Success at university depends on how well students understand the culture of the University and on how well they can navigate their way through university processes. To enhance your chances of success at university, it is important to understand the history of universities and the nature of university culture.
Some key success factors are:
You must take the initiative
Universities create an educational environment for adult learners who are assumed to be self-motivated and willing to take control of their own future. If you fail to submit assignments or to engage actively in your studies then academic staff will not chase you. However, if you take the initiative to seek advice and assistance then academic staff and others will help. The initiative must come from you.
You must engage in active learning
University students are not ‘spoon fed' information. Structured activities are designed to engage students in active inquiry as a basis for learning and self-realisation. You must attack your studies and engage in them actively for this learning process to be optimised.
Learn how to use course specifications
Course specifications are documents which are available on all courses offered by USQ. Students are advised to read the relevant documents thoroughly prior to commencing a course and to take note of anything which may assist them in successfully studying the course – assignment requirements, deadlines and issues which are given particular emphasis in the course, etc. Other documents, such as the Introductory Booklets provided for distance courses, should also be read thoroughly for details of course requirements.
Follow instructions regarding activities to the letter
University courses have detailed expectations on what students are expected to demonstrate. These are reflected in the assignment and exam questions. It is extremely important when tackling assignments or exam questions that you always seek to specifically answer the question asked.
Learn about correct academic structures and style
Academic processes are well established and are subject to rigorous convention. Formal academic writing has a particular style that needs to be adhered to. Academic essays and reports have particular structures which must be conformed with. You should become familiar with these academic structures and styles and use them as a basis for developing your written work. ALSOnline for students provides assistance with developing communication skills.
The simple things – like spelling, grammar and presentation – are all important
Although it may not always be explicitly stated, there is a general expectation that students working at the university level should set high standards in presenting their work and ensuring correct spelling, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, etc. It is of course essential that all work is legible but good presentation also serves as both a physical manifestation of a professional attitude and a potential means of improving effective communication between the author and the reader. Similarly, incorrect spelling, grammar, sentence construction, etc. can impact negatively on effective communication and must be actively avoided. ALSOnline for students provides assistance with developing communication skills.
Research all work thoroughly
Academic work is based around critical inquiry. You should take the initiative to study your work thoroughly and take pains to seek out references and other relevant materials beyond the set recommended reading to further support your work and provide you with extended insights into your course of study.
Plagiarism is the act of passing off the work or ideas of others as your own or without due acknowledgment. It is considered as a very serious violation of university rules. Always ensure that you give due acknowledgment to any ideas that you use from whatever source through adopting standard referencing procedures. ALSOnline for students provides information about plagiarism and referencing.
Always proof-read your work thoroughly before submitting it
A continual frustration for staff assessing submitted work is having to deal with material that has been developed reasonably well but which contains scores of minor errors, inconsistencies in style or other readily correctable flaws. You should ensure that before you submit your work that you proof-read it thoroughly to remove errors, to ensure that the work reads consistently and well, and to ensure that the assignment question which was asked has been comprehensively addressed.
Strive for excellence
Most work at the university level involves graded assessment. The better the quality of the work presented, the higher the grade that is awarded. With the level of competition now present in the employment market, employers are not only looking for people with particular qualifications but are distinguishing between job candidates on the basis of how well they have performed in their studies. This is indicated by a student's overall Grade Point Average. So, as well a reflecting a professional attitude to work and providing you with a heightened sense of your achievement of successful study, optimising your Grade Point Average also brings real benefits in terms of your future employment prospects. Remember, your full history of study at university, including negative aspects such as courses failed, are permanently recorded.