3 Differences Between Undergraduate and Masters Study!

Hello all! Today I thought I’d talk a bit about what I found to be the main differences between studying my undergraduate degree, and studying a Masters.  I’ve mentioned enough times before that I had an absolute ball on both of my courses, but jumping into my Masters was certainly a learning curve, and so I thought I’d share my experience of that with you! This post, then, contains the three biggest difference I found, and how they impacted on my experience.

As a quick side-note – don’t be put off by points one and two.  It sounds intense, and it is, but it is so, so worth it!!3-differences-between-undergraduate-and-masters

1. The Workload

This is an incredibly obvious one, but the workload at Masters level is definitely a step up from undergrad! This will differ from course to course, but generally the amount of work you have to do will increase during postgraduate study.  In my case, I had seven modules, all done over the course of nine months (September to May), each with an equally intense workload. That meant assessments and/or exams for each in December/January, and the same again in April/May.  The April/May period was the most intense, with over 25,000 words worth of assessments, several group projects and an exam within the space of three weeks! This was followed by a 12,000 word dissertation between June and September.

What this taught me:

Time management, organisation and self motivation.

2. The Amount of Class Time

This is obviously connected closely to the first point, but I noticed a massive increase in the number of hours I spent in class between undergraduate and Masters! I was in class five days a week, pretty much 9-5, with the odd hour here or there free, which was a shock to the system after the relaxed timetable I’d had before! Again, this will vary depending on the course, but expect to spend a bit more time in the classroom again!

What this taught me:

Prioritising – the time outside of class becomes precious, and it’s important to use it effectively, both for studying and unwinding.  It also taught me that balancing a part time job with a Masters can be tricky!

3. The Dedication

One really positive thing about postgraduate study, which I mentioned in a recent video, is the fact that at this point, pretty much everyone who is on the course really wants to be there! Something I have a post planned on for some point over the next few weeks is how difficult it is to figure out what you want to do with your life, at any time never mind when you’re just seventeen or eighteen! A lot of people end up going to uni because they think it’s what they should do, or they aren’t really sure what else to do, and that can land them on a course that isn’t right for them. That lack of passion comes across, and can affect things like group work and even class morale.  At Masters level, however, people have already been through their first degree, so actively making the choice to come back and study some more suggests that this is something they are genuinely interested in, and means people will really work hard.

What this taught me:

That collective positive energy is great for keeping you going at some of the more stressful times of the year! When the whole group is striving to do well, it pushes you to do your best, and focus on the end goal (even when you’ve been in the library for what feels like a year of your life!).

I hope you enjoyed that post – I felt inspired to write it after filming my “My Masters Experience” video a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve gone through the undergrad to post-grad transition, what were the biggest changes you experienced?

Thanks for reading!

Lynsey x

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So You Want To Study: Creative Writing!

Hello everyone! Hope you’ve had a great week.

This week’s “So you want to study?” post comes from the lovely Beth from Toasty Writes. She wrote about a subject which has a special place in my heart, and her post gave me one of those “I wish I could go back and do that too!” moments – she’s studying creative writing! So, if this is a subject you’re considering studying, this is the post for you!

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For me, the decision to go to university happened very quickly. I had abandoned any plans for a career in dance after realising that I just didn’t have the heart for it, and had no idea what to do next. ‘I know,’ I thought one day, ‘I’ll do a writing course!’ and set about applying for a Creative and Professional Writing degree.

Some people go to university with a set career path in mind. Others want to focus on a particular area and see where it takes them, and I definitely fall into the latter category. I have always enjoyed writing, ever since I could hold a pen, and I have always written, whether it was stories for school, an angst-filled teenage diary, or, eventually, my blog. Studying Creative Writing seemed like the next logical step.

What happens in a Creative Writing class?

Instead of the traditional lecture/seminar set up, classes take the form of workshops. People bring in their writing, read it aloud, and then everyone is invited to comment on it: What worked? What didn’t? What did you love? What could be improved? It’s as terrifying as it sounds, although it does get better (I still have to jiggle my foot under the table when I’m reading, to let out the nervous energy, but it scares me less than it used to!) You then go away and re-work your writing, taking constructive criticism on board.

As well as honing our own writing skills, we also spend a great deal of time reading. You cannot be a writer without being a reader, and we’re encouraged to read as widely and as often as possible. Breaking out of your comfort zone helps enormously — I try and choose books I might normally overlook — and we’re also given plenty of material to read together in class. Often, a piece of writing might be inspired by what you’ve read: it could be a technique a writer has used, or the way they’ve structured the narrative, or the setting, that grabs your attention.

Expectations versus reality

I should note: the contact hours are minimal. I’m just coming to the end of my second year, and in the first term I had eight contact hours a week. In the second term, I had six. It’ll vary from university to university, but at mine you take four modules a year, and these are taught in weekly two-hour classes. Some of them end in January/February (hence why I only had six hours a week this term).

The danger is thinking that this means a Creative Writing course is easy. It’s not. Sure, you have a lot of free time, and can work around your own schedule for most of it, but during that time you need to be writing (or reading) if you want to get anywhere. The best work comes about through trial and error, through trying something out, submitting it for workshop, and then smoothing out the bumps, and that doesn’t happen if you go to the classes and then spend the rest of your time relaxing. It is important to take a break every now and then (the best cure for writer’s block, I’ve found, is to step away from the notebook/laptop) but you need to allow yourself the time to experiment and get better. If you have the passion for it then it’s definitely worth putting the effort in.

Workload/assessments

Examples of modules I’ve studied so far include: Starting to Write, Writing Media, Writing Fiction, Writing Non-Fiction, and Writing For Children. My university also offers a Writing Poetry module. Creative Writing is coursework based, and we usually submit portfolios of our writing for assessment. The word counts vary according to how many credits each module has. The word count for the 20 credit module I took this year was 4000 words, whereas the word count for the 40 credit modules I’m taking is 10,000 for each portfolio.

This sounds intimidating, but we were eased into it in first year, with portfolios of 3000-4000 words. It’s still a big jump to 10,0000, but there’s no reason why it can’t be achieved if you keep working at it. And by the time the dreaded dissertation comes around, you’ll be used to it, which should relieve some of the stress (I’m hoping!).

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Thanks so much to Beth for taking the time to write this post – I hope it inspired some of you as much as it inspired me!

You can find Beth blogging over on Toasty Writes, and follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram at the highlighted links :) If you’d like to write a post for this series, drop me an email at thestudentswitchboard@gmail.com

Be sure to check back in next week for Wednesday’s post, and another edition of So You Want to Study next Friday! And, as always, there will be a new video over on my YouTube channel on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Lynsey x

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Exams: How To Prepare Like A Pro!

It’s mid April, which can mean only one thing – exams are just around the corner. Timetables vary from university to university, but generally exam season is late April to the end of May and it’s a period that results in a lot of stressed students camping out in the library, cramming for their final assessments.  Coupled with the fact that you probably still have coursework due in, April and May can quickly become the months we dread the most each year over the course of our degrees!

So this post is just a few tips on preparing for your exams like a pro! Taking all of these tips into consideration might make this stressful time a little bit easier.

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1. Get Enough Sleep

This isn’t just a study tip, but a general life tip, and it’s one that I’m still having to work on. And since it’s currently 1.30am when I’m writing this, I’d say I still need to improve! I’m a night owl, always have been, and there’s nothing wrong with that – if you’re at your most productive at 1am, that’s great! Just make sure that you don’t have to be up at 6am the next day. Your sleep pattern can be whatever works best for you, as long as you’re clocking up enough hours before and after a huge study session. Sleep does wondrous things for us – it is proven to improve memory (clearly a plus when revising for exams!), increase creativity and lower stress!

2. Get Organised

When you have several exams to study for, it can become overwhelming. You might have three exams in a week, so sitting with all of your notes for each subject scattered around your desk will not help you feel any better about it! I’ve mentioned enough times by now my love for To-Do Lists and planners, and these can be your best friends at a time like this! Write down all of your exams dates and prioritise. That way you know exactly how much you have to do and rather than worrying about it, you can just start working on it!

