Ace Your Assignments: Undergraduate Essay Writing

Hello! I am back with another installment of my ‘Ace Your Assignments’ mini-series. Previously I have shared my top tips for presentations and handling assignment feedback, so today I will be revealing my advice for undergraduate essay writing. When I was waiting to start university, and during my first ever essay, I was really worried about how best to approach essays so here is what I wish I had known.

  1. Reference as you go
    PLEASE don’t worry about referencing, you will be shown what to do in your first semester and before long it will be second nature. However, get in the habit of referencing as you go or at least having your reference list ‘almost right’ as you go. Getting to the end of a 3,000 word essay and then realising you have a list of 20 articles and 10 books to go back and reference is soul-destroying.
  2. Make rough notes in another colour as you type
    As I start writing my essay based on my plan or draft, I will get new ideas or angles to use. I have learnt the hard way that you will not ‘remember that later’, so quickly switch to another colour and type your new idea next to the point it sparked from. Once you’ve typed the bulk of your essay, you can go back and add in those in.
  3. Get the nonsense out of the way first
    At college, I got away with never planning essays properly or doing drafts but my best work at university has stemmed from a solid plan that was talked through with a tutor followed by submitting a draft to check my style was a good fit for the assessment. Plans and drafts get the bad ideas out of your head and into the bin, leaving you with the good bits. Even after the drafting stage, I combat writer’s block by just typing all my thoughts onto a page and then deleting the nonsense.

If you have any pearls of wisdom to add, feel free to share them below!

Sam xo

Ace Your Assignments: How to Handle Feedback

Following on from my previous post, Ace Your Assignments: Tips for Presentations, I’m back with another installment! This time I will be giving my top tips on handling feedback, something I was really nervous about as a prospective student. This can be applied to assignments when you get to university but elements will also apply to feedback you might get on your personal statement, university applications, sixth form work etc. So, without further ado…

  1. Give it time to sink in
    Good or bad, when I check the marks for a piece of work at uni I always look at the marks/grade first and then lock my phone or laptop and go and process the news. I did the same at college. If I’m pleased, I take the time to be proud of myself and let my loved ones know. If I wish I had done better, I give myself a little bit of time to mope and maybe eat some comfort food. Once that is done, I settle in to read the notes/feedback that the assessor has left for me.
  2. Ask for a 1 to 1
    Once I have had time to process my grade and digest the feedback I was given, I prepare some notes of my own in response to the feedback and, if necessary, I book a 1 to 1 with the relevant tutor at uni to discuss the grade. I don’t do this every time, but if there are some elements of the feedback that I don’t understand or if I read the feedback a few times and still don’t grasp how I can implement it to do better next time, then I send the email and get a meeting booked.
  3. Comparison is the thief of joy! So…
    Don’t fall into the comparison trap! Congratulate your coursemates who are pleased with their grades and support those who are disappointed, but please don’t compare their grades to yours. We are all on our own university journeys and we all have different strengths, sit back, and focus on you.

What would you add to the list?

Sam xo

Best Student Discounts

As a student, you get access to loads of student discount. One of the best things to do is to have a look at what kinds of discount you can get before coming to University. There might be things on offer in home, tech, stationary etc, that will help you throughout your Uni journey. Here’s a few student discount deals that I think are worth it.

UNIdays, Apple

UNiDAYS - Fast, free, exclusive discounts for students

At the moment, apple are doing an amazing deal where free Airpods are on offer. You need to be buying either a Mac, Macbook or IPad in order to receive this offer. Also, if you’re verified as a student through UNIdays, you’ll get a bit of extra discount off the overall price too. I’ve just bought myself this deal to go back to finish my third year, so for me a 10/10 offer.

UNIDAYS, HP

With the tech, HP and UNIdays, you can get an offer of up to 35% off. This is an excellent deal if you need something new, and they tend to be slightly cheaper than the Apple Products too. So if you’re looking to try and save money for Uni, I definitely recommend going with this discount offer.

