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In my university, our total required weekly attendance (for lectures and tutorials/similar) is about 12 hours. It was like that in the first year, and then everything required extremely little effort - I believe that if I invested as much efforts as someone who is studying for medicine or law, I could have learnt everything for 1-2 months - if not less! Now I'm second year and it doesn't look like it's going to be too different.

This concerns me about the people who study in Oxford, Cambridge or Imperial College. It would be weird if they study that little, and it would be very concerning if they do study very hard, because this would mean that by the end of the year, their first year students will be better than our average third year student. Which is bad news for me, given that I share the market with them.

I know the question can't have an absolutely accurate answer, but it can still be answered quite definitely, and it's relevant to many people.

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closed as off topic by Morons, Mark Trapp, Tyanna, ChrisF Sep 30 '12 at 10:12

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1-2 months is the time needed for a single big exam in CS at a normal university. How is your university ranked? (e.g., top 500, top 200, top 100, top 10)? I don't care what bogus ranking you use (like the times ranking, just search on google for "university ranking"). This info might help answer the question. –  mrsteve Sep 30 '12 at 4:26
College tells employers more about your commitment and conformity levels than about what you actually know. To graduate from a top notch school shows that you have a high level of commitment (financial and to learning) and enough conformity to put up with stuff the put you through to achieve it. –  jfrankcarr Sep 30 '12 at 5:08
This question doesn't belong on a software development Q&A site. Check out academia.stackexchange.com It is in beta and your activity could help there. –  Maudicus Sep 30 '12 at 5:36
Have you discussed this with your peers? Do a significant number of other students on your course share the same concerns? This might be a point that you should all raise with your university/lecturers. –  Ben C Sep 30 '12 at 7:45
If you want to know the answer, all you need to do is watch the online lectures that the ivy league schools make available. –  user16764 Sep 30 '12 at 18:34
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2 Answers

One of my professors asked our class if it would be OK if he just gave everyone an A. A lot of people sounded like they approved. Then he explained that if he and the other professors just gave everyone As, that some very substandard students would graduate. When they didn't work out at companies, those companies would no longer have an interest in graduates from our school. As a result, he was one of the hardest graders I knew, but also one of the best teachers.

Depending on your program of study, to compare your school with a top school these days is probably easier than ever before. You can often go online to view a syllabus, and sometimes even a video (check out Stanford and MIT on iTunes U for various computer science classes). I do think these institutions have smarter kids and push more material and grade harder than other schools.

If you are not challenged, is it OK? Probably not. It could be you are in a program that is too easy, it could be classes are watered down with remedial material when you could be learning college material. If your school offers an honors program, that might help you play at a higher level, something you will need when you enter the work place where global competition dominates in many fields. You are paying a lot, and your degrees will need to last as long as your career.

Another factor at play might be your target grading. If you are getting 4.0, you are working harder than expected. If you are OK with getting 2.9, you might want to pour on the coal and work harder. Many companies are looking for 3.5 or 3.75 GPA, and many schools offer ways to get more than 4.0 by recording a grade of A+ or awarding points for honors classes. Don't get left behind because not only are there more points available, but there has been general grade inflation that may continue so 10 years out, your 2012 GPA of 3.5 might be lower than comparable students in 2022 that get 3.8 for the same performance.

Perhaps the work load seems light because you really love this stuff. If it seems like play, you may be spending more time with it than you think, and may have

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It is not the time spent studying that should concern you, "what" you actually learn in your courses is far more important. Having visited/taken courses in a few universities (from top notch to not so much) I can tell you that the difference is mainly in the students; and since the university has to fail something like 20-30% of their first year students, it is far easier to pass if all the students around you are dimwits. Having said that, it is far more important that you get out of your courses as much knowledge as possible than simply beating the average peer. Personally I am not a fan of very easy courses, simply because I know I am not learning much from them.

Good luck.

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The university has to fail something like 20-30% of their first year students - According to which rules or governing body? Which universities are you referring to? –  Ben C Sep 30 '12 at 7:44
Most. I have spoken to enough Profs and TAs to confirm this. My experience is from 4-5 Canadian Universities (not going to mention names here). It is not official, but most schools cannot handle the capacity to pass 5000 first year students into second year, thus, there is a cutoff. For example, if too many people are passing after midterm, you can bet the exam is going to be a killer, for that reason. –  RealityDysfunction Oct 2 '12 at 0:56
In which case, the UK system works quite differently. University admissions are tightly regulated over here to prevent universities accepting more places for their first year students than they would be able to progress through to the end of a course. (Though in reality a percentage of students do not make it that far - but that is down to the student rather than the university system) –  Ben C Oct 2 '12 at 17:56
I like the UK system then, there are lots of people in first year Canadian programs that should not be there, but the university makes a killing this way so they let it be, it is a business like any other. –  RealityDysfunction Oct 6 '12 at 23:56
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