19 January 2021
Uni is about to return after the Christmas break, and thoughts are now turning to the next challenge of this trimester and starting two new modules. I am really excited to start my new modules, but equally as excited to find out how I did in my first lot of assignments… results due soon. With that in mind I thought I would write todays blog on getting prepared for trimester two, trying to take into account what I learned from my first trimester at ARU.
I am naturally quite an organised person, but don’t worry if you are not. I will share with you now some of my hints that seemed to help in trimester one. Firstly, I decided what times and days I could commit to my study (including online lecture sessions), I decided to try to maximise study time to make sure I can do my very best, so I allowed about 36 hours a week every week. I plotted lectures on to a personal timetable, and then shared out my remaining study time into tasks such as pre lecture learning, recommended reading, writing assignments time and further personal study. This helped me keep on track and stay committed to my own learning.
You can look at the recommended reading lists ahead of time on the ARU website, this gives you the option to either buy some books from second-hand auction sites or work out what to borrow from the library. I was really impressed with just how many books the Uni have online access for. The biggest hint with the library is borrow early, there will be lots of people from your faculty all needing the same book, so being prepared here will help get what you need.
At the time of writing we are still very much in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, in full lockdown with no face to face teaching and no date when this current situation will end. Making contact with other students for support and to keep morale up is really important. Your cohort may have a group chat that might help you connect, we also have made up smaller study groups of between 6-8 people, we meet up regularly online via Teams and this enables us to catch up, support each other and ask questions. There is always someone else going through the same thing, and its great when it comes round to assignment time and you can’t remember where to find a source about a topic, if you can get that community spirit going it really helps and breaks down isolation.
During my first trimester I played around with methods of how to take notes effectively and make them as useable as possible. I’ve finally settled on something which really works for me. I start with breaking down what I need to learn for the assignment tasks, and think of key words or questions that I need to take notice of. For example, strengths or limitations of a theory. I then make up a notes sheet with headings, and a space at the bottom for references. As I take notes I use a different colour pen for each book or source, recording the reference at the bottom and writing down anything I feel I need to know about the one topic on one sheet, so I am amalgamating my notes as I take them, this really helps when it comes to writing as all the information I need is in one place! I think taking notes is really personal, so it is worth spending time working out what works for you. Study skills have some guidance to help with improving this too.