Now everybody is starting lectures, including me, I felt is was important to shed a bit of late on what’s important during the duration of your course and why it’s important to be prepared.
I started lectures on Tuesday. My first lecture was 1-5, which wasn’t too bad because it meant I got a lay in, and was actually a really good first lecture – also got introduced to a new lecturer. Wednesday, on this day I unfortunately had to take the day off because I felt really ill and took the day to get myself better. Today, I was in 9-1:30 and again, it was a pretty good day. A lot note taking and learning to get back into the swing of things, but never the less, that’s my first week of lectures done! Even if I did miss a day.
I feel that before I start I should make this point. When you are in first year you will hear a lot of people saying that ‘it doesn’t count’, ‘your grades do not count’. Let me just clarify something for you guys, yes, they may not count for anything but you still HAVE TO PASS. You have to still pass first year if you want to get into second year. More importantly, when hearing this, you should still work your hardest. This way, you can get yourself in a good position for second year. You can understand how hard you need to work and what you need to put into your assignments, essays and what not to come out with a certain grade. Get an idea of how things work and what sort of grades you are working at, work hard and you’ll already be on the way to doing good in second year.
Now onto being prepared.
Something that I’ve saw a lot of whilst writing on The Student Room is that a lot of people have been asking whether or not it’s important to note take. Now, don’t get me wrong but I find it hard to see how these people even have to ask this question? Peoples arguments vary as to why they believe note taking isn’t important but news flash, at university, note taking is very, very, VERY important.
Every single lecture you should have a notepad with plenty of blank paper, hightlighters, pens and God knows what other stationary. Be prepared! As soon as you are in, open the note pad, write the date, the day, the lecturer who you are with, what that lecture will cover and have it all as the title. Therefore, when skipping through it at a later date you can find things easily. Highlight these titles and what not, make it easy for yourself. Once started, make sure you note take all througout lecture. It doesn’t matter what everybody else is writing, if you find it important or useful, write it. It doesn’t have to be neat because you can come back to rewritting these notes.
That brings me onto this, no matter what kind of day you’ve had, take an hour out in the evening (as a maximum) and spend that time even doing some reading or rewriting notes day in a more appealing way that will help you learn them later on.
Now, I do use pen and paper but around Christmas during first year, I adopted a different method of note taking. The mighty iPad!
Honestly, an iPad Mini is so useful to use in lectures. I use it every lecture, especially doing Drama – we aren’t always at desks, therefore, it’s useful to have on my lap during lectures. Also, I can have Microsoft Word on it, write on there, then upload it straight to Dropbox through the App, which I can then access through my desktop and get them straight on my computer. It’s so useful and makes note taking so much quicker. If you can afford it, I’d suggest buying one.
Assignments are always an impending doom when you first hear about them. When they tell you about them at the beginning of term and you have no idea what you are meant to write about and question how you’ll ever learn about it in the time you’ve been given, also, the word count. Let’s not get the started on the word count.
As soon as you hear about any assignments or exams that you have, you should always write them down in your diary/calender as soon as you get them. Therefore, you can see how many weeks you have until that date and start planning out the process of your assignment. You can set a couple of weeks ahead until you have to get a draft done by or get research done by etc.
As for research, set a good couple of weeks to gain your research and pull together books, articles, videos and whatever else you feel you’ll need. Once you’ve done this, you can pull it all together and get it in order in an reference list.
As for exams, make sure you plan out plenty of time to revise everything you need to do. The more you plan, the better you can stick to it and know what you need revise and as of when and if you get to a point and think you know that, then move onto something else.
As I said earlier, I did end up missing a day yesterday due to being ill. Well, it’s important that you catch up. Once you miss a day, make sure you have somebody that will take notes for you and as soon as its possible, write those notes up and talk to them about what you missed. It’s important to catch up on what you’ve missed. It may be difficult and you may feel like it isn’t worth it but it is. Also, at the same time, make sure you email your lecturer and get them to send you any presentations that they showed or any notes they may have given that you may not get.
When I was ill, as soon as my friends got back, I wrote up the notes that my friends brought me back and make sure I understood what I needed to catch up on.
Many of you will know that you all get a reading list when starting a course. When getting the reading list, I’d suggest getting started as soon as possible. (I know in a previous article I noted that I didn’t start reading when it was set, but looking back, I should have done). When getting them, look on Uni-Market, Amazon, eBay and Gumtree for preowned books which will make them cheaper to buy. Once you’ve got them, start reading them slowly but surely because 9 times out of 10 you will need them when you start the course and it’s better to leave yourselves plenty of time to read them instead of rush reading them at the last minute.
These are only a few minor points but ones that I feel are important to any course. You may not listen to them, you may listen to them. It depends on the person and student you are.