So, one of the most important factors of university life is… organisation!
All throughout your academic life, you’ll have had to get coursework and homework in on time, making sure you plan enough time into your gaming/going-out-shopping routine to actually get it done – and well. At uni, things make a sharp turn and become a little more intense to say the least.
If you’re the studious type like me, you’ll be a bit more ready, but everyone gets a shock in their first term/semester!
The biggest difference that everyone finds with university is that your lecturers and tutors will not nag you to get your work in. Most likely, they’ll say the deadline one time in your lecture, and then expect that to be enough to spur you on to do it. You won’t get regular check-ups from them asking how you’re getting on with it, or even if you’re understanding it – because it is now completely your responsibility! Don’t be scared though, you can get on top of it.
Lecturers and tutors will expect that if you have a problem or don’t understand something, you will go to see them and ask them, or read up on it in some of your course textbooks. University is about independent learning and studying, so if you don’t get something, be proactive and go ask someone! To put it bluntly (but most effectively), lecturers aren’t going to care on deadline day if you’ve been struggling with your piece of coursework, because you’ll have had the following opportunities to better your understanding:
- These are a chance to cement your understanding of the material covered in lectures. Use them well! You can also get the chance to do some related questions maybe, and ask the lecturer/tutor questions and actually highlight to them if something has been majorly unclear in the lecture. This helps everyone!
- Lecturer/tutor office hours
- These are bookable appointment times or drop-in hours that you can talk to your lecturers in their office about absolutely anything! My lecturers always say that noone ever comes to see them, yet there are some people not doing very well. If you’re struggling, go talk to someone!
- You have a list of core textbooks for a reason!
- THE INTERNET!!
- although don’t forget the majority of places aren’t verified explanations, so books are a better resource – also, for everyone’s sake… DON’T USE WIKIPEDIA!!!!!!)
- Academic sources
- Aston has a number of different resources you can use to further your learning. For example, for Computer Science/related subjects, we have the Programming Support Office, where there is a post-grad officer that you can sit down with and discuss/ask about programming/other stuff. We also have the LDC in the library, which you can get maths tuition, one-to-one help, study tips and report writing guidance etc. It’s there, so use it!
- your coursemates will be better at explaining something in terms that you and I understand, without using the academic jargon that flows in lectures…
Get a calendar with a decent amount of space to write down what you have each day. At the moment as I’m in second year and I’m doing a lot of different extra curricular things, I have to be really careful about organising my time so things don’t clash and I remember to do everything!
This becomes especially true when things like deadlines and exams start getting added to the picture, but right now it’s just meetings and work etc.!
This part is really really really really (you get the idea) important!!! Here are a few guidelines about how to avoid late-submission penalties, because these will be enforced no matter what your excuse pretty much (unless you talk to your year tutor about it and see if you can get some exceptional circumstances to be relieved of it, but it’s better to do that before the actual deadline has passed!!!).
Top tip for any work ever… don’t leave it til the last minute. Hopefully you don’t need to learn from that as you do it anyway, but seriously, things get piled up when you least expect it, then you’ll find yourself working til 6am for three nights in a row trying to get everything in on time.
By the way, universities are strict on deadlines; there will be penalties if you get it in even 30 seconds late if it’s submitted online, so don’t risk trying to upload it with 5 minutes to go, because the likelihood is that a lot of other people will try to do the same thing, it will take forever, and you’ll eventually upload it after the deadline, losing 5-10% of your grade usually! This goes up every day you leave after the deadline before submitting it, so either do it the day before if you’re happy with it, but if you are running a bit late, leave at least an hour to ensure it gets in on time and you are credited for all the marks you deserve!
If it has to be handed in to your school office on paper, make sure you check the opening and closing times of your school office! Some people that I know have coursework deadlines for like 5pm, but the school office closes at 2pm! Don’t run the risk of having to submit it the next day and losing more marks because you didn’t check the times – submit it either when the school opens in the morning, or even the day before!
Hopefully I haven’t scared you, just motivated you to do your work to the best you can, and to actually get it in on time! Everyone that you speak to at university will have the same view on this as I do, because you really don’t want marks being taken from you that you deserve. If you plan your time carefully and don’t leave it til the last minute, you’ll be absolutely fine. Also, don’t forget to ask for help – you’re paying enough tuition fee for it! 🙂
~Good luck, you’ll be fine!