Saturday, 23 March 2013

How College is different from University

I help with tours at my school frequently and this has to be one of the most common questions I get. How is the workload? How are you graded? I decided to do a comprehensive post that will hopefully prepare you for the shift to a Med Lab college program!

As someone who went to University for 4 years, moving to college was a strange transition. I was used to being evaluated twice, once at midterm time and once during finals with a few lab reports in between. Exams in university are generally weighted much higher ( around 50% of your grade) and the lab component a measly 15-20%.  My experience has been vastly different in a college program. I usually have 3 term tests with a group project or assignment which makes up 50% of my grade. The other 50% is lab evaluations, reports, quizzes and the like.

What do you like better? I actually much prefer the college method. It makes you stay on top of your theory, which you need for the lab anyways. I also find it divides up the information into more manageable chunks for you to study and retain. Another benefit of having smaller section tests, is that if you don't do as well as you would have liked, you can make it up on another. Not doing well on one assignment isn't going to set you back unlike university where if you bomb the midterm, that's pretty much it for your grade.

How is the schedule?  Yes, the schedule is intense. You are in labs for 15-20 hours a week which can be a bit overwhelming but that is what you will end up doing once you graduate.  You can't pick when you come to school or doing weekend classes etc but it's not unmanageable.  They set up the timetable in the best way possible and you generally (at least in my experience) will have an afternoon or morning off from time to time.

Do you have homework?  Short answer - Yes. Not all courses will have explicit "homework" but you will have to study to prepare yourself for labs and quizzes. I'm studying much more frequently that I did in University because you are being tested and evaluated all the time. In terms of assignments - I get a lot of lab reports and assignments in Chemistry and Microbiology since we have to do correlations and take time to do. Other labs, you do the lab reports in the lab time and hand it in at the end. You also will get online quizzes or group work and presentations you will need to coordinate and do.

Can you work while you go to school? It really depends on the person. I personally do work about 10-15 hours a week in addition to doing volunteering and society work at school. For me, I like to keep busy because it helps me manage my time better. When I wasn't working, I found I kept putting things off until the last-minute. Again, you know yourself better than I would so judge what you feel would be manageable for you. I would NOT recommend working full-time or even close to that unless you have a good arrangement and you can study at work.

Can I take electives?  At Michener, no. It's possible at other colleges but I can't speak to that. Your schedule is determined for you and you can't select courses. Everything you take will be lab related or the select research/interprofessional courses.

What if I fail a course? Unlike University, you can't make it up or retake unless you wait a full year. In other words, if you fail you will be held back. This aspect sucks but the professors work hard to help you as best they can. The professors will know you by name and are invested in your success! Typically in university, they are a little less invested and don't know you by name if you are in a big class. Sometimes this is nice because you might not feel as much pressure but if you aren't doing as well, it's your responsibility to get the help you need.

College is a change no matter if you're coming from High School or University, but I believe there are a lot of positives associated with it!



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