Dealing with setbacks

By Will (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Entrepreneurship and Management)

I sit here writing this blog on receipt of one of my more favourable grades from a module I simply adore. The story just a week ago however was very different, with one of my most trusted suppliers to one of the enterprises I set up during my university studies expressing their desire to terminate our contract. Setbacks come in all shapes and sizes, however our approach to them should be steadfast in every situation and involve encountering them with pragmaticism and unquenchable optimism.

Sometimes it seems unfair that we receive a certain underwhelming grade on work that we were only co contributor to, or oppositely sole contributor to while following all the advice provided. From the wise words of a fourth year who has seen his fair share of As and Es respectively, I can guarantee you that the perfect streak of 100% on your interactive script does not exist. For that I am glad, as an education with no hiccups or revelations of incorrect practises is no education at all.

Many of us lose sight that University is specifically designed for mistakes to be discovered and imperfect methods practised, without worry of their effect on the ‘real world’. Mess-ups will happen to us all, that I will happily bet my life on. How we individually choose to handle them and utilise the experience sets innovative ground breakers apart from static onlookers.

My first point of advice is to remain humble, this is a necessity that many of us lose sight of due to our advantageous position at a top university. Setbacks happen to all of us. As an entrepreneur they happen almost hourly to myself. My academia and privileges do not and will never stop this happening. The same is true for all of us, no matter how big, how successful or how established. An appreciation that setbacks could be around the corner and your openness in accepting that is key. It allows you a stable head to deal with the eventual hiccup, whatever it happens to be.

Having recognised the inevitability of setbacks and accepted that they will regularly occur to each of us, the question remains of what to do next. My second piece of advice is to use setbacks as a learning opportunity. There is no benefit in repeating the same mistakes, so ensure that any new setback is the only time it happens. As we all appreciate, learning is best done on our own terms, with some of us preferring to relive the actions as interactively as possible, with others mind mapping from ideation to execution. Whatever way works best for you is the way I would promote, but remember this, life is not fair and never will be. What I mean by this is that there is no benefit in blaming the situation for your setbacks, passing the learning from this event off as unnecessary due to ‘external’ factors. You will never find a completely harmonious situation in which all the stars align, it is foolish therefore to believe that your performance is never in need of improvement.

It is important to appraise your performance realistically, appreciating that 100% effort was not perhaps afforded to a certain piece work, or recognising that you maybe did not have enough references. It may be frustrating to initially admit, but true reflection on one’s actions is an essential step in mitigating their reoccurrence. The only person who benefits from setback remediation is the person who is undertaking it, you will only get out what you put in. Sitting and complaining of life’s infinite unfairness will not benefit anyone, the proactiveness to act on your weaknesses will allow for setbacks to become strengths.

The end of the year: Balance, reflection, exams and graduation

By Sophia (Student Blogger: LLB Hons Law)

Every year there are big changes in every person.

As students we have many changes in many parts of our lives.

Before Christmas, we were trying to do our best and most of us were succeeding in many sectors, but after Christmas, almost always something is going to go wrong. From my own experience, I can say that try to have a set program and time for yourself first, so you can be healthy psychologically and physically and, later, if you take care of yourself everything will be ok. You will succeed if you put small goals that lead to the big successful goal.

Trying to be always excellent in every sector of your life will be difficult. Be lenient with yourself, you know your limits and power. If you do not push yourself too hard then you will always have power and strength to continue doing things. All that matters is to be ok mentally and physically. And then you will do better at the academic things.

Feedback can help you to reflect on your year. It is the analysis of your work from professionals. You give a piece of work, your “creation, your baby”, and you are waiting for a specialist to tell you if you need any improvement, or it is ok, or perfect.

University feedback is very important, because from that you can learn many things. Try to accept your mistakes and try to improve yourself so at the end, when you will have exams, you can do your best or in another coursework. Feedback gives us the opportunity to have better communication with our tutor and lecturer. So, this procedure gives opportunity to work better with the department, if any student has some needs the department will help and this continues, and can help lecturers and tutors know if a module needs improvement.

