Life as a Mature Student

Are you currently considering studying at Edge Hill University as a mature student? Deciding to go to university as a mature student was a decision willed with excitement and nerves for me. Part of me was worried what it would be like studying after years of being out of formal education, but I was also incredibly excited to start a new chapter of my life. I firmly believe that studying as a mature student is different than studying straight out of school/sixth form/college but it is possible and such an amazing experience!

Juggling your time:

As a mature student it is likely that you will have many responsibilities outside of university. From caring from a family, running your home, taking part in clubs or activities that you currently enjoy to having to work. Your time will inevitably be filled to the max! But this doesn’t have to mean it isn’t possible. I have fund using a diary, both on my phone and a paper version, as well as creating lists of what needs doing and when to be very helpful. It enables you to fit more into your days than you ever thought possible.

You will make new friends:

People of all ages study a multitude of courses at Edge Hill. You will make friends of all ages and find people who share your interests as well as others who will inspire you to try something new. There is so much to do and so many places to go both around campus and in Ormskirk too.

The environment is inspiring:

Edge Hill campus is a wonderful place. From my very first visit during an Open Day it felt welcoming, inviting and safe. There are many places to study around campus from the library to the Hub as well as specialist rooms such as those in Creative Edge. Then when it is time to relax there are loads of places to eat and spend time with friends, including a Subway! Being in an environment which is supportive and encouranging can be incredibly motivating too.

You’ll have a different perspective in lectures:

Having real life, often hands on, experience will mean you will be able to apply what you have learnt in the lectures to your real life experiences. This can give you a different perspective especially when completing assignments. As an Early Childhood Studies student, one of my first year module assignments was a reflective booklet. I found it very interesting being able to reflect on what I had learnt in my workplace and relate this to the skills I would need for future practice.

Juggling your time whilst at university

With the second semester now underway I’ve decided to turn my attention to my time management. Time management is incredibly important, especially whilst at uni. There is just so much that we all want to fit into our days that without planning it is easy to find yourself with an increasing workload.

But this doesn’t have to be the case! By having a few simple time management tricks you can free up so much time for going out with friends or simply an extra lazy afternoon. Here’s some top tips that I use to manage my time.

1. Use a diary for important dates and for planning your week

Without my diary I would be completely lost! I have a paper diary that I carry in my bag as I find this the most helpful way of being able to see clearly what I need to do and when. However, whatever type of diary works for you would work just as well. By spending a few minutes at the start of my week working out what I want to achieve by the end of it I can ensure that I leave enough time for the things that are important to me, like going to the gym and spending time with my family.


2. Don’t be afraid to say no

Sometimes we all need time to ourselves to relax and just have some time being lazy or to take a nap. It is important to remember that this is completely okay. Saying no to friends, family or extra commitments occasionally can help to improve your health and will let your body rest and recharge, meaning you’ll feel much better about your week ahead. 

3. Try to get your work schedule in advance

If you’re working a part-time job whilst studying try to get your work schedule as far in advance as you can. Whilst this isn’t always possible, fitting your work hours in during the quieter times of your semester can help you to free up valuable time around submission deadlines.

Comment below with any top tips that you have, it’s great to share. 

Exams are imminent but keep calm.

Well it’s finally May, which means exams season has arrived. Gulp! But fear not because while I have no more exams to sit (or coursework to submit for that matter) I am here to give you some tips for surviving those exams

1. Revise! Revise! Revise!

This is an obvious one, but for all exams you have coming you up you should revise in any way shape or form that works for you and your learning style. In my case this was typing up my notes, making mind maps about key studies and practicing past paper questions. Also don’t leave it all to the night before – space it out over a period of time

2. Read and re-read the question(s).

You’ll probably have heard of this before, when you’re in the exam itself and you have the paper with the questions on read and re-read the question(s) very carefully. This way you’ll understand what it’s asking you better than if you just see a question you want to answer (in the case of exams where you have a choice of questions) or have to answer and launch straight into answering it without thinking about it properly

3. Spend time planning

Just as you should spend time revising for the exam, you should also spend 5-10 minutes of the exam planning your answer to the question (if it’s an essay based one). This way if you run out of time the examiner can briefly see what you would of written given more time.

