Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Advice to Students: The Last Round

If you decided to go to university this year, it is probably almost time for you step into your new life of lectures, independence and social groups!

This is the last installment of my Advice to Students series.  In case you have not read the others, I have posted the links below. But for now, please keep reading because the advice I have here is a result of my own personal experience, and I believe I could have performed so much better at university if someone had given me these tips. Trust me, you do NOT want to miss these.For those of you reading in the US, I am referring to what you call "college".

1.At the beginning of the semester, make note of all your coursework deadlines. Put them in your diary, and add in reminders one month, two weeks and one week prior to when they are due. I say this because your lecturer will probably only give you the dates, once, in the first lecture. He/she will not chase, or remind you. But he/she will definitely fail you if you miss the deadline. I studied French and Linguistics at Queen Mary, and made the mistake of not paying attention to the due date of my “Language in the USA” coursework. The result was a rushed piece of work, hastily put together the night before it was due. It attained no more than a C grade. Avoid this mistake, and it will save you so much stress.

2. Find out how your faculty prefers for you to do your referencing and stick to it. Here is a very good guide from the Anglia Ruskin university. 

3. I stayed at home whilst at university as the distance between my house and Queen Mary University was too close for me to qualify for accommodation. If you are in this position, strike a friendship with someone in halls. You will be grateful you did after late nights at Freshers events and the like.  

4. Although I stayed at home for most of my degree, I did study in France in my third year. It was my first time away from home, so I did feel very homesick, and quite miserable, until I forged some good friendships with the other ERASMUS* students.  My experience has taught me the benefits of joining clubs and societies. In my first and second year, I was a part of the ACS and the Christian Union. I met with like minded people and was offered a welcome break to all the studying and administration that comes with starting uni.

Thank you to my cousin J, for posing for me.
Good luck at uni this year!

5. Kind of contrary to my last point, it’s good to socialise but please do not let events,  nights out and group sessions take over your life. Remember in final year, when your grade is calculated, your lecturers are not going to care how many netball games you organised, or bible studies you attended. .

6. Spread out your timetable, and give yourself some room to breathe. In my first semester of my first year Mondays consisted to three two hour lectures, back to back. The result was constant learning from 11 am to 5pm with no break in between. The result was, I was knackered by the end of the day, and sometimes even skipped my last class altogether.

7. If you are taking a class such as literature, or any other class that requires studying out of one book for the entire semester get your own copy – even if it’s second-hand. Your campus library will normally only have a few copies of that particular book. 

8. Don’t lose who you are in the name of diversity. Uni will probably be the first time you will come into contact with so many belief systems, faiths and people. By all means love everybody and be open and non-judgmental, but remember who you are, and stand firm in your faith, your principles and your values. Getting caught up in things you have no business mixing with will only affect your studies.  

9. Make friends with the librarians on your uni campus. Life is so much pleasant when you have someone to offer you waivers and favours in the library. In addition to that, try and join a bigger library outside of your campus, because you may not find everything you’ll need on campus. I had access to other campus libraries of the University of London. I also applied for membership at Senate House Library, which helped me a great deal. 

Good Luck

10. Google Books and Google Scholar will be your friend. Shhh! That’s a bonus tip. I won’t tell you why now but you will come to find out pretty soon. Once you do, please let me know in the comments box below. Also, there is a very popular site that all your lecturers will tell you to NOT to refer to. But I found that scanning its pages briefly before starting a piece of work always gave me a good foundation of knowledge. Just don’t ever cite directly from it, and NEVER include it in your bibliography.

I hope you find these tips useful. Please do share any additional tips you might have below. Also, if you have any more questions about university please do post below or send an email to souljournersstory@gmail.com

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Read some more advice here and here.
*ERASMUS is an EU student exchange programme. 

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