The typical university student is doing a three-year degree, but it’s only the second and final year that actually counts towards their degree classification. Some degrees are designed so second year is worth 50% of the degree classification and third year worth the remaining 50%. We’ve all heard people say that first year doesn’t count, to some extent they are right but only in literal terms, as your overall performance in first year does not affect your degree classification.
However, first year is still important for many reasons, one being that it is an opportunity to set a solid foundation for your university experience. The habits you cultivate in first year are the same ones you will carry along with you to second year, so it’s better to have been working hard from the beginning rather than just aiming to pass so you can carry on to second year.
I believe it is important to stay on top of your progress at university. Familiarise yourself with the assessment system in a particular module as they can vary. For example, will you be assessed based on coursework, tests, exams, attendance, workshop preparations or a mixture of these. Once you know this, I believe than can better prepare you for the assessment itself and help you plan a strategy for success in that module.
If your goal for second year is to average a first, then you need to aim for 70% minimum in every assignment. Every assignment should be given 100% effort. You need to be pragmatic with your goal, keep up-to-date on your performance so far by regularly checking your interactive transcript to see your current working average. Also, assess your results to see if you’re on your target, slipping behind or maybe even surpassing so you can reassess and adjust your goal.
If you find you aren’t meeting that goal, rather than settling for a lower grade, seek help on how to improve. Actually read feedback on work submitted and endeavour to improve on points suggested in the next assignments. If you feel adequate feedback wasn’t given or your unclear about the feedback, don’t dismiss that feeling, go and talk to someone about it, whether it’s a tutor or your academic adviser.
It’s ok to ask for help
University is also not just about academics, if you’re struggling in other areas of your life such as; personal, financial, physical health or mental health seek help. it’s ok to ask for help. Some people go back home on the weekends to recharge, figure out what works for you. Going to a campus based university, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a bubble and the rest of the world is outside the bubble. Don’t let university completely consume you. Taking regular breaks or trips back home is healthy.
Work smarter not harder
Beware of burning out. You are not super human, you need to sleep and eat. It’s easy to become consumed in all the work you have to do, that you forget to look after yourself. You need adequate sleep and a healthy diet to be able to function at your absolute best. For example, doing all-nighters in the library on a regular basis can disturb your sleeping pattern and cause a snowball effect throughout the rest of that week.
It’s easy to start strong but it’s important to maintain that momentum throughout the term. Most people are determined and energised at the start of the term but lose that motivation as the term goes on. The term structure at university differs greatly to secondary school or A-levels. At university you get longer breaks but at fewer frequencies. So after a long 10 weeks of lectures and seminars you get a month break. Essentially you are required to stay engaged for a longer period of time, this works for some people but not for others.
To prevent burning out create a schedule that is realistic and that you will actually follow, there is no point being over ambitious and then beating yourself up for not completing all the activities when it was near impossible in the first place. If the schedule isn’t working then change it, rather than giving up on it altogether. When a routine is established it is easy for it to become habitual, therefore requiring less effort.