Anything that our departments give us back from our work take it, grab it and try to improve.

Now we arrive at exams… one word that can terrify you.

Every student has their own style of revision. We all want it to be effective and fast but some people panic and think that they will fail. You can take some lessons from everyone. Try to do your best and cultivate yourself from each module. Try to have good communication with lecturers and tutors, so if you need something, they will try to help you.

The secret is not to leave studying until the last minute. Study during the whole academic year, doing weekly or monthly revision for each module and try to have a set program. Program means balance in your life, not being workaholic or “uniholic”. Having good mental and physical health will help you to have a balance, and the word exams will be just a word, and not a difficult procedure.

Some of you will be graduating this year. I know that most of you are happy that you are going to finish and you have new goals to succeed – a job, Master’s degree or academic development, or even travel all over the world.

During your degree you were thinking sometimes if you were doing things right. I think that now the years have passed, you can see that whatever you have been through, it was worthwhile. Why? Because definitely we learnt something. We broadened our horizons and developed ourselves. We are hopefully better human beings.

Sometimes, we cannot see how much we changed and HOW we changed – what were the factors, but definitely, our degrees helped us to change.

Keep changing and change the people next to you. 😊

How to make the most of your feedback

By Klaudia (Student Blogger: BBA Hons International Business Management)

Feedback is common in all aspects of our life, and coursework for us, students, is the most frequent way we receive it. However, how to benefit from it?

The feedback we receive at university may be very diverse – it may be only a mark, or it could be extensive comment. Often we might not pay a lot of attention to it after we see that we have either done well or badly on our piece of work. It is, however, important to take some time and try to analyse any precious comments that it may contain, in order to learn from our mistakes and improve in all of our assignments.

Just looking at the grade won’t bring any improvement. Look carefully at the comments and analyse them. Never throw the feedback away!  Look back at your comments before doing your next assignment, in order to avoid making the same mistakes. Remember to focus not only on the negative comments. It won’t be productive and won’t help you to move forward academically. As feedback may be disappointing sometimes, give yourself a few days to get over your emotions and come back to it after some time.

If you would like to talk about feedback with somebody, do not be afraid to ask for help. Your first option should be to see the tutor concerned; you could also speak to your Academic Tutor or make an appointment at the Academic Writing Zone and talk to a mentor about it. If a tutor highlights an area for improvement, take it seriously – this comment may be warning you of, for example, potential plagiarism, if you do not cite the necessary references in your work. Lack of referencing can be a very serious mistake with bad consequences.

However, most importantly, recognise what you did well in the assignment. It’s easy to focus on the negative things, but it is also useful to know what you did right so that you can do it again next time.

When you receive feedback, it is important that you take the time to analyse what has been said. Sometimes feedback may relate to your academic knowledge within the particular subject that you are studying, or it could relate to your learning development or study skills in general.

Once you understand whether your feedback relates to improving your academic knowledge or learning development skills you can seek out the right support. For example, if you are struggling with the academic content you may have to speak to your lecturer/tutor to help you expand your reading materials around it. Keep in mind that many tutors refer to the grading criteria when leaving feedback, and through the language they use in your comments, it may be easy to identify why you have been awarded a mark when comparing your feedback to the grading criteria. This should enable you to easily identify areas where you can improve upon in your coursework in the future.

Summing up, feedback is an important part of every assignment. Markers aim to deliver precious tips on how to improve your work and how to succeed in the future – so make sure you make the most of it!



Responding to criticism

by Melissa (Student Blogger: MA English Literature)

You’re at university because you’ve excelled in your studies. You’re used to receiving praise and awards and achievements for your work, and the occasional piece of criticism. At university level learning, criticism is the one of the most valuable pieces of knowledge you can hope to receive from your tutors because it is personalised and geared towards helping you achieve greater success in the future, as opposed to looking back on your past.

At university level, you can be proud enough to acknowledge how far your work has taken you in life, but as students, we also need to respect that the journey to academic excellence is never finished, and that the only real way to improve a piece of work is to eke out its flaws.

