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How to win at university

With files from the Bissett Student Success Centre 

Editor’s note: This is a satirical article. The Dalhousie Gazette asked advisors at the Bissett Student Success Centre to give us satirical tips on how to succeed academically. The following article is based on their responses. There are services available to support Dalhousie students in their studies. If you are not sure where to start, begin by reaching out to the Bissett Centre or to an advisor in your program. 

Being a university student is tough: the late nights, early mornings and endless assignments. Sometimes, we need an extra bit of support to guide us through the worst of it. Here are a few tips on how not to fail university. 

Syllabus? Is that French? 

First, don’t look at your syllabus. It’s long, boring and contains absolutely no useful or relevant information about grades or assignments. Wondering what day the midterm is? It’s not on the syllabus. Want to know how  the group project is marked? Just email the professor one hour before the assignment is due. Even better, just email the teacher’s assistant! Whatever you do, don’t read the syllabus. 

Don’t listen to your professor when she tells you to read the syllabus or the assigned textbook. Just follow these tips and university will be a breeze. (Photo by Alex E. Proimos)

Degree planning 

When selecting courses, pick the ones your friends are in, even if other classes are more useful to you. If you have only one goal during university, it should be to live like it’s the best four years of your entire life. Why worry about the significant costs of this education,  or that you need specific requirements for a certain degree track? School is much more fun with friends. How are you supposed to focus if the vibes are dead? 

Show up?  

If time is a Western, colonialist concept, why should you subscribe to its rigid parameters? How can tiny hands on a clock be so powerful and determine so much about your own life? Divest from clocks and time as a concept. 

When in doubt, cram it out 

If a final exam is worth 50 per cent of your grade, don’t bother wasting time working on the course throughout the term. Plan to get 100 per cent on all your finals. Simply spend a few days before the exam learning all of the course material. 

“It shows real initiative from the students to be able to push off work till the absolute end,” says Adie Visor, a totally real academic advisor at Dalhousie University. “It’s the perfect practice for the real world and shows students that as long as it gets done, that’s all that matters.” 


The best way to fuel yourself through the grind is through God’s nectar itself: coffee. Don’t stop at one expensive cup. Have 10! Studies have shown  excessive amounts of caffeine lead to the medical phenomenon known as “Brain Sponge”: This is when information you are trying to retain immediately latches itself onto your long-term memory the second you drink coffee.  

Don’t do the readings 

Life without danger is not a life truly lived. If you know you have assigned readings and tutorials weekly, don’t waste precious time doing the readings. Watch another episode of Bob’s Burgers. Clean your room. Do some online shopping. Do anything else. What will Freud tell you that the sex advice podcast Call Her Daddy won’t? 

 “First, don’t look at your syllabus. ” 

When the tutorial begins, keep a few bullshit statements handy. This is a style of rhetoric that allows students to seem much more knowledgeable on a subject than they actually are. Try  asking everyone to “unpack that” and build on every classmate’s point by repeating the same thing in different words. No one will be able to tell you shit when you pull out “consequently!”  

Yes, Wikipedia is a good source  

Be sure to use Wikipedia and YouTube videos as the only sources of information for your essay. How long will we allow the oppressive hands of academia to dictate what is a good source? How many 200-page journal articles must you read to write an essay, especially if a YouTube video says the same thing so much quicker? Why do any of the background research yourself when Wikipedia has all the information?  

Don’t ever change 

If you had your future career planned out at age 12, be sure to stick with that regardless. If you dreamed of going to medical school ever since first watching Grey’s Anatomy, what do a few failed grades in organic chemistry mean? Why should your clear lack of passion or talent in a subject make you re-evaluate whether a degree is for you? University is not the place for change or growth, so just stick to the same thing! 


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