4. Forget about it

Whilst you should focus on your exams before and during them, after the exam is over forget it! Don’t bog your mind down with worrying thoughts of things like “ooh I should of put that in my answer” or “Damn I knew I should of answered C instead of A”. It will do you no good.

5. Eat and sleep well

It is important to eat a balanced diets and get enough sleep regardless of whether you have exams or not, but around exam season this is particularly important. After all your mind needs the right nutrients and sufficient rest to function correctly.

Well all that’s left to say is best of luck in your exams, and remember at the end of the day all you can do is your best. Do your best, follow the above tips and exam season will be far less stressful.

Dissertation – Aka the D word.

The majority of my workload at the moment is my dissertation write up – the 10,000 word lab report I have to hand in later this month along with my log book (a physical presentation of all the effort I’ve put into my dissertation) and believe me it will be one huge relief when I finally get it handed in. But until I do I still have another 5000 or so words to write and I thought I’d give you some tips when it comes to writing and doing  your dissertation in third year.

1. Pick a topic that interests you – This goes without saying, I originally wanted to do something on obesity/eating behaviours but got a sports psychology dissertation topic instead, it has however challenged me and that can be a good thing from time to time.

2. Do plenty of research – This is another obvious one (at least it should be). Once you find out what your topic is or your topic of choice has been approved, research it in depth. That way you can get a feel for what has already been done on it and use the articles and books you find as references in your write up.

3. Make sure you’re organised – My organisation and time management skills had never been so tested until I started doing my dissertation. It’s a long process so make sure you plan your time and keep back ups of related electronic files in different places (laptop, external hard-drive, usb stick, university pc hard-drives).

4. Meet with your tutor – One thing that’s been a big part of the dissertation process for me is meeting with my supervisor on a regular basis as my course requires us to have 3 formal meetings per term and we’re are also allowed ad-hoc (additional informal ones) meetings along the way. Your tutor will offer advice on what needs doing and will answer questions you may have

5. Methods for recruiting participants– This applies for dissertations where you are conducting a study of some kind. Whilst you should never force people into taking part (which is unethical) do use things like posters, social media and emails to tell people about your study and invite them to take part. I even used word of mouth and eventually I got the data and participants I needed.

Anyway I hope this entry has been informative and I wish you ever success when you come to do your dissertations.

Procrastination

I was going to write a blog… but then I found a Facebook page called ‘Cats Wearing Tights’.

I often find myself discovering gems like this when I have work to do. Staying focused is something that I struggle with and throughout my years in education I’ve become a master of procrastination. I’ve had a lot of work to do over the Christmas Holidays, so I’ve had to be strict with my time management and exercising self-control when I can psychically sense notifications piling up on my Facebook has been difficult.

Often my work ends up looking like this...
Often my work ends up looking like this…

The biggest helper for me is rewarding myself breaks based on word count, as opposed to specific time slots. If I decide to take a break after an hour’s time I could easily only write about 20 words. If I decide to take a break once I’ve written 500 words I can usually have them done to a good standard in an hour.

Another common mistake that I’ve been known to make is taking three hours of break to every one hour of work that I do. Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day, and before I know it the deadline’s looming and it’s not looking promising.

While my habit of procrastinating was quite bad in school and college, I have been a lot more disciplined since I’ve started at Edge Hill. I put this down to my realisation of the importance for me to do well and to, in a way, redeem myself of all the past low mark assignments that I should have done better at.

The work-load is a lot heavier at Uni, and I’m finding that the key to staying on top of it is stamina. I know it sounds obvious, but the more hours that I put in the easier it is to do well, and it helps me to bare that in mind when I have work to do.

And now it’s time for me to return to my stack of work. Wish me luck!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering...
Oh, and just in case you were wondering…