Ah, first year Josh… he had heaps of nerves and lots to learn. Going into first year I’m not sure what I was expecting from lectures. I have an attention span as long as… ooh I wonder if I should make Mexican for dinner? And so the idea of sitting still and pretending to make notes as I imagined what the world would look like if everyone grew wings, was a real worry going in. But fortunately, that didn’t happen, I loved my lectures and have complied some of my best tips below:
1. When the time comes for you to just be making notes, bring in coloured pens and plenty of paper so you can keep notes in whatever way suits you, I often draw cartoons alongside mine to help me remember what was explained.
2. Don’t let the written work from your practical lessons build up and make sure you document what happened that day at the time because your memory is rarely accurate.
3. Get yourself to CASE (Centre for Academic Skills and English) They are there for those of us who struggle with proofreading or maybe need help knowing what points are not fleshed out enough. On top of this, you’ll be a lot more confident handing in work that you know isn’t full of typos.
4. The best piece of advice you can get about your assignments is to actually do the reading, and I would recommend that you write down any pages and books that explain concepts. You need to cite everything you put into your assignment and it’s a lot easier to do that if you know where exactly you learned it. If you can’t be bothered to write the book reference as you are making the note, just write the title of the book and take a photo of the first page with the publishing details.
5. I personally found that the best way for me to actually focus on writing is to break it up by switching location. If you find that you struggle to concentrate at home then get out. Go to a coffee shop, the workspaces in McIntyre house, the 6th floor of Summer Row or the library. University College Birmingham has lots of different workspaces, some hidden away, some filled with lots of other people working. Even if you are living at home, I recommend you take full advantage of the different spaces.
6. A reusable coffee cup and water bottle is essential every day. Coffee is what wrote the majority of my assignments and it tastes so much better without needless plastic pollution.
7. Most of all I would tell myself to relax and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance when you need it. At university you are expected to set the pace of work yourself but everyone at UCB is there to help you learn and it’s better to ask than just carry on in a muddle.