Student Responsibilities

Maggie Convey and Sarah Malo

Students have many responsibilities in a post-secondary environment. Many of them are responsibilities they didn’t need to worry about when they were in high school, or at least to a much lesser extent. When you start college or university, you are responsible for your own learning, and if you recently finished high school that means taking care of business you may never have considered before.

  • Administrative duties. You are responsible for making sure you have done all the paperwork, which includes applying for your program, scheduling and registering for your courses, applying for a student loan if needed, paying tuition and fees before the deadline, and contacting student services if needed.
  • Time management. Post-secondary education requires discipline and organization. Many people have good intentions but never complete because they just don’t make time for it.  You need to schedule your schooling into your plan. Set aside specific times to commit to your course/s and record it in your scheduler (day-timer, calendar, phone – whatever you use to schedule your appointments.) Then stick to it as if it was an appointment.  Everyone is busy and has a complicated schedule. Everyone seems to be doing too much. But in the end everyone manages to make time for the things that are most important to them.  Your level of success will depend on how much your education is a priority for you.
  • Financial management. You need to manage and control your finances to ensure that you don’t have any unexpected financial crises mid-semester. Using a budget, and making sure you have identified sources of income such as employment, student loans, savings, scholarships and bursaries, are vital to a good financial plan.

Author’s story

I remember a student who spent her entire student loan the week she received it. I’m sure she felt that she needed the things she bought, but she failed to follow a financial plan that would ensure success. Though she worked hard to get into her program, she “blew it.” Her financial struggles resulted in her failing out of the program in her first semester.

— Mary Shier, College of the Rockies

  • Complete tasks (readings, assignments, labs, essays, test preparations) and keep up. You need to take charge of your learning. You are responsible to make sure that you understand what you are supposed to. It is your responsibility to ask for help when you need it.
  • Attendance. Unlike elementary or high school, no one is monitoring your attendance and furthermore it is completely your responsibility. No one will call your mom if you don’t show up. You are the only one who will suffer. Attendance is critical in keeping up with course demands from the first day of class. Playing catch up all semester is frustrating and discouraging. Attendance is important whether you’re taking a face-to-face class and need to attend lectures and labs, or whether you are doing an online course that requires occasional online conferences or student discussion forums.  Even if you are doing a distance course that is self-paced, you need to establish a schedule that will ensure you meet your goals, and then “attend” regularly to that schedule. Commit to “being there.”
  • Study regularly. By working regularly on your courses  you are more likely to make steady progress, and can better ensure completion of your courses. Working daily will help you to retain important ideas and concepts. Start now and work regularly! Daily practice is more effective than infrequent marathon sessions.
  • Balance life commitments. This is more than time management. This is making sure there is a healthy balance in your life. There is no point in striving for one goal if all the others crash in the process.
  • Self-monitor. Constantly monitor whether or not you are on track with your goals. Are you practicing good study skills, balancing personal wellness, on-track with important relationships? Take stock every now and then to make sure you are doing alright.
  • Employ strong study skills. Use techniques of review, practice, repetition, questioning, consistency, etc. to ensure strong learning. Use learning preferences to your advantage.
  • Access support services. Access student services early. Don’t wait until you are in deep trouble. Access your support network and keep the lines of communication open.

High School vs. Post-secondary at-a-glance

High School Programs Post-Secondary Nursing Programs
Reading assignments are moderately long. Teachers may set aside some class time for reading and reviewing the material in depth. Some reading assignments may be very long. You are expected to come to class and lab having completed the readings and ready to engage in discussion and practice skills.
Teachers often provide study guides and other aids to help you prepare for exams. Reviewing for exams is primarily your responsibility.
Your grade is determined by your performance on a wide variety of assessments, including minor and major assignments. Not all assessments are writing-based. Your grade may depend on just a few major assessments. These assessments may include a combination of writing assignments and multiple-choice tests as well as other types of evaluations.
Writing assignments include personal writing and creative writing in addition to expository writing. You are expected to engage in many types of writing, including reflective writing, summary and synthesis writing, and critical and analytic writing.
The structure and format of writing assignments is generally stable over the high-school years. Depending on the course, you may be asked to master new forms of writing and follow standards within the profession of nursing and other related fields. Expectations may vary from class to class.
Teachers often go out of their way to identify and try to help students who are performing poorly on exams, missing classes, not turning in assignments, or just struggling with the course. Often, teachers give students many ‘second chances.’ Teachers expect you to be proactive and take steps to help yourself. If you are struggling with your course work, make an appointment with your teacher or another support person, such as a learning strategist or counsellor.

About the authors


Foundations for Success in Nursing: Manual Copyright © 2021 by Maggie Convey and Sarah Malo. All Rights Reserved.

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