Getting Started on Your USask Journey
Need to Know Information for All Students
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don't know something, ask someone who does.
You need to be aware of deadlines and policies. Professors do their best to get information out there, but they can't be expected to make sure everyone knows everything. It is up to you to be informed, so become familiar with your class syllabi and the university website and don't be shy about asking questions, either in or out of class. The academic calendar is a handy page to bookmark – on it are the important dates that you need to know – such as the last day to pay tuition or drop a class without penalty. You can choose what type of information you want to see on your calendar.
Probably not. Most sections are taught by different professors, so the content is delivered in a different order or different way. In courses such as English, Philosophy, and Sociology, each section has a different reading list, so even though the same skills are taught the subject matter is completely different.
Academic advisors are available throughout the year to help you choose your program, major, and even classes. If you haven't picked a discipline yet, you should talk to a general academic advisor through the Undergraduate Office of Arts and Science or write to email@example.com. Otherwise, academic advising is college specific, so contact the department you enrolled in.
It is very important that you speak with an academic advisor early on and continue to do so. Advisors can help you to determine your best options if you wish to drop a class or change majors and can help you make sure you have enough credits to graduate when you want to. It is best to do some background research on your program and classes you are interested in before you see an advisor.
Yes, you read the syllabus for your class. A syllabus outlines all the important information for you class. It provides contact information for your professor, including office hours, breaks down the topics/sections that will covered with approximates dates, and highlights when assignments and papers are due. Your syllabus also reviews class expectations, late assignment and missed exam policies, and usually lists textbooks and required readings. It’s a good idea to refer back to your syllabus throughout the term and before assignments, tests, and exams.
Any question regarding class material, requirements, or performance. Try to limit your questions to the class itself. Some classes have an experiential learning component including undergraduate research. If you have questions about this component and/or want to pursue further learning outside of the classroom (specific to the class you are in), you could speak with your professor during office hours. While some professors may be comfortable answering questions about degree requirements, or university life in general, there are other services set up for you to ask those types of questions, such as the USSU Help Centre.
If you can't meet an assigned deadline, be sure to contact your professor to find out what can be done. Check your class syllabus to see if the professor has outlined procedures for moving deadlines or explicitly stated that deadlines cannot be moved except in cases of personal illness or family death. In all cases, it is best to talk to the professor personally.
If you are recording someone's voice or image, it is advisable (and sometimes legally required) to get their permission first. This is true when you are recording a lecture as well. Wouldn't you like to know if you were being recorded? Ask the professor if he or she is comfortable with you recording the lecture and explain why it is that you would like to. Most professors will gladly comply with your request, but some may not. Please respect their wishes, as you would like yours to be respected.
In most cases, yes, they will be returned. However, once again, this is something you should ask your professor about or look for in your class syllabus. Midterms are almost always returned, but final exams are not. Sometimes professors return exams to review during class time, but require the exam to be returned at the end of the class. It is not acceptable to take a photo of any exam or midterm that must be returned to the professor. You may ask permission to view your final exam, but you will not be allowed to take it home.
This too is up to your professor and is typically covered in your class syllabus. Often midterm exam and paper marks are posted within Course Tools (accessed through PAWS) or returned in class. Occasionally a professor will post marks to a website. Your final exam marks are not likely to be posted, but your final grade in the class will be posted under the “My Final Grades” tab in PAWS.
Yes, in certain circumstances (medical, compassionate) a final exam may be deferred. An application must be completed including supporting documents within 3 days of the exam date. It costs $40 to defer an exam. Because deferred exams are written approximately two months after the original exam date, they can be quite difficult to prepare for. Please refer to Deferred and Supplemental Exams for more information. If you are concerned about potentially missing a final exam, the best thing to do is speak with your professor.
While we recommend students focus on learning content over achieving grades, we recognize that many students like to keep track of their progress. The University of Guelph has created a mark calculator that enables you to calculate your class and term averages, track your class progress, and determine what mark you need on the final to achieve a 60%, 70%, 80% or 90% in the class.
You could either attend one of our Study Skills Workshops, pick up our Effective Reading Strategies handout at Student Learning Services or look through our online resources. Remember that sometimes you cannot accomplish what is expected of you, so you need to learn how to prioritize and do what you can.
The university has published an explanation of its grading system for you to look through. Familiarize yourself with what is expected for each range and remember that marks in the high 60s and low 70s are average in university. It varies from course to course and discipline to discipline, though. If you are particularly interested in where you fall, ask your professor. Use the link to the grading system again when you get your first set of grades so you know how you are performing within the university's expectations.
The library website has a very useful Help me find... section that should answer any questions you have. If it doesn't, there is an AskUs Live chat available. Library staff are there to answer questions in real time. Additionally, the library has over 100 guides that can be categorized into 50 subjects. Each guide takes you to research information specific to your subject and identifies the librarian for that subject