Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Students Fail in Semester System- Survival Guide

About 5%-10% of students entering the university are unable to survive the semester system. The following list of top 10 reasons is based on my observations as a student from 1980-1994 at NED, IBA Karachi and at Univ of Texas at Austin. These are also based on my interactions with dropouts as faculty member from 1995-present (FAST NU, IBA, KIET, IoBM) with eighteen years as Deputy Director and Dean. I have given counseling to countless students. Often the students come when it is too late. At times their behavior compels me to think that they were asking to be dropped! You will agree too after reading this list. 

1. Not knowing the dropout rules of your university. Not reading the student manual, not understanding the semester system, and above all not reading the catalog/prospectus of the university is I think the biggest reason. Not making an effort to understand the meaning of terms related to dropout rules such as probation, warning, good standing , which hit the students hard when they are being dropped. Ignorance of law is no excuse!

2. Not being able to compute your own CGPA using Excel. Not learning the dynamics of how much CGPA moves up or down with a good/bad grade. Not understanding the CGPA related rules of your university. If you can not calculate your expected CGPA for the current semester by putting the grades you expect in each course on an excel sheet, and if your CGPA is low, then there is a great likelihood that you are on your way out. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

3. Not repeating the failed course immediately in the next semester. Accumulating failures without clearing them. By delaying to repeat the failed courses, the student tries to avoid catching the bull by the horn. My personal impression on meeting such students is that they are trying to act over-smart without realizing that CGPA calculation is much smarter than them!

4. Not submitting the assignments and project reports on time. This is the greatest sign of dis-organization, carelessness and procrastination. Grades in homework are for free. You can take as much help as possible from whoever you choose and yet you choose to lose these marks. Not scoring on assignments and projects is criminal especially if your parents are paying for your fees!

5. Submitting a blank answer sheet. Not writing even a few sentences as answers to questions. Not taking out even a single hour to scan and skim the assigned material before the exam. Not even knowing a little about the topic to be able to write just a few sentences is criminal. Submitting a blank answer sheet with nothing written in front of the questions is a horrendous crime.  Over 98% of teachers are not sadistic. They are looking for ways to pass you, they want to give credit for your work. The secret is that they also can't afford to have too many students failing on their final result sheet for the class [trust me, I have been a Dean for last fifteen years]. A few sentences written in answer will give them a pretext to give you marks. Give them some reason and some excuse to pass you!

6. Absenting yourself from the class on the day when the teacher gives some crucial detail necessary for passing the course. Not being punctual and lacking social interaction. Absenting is excusable at times for valid reason. But, not being updated about what happened in the class is criminal. Not knowing what assignments were given, when they are due, when is the next deadline is the major reason for failing. Not having a network of friends who will update you on this is a major sin. If you don't have friends to tell you about what happened in the class, then you deserve to fail. See also the next item.

7. Not developing friendships with other smart students. Not having a network of smart fellow students is a major sin. It is inexcusable to not have friends who provide crucial information about the teacher, about the course, about the homeworks, about the deadlines, about latest developments,..... This is the surest sign of you not understanding what higher education is all about. If you don't cultivate friendship in university, you never will!

8. Not trying to understand what the teacher wants. Some teachers want regurgitation of textbook, some want assimilation of their unique experiential insights, some want creativity, some want class participation, some want prominence in extra curricular activities, some want students to do research for their on going project,.... If you understand the teacher, getting an A is a no-brainer. Not understanding what the teacher wants is the best way to ensure your failure. Understand before you are understood.

9. Not identifying the official student counsellor(s), departmental heads, relevant officials and approaching them promptly. All universities have support systems. Identifying them, approaching them requires that you overcome your ego. Success of a person depends upon his ability to ask for help!

10. Not developing a mentee-mentor relationship with a good faculty member in your university or any other university. It is extremely crucial for the students to find a fatherly mentor who can coach you and guide you in your times of distress and difficulties. There are always so many teachers who are willing to help you. A stitch in time, saves nine!

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