University is busy, that’s for sure.
Ever heard of “Sleep, social life, good grades; choose three”? Well, it’s not a lie. For me it’s mainly deciding between sleep and a social life. Assignments and studying take priority if I want to stay in school with half decent grades. That’s not to scare any newcomers though, if you like your program and what you’re studying then it will definitely feel like it’s worth it.
There are three main types of classes you will attend in university: Lectures, tutorials and labs.
Lectures are the main classes you will go to. You learn everything in lectures. Even though I don’t necessarily like the amount of work we get each week (about 4 assignments due a week) my lectures are actually really enjoyable. Lectures are the classes in which you actually get to learn new material in. Your profs go up there in front of the whole class and teach new material. That is not to say that all your classmates will enjoy it though all the time. Sometimes in lectures that are going particularly slow or are just at unfortunate times during the week (monday mornings especially), some people around me will start to doze off. Thankfully I haven’t had the need to take a nap during any of my classes. Instead, me and my friends sometimes make post-it note origami.
Tutorials are shorter than lectures, and are mainly run by the teaching assistants (TAs). During my tutorials we normally hand in our assignments, take up practice questions, work on small weekly quizzes, and/or go over questions from the last assignment depending on the course. This is not a time for learning new things, but for reinforcing information that you’ve already been taught during lectures. So far these have been helpful because they are done in much smaller groups, so if you have a question then you wouldn’t feel as awkward asking as opposed to in a large lecture hall. Otherwise they’re pretty much study periods where you learn how to apply your knowledge.
Last but not least, labs. The only labs we have had so far are for linear circuits every two weeks. These are like hands on assignments where you work with on a breadboard to create different circuits to see the outputs of different components. They are two hours long, so unless you really have no idea what you are doing and don’t want to ask for help, then it’s plenty of time (so far in 1A) to get your work done in a reasonable amount of time. For labs though you have to do a prelab, lab observations and report for each one. Funfunfun.
Whichever is your favourite, you’re bound to have a good spread of lectures, tutorials and labs. It’s up to you to stick with it.
Wish you all the best,
1A Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo