Keeping Your Plates Spinning: Help @ Edge Hill University

During university, you will be spinning a number of different plates: studies, work, family, friends, money, to name a few. Now and again, one may look like it’s about to fall off. Or two. Maybe even three. You have to work harder to keep these plates from falling, but sometimes, no matter how hard you tried, it will fall off. What then? Do you risk the others from falling by trying to pick the other one up? Is it worth the risk of everything else falling?

In my first year, I managed to keep all my plates up. Some of them got a little shaky at times, but I have a great support system underneath me and they helped me to keep balanced. This year, a couple of my plates have fallen off. This is nobody’s fault. Sometimes life throws curveballs at us and they knock our plates off and we have no other choice but to deal with it. Although this year is harder than the last, I am more thankful than ever for choosing Edge Hill Univerity as they have provided me with more support than I could have wished for. Asking for help is really hard, but they made it so easy.

Edge Hill University has a vast range of support systems to help you.

The first person who helped me was one of my tutors, who had noticed that I needed someone. She sat with me for an hour and we talked basics of what was happening – she referred me to speak with a team member in the Catalyst. They spoke to me briefly and made an initial appointment with the wellbeing team, which was only a few days away. They gave me a few websites and apps to engage with for the time being. As a student, you are entitled to 6 fifty-minute counselling sessions, which can be daunting if you have never experienced it before – but they make the whole process very easy.

With the help of Edge Hill, I have managed to stay on top of my work, visit my family more and learned that it’s okay to let some plates slip. My tutor sends me weekly emails to check how things are and if I need anything. I know if things get too much, I can speak to someone almost immediately. It is incredibly comforting knowing that I am supported by the university.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. Thank you for reading.

Amy

Paper-less Notes

Let’s just start by saying that I am a huge stationery nerd. New notebooks, more pens, cute rubbers and pom-pom pencils. I live for it. When I first found out I was going to university, I raided my favourite stationery shops to make sure I had the cutest notebooks with matching folders and brand new pens. However, by the end of my first year, I hadn’t used half of it.

Since starting university, I have become really interested in sustainability and making better choices as a consumer. I’m not here to shove climate change down your throat. All I ask is that you take what I say on board and maybe think about it when it comes to buying another notebook.

When it came to packing up my room, I had bin bags full of paper and it was all useless. I made a pledge to myself that during my second year, I would aim to only fill a shoebox. So far, I am proud to say, I have only used one notebook and haven’t printed out anything for my lectures/seminars. I’m going to go through below what I’ve been using this year to remain paper-less.

Google Drive / Google Docs / Google Slides

Before this year, I had never used anything to do with Google. I was happy with my Microsoft Word and pen drive. However, after nearly losing ALL my work from the first year, I decided to ditch the pen drive and go Google. I use Google Docs for my lecture and seminar notes, reading and planning my assignments. I’ve started downloading journal articles onto my Google Drive, meaning I can highlight and make notes straight on to it.

Google Drive means you can keep a live version of everything in one place. Instead of having to put things on and off your USB all the time. It also means you can collaborate with a study group and all work together on something. I have a couple of these collabs on the go right now and it’s great being able to share ideas, work together in a live document.

I still use a notebook from time-to-time to keep to-do lists or important dates. Sustainability isn’t about ditching everything that’s bad for the world, it’s about making better choices. In this instance, it’s also a more effective and efficient tool for university. I hope you enjoyed this and try it out!

Thank you for reading!

Amy

Managing Your Workload

Your workload can differ depending on your course. I always remember being told ‘your course sounds easy‘ at the start of the year, followed by ‘I’m so sorry for what I said‘ towards the end. University is funny. One day you can wake up and be on top of everything, but by the end of the day, you have another eight things to add to your to-do list. That’s just how it is, and being able to manage your workload effectively is important.

Set yourself realistic targets

Mindset is everything. If your to-do list is booming, don’t overwork yourself trying to get it all done at once. Set yourself two or three things you would like to achieve in a certain time period (preferably those of top priority), but be strict with these so that if for some reason you don’t manage to get them done, you still have time to spare.

