Why I Prefer not to Get an HD at Uni

HD (High Distinction), is the most honours grade for a university student. Generally it requires student to get 80-85% of the total course mark. An HD reflects that the student is very good at the course and is a strong evidence to show the strength of the student.

While, I generally prefer not to get an HD. Here are the whys.

Time Commitment

Getting an HD requires a student to put lots of efforts into the course, and it is not easy. According to 80/20 rule, “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes” and the rest of the 20% of the effects come from the rest of 80%. This is very true in the context of grades. You can easily grab what the course delivers and pass the course with a Distinction or a Pass, but you would need lots of extra time to get the most honourable grade, HD.

Okay. Think about your time. You only have 24 hours per day and you only have 7 days a week and 10 weeks per trimester (at UNSW for example). That’s a total of 1680 hours. You would use your time wisely. Excluding your time to sleep, eat, hang out with friends and other non-trivial things, you generally would have 10 hours to be energetic and capable of working or learning, then you have 700 energetic hours. A typical computer science course requires 170 hours of commitment per course. This commitment will get you a fairly good grade, but might not HD. You do a normal of 3 courses a trimester, that’s 510 hours. That’s a very high study load, leaving you with only 190 hours to do other things. To get an HD, you need to commit more, further reducing your free time. However this does not apply to genius who can remember everything by just reading once.

Think about what you do apart from Uni. Enrolling in Uni full time does not mean you have to contribute all of your time to uni. Life is more than that. There are lots of great things to do compared to uni. University assignments and lectures and exams are generally boring and mostly I would be in a state of nearly falling asleep in a lecture. Societies, volunteering, Meetup events, or even a part time job, are much more meaningful than a university course. For example, being an IT Director at a student society is much more meaningful than uni course. Another example, working part time in industry can gain you things that is impossible to gain at uni. Think about what do you do using these 700 energetic hours.

I would say reducing time commitment for uni courses and do some exciting things other than uni. If you do not need to continue to do PhD (which most people would not do), then what you need is just pass the courses. If you are trying to get a job, things you do outside of uni courses are more convincing. Do you think 80 hours per course for uni are enough for you to pass? I say yes. Then you would have 460 energetic hours to do meaningful and exciting things.

Plan what you do with your limited 700 hours wisely.