How to cope with academic work? Comments Off
Inevitably, you will feel anxious about this to start with. Will I be good enough? Can I keep up? This is the major challenge, and you will be facing it without the close guidance you may have previously enjoyed from a teacher or parent.
Get the right information from the start. How many lectures, seminars or laboratory sessions are you supposed to be attending? With assignments, what exactly are you being asked to do? How many words are you expected to write? What is the deadline for handing it in? If your tutors don’t make themselves clear, ask questions and be persistent. What resources are available? Is there a library; what hours is it open, and how many other students are going to be wanting to read the same book, at the same time? Is there a photocopying machine or scanner, and do you have to pay to use them? How many computers are available to use? Or do you have your own with internet facilities set up? Make yourself a realistic timetable. When you are assigned a task, estimate how long you think it will take you. Then add on a bit more time, as you have probably been over-optimistic in the first place. Then set a time each day, or each week, to do it. Thinking ahead also involves taking into account any resources you will need to complete the task. It may turn out that the library has only one copy of an essential book or paper, and someone else has just borrowed it. It’s better to allow too much time, and then find the bonus of a couple of hours off, than to stay up all night, drinking black coffee, in a panic.
Set clear priorities
You need to make hard choices. You may want to go to that meeting, film, or match tonight, but the essay has to be handed in tomorrow. Or you’d like to spend every waking minute with a new partner, but you haven’t done enough revision.
Part of the art of survival is to make realistic assessments of consequences. If you are late handing in the essay, can your tutor be appeased or negotiated with? Try to negotiate with your tutor before a deadline and ask for an extension, if necessary. What will happen if you do badly in a test or exam? If your final results depend more on how well you do in exams, rather than the quality of your course work, you may decide to put less effort into writing perfect essays and more into revising for exams.
Beginning to take responsibility for your own learning needs some support. Some institutions have systems to provide for this, ensuring that each student has a tutor or mentor, who can act like a sort of academic parent to them, advising them on their work and helping them plan realistically.
Many, however, do not. Even when this is the case, it’s possible to form a support group of fellow students, formally or informally, to help each other. Be prepared to ask for support and help.