Student Advocate tips for… time management

 

Statue of Gromit (from Wallace and Gromit) decorated with clocks

Our Bristol Futures Student Advocates come from every faculty in the university, and are here to support you to grow your skills and become an even better student.

We asked them to share their top tips for time management. Here’s what they said…

Pretend that you’re working a 9 to 5 Job

My top tip on how to manage time is to  always work from 9-5 on your studies (if you don’t already have a 9-5 job!). How this works is that from Monday to Friday, you should do your uni work, attend classes, make notes, or revise between 9am and 5pm. This is a great tactic as if you find that you’re only in uni in the morning, then you can come home and work till 5pm and still enjoy the rest of your day! On the contrast, if you’ve been in uni straight from 9am till 5pm, then odds are that it was a pretty long and tiresome day and so you can rest assured that you’ve worked your 9-5 already and deserve to rest for the remainder of your day and recharge! I used this studying tactic for 5 years in dental school and it’s meant that all of my evenings are free, I don’t have to cram to catch-up on revision and I can spend my weekends however I like 🥳. Sina, 5th year Dental student

I agree with Sina, I started trying to pretend it’s a 9 to 5 job recently and it’s really been helping me. I still often go over time because there’s just so much to do but I still try and it’s really helpful. At least to try and work a “normal” amount of hours and not cut back on sleep. Martina, 2nd year Medical Biochemistry 

Schedule everything

I schedule societies’ activities, the time I spend with friends, work out, etc I still have a lot of online lectures so what I find useful is listing down all the ones I need to do for the week and also writing down how long they will take me (it’s even more useful if your professors give you a rough indication of how long they think it’s going to take). I then schedule it on my calendar (I like using Google Calendar because it syncs across devices really quickly) and try to stick to the plan. For example, for the readings, if my professor suggested it should take 10 minutes I try to stick to that because it probably means I don’t need to be spending more time than that on it. This way I know I don’t need to be studying it in a lot of details but just read through it to get an overall idea.
When planning I like to leave some extra time, so I either schedule online lectures as longer than planned or actually schedule in a two/three-hour slot on a Friday afternoon that I’m leaving free, this way if I fall behind I know I have some extra time without having to work on weekends and if I don’t fall behind it just means I have more free time! Martina, 2nd year Medical Biochemistry 

Make sure you are aware of all your deadlines and what to do for each one. Then make a plan based on that. Try to finish your task a few days before the hard deadline just to give yourself some extra time for any unexpected situations. Manshika, 3rd year Economics and Finance 

Take advantage of all the moments in your day

There are many brief periods over the course of your day where you are waiting around e.g. on a commute, for an event to begin, for meeting up with a friend, etc.. By adding all these up, it can result in a substantial amount of time. You can turn all these periods where you are usually just waiting around into a useful source of time if you make your work mobile and accessible at all times. I personally always have some work available offline on my phone to read, or quiz myself on, so I make the most of my time. Emma, 4th year Veterinary Science

Bristol Futures Student Advocates run peer support sessions for students in their faculty. Check out the Study Skills Blackboard page to see what’s coming up.

 

 

Meet the Advocates in the Health Sciences team

Emma, the author of the blog postby Emma Ford, Bristol Futures Advocate

I am very excited to introduce you to your new Health Science Bristol Futures Student Advocates! We are a small group of six, very friendly, current University of Bristol students. This year we hope to share our years of experience with you. You can participate by signing up for our workshops, attending our peer support sessions, and reading our blog. So, watch this space!

 

Carys James

  • Year and course: Veterinary Science – 4th year
  • Fun fact: I have a pet African pygmy hedgehog
  • Study tip: Make sure you go back over lectures throughout the whole course of the year instead of leaving it until a few weeks before exams to cover all of the content. This will keep your memory refreshed and improve it long term.

Sina Gilannejad

  • Year and course: Dentistry – 5th year
  • Fun fact: In first year I featured in the dental school’s YouTube video “a day in the life of a Bristol dental student” and now 33,000 have seen my terrible haircut at the time…
  • Study tip: Ask for help and advice from the older years! They’ve been in your position, got the grades to prove it and can give you pointers on how to pass with flying colours!

Molly Jackson

  • Year and course: 2nd year PhD student – translational health sciences
  • Fun fact: I sold a necklace to the comedian Jon Richardson when I had a job at a jewellery shop.
  • Study tip: Split down your revision into 5 steps to help manage your workload: record, reduce, recite, reflect, and review!