3. Figure out what works for you

Group study sessions do not work for everyone. When it comes to prepping for exams, some people like nothing more than to congregate with their classmates to study, and there are lots of benefits in this. Bouncing ideas off one another might spark something in you, and can be a great way of covering more ground quickly. However, for others, group study sessions are a nightmare – you begin to panic that everyone knows more than you (which they don’t!) and you’re lagging behind (you’re not!), and that can have a massive impact on your ability to concentrate. So just figure out what works for you and go from there. As long as it isn’t during a group project, there’s nothing wrong with deciding you study much better holed up alone in your room!

4. Take regular breaks

Your brain can only take in so much information at a time, so don’t try to force yourself to keep going when you’ve reached that point. If you’ve been in the library for five hours and realise than in the past twenty minutes you’ve read the same sentence ten times, while absent mindedly checking your phone, it’s time for a break. Going for a walk, stopping to have lunch with a friend, or even just giving yourself a half hour “social media” break to check your twitter/instagram/Facebook can work wonders. You’ll feel much better taking a deliberate break than you will if you accidentally waste an hour just sitting blankly staring at the computer screen!

5. Take the pressure off

This sounds like an absolutely ridiculous thing to say considering these marks affect your degree, but try to take the pressure off, and remind yourself that you can only do your best.  If you’ve put the work in, you’ll more than likely be absolutely fine. And if it doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, it’s not the end of the world! It’s all part of the big old uni learning curve. This is something I was terrible for – I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself round about assessment time, and it’s never conducive to a calm mind set!  Keeping things in perspective is always helpful – each exam is just one piece of the university puzzle, and while striving to do well is great, it’s never worth making yourself ill with worry! Put in the work, do your best, and that’s all anyone can ask of you!

If you have exams coming up soon, good luck!! I hope you’re managing not to stress too much, and just think about what a great month June will be!

What are your top tips for exam study?

Lynsey x

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So You Want To Study: Public Relations!

Happy Friday all – hope you’re having a lovely to start to the Easter weekend!

Today I’m delighted to bring you the second in the “So you want to study” series! This post comes from the lovely Sophie from Books and Beauty, who is here to give us a bit of insight into what it’s like to study PR!

Take it away Sophie!

So-You-Want-To-Study-PR

If you have always dreamed of working in the media, like myself, then a degree in Public Relations could be for you.

Since before I picked my GCSE’s subjects, I always knew I wanted to work in the media. When I say media, I mean magazines, newspapers and anything remotely related to that sector. Many people view ‘the media’ as the monthly glossy women’s magazines or daily national and regional newspapers. However the media is much more than that.

I always thought I wanted to study Journalism. I had the hazy view and false representation that journalism was interviewing celebrities and attending star studded events, possibly even becoming a news presenter. I even lined up work experience at my local newspaper to give me experience before I started university because I was so determined to become a journalist. When I went to university to study it, I decided it wasn’t for me and researched other areas of the media where I could still express my creativity through writing and discovered Public Relations.

Choosing to study Public Relations was the best decision I ever made. I had no clue what it was about or what was required to become the best PR practitioner. University helped me with that and my time there and studying PR is something I consider as the best time of my life.

In a nutshell, Public Relations is engaging with the public through the many aspects of media; social, print, online, broadcast. You are the person responsible for getting a company or organisations voice and message across to hundreds and thousands of people, and when you do it right and see your work in publications, there is no better feeling.

Expectation vs Reality:

When first studying PR, many of my course mates, myself included, thought PR was like Absolutely Fabulous and everything related to Max Clifford. If you have that image of what PR is like, get rid of it! Not to dampen spirits, but Public Relations is much more than that. It’s about communication, engagement, listening, speaking.

I thought my course would be filled with girls who dreamed of working with celebrities and high profile clients. Not to say this won’t happen, because it could! But you won’t start off doing that straight away. Despite my course being 90% girls, there were also plenty of males who knew what sector of PR they wanted to work in and were ready to face the challenges and assignments thrown at us.

Assessment:

Public Relations assessment at university is 95% writing based. Assignments are the main type of assessment but you are also required to do presentations on topics related to PR. In your final year you are also required to complete a Dissertation on a topic of your choice, or an Applied Project where you undertake work experience at a company.

