Good Evening Readers,
This article today is all about essays! And more personally, how I coped with them. Karis Chopping over on ‘Campus Society‘ put forward the idea for this article, so massive thank you to her. Now then, let’s share more of my stories!
As I’ve mentioned previously in my writing, assignments and essays were a massive step up from Sixth Form. My personal belief is, and this is going from my experiences of my Sixth Form college, is that Sixth Form did in no way at all, prepare me for university. No matter how many times they claimed they did. Every time you wrote an essay for a class they would always be reminding you how “this was preparation for university” and that you’ll “need these skills” for when you get to university… how? how? how? I literally don’t understand how they believed that. What they were teaching us was in no way preparation for what university had to throw at us. Now, do not get me wrong – I’m a keen writer so the transition was not massive for me, but still challenging.
From my experiences, university expects a higher and more sophisticated type of writing than a Sixth Form College. That’s understandable, but at the same time, I believe there should be more done to understand this step up and this change. I may be the only one that feels this way or that experienced this – but, my point still stands!
Anyway, how did I cope with the assignment and essay writing?
At my university, an ‘essay’ is more like an exam (from what I’ve experienced on my course) and an assignment is like… well I suppose, what most people view as an essay. I only had one essay (exam) whilst at university and that was in my first year – that was the kind of writing I was used to as I’d just come from Sixth Form doing my exams, therefore, I was comfortable with this and came out with a 1st. From there, all my other assignments I’ve achieved 2:1’s overall (apart from 2 x 2:2’s that we do not need to address). Therefore, you could say that I am at a pretty standard level.
How did I cope then with all these 3,000 word assignments, portfolios and essays? Short answer? I did not. (I’m only partly joking when I say that!).
In my first year at university, I coped with assignments by using one simple rule; “once you hit the wall, don’t push no further!”. It may sound silly, many people will say once you hit the wall, keep on pushing (or maybe that’s just when you’re working out…). My theory was, for me personally, when I hit the wall, any work I produced afterwards just was not good. It was poor, worse than poor. It was me pushing myself to do more than I actually wanted to do. Therefore, when I hit the wall, I’d walk away from it and come back either a few hours later, or a day later – that way I’d be refreshed and ready to carry on. Possibly even having new ideas.
If I was struggling to actually come up with any ideas or even start, I’d use the same method as I do in drama. ‘Improvisation’. This meant when it came to writing I’d just start writing, it did not have to be sophisticated or coherent, I’d just write my thoughts on the assignment or start off with a quote and go from there.
I’d also make sure I planned my writing out – meaning, I collected all my quotes, put down a structure of what I wanted to write and went from there. It really helped me. The planning process usually took around a week if I worked hard, therefore, the writing side of it took a day or two. (Much to the displeasure of the rest of my group). Now, everybody is different, so, how I coped may not be how you cope. Some people leave it till the last minute, others work non-stop until the deadline and so on – you have to find what’s best for you.
It sounds bad, but, my style is very much writing when I feel like it. They are the only times I can write. Do not get me wrong, sometimes I have to push myself a little in order to get started, but usually, I just wrote when I felt like it and it’s always done me well.
Other than that, I just made sure I balanced my work and social life as best I could and tried my best not to over do it!
Pure and simple!