What I Wish I Knew in Sixth Form

I had my final A Level exam just over a year ago. It’s strange; I feel like the year’s gone quick, but it also feels like so long ago! While it was only two years of my life, I learnt a lot (and not just syllabus content). I feel my reflection on my experiences might be beneficial, so in this blog I’m going to discuss what I wish I knew in Sixth Form (besides the final exams answers!)

Recognising Burnout

I always assumed burnout feel like fatigue. This wasn’t the case. I went into my Year 13 practicing for two admissions test (UKCAT and BMAT), preparing for interviews, and studying three subjects. I did all my work and I had time to enjoy myself, so I didn’t understand how I could burnout. My mock results shown that I had, however. Meeting deadlines doesn’t mean that you’re learning effectively! I should’ve left time to process information, not just to ‘de-stress’.

It’s Okay to Not be the ‘Best’

Getting into University is competitive, but it’s okay to not be the best. There will always be someone who gets higher grades than you (and someone who will get higher grades than them) and that’s okay! Just be kind to yourself, because doing your best is what’s important. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. All my teachers expected my best, not my predicted grades.

Results Day is Not the End

I was expecting to not get my predicted grades on Results Day for numerous reasons. I didn’t, but was actually okay with it on the day. You’ll realise there’s a lot of opportunities: re-marks, Clearing, and sitting exams again. Some opportunities may mean you start your next career path later, but that’s okay! We have a lifetime to ‘sort out’ our lives, it’s okay to have a hurdle in the way. It is discouraging, but it’s important to persevere.

Closing Words

Sixth form was a formative experience for me and many others. The ‘take home’ message from this is to look after yourself. It’s already a stressful time, and taking small steps like this would have certainly helped me. Hopefully being aware of lessons I learnt the hard way will help you!

-Tony

Moving from Campus Accommodation to Off-Campus Accommodation

Hey everyone, since people are thinking about accommodation for the next academic year I thought I would share with you some of my experiences going from living on campus to living off-campus during my second year!

What is so different?

With the on-campus accommodation, the halls of residence usually have a cleaner that comes in daily to clean the communal areas of the accommodation (not the bedroom etc) which was really nice and helpful especially when cleaning and mopping the floor was sometimes the most forgotten task.

Living off-campus this obviously does not happen as the houses for rent are not owned by the university. This means that (in my case anyway) a rota is usually created so that people living in that house each have the responsibility to keep the kitchen and the sitting areas clean.

Living on campus also means that you are MUCH closer to your lectures and can easily get to them if you are running a little late whereas, living off-campus depending where you are, the walk can seemingly take far too long. I lived about 20 minute walking distance from the university and sometimes the thought of having to walk in the rain to a lecture can be quite daunting but luckily the faculty of education keeps me warm!

However, living off-campus meant that I did not have to walk so far to get my weekly shopping. In first year, when I lived on campus I usually liked to walk to the shops and then get the free edge link bus that comes every 20 mins back up to my flat.

How to settle in

I found that it took a lot less time for me to settle in to living off-campus than it did when I first moved into the flat in first year. This was maybe due to the fact that I already knew the people I was living with but I think it was also because we made it comfortable and set up a rota to help us stay on track of cleaning and shopping etc.

I also found that spending loads of time in the house before university and lectures actually started helped me to get used to the new surroundings and set my things up.

I hope that you found this useful and are staying safe and well during this time. 

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort” 

-Jane Austen-

Why I Chose Primary Education!

Hey everyone, as Thank a Teacher Day is fast approaching and with everything that teachers are doing for their students during this time I thought I would talk a little about why I chose to train to be a part of this amazing community of people.

When I was very young I had thought about how cool it would be to be a teacher who wouldn’t give their students homework and let them play all day instead of work because I can only imagine that was every child’s ideal teacher. It wasn’t until I was a little older did I start to see how much of an impact my teachers had on my everyday life and how much they cared for my achievement.

I started to forget about the idea of not giving my class homework and letting them play all day because I saw how much respect my classmates and I had for all my teachers throughout the years despite homework and mental mathematics books…I will never forget the mental maths…

Tes Maths: Maths4Everyone collection | Tes

Maths was always a huge struggle for me throughout my whole education but, I will always remember the immense amount of support I received from my teachers that really helped me cope with the difficulties. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why I want to be a primary educator because I want to be able to do the same for other children that come across struggles in their life whether it be academic or not. 

