Lessons from life at University in 2019

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I learnt a lot about myself and what works for me in 2019. I suppose you could say I had to – moving into third year was a real step up in terms of pressure and the workload. But, as I found, if you take some time to reflect on what you could do better and what works for you, there’s no reason why you can’t tackle it and get the best from yourself. So, here are some things I learnt in 2019 as a University student. Perhaps you could take one of these lessons and turn it into a resolution for 2020!

Time management = less stress

I’ve always been someone that’s liked a to-do list and a plan. But, given the increased workload of final year, I now plan day by day rather than week by week. This is just what works for me, and you might have to experiment to find what’s best for you. I know students that prefer to make lists of what they aim to complete by the end of the week, but I prefer to do this daily. Sometimes, I’ll even write down what I want to have completed by lunch time and then by the evening to really keep myself on track. I always make my plan the night before, so I wake up knowing exactly what I need to do each day. Planning for me keeps me focused and gives me a goal to reach. For me, this minimises any stress as I feel organised and prepared!

Don’t let nerves stop you from trying something new

The thought of stepping outside of your comfort zone might fill you with dread, but I found it’s honestly the best way to learn new skills and try new things. Whether it’s a society you want to join, an internship you’d like to apply for, or even a hobby you’d like to try your hand at – go for it! I am not sporty in the slightest, but as a result of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and wanting to try something new I now attend regular kickboxing classes! At one time I would’ve been way too nervous to try it, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a great way to let off some steam and get fit. Don’t be scared to try something different or new, it might just surprise you!

Don’t compare your progress to others

Around deadlines, it’s inevitable that you’re going to feel more stressed – there’s more pressure, more work, and you know you’re going to get a grade at the end of it. But, don’t put extra pressure on yourself by comparing yourself to others. Last year, I was guilty of panicking about my own progress when hearing about what stage others were at, and this was particularly true when we all started to work on our dissertations. However, everybody works differently – we work best at different times, different paces, and in different environments. Plus, our personal lives and other plans sometimes get in the way. If you’re happy with the grades you’re getting at the end, as well as your work ethic and time management, then that’s all that matters!

Make full use of your lecturers and their office hours

I’m now so annoyed with myself for not doing this in first year! But at the start of 2019 on the run up to our January deadlines, I promised myself I’d make use of my lecturers and their office hours. It’s a great opportunity for them to clarify anything you aren’t sure about, and it’s also a good time to get feedback on essay plans before you write them. Your lecturers are experts in their field, and it’s surprising how much you can learn from them in a ten minute conversation when its one-to-one! Using office hours has really helped me with writing essays – having feedback on my plan means I’m more confident when I’m writing.

Feedback can really improve your grade – so make the most of it!

Pay attention to what feedback your lecturers give you whether that be on essay plans, or essays and exam responses. Again, they are experts in the field and are the best people to give you any advice or feedback. I now make sure I go to my lecturers once I’ve received a graded assessment back from them, so I know where I can improve next time. This has really helped to push my grade over the next boundary, so it’s well worth booking a ten-minute appointment with your lecturer to discuss feedback.

Explore the city and the campus more

As a living-at-home student, it’s sometimes too easy for me to just head to the buildings my classes are in, and then head home without looking any further. Last year, I took some time to try out different cafes and study spaces around campus, as well as to visit John Rylands Library, Whitworth Gallery, and Imperial War Museum. This is a great way to discover new study spots, as I have, so you can switch up where you work and maybe increase your productivity by doing so. Visiting museums and galleries also makes a great trip out and a great break from studying, if that’s what you need!

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