Work together

The first assessment of this year was a really nice presentation that we all, of course, made much harder for ourselves! For this, myself and two other girls sat in a study room at the university and bounced ideas off each other, leaving with a solid plan to work on. I cannot recommend this enough. It’s really nice working in study groups, so if you have the opportunity to do, definitely do it.

The Five Ps

My friend has always said to me: ‘Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance’. In terms of assignments, I’ve realised that getting my reading done as quickly and efficiently as possible has really helped my workload. Reading usually takes up most of my time. I would also recommend getting a weekly planner and set yourself your own study timetable around your lectures and seminars. By doing this, you can plan in some time for yourself too.

Edge Hill is the most supportive university and this year I have struggled with the workload, mental health and accommodation. Every tutor, advisor or support assistant has listened to me and done their best to help – and I feel much better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s everywhere!

Thanks for reading.

Amy

Second-Year Accommodation

As Housing Week as recently passed, I thought I would talk about my housing experience during my second year of university.

Who?

This year I am living with three other girls from my course. Two of them are in classes at university and we looked for a 4-bed house. House sizes can go up to 12, although I feel that somebody told me about a 16-bed house but I could have just been very sleepy that day. I wanted to stay small, and luckily these girls felt the same. You may also find that you want to live with the same people you did in halls, and that’s also fine. My advice would be to get a plan together and stick to it. Otherwise, it might end a little messy.

When?

We started looking very early, I think around November time. I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you want to get it sorted sooner rather than later than you can look around and get it sorted before Christmas. It’s doable. A slight caution to look out for is that some lettings agency can be pushy and a little pressuring on you to sign contracts. Don’t sign anything until you have read the contract, looked at the payments, seen the house and talked to someone knowledgable about the contract. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, check over everything.

Where?

The house we are in is just lush. I’m really happy we managed to get this one and I don’t regret it. The only downside is that it’s a little too far from university for my liking. It’s not too far, a 25-minute walk -which is fine, it’s just rough when it’s cold/rainy/windy. Apart from that, the house is great.

How?

We went through a lettings agency in Ormskirk that has student houses. We viewed a few houses but none were as good as the one we are in now. Once we were set on that we emailed to say that we would like to live there. They operate on a first-come service and we were told another group had asked before us. We waited to hear and they never turned up to sign the contracts so the house was ours if we wanted it. Hoorah.

Anything else:

Just don’t rush. I know in my experience, we did rush and we ended up with a nice house – but if I could do it again, I’d have liked to be closer.

As always, if you have any questions please drop them below.

Amy

Tips for Productivity

Procrastination is easy to slip into and hard to get out of. A lack of motivation is the main cause, which we have all fallen victim to, made especially worse with looming deadlines and challenging studies. In this post, I’m going to give you my three top tips for beating the procrastination monster.

To-Do Lists

A to-do list? How cliché. Hear me out. It may feel like taking time on a to-do list is, in fact, procrastination, but it can boost your motivation – which is what we’re after. I like to colour-code mine so I can visually see which areas of study I need to be focusing on, organising it in terms of priority, to make sure I know what’s coming and when. However, I read somewhere that the best way to be productive with your to-do list is to do your 2-minute activities first. If you have something that will take under an hour to do, get it done. Even better, if it will take you 5-10 minutes, do that first. There is nothing better than ticks on a to-do list.

Breaks

I am prone to an occasional burnout, this is usually when I have a monster assignment due and there just isn’t time to take breaks. I’m being realistic, sometimes you need to just graft. However, breaks are vitally important and your work will benefit from giving your brain regular rests. I like to set myself a goal to achieve by a certain time. For example, if I get to the library for 9am, I’d like to think I’ve got 5-7 journals read by lunchtime, this is, of course, dependent on the article but setting myself that goal means I have something to work to and I know a break is coming. On a break I will check my phone and reply to any messages, I’ll go to the toilet or get a drink/food. I usually give myself 10-20 minutes, and then get back to it.