Chelsie Bailey

  • Year and course: final year vet.
  • Fun fact: I have a first degree in animal behaviour and welfare from Bristol.
  • Study tip: Study over longer period (e.g., months) instead of cramming lots into a few weeks to allow my very dyslexic brain to have time to process it and understand.

Jess Mounty

  • Year and course: 4th year Veterinary Science
  • Fun fact: Before starting at Bristol, I studied Zoology at UCL
  • Study tip: I have found it helpful to treat University like a full-time job, sticking to 9am-5pm working hours

Emma Ford

  • Year and course: 4th year veterinary science
  • Fun fact: No one can ever guess where I am from because my accent is quite uncharacteristic from growing up in international schools.
  • Study tip: Make your own questions when going over your notes! It helps your brain work, and the better you get at it, the more your questions will start to resemble the ones you could get on your exams! It’s especially helpful if you can get other students involved so you make a database of questions! It’s a great resource to build over the course of the year so when you get to exams you have a lot of questions to practice!

 

You can find current drop-in times & locations for Health Science students on our Peer Support page on Blackboard.

 

 

 

 

Letter to my undergraduate self: Therese Kelly – ‘It is okay to ask for help and to say you don’t understand something’

Inspired by the Big Issue’s regular feature Letter to My Younger Self, we’re asking staff to think back to their own experiences as a student and tell us what advice they would give to their undergraduate selves.

This month we’re introducing our newest Study Skills Tutor, Therese Kelly, who will be working with students in the Faculty of Social sciences.

Photo of Therese, the author of the blog post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What and where did you study? 

I studied for a BA in the Anthropology of Religion at the University of Wales, Lampeter. Then 15 years later I went back to uni and did an MA in Social Anthropology, here at Bristol. I am now finishing a PhD in Social Anthropology through Manchester University.

Did you experience culture shock when you started university? 

That’s an interesting question. It was more the location that was a shock rather than the university itself. I grew up in London and then opted for a university deep in the Welsh countryside, in a very small farming community. This was partly because I was a young mother with a child, and I wanted to be somewhere less hectic. I was a mature student of 24 when I started my degree; I became a mother when I was 20 so waited until my son was old enough to go to school before going to university, and Lampeter seemed lovely. It was a wonderful place to study! It is a very small university, and it didn’t take long to become part of the student community.

What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? 

My time management was awful when I was an undergraduate, especially during my first year. I always left it to the last minute to write an essay. One essay I handed in two weeks late and so it was marked down 20%. If I had submitted it in time, it would have got 70%, a first, so I was gutted! I learned pretty quickly after that to plan my writing time better.

What are you most proud of about your time at university? 

I was, and still am, a shy person, the difference is I have learned to manage it. When I was in the first year, I was part of a group giving a presentation about a Hindu temple we visited for one of our modules. I can still remember how I felt when it was my turn to speak. The blood rushed to my face, my heart was beating in my mouth, and I was so nervous I struggled to focus on the people in the room, I was terrified! I managed to get through it but thought, I must get over this fear. So, I signed myself up for presenting at as many seminars as possible and each time I did it, my ability to talk and present improved. I believe it was one of the bravest things I have done for myself.

What was the best bit of feedback you received? 

I didn’t think my work was any good most of the time as I had very low self-confidence. But after having completed an essay that I actually enjoyed writing, the lecturer said in the feedback that I had ‘clarity of expression’ and that the essay was ‘a joy to read’. I was so happy that my essay was not only readable but that someone got joy from it too!

What advice would you give to your undergraduate self?

I could say, PLAN YOUR WORK! I could have reduced so much stress and got a better mark if I had organised my writing better. Saying that, getting a 2:1 rather than a first is still a great achievement and I did really enjoy being an undergraduate. So, what I would say to my undergraduate self is that it is okay to ask for help and to say you don’t understand something, and enjoy the fresh air and the wonderful countryside!

Student perspective: Sleepless in Bristol…memory challenged!

Photo of Tracy, the author of the blog postby Tracy Ohis, Bristol Futures Advocate

I know we do not know each other very well but I have a personal question to ask… How well have you been sleeping lately?

This blog aims to help you consider the importance of sleeping as you approach the final hurdle of summer term examinations. Previously, some friends seem to hold a badge of honour for “pulling an all-nighter” of studying, encouraged by the wings of a famous drink or two that is highly caffeine loaded, enough to probably sink the titanic all over again. Yet there are many other reasons why people are not getting enough ZZ’s at night as COVID19 and somewhat beyond has taxed our general mental capacity. Even though we may have enjoyed the novelty of taking Zoom meetings with lecturers in PJs (not guilty!), this may have led to a complacent attitude when compared to the academic vibe surroundings of the university’s esteemed walls.

