Preparation: When Should I Start?

September might seem a long way into the future, but you’ll be surprised how quickly time can fly by when you have a lot to plan for. Over the next couple of months, you’ll be finishing A-levels, planning a move to university, organising your belongings and preparing to study at university; so where do you start and when should you begin?

When I look back on my time at sixth form and preparation for planning the move to university, it went by so quickly! One moment I was finishing exams, and the next I was travelling up with my dad to move into halls!

Obviously, the main thing to focus on at the moment is your exams/coursework and completing your work – you won’t be able to get to university without putting in some effort, so don’t assume you will just get there (not putting any pressure on you!). However, if you’ve been offered a place then the university sees potential in you, so don’t think you’re not in with a chance – you’ve got through the first part, now keep going!

Once you’ve finished for summer, take some time for yourself. Have some time to relax, go on holiday with friends, spend time with family, go travelling or have some “me” time – I really needed it after sixth form as it was an incredibly stressful time and I was so happy to be ‘free’ for a few weeks, make the most of it!

If you’re bored, try and get a part time job. It can not only fill up some of your time, but give you a bit of extra money for those rounds of shots on fresher’s week – believe me, you’ll spend A LOT on that week!

After you’ve relaxed, try and plan a bit for your move. Make a list of the absolute essentials you’re going to need: bedding, plates, cooking things, study things, bathroom essentials etc. then you can add extras to the list. You don’t need to worry about everything all right now, because if you forget something then you can always buy it from town.

Finally, if you’re ultra-bored then maybe look into the course and see if there’s any recommended reading or things you could be doing to prepare. I had no programming knowledge before starting, so I looked into Java and also a bit of HTML for web which came in really handy; even if you don’t end up needing it, it’s something new you learned!

Becoming A Teacher

At the moment, there has been a lot of talk about careers as teachers in schools across the board. Not only is it an incredibly rewarding profession, but it also pays pretty well too!

After graduating, I hope to begin a PGCE which will give me the chance to become a secondary school teacher – I’m really looking forward to starting teaching and I think it’s going to be such an interesting and rewarding career path!

Over the next few months, I am hoping to gain some experience in schools so that I can talk about this and relate to my experiences in school when going through the application. If you’re hoping to apply for a teaching course, it’s recommended that you complete a certain number of days experience in a school over the past two years so it is up-to-date and relevant – I believe they ask for a minimum of five days but the more you have, the better!

When September comes and the new semester starts for next year, I’ll begin my application for the secondary teaching of computing/ICT which means I’ll hopefully go on to study to become a secondary teacher. I’m really excited to get started with this process as it’s going to be something new, different and exciting that I’ve never done before!

Ahhh! It’s Deadline Week!

This week coming up is the final week for the majority of students which means that stress levels will be running high and a lot of people will be living in the library for the next few days!

However, if you’re like a few students and have managed to leave your work till the last minute because of all the partying, try to keep calm and make a plan of what you need to do by which date. I have a few deadlines next week, so I have tried to prioritise with the most time-consuming first and the harder tasks first, before moving on to the smaller, more tedious tasks.

If you’re organised and have managed to work out what assignment needs to be done first before other ones, then you’re on track and that should be good! Sometimes, tasks may take longer than you originally thought so try to make sure you don’t leave it to the last minute – I have a report to write about my robot for the physical computing module and this might end up being quite time-consuming, so I have started it with the intention of finishing it a couple of days before the deadline in case I need to add anything else in. Some other tasks such as writing a reflective diary can be left to the end because they won’t take too long – as long as it’s not a whole semester’s worth of blogs because that is a pain to catch up with!

Good luck everyone, I’m sure you’ll be great but try not to put things off and just get stuck in quicker – means you can party sooner when the work is done!

Student Finance

Over the summer months, many of you will be worrying about applying to university. Will I be accepted? Will I get the accommodation I want? How will I survive on student finance? Well… don’t worry too much! Edge Hill have an incredibly helpful advice team, so if you’re concerned about anything when it gets nearer the time of beginning university then send them a message or call them, and they will be happy to help!

Hopefully you will have submitted your applications to UCAS, had interviews and made your firm/backup choices. This will give you an idea of what grades to aim for and how to go about beginning university.

If you’re concerned about accommodation, have a look around. The university is very good at providing accommodation for students; even if halls of preference are unavailable, they will try to set you up with somewhere suitable whether it is in town or on campus.

In terms of finance, it would be a good idea to start looking into applications for it. I have begun my application for next year and it could take up to six weeks to process – make sure you leave enough time to complete it so you get your finance in time!

Physical Computing: Building Robots!

As part of one of my modules this year, I have to program a robot to work autonomously which means it will be able to carry out actions by itself without any human assistance. I decided to use a robot from the TV Series ‘Robot Wars’ and program it to work its way through a maze by using a sensor to detect its surroundings and then moving in a direction depending on the walls/spaces detected. Whilst this robot is also working its way through the maze, it is required to report its location/health to Twitter as part of the ‘Internet of Things’. This could be quite challenging but using Bluetooth it will be possible.