If I’m working from home, I’ll add rewards to this. If I can work for 4 hours, I’ll watch an episode of whatever I’m watching or I’ll have a nap or practice the piano. I’ll then set myself off for another 4 hours with another reward. It just breaks it up a bit better.

Making the best use of your time

I’m not a morning person. I can be, but not often. I don’t like getting up early, however, I feel better when I do. This week, I have been waking up an hour/two hours earlier and going straight to the library. Whilst there I am tackling the small jobs on my to-do list and it’s amazing how productive I have been/felt this week. It’s only an extra couple hours but I feel so much better. Your future self will thank you for this.

What are your tips for productivity?

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment with any questions/ideas and I’ll get back to you.

Amy

Interview Process for Primary Education with QTS

What happened in the interview?

I went with my Mum, Dad and best friend to the interview. When we arrived, we went in for a ‘Welcome’ talk in the lecture theatre where they told us the itinerary for the day. We went for a campus tour first while my Dad stayed for a Q&A session in the lecture theatre. After that, I completed my English and Maths tasks. During this time, we were called up to do our group activity where the tutors give you random items and you have to discuss with other prospective students about how you could use these in the classroom and then I had a 1:1 talk with the tutor who asked me questions about teaching.

Tips for the English/Maths task

The English Writing task gave us a statement about resilience and why this is important in teaching (it is!) and we had to write about a time we have been resilient. They are basically just checking that you can write fluently and will give you targets based on grammar or handwriting etc. The Maths test was complied of very basic Maths questions to check you can work out, again, basic maths. They do get quite tricky at the end but nothing too hard to worry about just brush up on your times tables, multiplication and division methods etc. Don’t worry too much about this!

Group Activity

Don’t take too much control in the beginning, but if nobody else is talking definitely take the initiative. They did our group activities in groups of three and the girls I was with were lovely and we all had really nice ideas. The tip here would be to think outside the box, they are very random objects but don’t feel like anything is a stupid idea.

The 1:1 interview

This was not what I thought it would be. We were still in the room with the other tutors and prospective students so that was a lot more reassuring. The questions they asked me were along the lines of ‘Why do you want to be a teacher?’, ‘What is the most important thing about teaching’, ‘Why is it important to be professional?’ etc.

Any other questions about the process, feel free to comment below.

Amy

Interview Tips and Preparation for Primary Education with QTS

In all honesty, I was incredibly nervous about the interview for this course and I felt sick to my stomach all morning – but this was just nerves and it is completely normal. When I arrived, the staff and student guides were so friendly, reassuring and calm that it settled me down straight away.

How to prepare:

  • Brush up on your maths knowledge, in particular: addition and subtraction; multiplication and division; fractions, percentages and decimals; negative numbers; area and perimeter etc. Just the basic maths skills that you would cover in primary school. Have a look at the national curriculum.
  • Work on your handwriting – they may set you this as a target after the interview if it is not up to ‘teacher standard’
  • Look for random objects around your room/house/school – think about how you could use it as a resource in a lesson. Think outside of the box.
  • Be prepared to answer questions such as: Why do you want to be a teacher? What is the most important part of teaching? Why is it important to be professional? How can you differentiate lessons? etc.

Any questions about the interview, feel free to comment below.

Amy

Why Edge Hill University?

I had my heart set on Edge Hill immediately. So much so, I didn’t actually apply for anywhere else. I don’t recommend this, you definitely need to have choices, but I like to think of it as a testament to how amazing this university is.

My initial experiences
When I was in sixth form, Edge Hill had just won the 2014-2015 University of the Year in the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards, so my college really pushed this university and I remember thinking it was really nice but I just wasn’t interested in going at this point. Years later, when I realised I wanted to be a teacher, I looked up Edge Hill straight away as I remember the impression it left on me and I requested a prospectus. I was blown away by the course choice, the surroundings and just everything they had to offer. It was perfect and I didn’t look at anywhere else I applied straight away. I lived abroad at this time, so the first time I actually visited the campus was on my interview day and I fell in love with it immediately.

