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

 YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+

Advertisements

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!

so-you-want-to-study-creative-writing

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!).

Beth-So-You-Want-To-Study-Creative-Writing


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

 YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+

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.

exams-how-to-study-like-a-pro

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

 YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+

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!

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

 YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+

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!!

  YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+

The Perks of Being a To-Do-List-er

Do you see what I did there with the title this afternoon? Got to love a little play on a book/movie title! Today’s post is a tribute to my love affair with list making.  Ever since I was little, I’ve loved getting a new notebook, and once the initial fear of writing in it (the panic of making a mistake and spoiling the first page is very real, am I right?) subsides, I love to make lists of any kind.  As a student, however, a to-do list can actually be one of the most useful things you can do to help yourself take charge of your workload.  Whether it’s a to-do list for school, university, work, home, whatever – here are, what I consider to be, the perks of writing a to do list!

perks-of-writing-a-to-do-list

You’re less likely to forget something

This seems like I’m stating the obvious, but it’s true.  Having a to do list on paper, or on your phone, is much more reliable than keeping it in that head of yours. Why? Because that paper or note on your phone won’t get distracted by texts from friends, new episodes of something on Netflix, or even just something as simple as popping out the shop to buy groceries.  It’s natural that when you have a lot of work to do, your brain picks and chooses the pieces to prioritise – if you write everything down, there’s less chance that the last minute presentation your tutor scheduled just a week in advance will be forgotten about!

It can help to calm you down

Especially during your assessment periods, whatever you’re studying, it’s easy to become a little overwhelmed.  With essays or reports due in for every class, and time dedicated to prepping for group presentations, with exams looming, it’s very natural to feel panic stricken.  You might start to think there is no way you’ll manage to get all of this work done, because your mind runs away with it and distorts it.  By writing everything down in a to do list, you can see exactly how much work you have to do, and by when.  Of course, it’s still a lot, but it becomes much more manageable when you have a list of dates to work towards.  You can start to prioritise more easily, and set specific blocks of time aside for specific projects, instead of sitting in the library, staring at seven folders for seven different classes and not knowing where to begin!

There’s a huge sense of satisfaction in ticking things off a list!

It’s hard to explain, but there really is something satisfying about ticking things off a to do list! Having a physical list of everything you have to do, and scoring or ticking things off can make you feel much more in control of your workload.  Seeing things disappearing from the list creates a sort “light at the end of the tunnel” feeling, and there’s a massive sense of relief when the first item goes – it signals that you’re on your way!!

Those are just three of the reasons you should grab that notebook and pen and get writing a to do list! Look out for Monday’s post and video – I have an exciting book review/giveaway coming up, and this book has a particularly useful section on the benefits of list making.

Are you a to-do-list-er? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks so much for reading – have a great weekend!

Lynsey x

 YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+

5 Reasons Not To Skip Class!

There’s a certain freedom associated with heading off to university.  For the past thirteen or even fourteen years of your life, you’ve been in school, with a strict timetable setting out exactly where you have to be and when, from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.  If you don’t show up to class, your teacher will notice, you will be pulled up for it, and if you miss enough, your parents or guardians are probably going to receive a call from the school!
When you go off to university, however, it’s like a whole new world! You might only have two classes in a day, and what’s more, you’ll find that there’s no-one there to chase you to them.  Suddenly it’s your responsibility to get yourself to class and do the work! While some universities have a clock in system for their classes to monitor your attendance, no one really has time to run around after you.  There can, then, be a temptation to relish that freedom a little too much!

5-reasons-not-to-skip-class-uni

Picture this: you’ve been on a brilliant night out with your flatmates/classmates, and you have a lecture at 9am.  You wake up at 8 o’clock feeling a little worse for wear, running on about three hours sleep and instantly regretting that bag of chips and cheese that you just had to have the night before on the way home!
Your friend texts you and says: “No chance I’m making this class – it’s fine, lecture notes are all online anyway.”
So what do you do?! Drag yourself out of bed and make your way to class, or hit the snooze button and snuggle back up for another couple of hours?
Here are 5 reasons to do the former and get yourself to as many of your classes as possible!!
1. Not everything is in the lecture notes!
The internet is a wonderful thing, and the ability to post information for students to access out of class is amazing.  Despite what people tell you, however, not everything is included in the online lecture notes.  They are usually just that – notes! Bullet points, or snippets to get you started.  It’s often when the lecturer gets properly into the discussion that some of the most useful information comes up! A question from a student can lead the lecturer to say something that makes everything click into place for you – something that happened to me in one of my first year classes! If you don’t go to class, you run the risk of missing out on that crucial information!
2. Going to class gets you noticed!
In school you’ll probably be one of about thirty children in a class, sometimes less.  In a first year English literature lecture, you might be one of hundreds of students.  Making the effort to go to your classes, your seminars/tutorials in particular, means you will be able to build a relationship with your lecturers/tutors.  This can be helpful in the event that you’re struggling with an assessment, or need a reference for a future course or job.  If your tutors see that you’re putting in the work, they are much more likely to want to help you!
3. You’ll make friends!
This one is particularly relevant if you haven’t moved away from home to study, but it applies to everyone! If you deliberately skip class, you won’t get chatting to the people who are studying the same subjects as you.  If you make friends on your course, future group work projects will be easier, and you’ll have people to turn to for help/notes if you do end up having to miss a class at some point. Regardless of that, these are the people who have applied for the same course as you, so you’ll instantly have common ground and something to bond over – don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet people who might become lifelong friends!
4. Self-Motivation is a powerful thing!
Pushing yourself to go to that 4pm lecture on the topic you’re least interested in when a Netflix binge in your pyjamas sounds like so much more fun is a great thing! Working on your self-motivation means that when you go out and get a job, or even more so, if you decide to start your own business, you’ll be used to making yourself do the work when there’s no-one else there to push you!
5. You went to uni to learn, right?!
There are so many amazing things about university – the friends you make, the confidence and independence you gain, the nights out you might go on (if that’s your thing – it’s totally okay, however, if it isn’t, but more on that another time!) and the inspirational people you’ll encounter. When it comes down to it though, you didn’t spend all that money (depending on where you live, it can be A LOT of money!), just to have fun nights out, did you? You could have had fun nights out and saved yourself a whole heap of cash by just going straight into a job after school! If you’ve gone to university it means that to some extent, you are interested in the course you’ve chosen, so don’t let that passion go to waste and enjoy the experience of learning about that subject! You might find that this isn’t the course for you and end up changing to study something else, but you won’t know that unless you go to your classes!
So those are my top five reasons why you should fight the urge to curl back up under your duvet and get yourself to that next 9am tutorial!!
What are your top tips for keeping motivated during term time?
Lynsey x
YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google+