After completing the first year of my humanities degree, I reflected a lot on how I could have improved my academic experience.
My performance fluctuated throughout the year, so I’m hoping to enter the new term with more stability than before. My lack of stability came from a lack of planning and time management, so I’ve come up with some hacks that should hopefully help me stay more organised at uni.
At the end of each week, briefly look over your notes from lectures and seminars, then do it again at the end of each term. With new topics being covered every week, it can be frustrating to have to move on from something if you’re only just getting to grips with it. By recapping, you ensure that the content is fresh in your mind and that you definitely understand it.
Sometimes students are given assignment questions before the relevant topics have been covered properly. If this ever happens, prioritise the readings for that topic rather than doing readings for the following week; meeting deadlines will suddenly become much easier. Please be sure that you don’t neglect the reading topic for the following week; everything you do will be important at some point, so make sure you give all your topics the right amount of attention!
Preparing for Exams
At the beginning of the year, look through past exam papers for the modules you have chosen (usually found on the university website) and identify the recurring topics that come up each year. Decide which topics interest you and which you think you may want to answer in the exam (it is suggested to revise 6-8 topics from throughout the year, but do as many as you can). This way, when the topics you choose arrive in your timetable, you will know to focus especially on those lectures, seminars and readings. When it comes time to revise, you will hopefully have retained much more information than someone who simply breezed through term not thinking of what lay ahead.
Applying for Internships
In the summer holiday, write up draft cover letters for internships/experiences you want to apply to. This way you won’t have to write them last minute when the deadlines are around the corner! Maybe even prepare a template letter which you can pass on to multiple places (make sure you change the important details in each copy!), saving yourself time and stress if application dates are at difficult times during the year.
Have a good year!