Yes, this can be a painful process. Perhaps you have spent weeks lamenting over your latest essay, and that you were proud of all the work you put in when you finally submitted it. You might be feeling utterly heartbroken with the mark you got back, stapled next to a heavy feedback sheet illuminating all the things you could have done better.

But chin up! Your tutor has taken the time to thoroughly read through your work and has dedicated themselves to helping you. The step-up to university is hard, and every stair is made from the help and criticism given to you by peers and tutors, so let’s think about how we can reach the top together!

Step 1

Read through your criticism, twice. Read through each point carefully and apply it to your essay, make sure you understand what your tutor is asking you to do differently. This could be something as easy as reference errors, but when it comes to problems in theory you may have to consult your books for the context in which your error has been made.

Step 2

If you’re still unsure about any of the feedback, or have any new ideas that you would like to suggest as a way of improvement, it can be a good idea to clarify these with your tutor during office hour.

Step 3

Different methods of teaching suit different students, so you may find it helpful to consult a different tutor in your department if you are still experiencing difficulties. If you are part of the FASS department for example, you could sign up for a slot at the FASS writing space. If you feel your feedback has been inadequate you can receive more information on how to improve here. [FASS WRITING SPACE –]

Step 4

It can be helpful to go through your old essays and their feedback before starting a new essay. This will remind you what to change next time you start the essay process, so keep your work safe and filed. This is why it’s important to collect your essays from the department, especially if you receive a grade that you are unhappy with. Leaving the material copy with your department won’t make it go away!

Step 5

In case I haven’t been clear enough, do not blame your tutors for finding errors in your work, and don’t blame yourself either. Try your best to keep a positive attitude towards making your work the best it can be and eventually you will improve.


Lessons learned…

by Nevena (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Business Studies (Industry))

Dear student,

Second term is slowly but steadily coming to an end. You have attended so many lectures for the past 18 weeks, you have heard so many new definitions, struggled with new concepts and juggled with multiple deadlines. But what will you take away? What would you do differently in your year if you had the chance to? I will share some of the key lessons I managed to learn from my two years of university experience.

Lesson #1

Ask questions and be curious! Whether you’re sitting in a lecture or a seminar, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and say your query out loud. Leave shyness outside of the room. In this way you will show you are paying attention, demonstrate your willingness to understand a topic on a deeper level and you will be able to clarify a question for other students as well. Lecturers LOVE interaction. In my first year, I only had the courage to share my thoughts in seminars. This year, however, I don’t mind interrupting a lecturer in the middle and posing my question. I have had extremely positive experiences with lecturers who want to support you and expand your understanding. So ASK, ASK, ASK!

Lesson #2

The second lesson I learned was to ask for feedback. Not only at the end of an assignment, but also prior to it. This is one of the mistakes I made personally as I didn’t use all the available opportunities to discuss the ideas I had on an essay or project. It’s extremely helpful, for instance, if you visit your tutor’s office hours and kindly ask for some feedback on the plan of your essay. Sometimes even a very short conversation of 5 minutes can help you understand how to better tailor your approach towards the assignment you are given. Furthermore, it will give you an insight of how to go the extra mile and achieve higher results. Receiving guidance is an essential part of using initial feedback as a way to improve. However, you won’t receive it unless you ask for it.

Lesson #3

There is so much support available in the Management School that can help you immensely. I can specifically relate to this when it comes to statistics modules or anything linked with data analysis. Do you know what MASH is? Well, if you haven’t heard (or been) and if you are struggling with numbers, it is located in B38a in the Management School. MASH is not the only support provided by the university. The Academic Writing Zone which is part of the Learning Development commitment can enhance your writing style and have a positive impact on your results. For more information check out the LUMS Learning Development Moodle Site.

If you are not a Management School student, check out the Learning and Skills Development website for more information about what support is available in your faculty.