Student Beans, Thorpe Park

Student Beans (@studentbeans) | Twitter

If you’re wanting a bit of thrill or adventure before starting Uni, then this is the offer for you. At the moment, Thorpe Park have paired up with Student Beans to offer Students an exclusive £20 ticket for all dates in September and only £25 for other dates.

Student Beans, Mcdonalds

This is definite must! If you didn’t know about this deal already, students get a free Cheeseburger, Mayo Chicken or McFlurry Original by showing your Student ID. You will need to have ordered either an extra value or wrap meal however.

There are so many more discounts on offer. Also remember when you start Uni to keep your student card on you at all times just in case a store offers student discount without you knowing. Plus it will save time logging onto the different apps on your phone, especially if you don’t have data.

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Ellis x

Foundation Years: Taking the Road Less Traveled

Many courses may have foundation years to allow disadvantaged students’ to get onto the course. They have lower entry criteria and allow people who didn’t have as many opportunities as other students may have to get onto their course.

Grades Don’t Reflect Ability

This cannot be said enough. If you aren’t able to get the grades direct entry asks for, don’t think it means you aren’t capable. You’re assessed differently at University than at college, especially if you’re doing A Levels that are 100% exams. Universities recognise this, and offers a Foundation Year.

More Time to Yourself

Foundation Years are full-time courses but have fewer contact hours than the direct entry courses. While I did a lot of independent study outside of the three day week, I naturally had more spare time than I would’ve if I did direct entry.

This year, I’ve learnt how to be independent and form friendships without the pressure of the first year timetable. I’ve learnt a lot of life skills this year, so next month I won’t need to worry about learning how to cook when I’m in lessons five days a week.

There’s no Race in Life

If you take a Foundation Year or gap years, you’ll be getting experience direct entry students mightn’t have. You can use the spare time to travel, to reflect on yourself, or learn skills you mightn’t have time for in the full course.

If 18 year old me envisioned himself as a doctor 10 years later, I’d have so many routes. I could do another degree and then graduate entry Medicine, take 4 gap years and then Medicine with a Foundation Year, etc.

There were so many opportunities for me to complete my ten year plan. And even if people’s plans took twenty years, how would that be a bad thing for anyone?

Closing Words

A lot of people told me to ‘aim high’ and avoid ‘BBB’ for Foundation Year Medicine, and aim for AAA for direct entry, even though a Foundation Year would be better for me. There’s a stigma around Foundation Years that need to be challenged.

-Tony

Move in Day Hacks

Edge Hill University | Reviews and Programs | Go Overseas

The move in day for Edge Hill is fast approaching and there is so much to think about. If you’re starting your first year at Edge Hill, there’s a few tips you should know before moving in.

Staggered Times

This is something that Edge Hill will organise. It’s most likely that they will keep the strategy or having people move in by surname to help with the flow and limit how many people move into each flat at one time. Be prepared that you’ll need to enrol first and collect your keys before moving your belongings in.

ID Picture

When you get your student cards for campus, Edge Hill will most likely give the opportunity to send in a photo of yourself so you can just pick it up on the day. I highly recommend doing this and make sure its good! Otherwise you’ll have to wait in the queue to get another picture taken.

Belongings Organisation

When moving in, its an idea to organise all of your belongings by room: kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. This will make it much easier for you to move in knowing where each item is. Also it means less boxes in the way when you’re doing your room decor.

On the move in day it’s likely that there will be trollies and carts that you can use. Also there will be loads of assistance round campus to make your move-in day as easy as possible. Also, if you’re wanting to go out for lunch with your parents on the day, I highly recommend either the Stanley Gate or the Sandpiper. It’s a nice way to say goodbye and they do lovely food!

If you have any questions, just comment down below. Hope this has helped!

Ellis x

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Laundry at EHU: Some Lifesaving Tips!

