And I’m back. 2016 has just begun and it’s time to write some entries for the website. Therefore, today, I decided to start off with an theme I haven’t written about in a while. Returning to the ‘student worries’ section, this entry is about assignments! It’s fair to say we are all aquainted with this subject, let’s begin.

As I’ve just mentioned, we are no strangers to the horrors that are assignments. Let me tell you my minor horror story.

As I’m in my second year, I should be used to assignments now and in some way, I already am as first year prepared me for them and at the same time, allowed me to set my level at which I needed to work to achieve a certain grade. However, I wasn’t prepared for my first semester in second year and the two portfolios I had to work on and continue to work on over Christmas. There was a Shakespeare assignment in the first semester however that didn’t phrase me, I actually enjoyed writing it.

So over Christmas (well actually, I was meant to be working on it throughout the first semester but I didn’t, so skipping over that point) I had two portfolios to work on. One for my interdisciplinary module and one for my contemporary module. My interdisciplinary portfolio, I didn’t find too hard purely because it gave me the ability to explore different types of theatre that we’d studied and research them further and from there, further my research and write about them. So all in all, enjoyable. The contemporary one however, that is my nightmare. With the other portfolio there was a clear structure and I understood how to lay it out and what needed to be included but with contempoary there wasn’t a clear structure so it’s been a bit of a mess from beginning to end. Also, let me add this, with both portfolios together it’s over 10,000 words that I have to write. Sounds easy, yeah? Well, yeah I think it’s easy to write 10,000 words but whether those are relevant is a different question. This contemporary one has focused on the history, the playwrights themselves and a couple of select statements from Michael Billington that we had to create an argument in favour or against to make up the portfolio, as well as a select few other areas. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to understand that all of this was extremely stressful and though I’ve covered areas like this in past entries, I want to cover some of the problems people face when writing assignments.

Leaving Everything Until The Last Minute

When writing an assignment, I believe the majority of us fall into this trap. We leave everything to do with the assignment until the last moment. We fall into this trap because as the semester goes on we continue to take notes and notes and more notes and convince ourselves we’ll go over them at the end of the day or end of the week and then we never get around to it. Then there is the reading list, you know you need to read it early but you never get around to it. Again, this is more than likely the majority, or the minority – from personal experience I’d say the majority. Once you leave everything until the last minute, it soon piles up and you feel overwhelmed because you feel like there is so much against you and a pile to tackle before you can even start. The obvious answer is start early but, it’s hard to get into that routine.

Doubting Yourself Before You Begin

Now I don’t know whether this one applies to a majority or minority but I definitely know it happens to a few people. Before you’ve even started, you start doubting yourself as to whether you can actually write this assignment because even though when you are calm and think logically you know how to do it, you feel like you can’t. (Although there is the extreme case where you feel like you can’t do the entire course, but, like I said, extreme case). Doubting yourself is the worst thing you can do when it comes to assignments and it’s a horrible feeling, mainly because it hinders you before you even begin. There is no real solution to this, apart from being prepared.

Reading, Reading and More Reading

Now this is my biggest problem when it comes to writing assignments. I know I have a lot of reading to do and I know I should always start the reading list in plenty of time but I never do. If I read to early then I feel like I have just forgotten the book by the time I need it and even if I make notes, the notes barely make sense to me. If I start it too late then I am rushing and skim reading books. Our lecturer has said you either: “Read widely and deeply or read small and deeply” and I think I need to take this on board… I will at some point. Again, there are obvious answers to this problem but I think have all been at fault for the reason of not reading.

You’re Your Own Worst Critic 

The worst thing you can ever do is judge your own work, which obviously you are bound to. I believe there are stages to this. You start this and you feel like you can’t start, every sentence you write doesn’t sound good enough or doesn’t do the start justice, so you keep restarting. Then you get to the stage where you are writing and then re-read it and question entirely what you have been writing, then there is the stage where you feel like you are doing really well and can’t stop writing. Then finally you have the stage where you’ve finished and believe it is a complete pile of… rubbish. You read it and question what any of it actually says and whether any of it is actually any good and from there, it’s a downwards spiral.

Comparing with Others

First of all, DON’T. Second of all, it’s perfectly fine to study together and help each other out but do not, and I mean do not, compare your work to others. Either way, it’s going to stress one of you out. One person is going to feel like the others work is better than theirs or you are going to feel like you’ve done it completely wrong and just make yourself feel even worse in the process. Like I said, help each other, don’t compare.

Don’t Rush Through

This goes hand in hand with not leaving it until the last minute, but the point still stands. Don’t rush an assignment, it won’t help your stress and the work you produce won’t be your best. Some people can sit down in one evening and can power through an assignment and complete it and that’s it, it’s done. (Which is crazy!). Other people take weeks and so on and so fourth, it varies depending on the person. When doing an assignment, whether you do it in a short time or a long time period, never sit down and just do it all and keep pushing. As soon as you hit the metaphorical ‘wall’ where you are really struggling and racking your brains trying to produce an answer, STOP! You won’t produce good work and it’ll make you feel like crap. Just stop, take a break and return at another time. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Therefore, this is the end of this student worries article for now. I feel like this isn’t the end and as my semesters continue, I feel as though I’ll add more and more to this article. You may have taken something from this, you may have not. Either way, it’s felt fantastic to write an article again. 

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