University is a time of independent study and learning. While there are instructors and teaching assistants to help students learn, it is up to you to attend lectures and tutorials. Most lectures and labs do not take attendance. You will need new study and time management skills to adjust to the new academic environment.
Success strategies and tools | GPA calculators | On-campus services
Use a day planner
If you budget your time successfully you will be rewarded with more effective study habits, and maybe more time for personal activities.
Plan ahead using a monthly calendar to track important dates and deadlines for large projects (date to finish your research, date to complete first draft, and so on).
Break your schedule up into achievable pieces
Start by making a list of all the activities that you do throughout the week. Begin with the non-flexible activities (like class times, work, home and child-care responsibilities) and then add your flexible activities (like hanging with friends, sports, etc.). Rank your activities in order of importance. Some things to consider including in your schedule: study time, meetings, exercise, time to eat, sleep, and clean up, haircuts, shopping for food, dates and other social events, part-time work, time with family, and other individual priorities.
Try keeping a diary
If you're having trouble breaking your schedule into smaller pieces, try keeping a diary of your daily activities. Once this is done, you will be able to see where your time is actually spent. Even include activities that only take a couple of minutes.
Plan study times
Since academic work is an important priority, begin with your classes and study times. Plan to study at least two hours a week for every unit.
Set realistic goals
Once your schedule is complete, make sure that you have set realistic goals for yourself. Each individual places a different degree of importance on the activities within their schedule. Make sure that you have personal time and get enough sleep.
Keep your schedule flexible
No one can predict everything that is going to happen throughout the week - your schedule needs to be flexible. So if unforeseen activities arise during a study time, review your schedule and select a different study time.
Test your schedule
Stick to your daily schedule for at least two weeks. After two weeks re-assess what does and does not work and revise the schedule. For example, if you find that you need more time for a particular course and less for another, make the necessary changes.
Make every minute count
Read on the bus, exercise on your way to and from school, study between classes. However, don't forget to plan for fun, too.
The GPA Calculator will help you anticipate how many units or what GPA you need to achieve a desired CGPA. However, if you have a repeat of a course in your transcript, the GPA Calculator will not work. For assistance on recalculating your GPA with repeats, please see an Academic Advisor.
Life Outside of Class
Picture yourself ten years after graduation. What will you have done in your life? In particular, what will you say to others when you describe your university years?
Get involved. If you actively participate in your university community, you will likely have innumerable stories of personal and intellectual growth, tales of struggle and success, and memories of friends you made through believing in and doing things together.
If your tenure as a student was more passive, you will likely share stories of a lonely campus without bonds of community and friendship. In addition, while you might have received first-class employment training, you will be less likely to tell stories of receiving first-class training for citizenship and community participation.
Finding a balance between work, study, play, and active participation in your university community is the best way to be able to leave SFU as a responsible, educated, critical and contributing citizen. These skills for success as a person cannot be learned in the classroom alone.
There are also career benefits to being a well-rounded individual. Extra-curricular activities look good on your resume and will help your career.
How do I get involved?
- Get involved with a club on campus. SFU has a wide range of political, social, cultural, humanitarian and religious clubs, as well as a very active International Student group on campus. At the beginning of each term, attend “Club Days” to sign up for membership. You can find a list of SFU student clubs at go.sfss.ca/clubs/list .
- Become active in your departmental Student Union, or the Graduate Issues Committee. The Student Society is built on a department student union structure, so you are automatically a member of the student union(s) for the department(s) in which you are enrolled. Student Unions run events, advocate for students in their departments, and help run overall campaigns for the Society. The Graduate Issues Committee is made up of representatives from each department Union.
- Participate in University or Society committees and represent the interests of your fellow students. Student Society committees oversee most aspects of the work and operations of the Society, from services to campaigns, finances, and more.
- Get elected. Departments and the Society need active participants to make decisions on behalf of students.
- Become a member of the Women's Centre, SFPIRG, or Out on Campus collectives.
On campus services
- SFU Academic Calendar
- Career Services
Assistance with exploring career options related to your study or interest through various methods: www.sfu.ca/students/career
For students in their first couple of years (and later if necessary), help with identifying possible career paths in their fields of study (or help them decide which degree to pursue at SFU)
- Financial Aid and Awards
Funding is available to Canadian, Permanent Residents, and International citizens.
Explore our website for more information about Government student loans, Scholarships, Awards, Bursaries, and Work-Study.
Take a look at what the typical student costs are for attending university, and participate in MyFinances 101, a free, online financial literacy course available to help you understand your personal finances.
- Health and Counselling Services
A team of doctors and nurses offers primary health care, travel medicine, vaccinations, STI screening, and more. The team of counsellors and psychologists help you manage the challenges of university life with short-term counselling, workshops, and more. The health promotion team is dedicated to fostering a healthy campus community, and helping you feel good in mind and body.
- Student Learning Commons
Friendly and knowledgeable assistance with a wide range of academic writing, learning, and study strategies. Make an appointment or drop in for an individual consultation. Attend workshops on academic writing and learning skills.
Learning services: consultations and workshops to help you develop effective learning and study strategies for exams, time management, learning from lectures, note-taking, academic reading, and learning styles.
Writing services: consultations and workshops to help you develop skills such as planning your paper and citing sources appropriately, improving organization and argumentation, and reviewing sentence structure and usage.
English as an Additional Language (EAL) services: consultations, workshops, and an English conversation group to help you improve your English language skills.
- International Services for Students
- International Student Services
- Study Abroad
- International Exchanges & Field Schools