Answering university/college FAQs


How important is class attendance?

In a lot of modules, class attendance is not mandatory. Occasionally you will find those lecturers who send out a class register to be signed during the course of the lecture and these are the classes you want to have a good attendance for. Lecturers usually tally up your  average attendance too see how poor or good it is and will either:

  • Give you a mark (no more than 5%) that will contribute towards your coursework mark
  • Give you a “boost” should you need it to pass an assessment
  • Help you in consultation (only if you have good attendance).

Attending your lectures is of cause ideal because lecturers usually give tips about what topics they will assess in your tests and exams. Some students choose to attend only a lecture or two before the test but lecturers are aware of this tactic and can often be reluctant to give out a scope.

Some lecturers have the occasional surprise class test and for obvious reasons you need to attend that class.

How do I get the most out of attending a lecture?

Notes! Notes! Notes! Not only will this help you retain more of what the lecturer is saying, it also helps you to concentrate in class. Lectures can be draining, listening to someone speak for an hour for 6 hours a day takes its toll on students. The best way to counteract being sluggish is by:

  • Taking notes
  • Working out the problems with the lecturer (for quantitative sections/modules)
  • Engaging in class discussions
  • Jotting down anything you don’t understand so you could either focus on it later or consult with the lecturer or tutor.

Have a notebook specifically for every module. Taking notes on loose papers increases your chance of losing them.

What’s the best study method to use in varsity/college?

Studying is a concept that has to be maneuvered to fit you. It may take going through a few methods until you find one that sticks. For example: I tried studying with classical music playing in the background but to me it’s just as distracting as having any song playing. I realized that I study better in silence, however I enjoy doing quantitative problems with background noise.

  • Study groups v Study buddy v Studying solo

Again, this depends on the type of learner you are. I personally would advise studying the prescribed topics alone, at least until you have a solid idea of what’s going on. Only after that should you join a study group or have a study buddy to go over what you don’t understand and to do past papers.

What academic resources are available to me in college/uni?

University libraries have extensive resources for your assignments and just for your literary enjoyment. You will find books, journals, PCs, newspapers and magazine. In some schools, if the library does not have the book you want they can borrow it for you from another university in the country if it is available. The sources that are of top priority are the prescribed textbooks, lecture slides and any prescribed additional reading material uploaded by the module coordinator.


How do I stay organized?

  • Buy a planner! In school I had it a lot easier because we were given school planners. It’s important to write down any homework that you might have (yes in some modules it’s a thing) and to note any important dates such as upcoming assessments and other school activities. Usually these important dates are in your module outline, the school website and the school newsletter.
  • Break down big assignments into smaller sections that you will do over a period of time. Doing a 10 page essay 2 days before it is due is not only frustrating but opens the door to make so many unnecessary mistakes.
  • Check which referencing method your module requires. Referencing carries a significant weight in your assignment therefore you want to make sure you do it right.
  • Make study notes some time ahead of the test/exam. There’s nothing more disheartening than having to make 3 chapters worth of notes 3 days before the assessment. Make notes for a section as soon as you are done with it in class. Not only will the work still be fresh in your mind, you will spare yourself the headache of making notes in a much shorter time later.

Is it a big deal if I fail a test?

In most modules you can redeem yourself in other assessments. However, you want to do very well in assessments that have the biggest weighting towards your coursework mark (usually the semester tests). Find out what the minimum percentage you need to achieve is for you to be allowed to write your exams. It’s always good to go into the exam with a high coursework mark in the event that you don’t too well in the exam.

How do I find a bursary in college/uni?

  • Usually, universities have companies that they work with and those are the most ideal to seek a bursary from. The university will often post bursary opportunities on the school website or send out a newsletter, look out for those.
  • Go to the financial aid office and inquire on any available bursaries.
  • Look out for posters around your campus.

How do I make money on campus?

  • Find a job on campus. Usually there are employment opportunities in many areas on campus such as: the library, bookshop, cafeteria or admin office. You can also become a tutor if you do well in a module.
  • Sell your used textbooks. You can use this money to finance your new books
  • Sell a product/offer a service. You may need to get permission to do this on your campus. Advertising is free because you can put up posters around campus at no cost.

How does it feel to live in a dormitory?

This depends on the kind of living arrangement you have (whether your room is a single, double or triple). Living in a dorm is a great way to meet new people and make friends. People living in the same corridor often go on to be friends.

Living in a dorm breeds a whole new set of responsibilities. You are responsible for doing your own grocery, cooking (in self-catering dorms), cleaning and doing your laundry. It also requires a bit of financial planning so that you can me able to purchase commodities you may need or want.



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