Another part of this is to take part in a robot fight; hopefully because it is a robot from robot wars it should do pretty well! I’m not quite sure how the robot will defeat another, because there are some in the class that fly and others that are on wheels.

For the previous assignment, we had to create a portfolio using knowledge and understanding of the Arduino boards and code. I made some YouTube videos for this that are available on my channel if you fancy having a look at some of the work I did!

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to get the robot fully autonomous and working through a practice maze which I will also upload a video to YouTube.

In the first year when students begin, this year they have been using Lego NXT Robots to build and program; this was a really good introduction to robotics and has given many students, including myself, a real interest in robotics which I hope to study further as part of my masters!

Home Living – I Miss The Luxuries!

This week I’m at home for the holidays while uni is off for Easter and it’s been good so far – I can tell I’ve been missing out on the little things at uni because I get excited over having a Gregg’s sausage roll or having all the little snacks at home!

While I’ve been home so far, I’ve also been busy trying to get back on top of my workload. This year has been quite hectic with finalising plans for next year’s project, completing group and individual assignments, teaching first years and being a student mentor, helping on open days and also attempting to have a social life and enough sleep!

As you’re on a break, as nice as it may be, try and do a bit of work! I’ve been wanting a break for so long and now that I have one, I feel like I’m doing no work which isn’t good and I’d end up mega stressed when uni starts again – so don’t get too lazy and eat too many Easter eggs!

Next week I’ll be travelling back up to uni so that I can catch up with some work and hopefully get through my growing workload with my tutors help – I think I’ll need it!

MComp Final Project Idea

One of the modules I’m studying this year is called ‘Research Methods’ and this module aims to prepare me for the final year of MComp and the final project. As part of this module, it has required me to write and plan a project proposal for the next year – this has been incredibly stressful but also really enjoyable and it is something that I really can’t wait to get stuck into over the summer and next year!

For my project, I am planning to build a robot that can be used on open days. Imagine yourself turning up to an open day: you have no idea where you are, where you need to go, who you need to speak to – what do you do when all the guides are busy? This robot will be around and you can go up to it and ask it some questions, such as ‘where’s the lecture theatre?’ or ‘how do I get to the hub?’ and it will give you an answer.

This might sound quite simple to do, but believe me it’s not! I’ve looked into the motors that power the robot, as well as different technologies and software that will be needed to interact with humans – robots don’t know how to do it by themselves!

As complicated as this robot may turn out to be by using voice and facial recognition, as well as many different artificial intelligence techniques, I am really excited to get started! If you come to an open day over summer or afterwards and I’m around, feel free to come and ask me questions and hopefully I’ll have it built and partly working! 🙂

Last Day of Term: Yay Easter!

Today is the last day of term before the Easter holidays which means that a lot of people will have deadlines – not that great after celebrating St Patricks day yesterday!

Hopefully all of your work is going well, but if not and it’s due after the holidays then try to keep on top of it and not just relax too much! As much as I would love to have a break and do no work, I have too much that still needs doing!

If you are going away for Easter, try to prioritise and complete work beforehand or plan a schedule for when you are back – you don’t want to fall behind as it can be really difficult to catch up again.

After Easter, there’s only three weeks left of term before the end of the semester – it really has flown by this year! In these three weeks it will be quite intense as all of the modules will be finishing so the coursework will be coming to an end. After these deadlines, there’s also exams for some people – so everyone will be busy!

Hopefully you will have a good Easter and don’t eat too much chocolate! 🙂

Ah! So Much Work!

Next week is the final week of the term before the Easter break for the majority of undergraduate students, and this means that deadlines are soon approaching, which also means a heavy workload and a lot of things to do for everyone!

In my modules, I have quite a few coursework assignments that are due in the next couple of weeks, including my MComp project idea for next year and a few portfolio assignments for the modules this year.

If you’re struggling to keep on top of your work, here are a few tips to try and get back on track:

  • Start early – even if it is approaching the deadline fast, it’s better to start now than in a few days!
  • Make a plan – try to think of what you want to achieve and cover before you do it so that you don’t ‘wing it’ on the day and waffle on about nonsense!
  • Prioritise – if something is due in a week and another in a month, try and get the first one done before moving on, even if it isn’t as enjoyable as the other task!

I’m sure you’ll all be fine with exams and deadlines, but best of luck anyway!

Module Choices

Over the next couple of weeks in the Computing department, students are now picking their modules for their second and third years. Some have less choice than others because of choosing to be on a specific pathway, while others have a wide range because of choosing a general pathway like myself.

As I know that I want to become a teacher in the future, I knew roughly what modules to pick to be helpful to me in the future. One of the second year modules was to take a work placement where I worked in a school helping out in their ICT lessons.

If you aren’t sure what modules you want to do, have a look at what each module contains; it would be good to pick modules that you think you will enjoy rather than randomly choose them!

First year of university will give you an idea of where you want to go however, because everyone studies the same modules in first year. A good example is when I started university I had literally no programming experience, and now for my masters modules they are all programming based!