Modules:

This is the fun part! Each semester you study three modules based around PR. These may include:

– The History of PR – PR Practices – Events Management – Professional Writing – Corporate PR

– Community PR – Celebrity PR – Issues and Crisis Management – PR Theory – Contemporary Issues in PR

Those are just a selection of some of the modules you can expect to study when doing a Public Relations degree. Don’t let the titles of some of them put you off, though! Public Relations is an age old industry dating back to the 1900’s and despite only being recognised as an academic course around 30 years ago, the industry is continually developing and fast becoming a preferred course for those wanting to work in the media.

So-you-want-to-study-public-relations

I hope this gave you some insight into what it is like to study PR! I now work at a PR agency as a Junior Account Executive and absolutely love my job. If you would like to know any other information on Public Relations or university experiences, please contact me! I would be more than happy to help!


Thanks so much to Sophie for a great post! You can find her blogging at www.booksandbeauty.co.uk , follow her on Twitter at @SBookBeautyBlog or Instagram at sopheleanor, or drop her an email at sbooksandbeauty@hotmail.com :)

Have a lovely holiday weekend everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday for a new video!

Lynsey x

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Study Playlist #2

Music is a massive part of my life, and played a large part in my studies.  In my first study playlist, I talked about the huge impact finding the right music to listen to while studying can have on how successful a study session is! Pick the wrong album (in my case, anything with words!) and you might find yourself distracted, singing along and getting nowhere.

Find the right music, however, and you can be well on your way to getting that essay or report out of your hair forever!

study-playlist-2-the-student-switchboard

Today, I’d like to introduce you to another three albums which I listened to repeatedly during that crazy assessment period last year! I can hardly believe it’s April again already. This time last year, I was just a couple of weeks off finishing up my classes, and preparing to lock myself in the library for what were three of the most hectic weeks of my life.  These were some of the songs that kept me company during that time – and probably kept me sane! – and I hope they can do the same for you.

Departure Songs by Hammock

Hammock weren’t a band I had ever heard of until last year, and I discovered them around the same time I discovered God is an Astronaut and Tycho. Described as having a “unique sound that effortlessly melds elements of ambient, electronic, neoclassical and post-rock, this is another instrumental band, perfect for studying without the distraction of vocals!

Go by Jonsi

Jonsi is the lead vocalist from Sigur Ros, who are one of my favourite bands in terms of this sort of music! However, I know Sigur Ros just a bit too well, and while I can’t exactly sing along to Icelandic vocals, it was reaching the point of being a little distracting. Enter Jonsi’s solo album, Go! If you’re looking for something super cheerful and uplifting, this album is it. You might recognise track one “Go Do” from a Philadelphia advert last year!

This Will Destroy You by This Will Destroy You

And finally, another post-rock band, This Will Destroy You’s music is along similar lines to God is an Astronaut and Hammock, and I love it. It’s unobtrusive in as much as it’s instrumental, but it has enough of a kick that it keeps you awake rather than lulling you to sleep like some instrumental music can start to do! I’m not sure why this album motivates me so much, but I’d definitely give it a listen if you’re struggling to find music to suit your studying!

So there you have it – three more of the albums that made studying for my Masters just that little bit easier! Even if you aren’t studying, I would recommend checking out these albums because they are all fantastic!

What albums have you been listening to lately? Let me know in the comments! And remember – there’s still time to enter my book giveaway, it closes on the 6th April!!

Lynsey x

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So you want to study: Veterinary Science!

Happy Friday all – I’m so excited to bring you the first in my new series today! “So you want to study..?” is a series I mentioned a few weeks ago, where guest bloggers can create a post telling you all about their experience of studying a particular course!

First up, we have the lovely Emma from A Little Freckle.  Emma is studying Veterinary Science, and kindly took the time to give us a little insight into what it’s really like to study to be a vet.

So take it away Emma!

so-you-want-to-study-veterinary-medicine

First things first, if you want a job that will make you rich then stop reading here…Veterinary is not for you!!!

It is a common misconception that vets are rolling in the money. Their salaries are often compared to that of Medics and Doctors, which is just not how it is. If you want to be a Vet you have to have the passion to want to do it, otherwise you might be left very tired, stressed and disappointed.

