Communications at the University of Waterloo

As a student at the University of Waterloo, communications may vary in purposes, audiences and contexts. In Engineering, students communicate with each other constantly because of the cohort system and their curriculum which are full of labs sessions. However, it is possible some students in the Math Faculty not to talk to anyone for an entire term. Nevertheless, sometimes communication skills are important for Math students when they encounter some problems.

Perhaps the Math Undergraduate Office is the place where oral communication skills are used most intensively. Math students constantly have problems with selecting courses. Persuading advisors into adding a course, for example, requires extremely strong communication skills, due to their increasingly short patience. Also, transferring to other programs and faculties or declaring majors demands communication skills which allow students to clarify their situation so that the faculty and staff can help them more efficiently.

Also, students rely much on communication skills in class. Sometimes when the professor goes too fast or miss something, it is probably a good idea to raise a question. It is a challenge to describe the question in a relatively short period of time. In addition, some courses encourage collaboration after class, where students are expected to communicate with their peers.

Besides oral communications, writing is a crucial skill in universities as well. Many courses have written assignments, and students not only need to solve problems, but also write down the solutions in a clear, concise and professional manner. Even in pure math courses, whose assignments are mainly proofs. writing skills, especially word choice, are required. I noticed that some students do not differentiate between “suppose” and “assume”, while others use “according to” when they can simply use “by”.

Academic publication is another situation where writing skills are used. When graduate students write their theses, in addition to the content of the thesis, the font, padding, page-numbering also determine whether it can be published. (i.e. whether or not to graduate).

Those are the situations where communications are required most at the university of Waterloo. I apologize for missing the situation where students beg for marks to pass a course.


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