Lack of sleep vs Memory recall

As we continue to navigate the discovery channel of new information, our memory may find it problematic to retain at least half a day’s worth of study material before a test with a limited supply of sleep. The medical advice states to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep and I must admit this was a struggle at times even before starting my academic journey. The physical long-distance study amongst other things triggered a spiral that I needed to address and with some help from the university Wellbeing department and smarter planning of my time, I was able to develop a solution that has been useful most of the time to suit my needs. I hastily add that any plans you create will be unique to fit into your lifestyle and adjusted with some measure of flexibility. Ideally, accounting for unfortunate circumstances beyond our control forbiddingly other lockdowns per se ‘throws a spanner in the works’. If you would like to know more on how you can incorporate planning into your routine, you could meet with a tutor from Study Skills to discuss and even attend a workshop.

The experts say

Scientifically, a view taken that academic performance based on the early to rise approach resulted in higher achievers as opposed to the total hours of sleep and other factors (Eliasson 2010). Whilst another investigation of 61 undergraduates were focused on those from 2nd year and onwards, used a diary and mathematical science to conclude that irregular sleep patterns affected academic performance negatively (Phillips 2017). Indeed, a further point is that lack of sleep if left long term could potentially develop into insomnia and other health issues, so seeking help from your GP or nurse is a thought worth some consideration. A takeaway message is to remember you are not alone and it is good to have this conversation even with a friend, you might find that there are likeminded colleagues who will be keen to develop a community to support each other as mentors as suggested by this article (Cort-Blackson 2018).

Getting back on track

In identifying a problem exists and deciding that you want to make those baby steps towards changing behaviour is indeed a feat to be encouraged. Take time to view some YouTube videos or Google on how to improve your sleep could be a good investment of your academic performance. Some suggestions that could be helpful:

  • Turning your phone or other electronics off 2 hours before bed.
  • Making your bedroom space clutter free.
  • Doing some form of exercise (aerobic or yoga) during the day.

Which one of these will you try? Do let us know. All the best in your exams and I hope this blog has been useful to you.

Letter to my undergraduate self: Lewis Coyne – ‘I learned to actually listen to the feedback I was getting’

Inspired by the Big Issue’s regular feature Letter to My Younger Self, we’re asking staff to think back to their own experiences as a student and tell us what advice they would give to their undergraduate selves.

This month we hear from Lewis Coyne, Study Skills Tutor.

Photograph of Lewis, the author of the post

What and where did you study? 

I first studied at Cardiff University for a BA in Philosophy and English Literature, followed by an MA in Analytic and Modern European Philosophy. Then I switched to the University of Exeter, where I got an MRes in Science and Technology Studies and a PhD in social philosophy.

Did you experience culture shock when you started university? 

Yes – but I didn’t think so at the time. I had an elder brother at university, so broadly knew what to expect, and had travelled around Australasia on a gap year with friends, so thought I could look after myself. But on reflection I wasn’t fully comfortable with taking charge of and being accountable for my actions, as I had a terrible work ethic, appalling diet, and complete inability to get out of bed before 10am. This was amplified by the fact that, as a humanities student, I only had about two contact hours a day – meaning that my work was almost entirely self-directed and the structure of my day self-imposed. I really struggled to adjust to that, and as a result most of my first year was a mess! 

What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? 

My biggest failure was probably all of my first term: I didn’t do much reading (a major problem when you’re studying English Literature!), which led to not going to seminars very often, which in turn led to some shocking last-minute essays that thoroughly deserved the low marks they received. (Just thinking about the poor people who had to mark them makes me cringe, even now.)

What I learned was that I had to take university seriously, and as part of that re-discover how to properly apply myself to my education. I hadn’t enjoyed school a great deal, and from the age of 14 tended to do just enough to get by without excessively disappointing my parents. This carried on through to the beginning of my undergraduate degree. But by the end of my first year I’d found, for the first time I could remember, that learning could be immensely enriching – even enjoyable. That late discovery probably explains why I carried on all the way to PhD level! I should note that I didn’t make that switch in isolation, though: I was helped enormously by the positive influence of my then-girlfriend, now wife, who is a far more diligent, switched-on, and all-round better person than me.

What are you most proud of about your time at university? 