My favourite bits
I love the Catalyst, the library, which luckily opened the year I started. It’s my favourite place on campus to grab a coffee, socialise, study in groups, study alone, take a lovely nature break (on the top floor roof garden). The Hub is also a great place to grab some food, as well as the Red Bar, Roots and the SU. Recently, I’ve dealt with the support and wellbeing team and they are just amazing, there is so much support for everyone and they truly care about you.

So, why Edge Hill?
I didn’t know what to expect when coming to university, but I do know I didn’t think it would be this good. The quality of teaching and learning is up there with the best of the best, the tutors are also an absolute asset and very supportive. The accommodation is great value for money and there’s always so much to do. Being situated in Ormskirk is nice as you are in a lovely, quaint little town but Liverpool is a short train journey away.

I love this university, come and visit and see for yourself.
https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/visit-us/open-days/

Amy

How to get over your sickness fast!

Freshers flu is real. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. I didn’t go out very much during freshers week and I still managed to end up with the flu – it will catch you, so be prepared. If you are looking to enrol on an education course, you will no doubt come into some nasty coughs and colds during your time on placement. It luckily fell over a weekend and I managed to fight it and although I wasn’t feeling 100% on the Monday, I felt well enough to go in and teach.

Taking precautions
Make sure when you pack for university you hit up Home Bargains and stock up on paracetamol, cold and flu tabs, lemsips, cough medicine, lozenges and all that jazz. Do not overpay, supermarkets massively overcharge. The first sign of a tickly cough or a runny nose, I straight away start taking medicine – it acts fast and you will feel worse but only because the medicine is flushing it all away. I also start taking cold and flu tablets, eating fruit and drinking hot drinks straight away, don’t just wait until it becomes a problem, do it straight away.

What’s effective?
I always have cold water, orange juice and lots of cups of tea. Lemsips are also really soothing for the throat but they’re not necessary, and they’re quite pricey. Orange, bananas and any other fruit really are effective at boosting your vitamins. Day and night, cold and flu tablets are the best ones, for me personally, and an Olbas nasal stick is the best thing if you have a cold. It completely unblocks your sinus and relieves that stuffy feeling. Cough medicine works wonders, like I said before it will make you feel worse but you’ll get better faster. The most important thing you can do is rest. Sleep. I spent the Saturday in bed, in and out of sleep and when I woke up on Sunday I felt miles better. Stay hydrated and fed, but sleep as much as you can.

Thanks for reading, keep those bugs away!

Amy

How to stay motivated

We are all prone to procrastination. Finding motivation can be really difficult when you have a lot on your plate, especially if deadlines are looming. I definitely fall into Netflix trap now and again but I have my strategies to get back on track with my work and studies.

Take away the distractions
Personally, my phone is the biggest hindrance to my concentration. If I get a notification, I’ll check it but then end up aimlessly scrolling through social media. At the start of this year, I downloaded an app called ‘Hold’. There are so many different study apps but this one is by far my favourite. When you press the Hold button, you earn points for every 20 minutes you stay off your phone and with the points you get you can claim different rewards, these are usually beauty, lifestyle, music travel offers and many more. Give it a try. The other big distraction I have is my surroundings, I either need a silent environment or a cosy environment. I love working in the library when nobody is there, but when it’s busy I just end up getting irritated – luckily the library at Edge Hill has little pods you can book so you can work in a quiet room on your own in a nice, productive environment.

Motivational playlist/music
I have a playlist on Spotify titled ‘Should be studying’ and it’s a nice mix of motivation and chill. Some songs give your brain a break and others get you focused and dialled in. You need balance when you’re working so taking timely, regular breaks are also very beneficial to your motivation. The other music that really gets me in a study mood is the ‘lofi hip hop radio’ on the ‘ChilledCow‘ Youtube account. It’s not lyrical, so it sets a very chilled, productive ambience.

Break down tasks
The first thing I do when I know I have a lot to do is make a to-do list and from this, make further to-do lists about how to achieve them. This helps to make them easier to tackle and achieve. With assignments, for example, I will start by evaluating the essay question, then get out the books I will need and read wider from those. Breaking it down into these segments helps to keep motivated as you are completing subtasks.

Thanks for reading. You can do it!

Amy