I have mentioned before that I will be studying French this year, and this week I was invited to an orientation evening. The university staff were keen to explain how much universities had changed in the past few years, and how modern the learning experience would be. But, if I can indulge in a little high school French, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…
I hope I got that right! I have now studied at five Australian universities (it’s a lifestyle choice!), and have some experience teaching young adults, so as a ‘mature age’ student, I would like to give my top five tips for university success…
- Go to the lectures. Universities these days are pushing students to do some or all of their learning online. But I overheard some of the university staff say they are having to set up Facebook groups and Twitter conversations partly to encourage students to show up to lectures because no one seems to know how to do the assignments! Plus, I’m sure those hard working academics would like an audience for their life’s work and research.
- Do the assigned reading. Back when I started at university, you had to put in long hours at the library photocopying books and journal articles and actually reading them. These days, many students do their research on Google or hang out in online discussion forums. My university is actually handing out note-taking proforma because many students don’t seem to know how to take notes from the text books. Reading more widely than the set course reading is important too.
- The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I’m not a carefree young person any more. I have responsibilities and many other pressures on my time than just uni. So I made a point of introducing myself to the lecturers and finding out their office phone numbers in case one of my kids gets sick and I can’t attend or hand in my assignments on time. I hope they remember the personal contact I made when they mark my assignment!
- Try to get the assignments in on time. The staff were keen to explain how easy it is to get an extension on your assigments: you just submit an online request! Back in my day, you had to fill out a form, make an appointment with an actual person and plead your case to them. But in my experience, if you get too many extensions, you just make it more difficult to finish all the other work you have to do.
- Ask, ask, ASK for help! We pay our fair share of taxes to have such an accessible tertiary education system, so it’s only fair that you get all the help you need. When I first started studying all those years ago, I would be up late poring over my notes trying to figure out what it was all about. If only I had knocked on some doors! I’m not so timid now. The librarian I met was kind and really keen to help people find the resources they need. Plus, learning to ask the important questions is what education is all about.
And now for my announcement…
Now that I will be studying two days a week, my life is about to get a whole lot busier. Up until now I have been posting every Monday and Friday, but I may have go back to posting once a week, on Mondays. (If you have any tips for combining study with work or family commitments, please let me know in the Comments!) At the moment, I’m up to date for the next few weeks, but if things get too busy I will put this button in my sidebar until I can go back to more regular posting:
Thank you to all of you who have subscribed so far, and thank you for all the helpful and interesting comments you have made. Do check back on Mondays in March for my new four-part Home Office series: it’s time to get organised!!