Coursework, Future, Student, Study, Time Management, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Tackling the Dreaded Dissertation

I shall begin by letting you know my dissertation is almost definitely different to yours. Mine is split into two halves, both worth 50% of my final grade. My first half, a 10,000 word creative piece, was due in December. The final half is my essay, due at the end of April, like most other courses. Luckily this submission is only 5,000 words!

Having already done the bulk of it in December and receiving a good mark in January I feel I am in a good position to discuss how to tackle them! I am well on my way to finishing my first draft of April’s submission now and am finding myself with even more tips for the essay.

1. Start early!

You will hear stories about the girl who did it in 16 hours and still managed a 2:1. Okay, maybe that girl was super-woman and managed it but chances are she’s lying. Start reading and making odd notes over the summer between second and third year. Buy a journal/notebook and start noting things down – potential questions, interesting points on the subject area, a little reading list, the occasional quote you’ve found, chapters of particularly useful books (ANYTHING).

2. Read! Read! Read!

You cannot write if you do not read. Start collecting some useful books or at least titles you can look up. Use the library website to search for books, journals and articles which may be of use and write them down in your notebook. Print articles off and get highlighting! Once you’ve done the reading you can start the writing. Little and often, little and often.

3. Pick something you’re genuinely interested in.

This is so so important. How on earth are you going to write 10,000+ words on something you don’t care about?! Don’t dread writing your dissertation because you aren’t interested in what you’re writing about – that’s no fun! Pick a topic which you can’t wait to find out more about, pick something you are motivated to research and make your essay something you’d want to read. Don’t see it as a chore but as something you actually want to do. I am excited to learn more about my subject. The beauty of dissertations is that you can pretty much do whatever you want, within reason. You can tailor your research and question to a topic which you are enthused by.

4. Do the bibliography as you go along. 

DO NOT leave the bibliography until the end. It will seem like such a chore! Portsmouth has an absolutely incredible referencing tool – so good that other Universities use it! So make the most of it! If you haven’t got to grips with it yet this tool is sure to help you – it’s a real life saver. You can compile your bibliography before even writing your essay. Every time you read something put it in your bibliography, fully referenced. That way, when you are writing in your essay, it’s already there ready and done. You can always keep adding to it and if you find you don’t read a source you thought you would then just take it out.

5. Make a note of where you found quotes.

This is crucial and I, along with many others, have fallen into this trap too many times. I was determined not to make life difficult for myself with this ever-so-important assignment. When you find a quote and copy it into your journal or word document ensure that you know the author, date and page number for citing. There is nothing more frustrating than having a perfect quote but no idea where you found it, or knowing it’s somewhere in a 500+ page book with no hope of tracking it down again without reading the entire thing cover to cover. If you don’t make note of where you got it, that quote will then be unusable and wasted.

6. Book as many tutorials as you possibly can.

All courses are different. With some you may only be able to show one draft, but with others there may be a lot more flexibility. I was able to book pretty much unlimited tutorial slots and took full advantage of this. The more feedback you have before the final submission, the more likely you are to do well.

7. Create a document or page in your journal with loads of useful quotes divided into sections/topics to use at ease when you are writing.

I have found this to be so immensely helpful. Whilst writing now if I need a quote I just consult my document with all my useful sources in. I simply copy and paste the most relevant one out of my already carefully selected quotes. Making this document is a good place to start before you actually begin writing because that way you have everything already ready and set out for you.

8. Take breaks!

The beauty of starting early means you have lots and lots of time. It is so important to take regular breaks away from you work so you can come back to it with fresh eyes and a clear mind. It will be much easier to proofread and to improve it if you’ve taken a step back. Work on it solidly for a week then leave it be for a week and come back to it. Breaks are incredibly healthy and will make the process feel a lot more natural and easy.

Good luck everyone, if you’re halfway through yours now or you’re just looking to get an early start on next years!

It is with a heavy heart that I remind you this is likely to be the last thing you will ever write for submission at the University of Portsmouth. Enjoy it!

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Future, Job hunting, Student, Uni services

Purple Door Are So Underrated

If you are a student at the University of Portsmouth there is no way you’ve got this far and not heard about Purple Door. Just in case you have managed to miss their existence altogether (really where have you been?) Purple Door offer support to students, and even graduates, on career planning, work experience, volunteering, part-time jobs, placements, business startup and graduate jobs. They will do anything from helping you find a little job for a few hours a week, to just chatting about what you think you might want to do, to helping you write or polish up a CV, to working towards that all-important application to your dream graduate job.

The classic phrase I seem to come back to time and time again is I am a worrier by nature. I am a worrier by nature and so the idea of graduating in a few short months is just terrifying! I am so scared of ending up with no job or, perhaps even worse, a job I absolutely can’t stand and feel trapped in. I don’t want to be living off my parents in my childhood bedroom for the next 10 years. I am determined to succeed!

So, last week I went to Purple Door. I had been once before to discuss part-time work but it had only been rather brief. You can book in-depth 40 minute meetings for careers advice and the like but also it is probably easier to just walk in. On both occasions I have just walked in. They’ll ask for your student number and name and then you’ll sit and wait for a couple of minutes whilst someone becomes available.

The man I spoke to was incredibly patient and listened to me babble about my uncertain future. I had brought in a recent CV which I knew needed a little makeover. I thought this would help him to assess where I needed to go from here before applying for jobs, in terms of experience. He went through it thoroughly, bit by bit and we redrafted a new one.

