Can you walk the walk, as well as you talk the talk?
What I mean to ask is, are you really ready for university or are you just about the parties? The pandemonium and hurricane of excitement that accompanies your arrival on campus has calmed and now you are faced with the reality of fulfilling your new occupation – full-time university student. You’re probably wondering why I’m phrasing it with such solemnity. It’s simple – university is now your job; albeit with some really great benefits 🙂 While the 40 hours a week that should be set aside for study is very debatable, the element of independence and being responsible for your own failures and successes run parallel with the working world.
University study presents you with much greater levels of independence than you ever experienced at college/sixth-form, which is great, providing that you recognise early on the greater responsibility this places on you. An academic year seems like an awfully long time when you include the word ‘year’ but ignore that part and what have you got? September; Freshers “week” seems to last a month. Then it’s mid October; you now have about 6 weeks until Christmas break. Not so long any more, is it? …
Every little helps
Little and often is key. Working in between lectures for some time is ideal because you have the chance to directly apply what you have learnt. More importantly, it is about maintaining momentum because if you nap instead and then wake, your mind must reconfigure itself into work mode all over again.
Studying is a little like working out in the gym. There are those who are engaged to their Heinemanns [text books] – like those who can’t imagine not working out every day, and there are those who come consistently for a week or so and then disappear for months – these are the ones that adopt the Red-Bull and Pro Plus marathon runners approach to completing an assignment they should have started months ago. Cal Newport’s How to Win at College coins the term “pseudo working” – the latter group of students are doing exactly that. They are over-working themselves to complete coursework or prepare for an exam at the very last minute. It’s pseudo work because it means you are doing the work to serve the end purpose – which is just pass. Why just pass when you can do comfortably well and avoid the sleep deprivation? Slow and steady may not always win the race but it gives you time to observe what’s going on around you properly and better plan your approach.
As cliché as this sounds, your learning support department and your lecturers are your greatest resource. This is not school, you will not be force-fed information. Welcome to Higher Education – if you want something, you better reach up and grab it! Be a regular visitor to your lecturer’s office (equipped with prepared questions), they all have office hours where they are available to students – get your moneys worth 😉 Do not be afraid to book 1-to-1 sessions with the learning support department and have someone give you guidance on how to structure your essay, how to tackle the dreaded Harvard Referencing system or even if it’s something as simple as proof-reading your work before submission.
I feel I’ve successfully followed my own advice so far and no complaints yet. Let me know how you get on 🙂