I’m Emma and I’m passionate about Veterinary Science! I have wanted to be a vet ever since I can remember. Initially, it was because I used to watch Animal Hospital on TV and there was a vet on that called Emma, which I loved. As I got older, I looked into it a bit more and despite being told how hard it was, I was never put off. In fact, the more I learnt about it, the more I wanted to do it.

So-You-Want-To-Study-Veterinary-Science

Veterinary offers the chance to work with both people and animals! You can’t really say you want to be a vet because you don’t like working with people, because actually, you work with both sides of the lead and either one can be pretty aggressive at times haha!

You also get to play detective because ‘animals can’t talk can they?!’ – you would not believe the amount of times I have had this said to me! If you like problem solving, then maybe veterinary is something you’d enjoy as this is a skill you will need to use on a daily basis.

Before applying for the course, it is essential to have some work experience – my particular vet school ask for a minimum of ten weeks and it should include things like working in kennels, on a dairy farm, at a stable and in veterinary practices. As a five year course, it’s best to get an idea of what you’re getting into before you sign up! You will also be interviewed about these when applying so make sure you know your stuff!

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Having fun at the Vets Halfway Weekend in the Lake District!

The work load can be overwhelming at times but many of the vet schools have very active societies and organise lots of social events – work hard, play hard! It is like a big vetty family and it’s so lovely and supportive! You will have to give up more of your time in the holidays too in order to do compulsory placements, but these are usually really fun!

Getting into vet school is tough as there are only 8 in the country with limited places! It took me two goes and I was heartbroken not to get in the first time, but it’s so important not to give up on your dream – and this was mine!

emma-a-little-freckle-studing-veterinary-science

I have so much to say about this topic as it is without a doubt my biggest passion, so if anybody is thinking about being a vet, I would love for you to contact me to find out more!


Thanks so much to Emma for taking the time to write this post! You can find her blogging away over at A Little Freckle, or follow her on twitter at @alfreckle and instagram at @reils92!

I’m so pleased to have the first in this series live – keep your eyes peeled for the next post, which will go up two weeks from now!! And remember to check out my last post to find out how you could win a copy of the amazing book “How to be a Knowledge Ninja” by Graham Allcott!

If you would like to write a guest post for this series, please drop me an email at thestudentswitchboard@gmail.com, or contact me at any of the social media links below!

Thanks for reading – have a great weekend!

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Book Review and Giveaway! “How to be a Knowledge Ninja” by Graham Allcott

Hello all! Hope you’re having a great week! I know this is a seriously busy time of year!

I just wanted to let you know, if you’re not subscribed to my YouTube channel, that I have a super exciting video on there this week! I reviewed “How to be a Knowledge Ninja”, by Graham Allcott, a book which aims to help you “study smarter, focus better and achieve more”. It is packed full of amazing advice, but if you want to hear all my thoughts, check out the video!

What’s more, the lovely folks over at Icon Books, who published this gem of a productivity guide, have given me two copies of this book to give away to you guys! The giveaway is running on Twitter and on YouTube, and closes on Monday 6th April at 6pm. To enter, here’s what you have to do!

The knowledge ninja has nine characteristics, which are as follows:

Balance, zen-like calm, ruthlessness, being weapon savvy (using the right apps, planners etc to get organised!), stealth and camouflage, mindfulness, preparedness, focus and accepting that you are human, not superhuman (nobody is perfect!). So, with that in mind…

To enter on Twitter, follow me @studentswitch, and tweet me, using the hashtag #knowledgeninja telling me which ninja skill you’re keen to improve! Do you need more balance between study time and socialising? Or maybe you could do with improving your focus!

To enter on YouTube, subscribe to The Student Switchboard and leave me a comment, using the hashtag #knowledgeninja telling me which ninja skill you’re keen to improve. Could you do with learning to be more ruthless, and say no to extra time consuming projects?

Also, please feel free to share this video on Twitter – I was very kindly sent a copy of this book to read, but I can honestly say I think it is a brilliant resource.  There are chapters in there that have me rethinking the way I’ve done things all my life, and it is so well written!

Good luck!!

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