My first essay at Lancaster University

By Sagarika (Student Blogger: MSc Human Resource Management)

Student typing on a laptop








Do the words ‘ESSAY’, ‘SUBMISSIONS’ and ‘GRADES’ scare you? Some might say ‘Oh no!’ but for some it might be ‘Ah, a piece of cake’.

For the first essay I had to submit, I honestly had mixed feelings. I think I was well versed with what the question was asking me to do and how I was going to structure my essay. I was confident on what I wanted to put forth and how I would convey my analysis on it. In my opinion, the essay turned out well and I was happy that I gave it my best.


Of course, I had after thoughts and dilemmas once I’d submitted the essay. I’m sure you guys have also gone through such a phase at some point in your life. But I was trying to calm down and compose myself thinking – “it was fine, you did what you had to do to the best of your ability and now all you can hope for is the result to be positive”.


And just like that time passed by keeping my thoughts engaged in other classes and modules. But Ta Da! Our professor told us that the results would be out next week, which resumed my stress.


We had our class feedback one day before our results came-up. And this scared all of us a bit more than we already were. Have you ever experienced this feeling when people were talking in general, but it felt like everything was being pointed at you? Ah yes! That’s what I felt sitting in the class with my classmates hearing the general feedback. Every flaw seemed like it was mine, everything that could go wrong sounded like my essay.


Oh, but wait, the result hasn’t even come yet

. So I had to put my stress and tension aside. I was trying to hope for the best result and hoping tomorrow would be a good day.


Finally, the RESULTS DAY had arrived. And BOOM! The result was in no comparison to my expectation. Oh wait, you must be thinking it was something more than what I was expecting, right? Naah. I wish it was that. But NO, it was completely disappointing to me. I have always been a A/B slider in all my academic life and now I was nowhere compared to it. Stress, anxiety, depression, tension, frustration, irritation was all that I was feeling.

It took me to time to accept that this is my score, and it is not where I wanted it to be. I needed to work hard to make sure I improved for next time. I tried to reach out to few of my class mates for help and I also accessed the Learning Development team for more insights on how I could make my essay writing bett



Things change, life changes. It is not what you always expect. For a high flying student like me, it was a shock. But what really matters, is how you overcome the challenging times. How you try to improve yourself to get back to being your best. And right now, that is what I’m working on.

I know many of you might have faced this or may panic after reading my story. But hey! It’s me not you! You may be totally shocked by your result in a positive way, but if you are facing what I am, let me tell you there’s always help and scope for improvement. I know you might be disheartened like I am. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Work on it and you will achieve it.

We’re all in the Same Boat

By Safiya (Student blogger: BA English Literature)

Essentially, it may well be true. Only many of us students may feel that Susane Colasanti’s ‘We’re all sinking in the same boat here’ is far better attributed to us.

For those people who read memes like their Bible, a mental image of the sinking Titanic supported with the violinists solemnly playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ probably flashed in your mind, with absolute havoc ensuing in the background. The qualities attributed to this havoc, however, would be more of students panicking about an upcoming exam, other students rushing to hand in a paper that’s due in an hour while a whole different set of students nonchalantly walk around whilst raving about not having a clue what is even going on.

I, so far, have been all of those students. Allow me to let you in on a not-so-secret secret in order to avoid being part of the havoc: possessing a work-life balance. GASP.

Yeah. Pretty obvious. But no matter how many times you will hear it, actually maintaining a work-life balance will, surprise surprise, make a massive difference. I have yet to abide by several lessons that I have learnt from my experiences, but from what I have conjured so far, these tips will prove to be extremely valuable.

Pay Attention:

Whether it’s a lecture, seminar or lab class that you’ve decided to attend, the bottom line is that you’re there, so you might as well engage with it as best as you can, even if you’re not feeling it. You never know what you may learn, whom you may meet, and you may even surprise yourself with what you discover you can do.

Work on the Commute:

If you’re a commuting student as I am, in the words of Ross Geller, you’ve been ‘given the gift of time.’ Yes, it’s far easier to whip on your headphones and let your imagination run wild, but it’s far more useful to whip out your books, regardless of whether the old lady sitting across from you is judging you for how many pens you’re using to write your notes (true story). You’ll thank yourself later.

Take a Break:

It isn’t selfish to look after yourself. Taking good care of yourself will allow you to also take care of others later on. Work, alongside personal life experiences, can often become overwhelming. It’s not easy to stay away from home and adjust to completely different environments. It will take time to adjust. Look after yourself. Talk to those close to you. Trust the process. You’ll soon start to see your experience blossoming.

Embrace the Cliché:

It’s only after we’ve experienced certain things that the cheesiest and most cliché phrases will be profoundly impactful on us. But don’t shy away from them. Many clichés only exist because many people before you have experienced the exact same thing. You’re never alone in anything, always be conscious of that.


Pray, meditate, whatever tickles your fancy. Ignoring the havoc around you and focusing on your inner self, even if it may only be for five minutes, will relax your internal state in a way that no satisfying video will be able to.

