Freshers' is over – what next?

Friday 18 September 2020, First year


Freshers' is over – what next?


By Hannah, a 19 year old student from South Wales. 

Now that Freshers’ is over and you’re settled into university life, you are likely to have some sort of work to complete. University isn’t like school or college where you would have classes and have some homework to do. As a student you are expected to go to lectures and seminars, and then complete independent study, where you research, read, and complete tasks on the subject you are studying.

The different types of work include
essays, reports, group projects, presentations, exams, assignments, and tests. I have listed a few tips of ways to approach these pieces of work and things I was never told about them.

I don’t know about you but when I hear the word ‘essay’ or ‘report’, my heart sinks. I know that a lot of work goes into producing a good essay and I feel like they are so much effort. However, I do prefer this method of learning because I feel like I can alter paragraphs in my own time. I would highly recommend you read, re-read, and edit your work accordingly because sometimes when you write an essay, you can sometimes go off track. I find that asking a friend, flat member, or family member to read over a piece of work beneficial because they can offer advice to improve it rather than you guessing whether something needs editing or not.

Check your spelling, grammar, and structure. This is the nitty-gritty of your work that actually makes a difference. Admittedly, I’m not the best at spelling and grammar, which is why I like someone to read over my work before submitting it. No one likes a piece of work that has spelling errors, so make sure that you spell check your work before handing it in.

After writing your essay, check that your points answer the question being asked because it can be quite easy to go off track. Also, there’s no point in babbling on as you’ll use valuable word count space. Just remember that it’s about the quality of the work, not the quantity that counts.

I’m sure I’m with the majority of people who HATE presentations. I strongly dislike talking in public, or in front of an audience, with the mindset that I will say something wrong and people will laugh at me. But, practise does makes perfect, and if you are willing to put the effort into improving your presentation skills, then you’ll improve over time. The key is to keep the presentation slides simple and have notes at hand to explain more about the slides.

Now, you’re either that person who deals well with exam stress or not. Unfortunately, I’m that person who can’t. I find myself stressing and feeling anxious a few days before. Do not under any circumstance ‘wing it!’ You might have been able to do that at school or college, but I can’t stress this enough, you CANNOT do this in university. University is a different learning experience; the exams are going to be different and you need to put some effort in and learn the material you are being taught before the exam. You will have more content to learn, and you cannot learn it all the night before. Exam formats could include written pieces of work or multiple choice, and although you might think multiple choice is easy, the different in the options for answers will be so small that you need to know the content in order to get the right answer.

When is a good time to start work and revision for exams?
I personally would start work as soon as you are given it. With essays and reports, you should start researching the topics as soon as you are told. This way, you will be able to ask questions to your tutors before the deadline creeps up. Presentations are harder to complete if you are in a group because everyone has commitments, and it can sometime be hard to organise a day and time where everyone is free. I think the best way to get around this is to find a time when everyone is free to work on the presentation and to meet up. You should start revision from your first day. Basically, after a lecture or seminar, you should read over and type up your notes so that you completely understand the work before moving onto new content.

Where can I go to for help? 
Any lecturers, help departments, personal tutors, or academics can help you understand the content of a module or even down to writing a good essay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with anything.

What shall I do if I have fallen behind? 
Don’t panic! That is the worst thing you can do because you will just stress yourself out. First of all, I would write a list of things that you don’t understand or have missed. At least then you have a general idea of what you need to study. This is an organised way of sorting this type of situation out.

Talking to your personal tutor about what you have missed is a good idea because you can work out a schedule to catch up on work, and they might be able to explain any work you do not fully understand.

I hope this post helps give you a general idea of what to expect. Good luck with your assessments and studying!