With exams just around the corner (and me doing everything I can to procrastinate) I figured it was an opportune time to introduce our latest Uni Truths topic: workload.
I honestly don’t know what I expected when I came to Uni… I knew there would be work but all I imagined were lectures and seminars; I forgot about exams and coursework. The truth is, University is a large step up from Secondary school in terms of independence: the teachers don’t spoon-feed you anymore and if you’re doing a humanity like I am there is so much extra reading.
University, essentially is just a more extreme version of school: you still have exams and coursework, but it’s so much more independent. You don’t get second chances for coursework; your first draft is your only draft, and if you haven’t pre-read the chapters (yes, multiple chapters) of text each week before your seminars, you probably won’t understand what’s going on. I was prepared for the standard of essays I would have to write and I knew I’d eventually have to do some exams, but the sheer amount of reading my course requires was a bit of a shock to me (I’m talking about collectively reading a total of around 300-400 pages a week).
When I talk about how independent Uni is I’m not over-exaggerating, you could skip all your lectures and most of the time the lecturer won’t notice, but I don’t recommend it at all. While attendance isn’t as monitored as it is at schools, it’s ridiculously easy to fall behind and find yourself trying to catch up on 12 weeks worth of work a week before your exams start. I suppose Universities use the workloads to attempt to prepare you for adulthood by throwing you into a deep end and telling you to work for yourself… My biggest advice is to keep on top of work because before you know it your exams are around the corner and you’re left with more panic than you need to be.
As for coursework? Learn to reference as early as you can… I don’t know if it’s the same at all Unis but tutors tend to put a lot of focus onto how well you reference your essays. Your University will usually have a system they use, and whether they tell you how to reference online or in some sort of handbook go through it with a fine-toothed comb; the quicker you master it, the less stress essays become (trust me, I’m a year in and I’m still not quite there).
However, as daunting as the reading and essays may seem, the tiny amount of contact hours provide you with the time you need. As an English and Philosophy student I only have 7 hours of actual lessons a week, so yes, although my life is consumed with reading (I can’t remember the last time I read a book for fun…), there’s just about enough time to do it. At the end of the day, University is a lot of work, but everyone is new at it, that’s the reason that first year doesn’t count towards your final Uni grade. First year is the perfect time to find your feet and take the year to figure out what learning/organisation methods work for you. It may seem daunting at first, but you have a whole year to figure it out for yourself.
Lots of love,