*Disclaimer*: This is written by someone who attended a top Canadian university, failed several courses, went on to attain a PhD, and then taught at said University as a Faculty member.
#1 reason for failing: Taking too many courses or underestimating the number of courses you are taking.
It’s important to remember that University isn’t high school or CGEP—you will receive no coddling from instructors reminding you about assignment deadlines or test dates, and it’s highly unlikely there’ll be people going out of their way to make you feel like a special snowflake. In other words, in University you are a number (and memorize that student number, goddammit).Another important distinction between high school and CGEP vs University is course load. Taking 5-6 courses a semester in high school or CGEP is not the same as taking the same number of courses in University. When you only have to register and enroll in four courses to be considered a full-time student, your first impression might be, “Hey, this is a joke! I will only have 4 final exams—no problem!” WRONG. Completely and utterly wrong. That new, cute undergrad naïvete—which might sustain you for the first few weeks of University—will be knocked right out of you when you receive the grades back from your first assignment. Why? Because assignments will be due before your hangover from Frosh even wears off. As for midterms? Take some advice from your car’s rear-view mirror: midterm dates are actually closer than they appear. And, surprise, not being prepared for your midterms can easily snowball into not being prepared for your finals, especially if they’re cumulative. The amount of information that gets jammed into 1 University course is often mind-boggling. So, trust me: you cannot and will not learn all that material the night before the exam. Try this and you will fail, period.What should you do? Take 3-4 courses max. I would suggest taking 3 courses per term and then 1-2 over the summer if you have to. Whatever you do, for the love of The Force, do not take more than you think you can handle.
#2 reason for failing:Too Distracted,Poor Time Management, and Procrastination
Back in my time the internet was not as pervasive and Pluto was still a planet. Indeed, a lot has changed. When it comes to failing University, however, there seems to be one constant: a student’s inability to minimize distractions and use their time efficiently. This inevitably leads to the dreaded “P” problem: Procrastination, where a student consistently leaves assignments and studying to the very last minute. Even if you get nothing out of your University experience or degree, there is one lesson you won’t want to miss out on: How To Adult. One of the key attributes of being a successful adult is scheduling; knowing how to organize your day to complete all the tasks you need to, and learning how to focus on those tasks until you can scratch them off your to-do list. While it sounds incredibly simple, in actuality it’s something that takes time, diligence and practice. So many students look shocked and mildly confused when a teacher announces the midterm is next class. Sometimes students even walk into a final exam in this “I can’t believe this is happening” state. The thing is, students are told exactly when assignments are due and when tests will occur on the first day of class. Enter this information on your phone and pick all the possible alert options, including—and most importantly—the “1 Week Before” option. Of course, the type of courses you are taking and the kinds of assignments due means that the way you allot your time to Get Sh*t Done may differ from your friends. While it might be realistic to only allot a few days to study for a midterm, chances are you’ll need to spend a week or so to pound out a quality essay. Figure it out. Another crucial part of using your time effectively is the ability to minimize or completely eliminate distractions. You can’t watch Netflix, Tweet, or relieve your FOMO symptoms through Facebook and Snapchat while trying to study at the same time.Figure out the task, schedule it, log out, sit you’re a** down, and get it done.