Lesson #4

Balance is hard. Especially when you are trying to find the equilibrium between academic and social life. Oh, and we should add professional life to the list as well. Gaining work experience is extremely important for your future job prospects. Finding an internship/placement can be often stressful, but there are ways to cope with the negative feeling of the unknown which is building up inside of you. Careers Office are a wonderful way to talk to a professional about your CV and how to improve it. There are multiple workshops on How to Write a Successful CV, How to Pass Interviews, and How to Pass Assessment Centers. Just go to the Base or to their website and learn more about what they have to offer. LUMS students have a separate Careers Zone dedicated to their job seeking endeavors. LUMS Careers is in LUMS where you can drop-in on Tuesdays and Fridays and discuss any of the questions you might have. This is an incredible way to learn more about how things happen in reality and what employers are searching for.

Lesson #5

Final one! When you feel like you have reached your boundaries, when it has been too much for you…get a quick escape. Go somewhere unfamiliar for a day. Manchester and Liverpool are extremely close to Lancaster and offer wonderful opportunities that have to be explored. The Lake District impresses with its nature while Blackpool makes you go back to when you were a kid with all its rollercoasters and entertainment games. Even if you have a few hours to spend somewhere, RECHARGE. “It is not about resistance, but about resilience,” a friend once told me. Visit Ashton Memorial (hint: check out the House of Butterflies) or go for a quick walk at the Woodland Walk at the periphery of County. There is so much around us and often we don’t appreciate it. Take the chance to try something different and get some energy.

All of the above are based on personal experience. There are many more to go on the list, but these are some of the starting points that can make a real difference to YOU.

Wishing you all the best,



How to take feedback like a pro

by Sara (Student Blogger: BA Hons Linguistics)

It is sadly true that the jump from A-level to university is a considerable one but it is also true, thankfully, that you don’t have to be an Olympian to land successfully on the other side. In my opinion, some jumps from GCSE to A-level have been bigger than this, for example when studying languages, and at the end of the day if you’ve got this far you can go a little further am I right? Getting back your first essays can be daunting because you’ve been well informed of this increase in expectations but fear not for I have compiled some top tips for keeping calm as you walk down that dimly lit corridor to pick up an assignment.

  1. Put it in perspective. Obviously, you should always try your best but there is also no point stressing about a grade that is only a small fraction of the overall mark at the end of the year. If you must worry, worry in proportion. If you smashed a module you really enjoyed but didn’t do amazingly on one you hated, things will balance out. No one is amazing at everything and no one is interested by everything. Go easy on yourself; someone may have really struggled with an essay you succeeded with.
  2. Don’t throw it away. When you get an essay back with a whole page of feedback on the front, you may not realise it but you are more fortunate than others. Some departments aren’t great at giving feedback that is helpful enough or enough full stop. If your tutor has taken the time to look at your work and has done a thorough evaluation, you shouldn’t waste that effort. Have an allocated place for noting down the things you did well and the things you’ve been told to improve on. This will be incredibly useful when settling down to start your next essay if it requires similar skills to the first.
  3. Some things are an easy fix. If you receive several paragraphs of feedback and a lot of it is negative, think about how much time it would take to correct those mistakes. Marks can go down for obvious structural points like page numbers, labelling tables and charts and your headings being correctly numbered as well as forgetting the date for that reference that you were going to ‘just put in later’. We all know that when later actually comes, you’re sat in front of Netflix with a Pot Noodle, sending the essay off without a proper proof read, hoping it’ll be okay. Spend an extra five minutes at the end of your next essay with a checklist in hand, featuring those little things, and skim the essay checking one feature at a time on each read through. The marks are in the details.
  4. And finally, there’s more to life than assignments…. because you also have exams! Just kidding. Don’t let your academic work become the sole purpose of your existence. University is not just about the grades you get. A poor grade won’t seem quite so bad after a night in with a pot of chocolate fondue and good friends.

To conclude, in conclusion and overall, try your best but you’re at your best when grades, essays and deadlines are put into perspective. Always be looking to improve on the next assessment based on the feedback you’ve been given and the time you take acknowledging the feedback will be worth it.