From those inauspicious beginnings I went on to win a departmental prize for the highest-performing undergraduate in Philosophy. (Needless to say, I wouldn’t have won it if first-year marks counted toward the final degree classification!) It was quite the turnaround, and I’m still proud of that now.

What was the best bit of feedback you received? 

I used to find getting feedback on anything I’d written a horrible experience, regardless of whether it was broadly positive or negative, in-person or in writing. I knew in the abstract that feedback was a useful, even necessary part of learning, but I just found receiving it excruciating. Over time, though, I learned to get over that anxiety and actually listen to the feedback I was getting, and this only came through the process of being given it repeatedly. For that reason I wouldn’t say there was a single best bit of feedback I received – it was nearly always useful in training me to be more comfortable with it. 

What advice would you give to your undergraduate self? 

The thing is, when I arrived at university I was such an arrogant twerp that I probably wouldn’t have listened to any advice, even from my future self. So what I would do instead is just talk to younger-me, explore what I enjoyed about the subjects I was studying, point out that it was a more stimulating form of education than school had ever been, and basically just try to gently encourage the process of self-development that my undergraduate years ended up being.

Student perspective: Catching up on work when you’ve fallen behind

Photo of Claudia, the author of the postby Claudia Raymond-Hayling, Second year Theatre and English (BA) student and Bristol student advocate.

Falling behind is something that so many of us students struggle with. When I run study-skills workshops and drop-ins, I notice that this is very common, especially in the faculty of arts, when we are often given so much reading! I’ve compiled a list of things that help me when I feel I need to get more on top of my often-hectic university workload, that will hopefully be applicable, regardless of your academic discipline.

Don’t panic!

It’s important to acknowledge that falling behind is okay! Things crop up in life that can get in the way of your workload and I can almost guarantee that it has happened to every student, particularly during these uncertain times. All you can do at this point is acknowledge that you are behind and move forward, by trying not to dwell on those times when you could’ve worked ‘more’ or ‘harder’.

Acknowledge what you have done.

Reflect on those moments where you did go to seminars, do some reading or watch lectures. This doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring the fact that you need to catch up, but it creates a more positive mindset, which will be a huge motivation when getting back on top of things. It is also a reminder that you can do it!

Reach out to your peers and tutors, ask for extensions.

If you feel like you need some support, message some course mates or friends – if you’re feeling this way, others probably are too. Also, email your tutors for support or help with assessments – tell them how you’re feeling, and they can help you plan ahead and get on top of things. Tutor and peer advice can help immensely in your individual reassurance that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Remember, if you’re experiencing anything that you feel you need extra support in, you can always contact student wellbeing. You can also contact your school and ask for extensions if you feel like catching up in time for assessments will not be possible.

Make a list of things you need to do.

Making a to-do list of the things that you have missed and/or need to catch up on is possibly the best first step you can make. It’s important to write these tasks down in order to visualise what you need to do. It can be really overwhelming when you know you have things to do or catch up on, but not being sure exactly what they are. Therefore, try not to think of this list as ‘things you haven’t done’ but of ‘things you will do in the future’, which will allow for a more constructive outlook as you think about these tasks.

Evaluate what things you need to do.

Acknowledge that some things you may need to leave behind. Catching up on a 300-page book from three weeks ago, when you are still learning new content and catching up on other things, may not be realistic. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; it’s also important to recognize that sometimes you can’t do everything; your mental and physical wellbeing must be prioritised. So, whilst you are trying to be proactive in getting on top of things, don’t see this as a time where you can’t relax and socialise because it is definitely a balance between the two.

Put the tasks on your to-do list in order of priority.

Each of the things that you need to do will have varying levels of urgency and will each take different lengths of time to complete. It is important to find a way of organising your list with these things in mind – that could be through colour coding, making sticky notes, scheduling tasks in you calendar etc. Different methods of organisation work for different people but try and find a method that works for you!

Take action.

Refer to your to-do list and hopefully you will feel confident in making a start with some of the tasks you need to do. Perhaps by making a schedule of your week, with realistic daily goals, will help you manage these tasks on top of your regular timetabled hours. All you can do is try your best and any step to move forward is advantageous and positive. The important thing is to try and not let the past inhibit how you go from here.

Think ahead!

This sounds daunting, especially if you’re currently behind, but there is no harm in looking ahead to see what is coming up in each unit. Additionally, look under the ‘assessment’ tab and make a note of the dates your essays, assignments and exams will be. This will allow you to have an idea of what is coming up, in order to stay on top of future work.

