Sunday, 25 September 2016
Thursday, 22 September 2016
I went on Timehop the other day and realised it was four years since I moved into student halls at Northumbria University and it made me think about another student/university post. When I was in my first year although I had a bit of a schedule, all the nights out had an effect on my work and I wish I had been more organised. Here's how I managed my time in my second and third years during university.
Buy a planner
When you're in school you're often given a planner or diary to keep note of coursework and exams, but when you start university you have to buy one yourself. Buy yourself an A5 academic year diary and record every piece of coursework, assignment details and deadlines and it will be easy to keep on track with your course. If you think of something to include in your dissertation, write it in the planner. If you schedule a meeting with a tutor, write it in the planner. You won't regret it.
Have a schedule
Aside from your timetabled lectures, seminars and workshops, you should be doing a few hours at least of work per day. In your free periods between classes, get yourself to a computer and do some work to pass the time. If you do this every day that you're in uni you won't fall behind, even if you're typing up lecture notes it will all help when it comes to exams season. I didn't go home in between classes and spent 'frees' in the library.
Prioritise your work
You may have research to do, seminar prep, lecture notes to type up and categorise, coursework and dissertation prep along with revision. Getting small tasks out of the way is a good starting point as you can focus your time on important assignments and preparation. I typed up lecture notes as soon as I was free in order to dedicate evenings and sometimes weekends during busier months to tasks that were lengthy and important.
Have some time off
Instead of procrastinating and putting off tasks, if you have a schedule in place then you can have time off without feeling guilty or falling behind. If you go on a few nights out a week, make sure your tasks are done before you go out, as you're definitely not going to want to do them when you're hungover. If you go away for the weekend to see friends or family, make sure your work is done or you can do it on the train so that you can spend quality time with people you love. Giving yourself time to relax and de-stress is vital when it comes to your mental and physical health too.
Doing advanced work
If you know you have a seminar in a weeks time and you haven't got anything to do in between classes and you can access the next prep sheet, do the prep. Sometimes I managed to do research and preparation for classes two weeks in advance and it meant it didn't build up on me. Especially when it comes to your third year, if you already know what topic you're writing your project on, get some research done ahead of time. That means when it comes down to the nitty gritty, you already know what to write about and that's less stress on your plate.
Monday, 12 September 2016
I can remember trying to get all my packing sorted and worrying whether I had got what I needed. I spent quite a while desperately searching for lists of important items, so I thought I'd create this easy guide so you to find out the important things you'll need to pack. There will be some items on the list that you may not need as they are provided in your accommodation (e.g. an ironing board).
Pyrex jugs - perfect for microwaving your food
Toastie machine - you will be loved by everyone if you have one of these
Fairy liquid - you may well end up with a year's supply if everyone in your flat brings some
Slow cooker - I know you might be wondering about this one but it can be so useful to prepare your meals in earlier in the day so its ready as soon as you come in. It won't break the bank either, I picked one up for £10 from Wilko's
Kitchen cleaner - you don't want to let it become too horrible to cook in
Anti-bacterial wipes can be used for wiping down surfaces and are so useful when cleaning spilled drinks whilst playing cards
Bedding - get a double even if you only have a single bed
Mattress protector - you will spill drinks on your bed at some point
Any fancy dress outfits (you'll need a few)
Posters - makes your room a little more homely
Door wedge - one of the best ways to be friendly to leave your door open to invite others in
Clothes Rail - if you don't have much storage you can hang your most used clothes here, or alternatively use the rail to try clothes that are hung up.
Bleach - don't let your toilet become nasty
Bathroom cleaner - this is where you'll wash so you want it to be fresh
Notepad - don't by too cheap as the paper won't last well, you can get decent ones on offer around the start of term
Pens - you don't want to be 'that person' who is constantly asking to borrow one
Highlighters - perfect for revision
Uni diary - this is handy to note down all your work and deadlines
Folders - they will come in very useful for organising your work
Plastic wallets - can also help with filing
Holepunch - very useful when filing things away
Stapler - a life saver when handing in assignments so it isn't just a pile of papers
Games console and controllers
USB stick for your work
Spare phone - something like a classic Nokia is ideal for nights out
HDMI cables - very useful to connect your laptop to the TV (Netflix on the big screen)
Passport - you may well need this for job interviews etc.
Railcard - definitely worth investing in one if you travel by train a lot
NUS card or Unidays app to save on the Autumn fresher events
Wednesday, 7 September 2016
I was thinking the other day about how things could be different if I'd chosen another route a few years ago, but I'm so happy with how things have turned out and I wouldn't change anything. I remember going through different years at school and having numerous ideas about what job I'd want when I grew up. I remember when I was in primary school and the only job I wanted to do was to be a binman. I had a toy truck that I always used to play with and loved watching them out the window when they came to collect the rubbish. There was a time at Christmas when I was looking at the lights and decorations with my dad and I saw a bin lorry collecting all the rubbish from the shops. After catching up with it I was made up that they let me put a box in the back and this just made me want to be a binman even more.
Once I had moved up to secondary school I'd set myself on being a builder and wanted to leave school at 16 and go straight into this area of work. This slightly altered to a joiner and self employed handyman which I stuck with until the first year of my GCSE's. At this point I realised it wasn't going to be for me and after watching
quite a few rather too many episodes of traffic cops and police interceptors I thought I'd found my new calling. In the second year of my GCSE's this went out the window and I ended up choosing to do my A-Levels ending up with ones in Maths, Geography and ICT. From starting these I had developed a real interest in working in something water related so it was at this point I chose to do Geography at Uni. Here I am now a year after I graduated and I've just started my job working for a water company.
As I was saying at the start of the post, I'm really happy with my choices and right where I want to be. It is funny to look back and see which direction I could have gone in or which job I could have been in if I'd stuck with one of my first choices. A little bit of advice here is that if you don't know what to do or keep changing your mind then not to worry. Things will work out the way you want them to if you stick at it.
© Andrew Mark Smith. All rights reserved.