Once the fresher’s parties are over and the photos have been uploaded to Facebook, the real uni life begins. You’ll soon get into the rhythm of lectures and seminars, and that first assignment deadline will come around pretty quickly!
What’s your style?
Are you a visual learner, or a kinaesthetic one? Do you learn best by listening, or by writing? Discovering your learning style will help you find which methods of learning work best for you, and you can use this to your advantage. If you’re a visual learner, drawing pictures or colour coding notes might help you retain facts. If you’re an auditory learner, try recording your lecture to play back. There are loads of questionnaires online that will work out which learning style suits you best.
Learning in lectures
It’s tempting to write down everything that your lecturer says in case you miss anything, and while making great notes is important, you also need to listen to what is being said. Also, if you’re hand writing notes rather than typing them it might not be that easy to keep up! Try focusing on jotting down concepts you don’t understand, any questions you have and any key terms or definitions, rather than writing everything word for word. Your lecturer may also give handouts, and will be more than happy to answer questions.
Before you put pen to paper, read. Read your module handbook to make sure that you know what the assignment is, read the marking criteria so you know what the marker is looking for, and read the books and journals that will help you respond to the assignment question.
It’s a good idea to keep track of your sources and create your bibliography as you go, and will save time in the long run. Also, most universities will have a preferred referencing system, so check to see how you should record references to avoid accidental plagiarism.
Let’s be honest, we all procrastinate. You might even be procrastinating by reading this – if that’s the case, get back to work! In all seriousness, it isn’t always easy to avoid procrastination, but you can manage it. Try making time in your schedule to do something off topic to refresh yourself. For example, reward yourself with a cup of tea and a snack when you’ve written a certain number of words, or allow yourself 10 minutes of Facebook time when you finish a chapter. Think about your environment too – are you more likely to procrastinate in your room where the TV is tempting you with another episode of your favourite box set? Get yourself to the library where there are fewer distractions.
Joshua recently completed his first year at university studying Theology and History. He is also a freelance writer at socialcaveman.com