price as taking it at our university.  When I took that course it had cost me 20% more than the usual tuition.  It covered the cost of the textbook, as well as the postage to get everything to me. This also factored in the “test fees” I had to pay in order to get someone at the U of M to babysit me while I wrote each exam.  I’m not telling you to take the easy way out, but instead explore your options. I like it better when my grades are spread out over the full year instead of everything coming down to the final exam.

Universities Will Make Money   

No matter what happens, universities will make money. If there is an easier or cheaper way to get the same services, they won’t be the first person to tell you. I work under the “Student Life” portfolio so I’m all about helping out the students/customers whether our university benefits from it or not.  I should be recommending textbooks from the book store, but instead I’ll recommend Amazon or a used textbook store that is run by our student union.  Just because the university doesn’t tell you about the other cheaper alternatives, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.

Readers – Did you find any loopholes at your school?


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11 years ago

Universities charge tuition on two different scales – some are course-based and some are program-based. In the program-based scenario, you pay a set fee, regardless of how many courses you take and when you take them. You can then really exploit this to reduce the cost of your education in two ways – 1) take as many courses as you can during the school year and 2) take courses during the summer. If you really fast-track and if you can handle it, you could theoretically do a 4-year degree and only pay for 3 years.

11 years ago

Professors do NOT like it either when a textbook comes out with a new edition. What this means for them, is that they have to go through and completely revise their course outlines, read the new text and find out what is different, etc. etc. Of course new editions have to come out now and again, to keep current in the subject. If you have an old text, go to the professor and ask about using it. Many will be helpful and tell you what parts are different/changed and you can use the library copy for this task, or ask… Read more »

11 years ago
Reply to  Barb

Barb, I respectfully completely disagree. Who writes textbooks and makes a ton of new money off of royalties when they are sold? Professors do! Sure, some professors do place the needs of students high on the priority list, but I can telly you for a fact that many do not as well. New editions may have to come out in certain subjects, but really has the history of Western Civilization changed much over the past two years? Didn’t think so. Your post script is not correct at all, and I’m not even sure what your syllogism is supposed to be.… Read more »

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