My blog this week is for those readers who live on campus or are going to be living on campus at the start of the next academic year. Prepare yourselves for a dive into the laundry system at EHU, from how it works to a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

My laundry routine was weekly when on campus. Saturday or Sunday I’d wake up early, pack my washing into my suitcase, and haul it from Chancellors Court, Binns, down to the laundrette. Those of you who end up in Binns will realise that journey can be quite something during the winter. The washing machines take around 30 minutes, dryers 40-50 if my memory serves correct. During those waiting times, I always made use of the Hub or Catalyst, getting a coffee or something to eat. Generally, I’d save the coffee for the long wait so I have more time to enjoy it.

The reason I’ve told you my routine is because a lot of the tips I’m going to make are nestled within it!

Firstly, use your suitcase to transport your washing to the laundrette on campus, it’s a lot easier to move it and if it rains none of your clothes get wet again after being in the dryer.

Regarding the wait time, the Circuit app has timers but its always wise to set a timer of your own so you get a notification when its time to go back to your clothes.

If you’re a bit of a walk away from your accommodation, use the Hub or other facilities and treat yourself. If you time it around the weekend like I did, I always viewed that coffee and maybe cake as a reward for getting through another week at uni.

Moving past those tips now however, the Circuit app is essential for doing your laundry. The app is pretty simple to grasp and there are signs in the laundrette on how to use it, so I won’t go into that. Instead, I’m going to talk about how much money I put on my account per week and why. Each week before I went down to put my clothes in the wash, I’d put £5 in my Circuit account. £5 each week was a little over the required amount for a wash and clean if my memory serves correct, so I was leaving a little in my account each week. Over the weeks you’ll build up the amount in your account until you get a ‘free’ wash, and you can use that £5 on something else!

A screenshot from my Circuit Laundry app.

Laundry isn’t the most exciting topic, but it’s one I wished I knew more about before going to EHU. I hope if anyone is in the same boat I was, my blog this week can work to alleviate any concerns you may have had!

Alice.

Note-Taking: Should You Ditch Paper for a PC?

I am faster at typing than writing, so school lessons were always a pain when I didn’t have access to a laptop. In lessons, I always asked my classmates, “what was the last sentence on that slide?”. I would then go home and waste time typing up my notes thinking it was ‘revision’; truthfully I was wasting time, mindlessly typing.
In University, electronics were welcomed, and this changed how I studied in a welcome way. In this blog, I’ll discuss why this change was for the best for me.

Lighter Load

I did bring some stationery to draw quick diagrams I couldn’t do on my laptop, but as I had all my notes a click away, I didn’t need to bring big ringbinders to lessons. This was convenient for me.
I recommend getting digital helpful college notes, opposed to bring wads of them to Uni. You can easily search the documents for key words, and it’s less to pack!

Saving Money

If you use a laptop/tablet, you’ll be spending less money on paper and stationery. It mightn’t seem like much, but every penny counts!

Software for Studying

You can follow the slides during the lecture instead of scribbling them down quickly, and you can write down what the tutor says in the notes section under the slides in PowerPoint.

Through Disabled Students’ Allowance, I was able to get funding for programs and a laptop for my studies. If you’re eligible for DSA, I encourage you to consider it. The software (Dragon and Sonocent) can be really pricey if you aren’t, though.

Alternatives

Not everyone owns a laptop/tablet, but you can loan laptops from the Catalyst to bring to lessons. Just upload the document to a cloud you can access afterwards and you’re set! I would also recommend this if you get to campus and realise you’ve forgotten pens and paper.

Closing Words

Truthfully, some people just learn better with pen and paper. Some people write faster than they type. Some people prefer learning from paper than a screen. University is all about finding what way you study best, which was something I didn’t really get to do in school.

-Tony

What is Uni Going to Look Like in 2020?

LDOE releases 2020-2021 school reopening guidelines

What is University going to look like this academic year? The honest answer is no one really knows just yet. Whether you’re a new or current student at Edge Hill, I think it’s safe to say that student life is going to be a little bit different.