 

Thank you for reading this far into my blog post! I really hope these things will be beneficial. Don’t forget, there is support if you need it, and falling behind is okay and often out of your control. It’s been a really tough year, so be kind to yourself. If you have any methods of staying on top of your work, or catching up on past work, feel free to leave a comment!

Student perspective: Study Skills – Your Studying Companion

Photo of Iskandar, the author of the postby Iskandar Bin Suhaimi, Bristol Futures Advocate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t panic. Even if your winter break was naff and you didn’t get much studying done, there’s still time. Perhaps you just barely managed to pull through the assessment period, and now you have a massive backlog of revision to handle while also juggling term-time work. Why don’t you head on to the Study Skills website on Blackboard and you may find some tricks at your disposal.

Cartoon character Hey Arnold performing a magic trick
Credits: @nicksplat.com / Giphy

Managing your time

First, a schedule. You would likely want to identify your tasks and plan out how you are going to get back on track. Head on over to the Study Skills tab on Blackboard and click on ‘Time management’ under Online Resources. From time management apps to schedule analyses, I’m positive you’ll find something handy.

Talking it out

You know what you want to do, now to actually go about it. If you’re unsure how to proceed, I suggest booking onto a Drop-In with a friendly student advocate. Once you book in, you can relay any questions or concerns you have about your studies and they can direct you to various useful resources such as subject librarians, the Centre for Academic Language and Development, and the Student Wellbeing Service – all tailored to your needs. Besides being specifically trained to signpost you to the University’s services, they can also be equally fun to chat with as well (just don’t ask us to work on your essays please)!

Getting things done

A few essays here, a coursework there, and a research project to finally give attention to. The Study Skills’ online resources tab is jam-packed with useful tips from critical writing to exam tips – all at your fingertips (excuse the bad joke)! For some writing practice, you can also book on to a weekly Wordsmiths workshop where you can hone your academic writing with zero judgement! Once you’re done with a draft, it might also be prudent to book a slot with one of our specially trained tutors who can assist in reviewing your work.

Naturally as a law student I may a bit biased towards essay-based resources, but Study Skills also run a Maths and Statistics club, Coding club and other ad hoc workshops you may find useful; so keep an eye out for them!

A conducive ecosystem

You’ve got your tools, you’re cracking on, and everything is going great isn’t it? Until you realise that studying alone can be isolating at times. What’s more, you may find that the new blended learning approach may not provide as many contact hours as you were used to. The library could be an option, but not if you’re studying remotely and even then you can’t communicate with people.

Under these circumstances, might I suggest booking onto an Online Study Lounge? This Study Skills initiative provides a space to study with other people with a scattering of interesting conversations and activities throughout, including an opportunity to have some structure to your day which if you’re like me, is much needed.

All best

As a fellow student trying to stay on top of things, I hope this article has proved useful! Study Skills is part of a larger framework called Bristol Futures that also includes the Bristol Plus Award, the PDProject, and a lot more. While I encourage you to explore what’s on offer, remember that your friends and/or family are always just within reach if you ever need extra support 😊

Goodluck!

 

 

 

Student perspective: Maintaining an asynchronous routine for synchronous students

Note: This post was written during the covid-19 pandemic. While university teaching is no longer 100% online, online learning is here to stay… whether in the form of online lectures or simply a quick Teams/ Zoom/ Skype call with your project group. So we think this blog post is just as relevant as ever! Now read on…

Photo of Claudia, the author of the post

 

by Claudia Raymond-Hayling, Second year Theatre and English (BA) student and Bristol Futures Advocate.

During this very strange year, working from home or university accommodation is something we all are adjusting to. Since starting the first teaching block, I have learnt a few things about staying organised and keeping that daily routine in check.

1. Regularity with your timings of the day

Make sure you get up at a good time (before 10am). This will allow you to spread out your tasks across the day, so you use your time efficiently and effectively. Also, having a rough idea of the timings you eat your meals will make it easier to schedule your work around the break you might want to have at mealtimes. Exercise is a great way to help your mental and physical wellbeing, so you may also find it helpful to schedule this at regular times during the week.

2. Make a list of the work you need to do at the start of the week.

Writing down the things you need to get done can help so much in terms of visualising your goals. It can make tasks feel much more manageable and accomplishable. Even things that aren’t university-related, put them onto your list.

