A New Academic Environment
The Typical Week
- A week may include 15 hours of scheduled classes for an Arts student, 22 for a Commerce student or 28 for an Engineering and Applied Science student.
- There could be an entire day with no class.
- Readings may range from none to several hundred pages weekly, and lab reports may take 6 - 10 hours to complete, initially.
- The various professors structure their courses independently of other instructors, so there could be lots of homework one week and very little another.
- All this adds up to more responsibility and independence in learning for the student, and the need to develop effective time management skills.
Expectations of Professors and Teaching Assistants (TAs)
- Students should come to class prepared, having downloaded the web notes or skimmed the lab procedure or text.
- Professors typically post e-mail addresses or hold office hours when they are available to answer questions, and they expect students to seek them out if material is unclear.
- Teaching or Lab Assistants, most often Queen's graduate students, are often used in large classes and are available for help.
- If a student does not understand clearly what is required in an assignment, he/she is expected to talk to the professor or TA before the assignment is due.
- A key difference from high school: students usually must initiate contact and requests for assistance. But professors want their students to do well, and are typically approachable and willing to help.
- Self-direction, initiative and independence are expected.
The Classroom Experience
- It's new for nearly all 1st year students, with classes of 450 - 700 students in some courses.
- For some courses, students learn to adjust to a large lecture format, with little interaction with the professor during class and 50-90 minute lectures spread across campus with 10 minutes to reach a new location.
- The tutorials or labs scheduled in many courses are a great opportunity to connect with the TA. A lot of learning happens in the smaller, more "hands-on" environment.
- Usually, courses are about 15 weeks long (to earn 0.5 credits), and new courses start each term.
Assessment and Grading
- Assessment is largely based on tests and exams, rather than participation and projects, especially in first year.
- Students may be evaluated through 1 or 2 essays; mid-term and final exams are frequently multiple choice format. Over second, thid, and fourth years, the assessment may change to more project-based, seminar and essay formats.
- Participation is not always included in the assessment, nor is "effort" in learning the material, as the assessment aims to be fair to all. If participation is evaluated, it may represent 5-10% of the final grade, which can make the difference between a passing or failing grade.
- Many students experience a drop in grades in 1st year, compared to high school, of 5-15%.
- Students with documented disabilities who require accommodations to acquire and demonstrate their knowledge are encouraged to contact Queen's Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) (613-533-6467).
- Queen's students may be more similar to your student in his/her academic achievements, as Queen's students are all bright and capable and often were the "top of the class" in high school. This is often a shock to new students, as they suddenly see themselves as "only one of many".
- There may be greater or less diversity among students in terms of cultural and social background, political views and activity, and religious tradition than was the case in high school. This will be an opportunity for many students to broaden his/her world view.
Computers and Technology
- The use of Computers and Technology is integral to most courses.
- Campus Computing Sales and Service offers a full range of IT equipment and supplies (including ink!) at greatly reduced prices compared to commercial stores. Laptop rental is available.
- There are public computing sites and kiosks on campus.
- Confidentiality of academic, personal, health and other information about your student is strictly enforced throughout the University. Information can only be shared if your student has given specific written permission.