Tips to Prepare for Courses Effectively – Part 2

This blog post is part of a series! Be sure to check out part 1 for even more tips.

When a new term begins at UBC, you have a brand new class timetable, the courses on Canvas start appearing with their long syllabi and your inbox has many welcome emails from your professors. Personally, I find myself still having doubts about my course timetable – I wonder if I can make it to every class on time and if the breaks are long enough to keep my energy up. It can be difficult to know how to correctly approach an instructor.

Here are some of the things I always do to ensure I have a smooth start to the term. 

Make sure that the class schedule and locations work for you 

At UBC, classroom locations can be found on the course schedule in the Student Service Centre. Go to your course and click on the room number to see the address, map, classroom photos, and other information. You can also search for the building or classroom at I like to use Google for directions and to see how long it takes to get from one building to another.  Undergrad classes at UBC often last either 50 or 80 minutes, leaving 10 minutes between each class.

Some other things I factor into my plans:  

  • Leaving time to ask the professor a question after class. 
  • Packing up to leave the classroom can take a few minutes, especially after finishing an exam.  
  • When the buildings are far from each other, it might be over a 10-minute walk! When I have two classes back to back, I might consider registering for a different section. 

I make sure to give myself enough time during the day to rest, have meals, do some schoolwork, and participate in non-academic commitments. For example, I prefer morning and early afternoon classes. I leave time between 12 and 2 PM to have lunch; I also like to have another small gap between lectures in the morning to relax for a bit. This also gives me more time in the evening to do extracurricular activities, study, and rest. 

Contact the instructor 

As soon as I have any questions about the class, I ask the instructor. I like to have at least a short conversation with my instructors around the beginning of the term to clarify any doubts about the content. Talking to instructors also makes it easier for them to remember you in class.  

Remember to address them (e.g. with titles like “Dr.”) and contact them (find the right email address, check when they have office hours, etc.) according to their preferences, which are usually on the syllabi. Emails are good for quick questions, short messages, and anything urgent. Office hours are great for complex questions and anything that requires a discussion. If you don’t have questions, office hours are also a great time to drop by to meet the instructor, discuss class topics, and ask for advice related to the course and discipline. 

I hope my tips are useful to you this term. If you have more, share them below!

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