At the moment, we’ve been given a brief description of what the Campus may be like in September. One way systems and sign posts might be the life we have to live by for the next semester or so, but at least it’s going to keep us safe. Edge Hill has also opted to go cashless. So whether you want to get some food in the HUB or a drink at the SU, you’ll have to pay by card. There’s also a UPAY app which allows you to collect points in order to get free food or a free hot drink on campus. This is a definite must, whilst saving a bit of money too.

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/services/upay/

Lectures and seminars will probably be different, with having a mix between in person and online learning. This is to limit contact between staff and students. Edge Hill are also trying to timetable in different year groups within the year so there are not many clashes, and less people to deal with on campus at any one time.

Overall, I think Edge Hill is doing a good job with putting things in place to keep staff and students as safe as possible through the pandemic. If you have any questions about this, I would contact the University directly, as they will know more about what systems will be in place etc.

Hope you all have a good rest of your summer, and see you in September!

Ellis x

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Advice I would give my first year self

Hey everyone, I thought I would share some advice that I would have given my past first-year self! Hope you enjoy and that some find this helpful.

Library Restrictions

When I was completing my A-levels, all I knew for about 7 months was studying, writing notes, reading and learning notes over and over again. I took this mentality to university and continued to spend most of my free time in the library for all hours of the day which obviously meant that I missed out on some really good times with my friends.

So, what I would tell my past-self now is to set aside time to hang out at the flat and be around your flatmates more often, play monopoly until one in the morning and watch scary movies with them. Make a library schedule as to when you are going work and stick to it and if something comes up with your friends, don’t feel guilty about missing a studying session.

How to Make a Monthly Work Schedule Template | Wrike

Be Yourself and HAVE FUN

This is probably the most cliche piece of advice I can give but it is very important and can make your uni experience far better. Being yourself around the new people that you meet will make things a lot easier for getting to know them and it you won’t get tired of trying to be this whole other person.

Make the most of the places around you!

Edge Hill University is a perfect location for exploring new places such as Liverpool city and Southport etc. They can be great places to do day trips with your friends and to take your family when they visit you. Even Ormskirk is a great place to spend the with parks and cute cafes to try.

Make the most out these places while you have the chance at uni!

I hope that you enjoyed this post and hopefully took something away from it. University is a time to enjoy and have new experiences. It is also a time to learn and work hard but one word that I wished I knew in first year was BALANCE and how to juggle both sides of university.

“Live a life that is well balanced; don’t do things in excess.” 

-Daniel Smith-

How Did I Manage My Money at Uni?

In March I did a similar post, however that was about tips on how to save money, not how to manage it. This blog will focus on how to make the most of every penny.

I used a spreadsheet… for four weeks…

I’m not opening strong here. I spent a lot of time colour-coding a spreadsheet, with goals in the corner. “Try to save £20 a week,” “don’t go into savings,” I wrote. I abandoned the spreadsheet after a month and I don’t regret it. After a day of lessons, do I really want to start plugging numbers into the computer? If you enjoy this, I recommend it! However a banking app was more than enough for me to keep an eye on money.

I was careful

It really was that simple for me. I had a good loan and my second flat rent (choosing a cheaper accommodation is always an idea; Back Halls is £2,400 for the academic year!) was cheap, so I had enough to splurge if I chose to. However, I pinched pennies by shopping at Aldi and not ordering takeaways. I was doing a food shop for as cheap as £12 (investing in non-perishables like pasta and rice goes a long way!) and even in my most expensive accommodation, that still saved me around £28 per week (by dividing my loan after rent by the 40 week contract). There was the launderette, which was less than £3. By using a drying rack, I was able to save money on the dryers in the launderette.

What could I have done differently?

With differing rent and loans, this story doesn’t apply to everyone. My friends recommend splitting a weekly food shop (can be cost effective), as well as sharing a washing machine with a friend.

Closing words

Money is a big worry for a lot of people when it comes to University. However, our accommodation is great value for price and there are ways to be thrifty. If you do find yourself struggling financially, our University does have teams to support you. Rest assured, money isn’t as big of a barrier for Uni students as you might think.

-Tony