3. At the start of each day, choose things from your to-do list and make a schedule.

Making a daily schedule might seem excessive, but it allows you to organise your day and prioritise the things that need to be completed more urgently. It also can help you to feel motivated by having a smaller, more manageable list each day, rather than being daunted by your weekly to-do list. If you make a daily schedule, it will also mean that you can organise your tasks around other plans you might have – as unexpected things often come up!

4. Make your daily goals realistic.

It’s easy to overestimate the work you can achieve in a day, and how much time each task will take you. Sometimes 30-minute lectures can take up to 2 hours, simply because of the difficulty of the concepts being taught. Make sure your daily goals are realistic, as it can really help with your time management, but also your mindset and attitude towards a day’s work.

5. Vary the environment you’re working in.

Try working in a different room – ask your flatmate to swap rooms for the afternoon or maybe go to the library. You’d be surprised how much a change of scene can alter your approach and attitude towards your work.

6. Take breaks! Do things you enjoy.

Allow yourself to have breaks, don’t burn yourself out. Go for a walk with a friend, watch Netflix for an hour or do any hobby that you really enjoy. Breaks allow you to work more effectively, and if you schedule them, you’ll have a cut-off time. Sometimes, you might need to take a longer break, or have a day not working, which is also okay. It’s important to prioritise your own wellbeing during this time at home too – don’t be harsh on yourself if you need a breather. And remember, if you’re struggling to meet deadlines for this reason, extension requests are always available to you.

I’ve gradually been implementing these steps into my life and my work schedule, and my routine has felt much more structured. Different techniques work for different people, but these are what have made a profound difference to my life during lockdown. Since many aspects of life can feel so unstructured right now, taking steps to help yourself have more of a routine can be hugely beneficial in terms of wellbeing and completing those daily things that we need to do.

If you need any support in study skills, you are always welcome at the drop-in sessions run by the student advocates within each faculty. These sessions can help with the general skills that facilitate your learning in a way that can be really helpful to your academic progress, specifically through speaking to other members of your faculty – which can be very insightful! The university Study Skills also have many online resources that can be invaluable to many specific aspects of working effectively.

Wishing you all lots of luck, and perhaps have a think about the things that have helped you stay in a good routine during this time and post in the comments below!

Letter to my undergraduate self: Anna Wallace – ‘Making better choices got me back on track’

In a nod to the Big Issue’s regular feature Letter to My Younger Self, we’re asking staff to think back to their own experiences as a student and tell us what advice they would give to their undergraduate selves.

This month we’re talking to Anna Wallace, Admin Assistant in Library Services.

What and where did you study? 

English and Philosophy at Leeds University. 

Did you experience a culture shock when you started University? 

Most definitely! Although I had had a year out after my A’Levels and lived abroad in a large city, I wasn’t used to finding my feet in big social groups, and this was a real challenge for me. Having grown up in a rural town with a tight-knit group of friends, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself at the time to make instant friendships. I’ve realised since that friendship usually comes in time and often when you don’t expect it. 

What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? 

My second year at Uni was a juggle of socialising, working and studying, possibly in that order, which certainly reflected in some of my marks! It meant that I pulled quite a few all-nightersmissed a couple of essay deadlines and received some late submission penalties. I also didn’t feel up to speed with the reading, or completely engaged with my subjects. But on the plus side I was able to pay for my University living costs and have a few memorable nights out! 

By my third year, I realised that I couldn’t juggle everything, and if I was going to leave Uni with a reasonable degree, then I would need to prioritise my time better and focus more on my studies. In doing that, I would say that my final year was my most enjoyable, I finally engaged with my course and felt all the happier and more content for it. No essays were late, I was up to date with the reading and felt more confident to contribute in my seminars. 

What are you most proud of about your time at university? 

For me, the fact that I stuck with it, pulled my socks up in my final year and made some better choices which got me back on track is probably what I feel proudest of. 

What was the best bit of feedback you received? 

I received a good solid first for an essay on American Literature in my final year. It was an essay that I remember grappling with during the Christmas holidays, with limited resources to use (this was in the days before Google and Wiki!!). I felt very unsure about what I submitted, as I had struggled so much, so to receive positive feedback made all the effort feel worthwhile and was a confidence boost in my ability to build an argument without relying heavily on secondary texts. 

What advice would you give to your undergraduate self? 

If I were to go back and do it all again, I would manage and prioritise my time, which is no easy feat for an Arts student with just a few contact hours each week. I would complete the reading, and (perhaps most importantly) I would find a thread in my unit choices, so that I was building on knowledge each year, and choosing the units that I enjoyed, not the ones that I thought I ought to be good at.