9,266 Super Woman Stock Vector Illustration And Royalty Free Super ...

Another huge reason why I chose the career path of being a teacher is because my mum has always been a primary teacher and I always loved hearing the stories she would tell me after school about what her students learnt that day. Seeing how much she loved it really inspired me to be just like her and start my own journey to be a teacher.

I hope that you enjoyed this! Teachers have always been important to me because of what they do for their students and I am very grateful that I have had the most amazing experiences with teachers and that I have chosen Edge Hill to complete my training!

“Not all superheroes have capes, some have Teaching Degrees.” 

-Unknown-

Tips For a Healthy Mind – Lockdown Edition!

Hey everyone, I hope that you all are staying safe during this lockdown and enjoying the time to settle down and chill with loved ones. I also know that the lockdown can be a little stressful especially if you are trying to complete a degree and write assignments etc so, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I have started to do to look after my mind during lockdown.

Scrapbooking!

Before I start, anyone who knows me will know that I am not artistically inclined in the slightest and is why I was so apprehensive about starting a scrapbook in the first place because I knew it would not turn out like the ones I see on Pinterest! However, when lockdown started I wanted to have something to work on that was not related to my degree or academia at all and so that’s when I decided to order myself some scrapbooking essentials such as markers, washi tape and fun stickers.

I had ordered loads of photos over the 2 years of being in university and so I decided to base the scrapbook on my memories from university. I will admit that it does get a little sad looking back at photos but it is also a great reminder that if we all stay home that we can go back to being with friends and making loads of new memories. My only problem now is that I want to make a scrapbook on every aspect of my life…it’s addictive.

Music and podcasts

I have never been more grateful for Spotify and podcasts in my life! I love putting my headphones on and walking around my garden/fields or even just laying still and soaking up all the lyrics and making my family rethink ever letting me come home for lockdown when I laugh out loud at a podcast in the middle of the garden (Table Manners is a must for everyone).

Table Manners with Jessie Ware on acast
My favourite Podcast!

Again, music and podcasts help me relax and detach myself from the assignments and uni work so that I can come back to work with a fresh and calm mind ready for more Harvard referencing!

Yoga/Exercise!

I think one of the hardest parts about leaving university to come back home for lockdown was not being able to go to yoga on a Sunday morning with my friends. However, YouTube has been my saviour the past couple of weeks and also doing my own yoga sessions has really helped keep my practice up.

Also, having the time to do some home workouts has really helped me to de-stress from assignment writing and release some worry about the current situation. I always tell myself that even going for a walk once a day and being outside in the fresh air can be all I need to do for my exercise as it is just as beneficial as going to the gym.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that some of you start scrapbooking because trust me, you will not want to stop. Stay safe and stay home and if you need anymore support on covid-19 please use the link and scroll down the page https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/students/

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

-Plutarch-

Support at Home

Hey everyone, as I, and a lot of people have had to complete assignments at home and not had the opportunity to access books from your local library I thought I would share a few of my favourite websites with you that really helped me with my assignments.

  1. Discover More

This is a website by Edge Hill University that has thousands of books and articles and loads of different types of references you could use for your assignments. I would use this platform to look for reading material for assignments before any other websites as I know I will get a better range of online materials that I can access from home. I usually make my reading list using this website even before the global pandemic so that I have a good starting point for my assignment.

There is an option when searching for materials to ‘advance’ your search. This lets you refine your search a little more and add keywords that you want to look for in a journal or book specifically. It makes the searching and sifting process a lot easier.

2. Google Scholar

This is something I would use after I have searched all I can on Discover More to see if I can find any extra journal articles. I often find that it is easier to keep your search as simple as possible and then sift through the results carefully as they can often be wordy titles but are exactly what you are looking for.

You may not have access to all of the articles (and it always seems to be the ones that sound perfect) but I often find that the abstracts have enough in them to just get one point to back up what you want to say in your assignment!

3. YouTube

I know a lot of people may not think that you can reference things on a YouTube video but I have found that if you find the right videos and channels they can be really insightful and useful for something you are writing. But I would not overly use them as they are not academic resources. I like watching the Ted Talks videos as there is a lot of education related content on there that I can choose quotes from! Watching Youtube videos also is a nice way to take a break from reading, you just need to be careful not to get sucked into the YouTube blackhole…

I hope that some of you found this useful for when you are writing assignments from home. I know it can be frustrating when looking for materials to read for assignments but just take your time to sift through everything and read in small chunks instead of bingeing 20+.