Essentially, we’re always going to have a lot going on. Academically. Professionally. Personally. But we have the power to choose. If you want something, according to the wise words of Nike and, more contemporarily, Shia LaBeouf: Just Do It.


Tips and Tricks for Essay Writing

by Ruth (Student Blogger: BA Hons History)

Writing essays are never easy. And unfortunately it’s not something you can just master overnight.

Writing essays takes time, practice and a lot of persistence. (Plus, caffeine administered in large dosages). Essays are a scary mix of references, structure and technique, which often changes from department to subject to lecturer.

In the first term, especially, essays can seem like this mystical skill only a few chosen ones seem to possess. It does take a while, as even in my second year I’m still figuring the whole treacherous path of essays out.

But my aim here is to break down some murky areas of essays writing that confused me when I first started.

  1. There is no such thing as starting too early.

Many problems start because of one simple thing. A lack of time. Although I’m aware I am repeating the advice given to me countless times through school and now uni. I now get it. The biggest favour you could do yourself and your essay is starting early. It gives you enough time to plan and figure out not just your essay but the paragraphs and its structure. Planning is key to giving all your different ideas a chance to formulate and specifically order them, so your essay doesn’t just become a stream of consciousness. Try a mind map or brain dump to get your first ideas flowing. Then move on to a more structured plan of what will be in your introduction, main body and conclusion. Starting early lets deadlines and sources not overwhelm you, in turn making your essay better.

2. Referencing

Now this word might not strike fear into you now, but give it a few months and referencing could become the bane of your life. BUT, it shouldn’t be. Getting over that fear of referencing and what it means when using source material in your essay is something that can be learned. Also, check with your department on what specific referencing system they use such as Harvard systems. After this, you can then move on to creating examples of how books, journals and sources need to be structured in the referencing list. Also as I’m writing an essay I have my list of references and then when I cite them in my writing I can refer to the information that I need to include, for example the surname and the year. It means you are reducing the mistakes you could make, as you know the first one is accurate.

3. Technique

Technique is often mostly found in structure. Getting the key structure in your paragraph is key. Look at the question, and answer it. Make your point, then provide the evidence, often through paraphrasing source ideas or including the occasional quote and offer some explanation or comments. It’s the classic point, evidence, explanation. However, I have to point out here that there are times when this doesn’t work, and there are many exceptions to this rule. But if you are really stuck at where to begin this a good basic structure to start with. You can then move on to make sure you are analysing the sources in a critical way, using it to support and push your point on further.

This blog post could go on a lot further exploring different essays structures and the key, crucial tips for each department. But that would be an endless post, especially as there are books written by experts tackling the specific issues. They can be found all over the library, so if you need more help head there, as well as your learning developers who are there to support you. Also, keep your eyes peeled for writing workshops that are aimed towards ironing out any problems you have with your essay!


Overcoming the fear of the blank page

by Ruth (Student Blogger: BA Hons History)

Luckily, there hasn’t been many learning ‘challenges’ for me yet… unless you count learning the dirty dishes do not disappear overnight. But I think the main one is the renewed sense of hope I have now. Coming from A levels, which we all can agree are hell, there was very little motivation left in me, as I have been told non-stop for four years that I will never be able to improve myself past a certain grade due to my dyslexia. That mindset is not ideal, starting an essay with this knowledge that I can’t surpass a certain point. It adds a mental block to difficulties already there. Staring at the blank, white page, waiting for some inspiration to hit is so hard, so having this mindset of negativity becomes a real challenge.


But how do you overcome it? Mental disabilities and challenges are not easy to overcome, not only are they often ignored or brushed off, but they can’t be seen. They’re not constantly on show to other people and can be hidden often easier, but that doesn’t mean they should just be silenced. As a result it is hard to overcome mental learning challenges especially a negative mind set…. So how do you?

Since going to Lancaster my mindset has most definitely improved, this is because of a few reasons.

  1. Surrounding yourself with Positive people.This may seem obvious, but having a supportive, helpful group of people who want you to succeed and want to give you assistance is key . This could be your flat, learning support team, friends, family or tutor. As long as there is some sort of anchor who can rad through your essays or give you grammar or spelling help ( which is what use my family for), it can make you feel like the tasks ahead seem less daunting because you are not now doing them on your own.
  2. Seek specific feedback. There is nothing worse than getting an essay back and the person marking it has just written the most vague and nonsensical notes all over like ‘improve grammar’. This drive me up the wall. In order to get over this negative mindset I wanted to have specific points so I know exactly what to do to improve. Therefore going to lecturers or those marking your essays or writing support in order to know key reasons to improve. This was such a big help for me in overcoming the idea of my personal ‘glass ceiling’ as it gave me a list of things to do in order to break it.
  3. This one may seem slightly ridiculous, but quotes. I found surrounding myself with positive quotes and improving my workspace helped me overcome this learning challenge. I know its cheesy but ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’ is true. Having a space that’s tidy and clean and full of positivity counteracts that annoying voice that tells you, that you cannot improve and helps you overcome that learning challenge.