Chapter 1 Adult Learner Awareness

1.2 Student Responsibilities

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.

Exercise: Student Responsibilities

Of the student responsibilities listed above (or of other responsibilities you think of) name the top two you think will be most important for you to focus on to attain student success and state why.


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Student Success Copyright © 2020 by Mary Shier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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