Thanks for reading, Lauren x

“There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.”


Cesar Chavez

Looking After Yourself in Lockdown

According to Dr Radha Modgil, it’s important to maintain a routine and tackle your tasks during lockdown. However, she also recognises the need for self-care. A pandemic is a new experience for us all, so we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for not adapting well. Having a routine could help your mental health but being hard on yourself for not having one will be a detriment. Fixing your sleep schedule and building motivation can be a lengthy process, but there’s little things you can do to feel accomplished at the end of a day, which I’ll scratch the surface of in this blog.

Keeping Contact

I used to hate face-calling. However, since doing it to reconnect with University friends, I’ve actually enjoyed it. It’s great, not only because I feel better reconnecting with them, but also because it’ll make online classes a bit easier. If anxiety makes answering calls difficult, try checking up on people with a text. Knowing people care is a great feeling in lockdown.

Get Creative

I encourage people to get crafty in lockdown. I’m working on a canvas and it feels great that I’m doing something that feels productive when I’m not working. Look around your house! You’ll never know what supplies you may find. Failing that, you can’t go wrong with pencil and paper. I’ve even drawn some diagrams for my course while bored, which I will hopefully use for the next five years.

Treat Yourself

Your options may feel limited as so many businesses are shut down, but you can still treat yourself. I’ve loved making Dalgona coffee and I encourage the coffee-loving readers to try it (all you need is hot water, sugar, coffee, milk!) Look online for some recipes. My family and I have baked cookies. They’re quick to make but I feel better knowing I’m improving on some cooking/baking skills. It feels great knowing I have the skills to bake for bake sales now, rather than buying muffins from the supermarket and calling it a day.

Closing Words

These are just a few examples but there’s more to do. If you’re able to walk, walk! It’s proven to reduce anxiety and gives you a sense of achievement. Most importantly, give yourself a break. If all you managed to do was get out of bed, that’s great! Focus on the small victories. While work is important, your health is your priority.

Finding your own Catalyst building.

Hey everyone, I hope that you are all staying safe at home and coping with everything. I dedicated this month of blogs to talking about studying at home, working from home and writing assignments at home and to finish it off I will be talking about finding the perfect place for you to study in the comfort of your own home while we wait to go back to normal.

The first piece of advice I would give you is to try and not use your room. When writing assignments and studying for exams, we tend to get stressed and a little overwhelmed (if you don’t please tell me your secrets) and all that energy is being released into your room where you are supposed to relax and sleep. I know that if I ever use my room for studying my sleep would not be very restful and so it is why I really try to avoid using my room for assignments and studying.

Find a place that is quiet (as quiet as you can get anyway) so that there is less chance of getting distracted. I know it is hard to find somewhere as quiet as the silent study in the catalyst but in times like these we have to compromise, the catalyst will still be there when all goes back to normal! Good things come to those who wait…

Make your study space your own. By this I mean adding a calendar with your deadlines on it or little post it notes for writing your notes. Even if your study space is your kitchen table and you can’t really turn it into a full blown working desk because people have to eat and play monopoly (duh), take things that you can move around so that it feels more like a desk and I promise you it will make such a difference!

I hope that you found this useful! I know it can be hard for some people to find a place to work from home that ticks all of these boxes but we can only do our best during times like this and your absolute best is always good enough! 

Thank you for reading, Lauren x

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Vince Lombardi

Staying Positive While Studying

I think it’s safe to say that studying isn’t everyone’s favourite pastime. It can be difficult to get into the right mindset to study, especially if you feel stressed. Don’t worry – everyone feels like that sometimes! In today’s blog, I’ll share my tips to stay positive when studying! That will be today’s topic.

Think of Why You’re Studying

This can be a great source of motivation, and when I feel motivated, I feel positive. You can think long-term (how helpful your studies will be in your career) or short-term, like the feeling you’ll get after submitting. By wanting to succeed, I feel motivated to succeed, and that makes me happy.

Think of How Much You’ve Already Achieved

 It helps to remind myself of how I got into University, despite how difficult it was. “If I could overcome all those obstacles and earn my place at University, I’m more than capable of graduating.” This mindset has helped me at many points in my life, and hopefully it could help you, too. You’ll have a great support network at Edge Hill University (including study support within your faculty and at the Catalyst), so you’ll have a lot of help from people who want you to succeed.

