When you decide to attend university, you are moving into a new realm of experience and learning. If you are coming from high school, you will find that people’s expectations of you will be different from those you are used to, and your expectations of yourself will begin to change accordingly.
One important difference is that you will be expected to become independent and responsible for yourself, your time and your learning. The interests you pursue, the judgments you make about what you value, how you want to live, and the degree of commitment you invest in your education, will all be your responsibility. You will be encouraged to think for yourself and undertake inquiry on your own initiative. At the same time you will find yourself encountering and assessing the views of others, teachers, authors and students you meet in or outside class. Learning to make judgments involves getting to know the ideas others have articulated, discussing them with other students, questioning, challenging, trying out viewpoints, and interacting with others. You have to create knowledge; it is not something you passively absorb.
Another important difference is that there is more emphasis on understanding than on memorizing. Learning in university involves remembering, of course, but it also depends on following other strategies throughout each semester, for example, developing habits of concentrating, reading carefully, summarizing, knowing why you agree or disagree with an idea, realizing the limits of your present knowledge and knowing the routes by which it may be extended, recognizing what you want to remember and why, and following through on your questions. Learning of this kind usually has an interesting result: What you discover in listening, in talking, in reading, and in writing finds a place in your mind and your way of thinking; it isn’t just for tests; it becomes part of you. You probably won’t just take a few courses and remain the person you are now. You will probably change, start questioning your ideas on issues, assessing your values, rethinking what you thought before. These changes are a significant part of what university is about.
All this may sound exciting and bewildering. It usually is. Most students experience a jolt - sometimes exhilarating, sometimes shattering - in making the transition between school and university. During the adjustment, the university offers support systems to individual students: writing and learning centres; an advising system to address students’ questions about their academic choices; information about programs offered at Memorial University; assistance with academic difficulties; referrals to other support systems when necessary.
This booklet presents the programs available to first-year students at Memorial University and descriptions of the support systems available at our St. John’s and Corner Brook campuses.