Knowing when to work independently as a student

By Wahida Asrani

When I was an undergraduate student years ago, I always had problems convincing my lecturers to agree with my views, especially on the projects or assignments. They would agree with your ideas if you came up with solid justifications and reject some, which they thought were not good enough. It was hard to meet them very often as they were busy with classes or meetings, hence it left me with no choice but to accept their views although I felt I could proceed with mine if I had more opportunities to consult them. At that time, rather than being spoon-fed, students worked hard to ‘impress’ lecturers with their own ideas, but without ignoring the lecturers’ views to improve their work.   

It was about 10 years ago. Now, being a lecturer myself, I could see the patterns have changed. Students would either solely rely on lecturers for every single thing (very often I would encounter this scenario: Miss, I can’t find the information!; How to cite this page?; Can you check my assignment draft? So how-ah, Miss?) or totally ignore you and do everything on their own (which is good, but practically not all the time).

This is the dilemma faced by many lecturers – it is either we overdo it, or not give enough advice. As much as we want to give the best to the students, there is always a limit to everything. I often hear my students complaining about some lecturers, whom for them are hard to ‘approach’ or ‘not helpful’. For me, this is a common misconception about lecturers.


Wahida was the lecturer advisor to students who organised Pace of Hope, a PR project


Our role is not only to give lectures, but to take note on the students’ progress. We try our best to equip students with skills that they can apply in the future. If you encounter any problems with your studies, do not hesitate to talk to your lecturer, or the ideal person is your academic advisor. However when it comes to assignments, it is your responsibility to deliver the best. It is good to check if you are on the right track, but not all elements in your assignments must be consulted, as it will definitely leave lecturers with nothing much to evaluate your work.

On a different note, it is great to see students who are independent. These students are those who will just come to see the lecturers when it’s time to hand-in the assignments. I always encourage students to stand on their own two feet, but if you are not confident with whatever you are doing, do seek advice from your lecturers or else you won’t get a ‘pleasant outcome’. However, do not be overconfident to the extent that you feel lecturers’ advice is not needed, especially if you are working on big projects or events, which require students to always keep their lecturer-advisor updated on many aspects. A lecturer-advisor plays a big role in advising students to ensure the project is adhered to the college or university’s policies and other areas of concerned, which students may overlook.

I believe today’s youngsters are wise enough to make some decisions on their own, rather than depending on other people. Trust yourself more, but at times, do seek advice from the right people if you need to, or if you are supposed to. This applies in your college life as well.

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