Take it Easy

Trying to revise something and you’re feeling stressed? Leave it for a while! Take a few minutes to de-stress. Not everything will click with you instantly; you’re bound to hit a block. If you move onto another topic, you may use your time more effectively and therefore feel better and accomplished. Don’t neglect the topic, however; come back to it an hour or two later, or tomorrow. Therefore, giving yourself a lot of time to revise is important. Remember that your teachers are there to help, as well – ask them nicely if they can go through a topic you don’t understand one-to-one with you.

At Edge Hill University we have a big focus on mental health and avoiding burnout. If you’re struggling to de-stress and not overwork yourself, we have teams and masterclasses to help you.

Closing Words

Stress and studying come hand in hand. While studying is a priority, so is your health, so remember it is okay to take a step back if it becomes overwhelming and remember there are people around you who will help in any way they can!

-Tony

Click Here to see see the support the University can offer you!

Mini Mood Boosters

The world is in a time of real crisis and it has been a tough, confusing week in the UK. I have been sharing some mini mood boosters on my personal social media channels and in various WhatsApp conversations with friends in order to help us all through this. This weekend, it dawned on me that these would be perfect for overwhelmed students at exam/assignment submission time! Take the phrase ‘Exam Season’ out of each one and replace it with whatever tough, overwhelming situation you find yourself in.

Write an ‘Exam Season Bucket List’

It’s a tough and stressful time but you can still find some joy in it and ensure you stay organised. For example, you may now be sat down indoors a lot to study and read. Why not vow to take your skincare more seriously by doing regular face masks and forgoing makeup? Other things could be: creating a brilliant playlist, gathering some good reading on XYZ topic as you study, making a list of XYZ resources for future assignments, getting into the habit of drinking more water, finally mastering Harvard referencing…

Write an ‘I can’t wait to…’ list

I have done this since I did my A-Levels 7 years ago! You know the scene, you are sat revising or typing an essay and you notice it is a gorgeous day. Your mind fills with all of the things you would rather be doing. You think about how much you miss going out for cocktails or having lazy days on the grass with a picnic. How much you miss reading for pleasure and not for research. Write all of these things down! Having a list of things I am going to do when I come out of assignment season makes all of the difference to my motivation.

Find your Small Joys

Have a little collection of small things that bring you joy at these times. This could be photos, quotes and poems that inspire or motivate you or it could be websites or social media accounts that you can always go back to for a pick-me-up. For example, I love watching the 24 hour live streams that zoos like Chester, Edinburgh and Melbourne broadcast for free online. Instant mood boosts that are tailored to you!

Sam xo

Productivity for Procrastinators

I have several part-time jobs outside of my full-time degree so I often have a lot going on. My grades are good and my performance at work doesn’t slip, so people assume I must be really organised and productive. I am not.

Naturally, I am infuriatingly prone to procrastination and have a horrible habit of leaving things until time is running out as a result of this. So, in today’s post, I will let you in on my secrets to getting stuff done and looking productive when really you are a procrastinator.

  1. Pomodoro Technique

In this technique, you choose a task you are going to focus on, set a timer for 25 minutes and then solidly work on that task and nothing else. After 25 minutes, you stop and take a five-minute break before setting the timer again. After four blocks of 25 minutes, you take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes. Then you start again. The permission to get distracted in small bursts and the promise of a decent break gets you right into ‘the zone’! Just make sure you stick to the timings no matter what.

If you type ‘pomodoro’ into your app store, you will find lots of apps that will do the timings for you.

2. Get specific

I’m not going to tell you that writing lists is helpful because we all know that by now, but HOW we write these lists can be the difference between making progress and giving up and watching TV all day. Break big tasks into small, specific parts e.g. instead of ‘write research module essay’ you would have ‘read research module handbook, decide on points to make in research essay, write essay plan and send to tutor’ or perhaps even more specific tasks.

3. Star Tasks

You’ve got your specific list with really clear achievable tasks, so now pick your star tasks. Being really specific will actually make your to-do lists LONGER, so picking three to five star tasks per day to highlight or have on a separate list. These should be the things you need to get done as a priority. Get them crossed off first and you will often feel spurred on to crack on with the rest of the list. If you don’t feel that way? That’s fine, the most important stuff is done for the day! Take a break and see how you feel after.

Sam xo