Posted By: Jason Liu on July 21, 2010
After completing my first year in the program, I wanted to give the incoming students a bit of perspective before you arrive in September regarding marks. It’s probably not something you want to think about during your summer but it certainly pays to be forward-looking.
One of the things that you should expect is that your mark will drop between high school and university (hopefully this isn’t breaking news for any of you). However, there are always those individuals who can maintain their 90’s even in this program but they are rare.
First year will be a great time for you to freely explore your interests inside and outside of business. There are so many opportunities for you to get involved in (as I’m sure you’ve heard numerous times by now) and you should certainly take advantage of them. However, you’ll find that it is extremely easy to to overload your schedule and this can cause your marks to take a hit. No matter how you compensate for them, you still want your marks to be healthy. Now, I’m not saying to go lock yourself in your room and study like a hermit but you don’t want to close any doors in the future because you misallocated your time and priorities. Below, I’ll give you a few reasons why you need to maintain your marks. I’ll leave the judging up to you as to whether you personally think it is important for you to consider.
In no particular order:
- Cumulative averages: before, your final average entering university was based on your top 6 grades exiting high school. Now, every single mark counts. Make sure to consider the credit weighting of courses as well. Many people will consider ECON110 as a lost cause if they skip too many classes. However, since it’s worth 1.0 credits, that’s the equivalent of 2 commerce courses. You should certainly try to capitalize on the full year courses if it is your forte as it can do wonders for your average.
- Exchange: Although exchange takes place in 3rd year, you receive your placement in the 2nd term of 2nd year. This means you will be judged on your first year marks as well as first term, second year marks in your application (though, the criteria includes more than just grades). Therefore, to maximize your chances of getting your top picks, you should keep your marks relatively healthy
- Scholarships: most of the scholarships offered by the school, including major awards and merit based awards have the condition of an 80% average. It is important to get that 80, especially if you have a renewable scholarship.
- Part of being a commerce student means no failed courses. A failed course will land you in academic probation.
- Curves & course averages: don’t be discouraged by poor performance on mid terms. Often times a mid term examination may be exceptionally difficult. The key is to not label such a course as a lost cause. Chances are that everyone performed poorly. In these cases, the Prof. will account for the difficulty in the mid term in the final exam. Keep in mind that courses will usually end with a mid 70 average.
- Benefits of Dean’s List: Some employers have strong interests in students who are on the Dean’s List/Dean’s w/ distinction. This is essentially the honour roll at 80%/85% respectively. It certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of finding prime employment.
- Courses requiring experience: There are a few courses in art-sci which allow students to enroll without the pre-reqs if they have the required background experience. Often times, the lecturer will have the final say in your enrollment. They will most likely take a look at your transcript to see if you can handle the work load since it may require extra effort for you to complete the course without prerequisite knowledge, depending on your level of experience.
I’m sure there are a few more that I can’t recall at this moment. I’ll update this list if things popup.
Now, I know it’s easy to say that you should maintain your marks, but how can it be achieved? In most cases, it has to do with discipline. Setting a schedule that works for you and finding an environment where you can study without disruption is key. If you are struggling with a course, go to the tutorials! You’ll have opportunities to go through further review as well as the opportunity to pose questions to the TA. You can also receive heavily subsidized tutoring from BrainTrust (tutoring service run through ComSoc).
Again, I’m not suggesting that you become a workaholic and to sacrifice all that you enjoy in life. Find that balance. Enjoy first year, it goes by fast. If you end up in the 70’s, you’re doing just fine. If you’re in the 80’s, you’re golden.
I’ll write another post later about ComSoc involvement as a first year - definitely don’t want to miss the boat on these opportunities, as well as another on a studying/scheduling system that may work for you.
Hope this helps.