Tuesday, August 21, 2018

5 Ways to be Successful in University (According to a Tutor)

Okay so we’re a few weeks into your fresh new subjects at University and I’m here to deliver 5 tips on how to have your best semester yet! 

As you might know, I became a sessional academic this semester and started teaching a subject on ‘Social Media Management’. So while excelling in University has always been a passion of mine and I managed to graduate my masters with distinction…having this different perspective as a tutor has given me some further tips. Alright, let’s get into them.

Don’t cut down on your time at the Uni bar 
Yep, you heard that correctly. I spent a lot of time at the Uni bar, especially in my first years of University. The social aspect allowed me to make friends in my classes and have someone to lean on for notes if I was sick or to clarify a concept I just couldn’t get. Not only is the social aspect great for your learning but blowing off steam and enjoying yourself means you can better concentrate when it does come to sitting in class and learning – it doesn’t have to be all work and no play. With that being said, I hope you’re not spending all day erryday there because your brain cells and too precious to kill with excessive alcohol.

Do the pre-readings 
I KNOW, I KNOW! Before you roll your eyes and click off this article - hear me out! How much of the class do you spend wondering what the hell is going on or feeling like you’re trying to “catch up”? By familiarising yourself with the material BEFORE class you actually go into the lecture or tutorial understanding what it’s going to be about and prepared to take on the new information. You are able to interact more in activities and engage with the concepts being introduced to you. It removes a lot of uncertainty and wasted time being like “wtf is going on”. This is coming from someone who was often in that position before I put learning as a focus.

Don’t overthink or over-complicate 
 Your teachers aren’t robots and course content is rarely rocket science (unless of course, you’re doing engineering in which case – I salute you). So the trick is to not overthink so that you don’t over-complicate the course work. Instead of breaking down a theory and trying to analyse it, simply absorb the concept and try to practically apply it to a real life situation. This makes a theory more tangible and definitely helps you better understand without stress. As an example, if you’re trying to understand if traditional media or new media are more effective for advertising – think about yourself and your friends. What do you listen to more? Where did you hear about the last 5 products you bought? Do you tune out when television ads come on? Do you listen more to influencers than celebrities? Answering these questions helps you better understand what the theory is and nothing is really that complicated – often you already have a good understanding of what is going on.

Enjoy what you’re doing 
Passion is something that is, in my opinion, essential to succeed in your chosen path of work. I don’t mean that you can’t succeed in a career if you hate it – I just mean that you will be miserable. If you have NO IDEA what you want to do, by all means test and trial a few different things. The only way you can figure out what you enjoy is by trying something new. However, if you have been forced into medicine by your parents or are perusing a law degree just because you think the money would be nice…you need to re-think. This is your life – you only get one (well, as far as we know anyway) and you spend A LOT of time at work during your lifetime. So make it something that you’re happy to jump out of bed for each day and that lights you up inside. Find something that fascinates you and holds your interest for an extended period of time to the point where it doesn’t feel like work but you are getting paid for it anyway. That is what I have found in my career path in marketing / social media. I would be blogging, designing, creating and writing for fun anyway so it’s fantastic that I’ve been able to turn this into my job. Life is too short to be miserable so make sure that you enjoy what you’re doing.

Get organised 
Do you hate the feeling of being in class and the teacher saying “okay so make sure you upload your assignments by this Friday and that the word count is correct etc”. It's usually when your brain goes into alert mode because you didn’t even know there was an assignment due but then you look at your calendar and realise it is indeed week 7 already and you must have fallen asleep and missed 3 weeks because what the hell, wasn’t it just week 1?! Yeah, a 12-week semester sounds like a long time but it really isn’t, especially when there is so much work to get done. So that you avoid all nasty surprises and all night study sessions that ruin your sleep pattern, map out everything that is due and the timeline you will follow to complete it. Reverse engineer each task from its due date to today.

As an example, something due in a month’s time you might set a timeline like this;
Week 1- Research and find resources to use.
Week 2- Start analysing resources and writing the bulk of content.
Week 3- Writing remaining content and finalising the draft.
Week 4- Final editing of draft including referencing and formatting document for submission.

Put the exact due date next to each task so that you have a strict timeline to go by, otherwise it will be way too easy to put it off until the last week. If you give yourself mini due dates along the way and you miss the first couples, at least you have time to get back on your feet.

Okay, so I think I will end the tips here but I honestly have another 30, I just don’t want to make the article too long or overwhelm you with things. So…there might have to be a second part to this. Keep an eye out and good luck at Uni! I know you’re more than capable of smashing your assessment and having a killer semester.

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