1. General University Life
  2. Class Concerns
  3. Assignments and Exams

If you’re curious about the transition into your first year at Carleton, consider some of these tips.

General University Life

What if…

… I have difficulty organizing my work and time?

… I want to meet people who share my interests?

  • A good starting point is the list of clubs and societies on the website of the Carleton University Students Association, or CUSA.

… I need help using Brightspace or other Carleton applications?

… I am stressed out, homesick, or dealing with a personal problem?

… I need to speak to my PMC Coordinator?

  • Book an appointment by phone (613-520-6608), email (pmc@carleton.ca) or by dropping by room 501 University Centre. Your PMC Coordinator has weekly drop-in hours call 613-520-6608 to find out when they are.

… I miss an appointment with my Coordinator or other PMC staff?

  • No Worries! We will not be mad. Contact the PMC to reschedule (see above).

… I don’t like my program?

  • This happens to many students, and the courses you have now can be part of a different program.
  • See an Academic Advisor at the Academic Advising Center to go over other program options and requirements.

Class Concerns

What if…

… I need to speak to my Professor?

  • Professors have weekly office hours posted in the course outline or elsewhere on the course website in Brightspace. If you have a class during office hours, send an email to arrange an appointment.
  • Don’t be intimidated! Your Professors are happy to see you and want to make sure you get the best possible learning experience from their class.

… I have back-to-back classes?

  • Even with back-to-back classes, you have at least 10 minutes to make it to your next class.
  • If you are late, do not panic! Enter quietly, through a back door if possible.
  • Tell your Professor so they do not think you are habitually late out of indifference.
  • For some classes, attendance is graded, so even if you are late it is important you go.
  • Be sure your PMC Coordinator is aware of your schedule if you need extra time for tests and exams.

… I’m having trouble understanding course material?

… the Bookstore doesn’t have my textbook?

  • Sometimes Professors order from different bookstores. They give directions on the course outline.
  • Haven Books, which is in walking distance from campus, sells new and used textbooks.

… I have class on a holiday?

  • On statutory holidays (e.g. Labour Day), classes, labs, tutorials, and discussion groups are cancelled. Your regular schedule resumes the next school day.
  • See the Registrar’s Office Dates and Deadlines webpage for more information.

… I get to class and nobody is there?

  • Wait at least 5 minutes. If no other students and/or if the Professor is not there, then your class may have been cancelled.  Check your Carleton emails and Brightspace class websites every day.

… I miss a class, lab, or tutorial?

  • Ask a classmate for notes, in person, or on the Brightspace class website.
  • If you anticipate a prolonged absence (more than a week), speak with your Professor.
  • See your PMC Coordinator for assistance with communication, if needed.

… I have trouble with a classmate?

  • If it is compromising your ability to attend class or complete work, speak to your Professor during office hours. He or she will have suggestions and strategies.
  • Consider booking an appointment with your PMC Coordinator to discuss the issue.

… I get to class and the seat I normally sit in is taken?

  • Classroom seats at university are not assigned. Sit close to where you normally would, so you have a similar view of the classroom.  If having a regular seat is important for you, arrive early.

… I am called on in class and I am uncomfortable speaking in a group?

  • Most Professors do not call on students unless they raise their hand. Communicate with your Professors early in the term to address this and other issues.  Your PMC Coordinator can help and may recommend that you use a personalized Letter of Introduction.

… I fail a course?

  • Realize that it is not the end of the world. You can retake the class, or maybe replace it with another.
  • Contact an Academic Advisor at the Academic Advising Center, or if the course is a basic program requirement, your Departmental Advisor.
  • Talk to your PMC Coordinator about what went wrong and how to best move forward.

Assignments and Exams

What if…

… I don’t understand what is expected for an assignment?

  • Speak to your Teaching Assistant or Professor during office hours. For the sake of clarity, consider asking questions by email and following up in person. If you are the kind of student who usually has many questions about assignments, consider establishing agreed-upon channels of communication early in the term, perhaps by using a Letter of Introduction.

… I miss an assignment deadline?

  • Email your Professor and Teaching Assistant as soon as possible. If there is a medical reason, a doctor’s note may be required. Speak to your PMC Coordinator if you need help with communication.
  • Late assignments are subject to penalty as stated by the Professor, usually in the course outline. Marks may be deducted, and, in some cases, a late assignment will not be accepted.
  • Assignment deadlines are listed on your course outlines or elsewhere on the course website. Put them in your agenda at the beginning of each term.

… I login to submit my assignment but Brightspace is not working?

  • Take a screenshot so you can show your professor that there was an error with Brightspace or the course page when you went to submit your assignment.
  • Email your professor a brief explanation of how you were unable to submit your assignment using Brightspace and attach both the screenshot and your assignment.

… I must choose a lab partner or find a group and this hard for me?

  • See your PMC Coordinator to discuss possible individualized strategies to suggest to your Professor. This ensures that you have a positive learning experience while still completing essential course requirements and developing important skills.
  • Remember, most of your classmates are also new to university and likely have some anxiety over finding partners and groups.

… one of my group members doesn’t do their fair share?

  • Speak to your Professor during office hours.

… I need help finding sources for a research paper or essay?

  • Reference staff at the Research Help Desk in the library will help you with your research needs. You can visit the Research Help Desk in person or online.

… I do not know where I am writing a test or exam?

  • Check your CUmail to see if you have a message from the McIntyre Exam Centre (the exam room for students with accommodations)
  • If not, send an email to your PMC Coordinator.
  • To ensure that your tests and exams are booked in the McIntyre Exam Centre, be sure to follow up each term with your Professors after your Letters of Accommodation have been sent

… my extra time on tests and exams is not what I need?

  • Speak to your PMC Coordinator to make changes. It is just as important to reduce your extra time if you have too much as it is to increase it if you have too little.

… I do not understand a question on an exam?

  • Silently attract the attention of an exam Proctor by raising your hand. If you are writing in a solo room in the McIntyre Exam Centre, stand by the door of your room and a Proctor should notice you in a few minutes.
  • Sometimes the Proctor may be your Professor or Teaching Assistant. If this is the case, you can ask them about the question directly. When the Proctor is not your Professor or Teaching Assistant, ask the Proctor if they could contact your Professor so you can clarify the question.
  • If your Proctor informs you that you will need to wait several minutes for your Professor or Teaching Assistant, move on to the next question or start editing all of your previous questions.
  • If your Professor or Teaching Assistant is not able to come to you to clarify your question, you should answer based on your current understanding of what it is asking. It may be helpful to write a note next to the question to inform the individual marking your exam that you were unable to clarify this question and that you have answered it based on your assumptions of what the question is asking.

… I miss a test or exam?

  • This can happen to anyone. Email your Professor, Teaching Assistant or Lab Coordinator right away.
  • Follow up with your PMC Coordinator and Professor to arrange a makeup test or to make some other arrangement.

… I fail a test or assignment?

  • Keep it in perspective –it may be worth relatively little of the total course grade.
  • Professors and Teaching Assistants are available during office hours. You can get feedback about what was wrong or missing and how you can improve for the next time.
  • Ask your PMC Coordinator for a referral to a PMC Learning Strategist for help.