If you’re starting your university career this autumn, you may already have encountered some of the challenges it has in store for you. You’ve got the gift of independence, but also the responsibility of independence as well: after some initial orientation sessions, the responsibility for getting your work done falls on you and you alone. While help and guidance is available, that relies on you being confident enough to ask for it, and to know enough to recognise when you’re falling short.
Today we’re giving you some study hints and tips to help you hit the ground running as a first year, and understand the ins and outs so you know the warning signs and can ask for help before you need, not when it’s already too late.
A Place to Study
The first thing you need is a place to study. For many reasons, your room might not be an ideal location. Whether it’s halls of residence in Oxford or the student accommodation Huddersfield can provide, student rooms frequently come with everything you need to study: desks, a reliable internet connection, shelves for books and so on. Unfortunately, they also come surrounded by lots of other students, who aren’t necessarily conducive to grappling with the complexities of philosophy, economics, German or whatever it is you’re studying.
Also, studying in your room can make it difficult to relax and sleep there: experts recommend not associating the place where you sleep with work or stress, so getting out and finding somewhere else to study has multiple advantages. If you need a background buzz a café might be a good place: the campus will have several. If you need quiet for concentration look to the library: busy in peak times, if you arrive early you should be able to find a seat.
One of the most important things you need to learn is how to plan an essay. Plans let you set a structure, they take stress out of the actual execution of writing the essay and, perhaps most importantly they show you where you’re lacking for research. If your plan requires you to present criticisms of a central theory or tenet, but you only have one to hand, that’s a signal to get back in the library and find more. It’s fair easier to do that during the planning phase than when you’re knee deep in writing with the deadline coming up.
A plan is something you can take to discuss with a tutor if you’re having trouble. They can let you know if you’re missing specific information, or if the structure you’ve plotted needs changing fundamentally. It’s a useful tool for discussion as well as the scaffolding on which you’ll build your essay.