He told me that the nature of my field means I can’t start applying yet. Employers who are recruiting now for my industry will need someone who cans start pretty much immediately. Jobs in other fields like law or engineering have graduate schemes and will begin scouting and interviewing around this time, and even earlier! As a writer and aspiring editor/publisher there is little I can do in terms of graduate jobs right now. In a few months I was advised back to Purple Door with my newly formatted CV and I can begin the job hunt!

For now, I just need to keep on doing what I’m doing. I need to keep my eye on job websites to help me see what is out there and the kind of things I would like to be applying for. The Guardian Jobs is a great one, as well as using the Purple Door search itself. I need to calm down and remember I still have time to get my life all figured out. I’m only 20! It is comforting to know that Purple Door will be there for me for the next 5 and a half years if I need help. Going there restored a confidence in myself and my achievements. It made me excited to start the next chapter of my life as a graduate. I can’t wait to see what the future will hold.

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Course, Coursework, Exams, Free time, Future, Island Experience, Portsmouth, Reflection, The city, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Two Years Down, One To Go

I feel like I should be feeling a lot more relieved right now than I actually do. I HAVE FINISHED MY SECOND YEAR AT UNIVERSITY. Wow.

There are so many mixed emotions which come with finishing a year of study. On one hand I feel immensely proud of everything I have done. I have achieved so so much and come so far in the last year. Yet also I feel quite sad. The looming reality of life after uni is starting to really dawn on me. One. More. Year.

It’s insane how quickly the time seems to be going; it feels like mere months ago I was a fresh-faced first year, battling my way up the stairs in Bateson Halls armed with a load of cooking utensils I would never take out of the packaging but needed ‘just in case’, ready to meet my new housemates. It feels like weeks ago I moved into my house I have now been living in for 8 months. I feel a little scared if I’m honest.

I can’t believe my time at Portsmouth is slowly but surely drawing to an end. My heart is sinking as I am writing this just to think about the prospect of leaving. I am so blessed to have spent the time here that I have. A year seems so far away: so much will happen in that time… And yet I think back on the past two and fear that the third will disappear into memories just as quickly.

For now, I am going to enjoy the sea, take trips to my favourite little cafes, exploit the fact we have countless outlet stores at Gunwarf Quays, ride my bike around the most flat city ever and breathe in the sea air! I love Portsmouth so much. I am going to make the most of my remaining time here like I have tried to for the previous two years. I am lucky enough to have the advantage of my course finishing early, meaning I have free time to appreciate Portsmouth.

To all students here: enjoy your time here, do not take it for granted. To future students: coming to Portsmouth will almost certainly be the best three(+) years of your life. And to myself? Here’s to the next and final year!

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Future, Other University Factors, Student, Time Management, Travels, Uncategorized, Uni Life

Top Tips For University Open Days!

So seeing as I’m somewhat halfway through my first year at university, I still have the memories of UCAS, personal statements and open days all still fresh in my mind. So I thought I’d share my Five Tips for planning and having a great and informative time when attending open days!

  1. PLAN AHEAD

I can not stress enough how important it is to plan ahead in time! When I was planning my university open days I looked at all the ones which were coming up fairly soon, and I then decided to try and go to one a fortnight. I vigorously planned my travel, and sometimes accommodation if they were far, mainly so that I’d get the best deals. Planning about 3 weeks ahead means that train prices will be at an affordable rate – so PLAN AHEAD!

2. TAKE A FRIEND

Now this is something I neglected to do, so learn from my mistake! Many people you know will be going with their families but I say to take a friend with you. While going with parents might help make an informed choice it might not always be a critical choice – your parents will always support you with whatever you choose, so taking a friend who can be completely honest with you can help you make more of critical choice as they wouldn’t want you going to a university you won’t like!

3. EXPLORE THE CITY

Most of the time people, including myself, will move a far distance away from home to go to university (I moved 170 miles!). So making the most of your open day should include a few hours exploring some local sights and hotspots. Not only will you feel a bit more at ease if you do choose to attend that university as you will know some of the area, it is also a great excuse to go shopping – and who doesn’t love shopping?!

4. TALK TO CURRENT STUDENTS

When you go on your open day you’ll find people dressed in the university colours, usually holding a large ‘ASK ME’ sign. Talk. To. Them. These Student Ambassadors are able to give you information on everything from how easy is it to find all the university buildings, to what is the social life of the city like. During the day you might not get a lot of time to ask questions to students so when you do – make the most of it!

5. HAVE FUN

This is probably my favourite tip that somebody told me! While the day will be full of informative talks and tours you should always have fun! This goes back to having a friend with you, you both could make the whole day more enjoyable for each other!

I hope these 5 tips help when you’re going to your university open days. Remember to ask all the questions you can and make an informed choice about where you want to study for the next 3 years of your life!

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Course, Future, Graduation

Graduation

The day we were all excited about (but secretly dreading it at the same time) has arrived. Graduation. Possibly the most important day for every student. For it is then when it all officially ends…

My graduation took place on Thursday, 25th July, and was the last graduation of the year. It was a very important and exciting day, mainly because my grandparents travelled over 1000 miles to see me graduate, and it meant the world to me to have them there.

I was really impressed with the graduation ceremony. After collecting and putting on our robes (which look even fancier in real life!) we made our way to the Guildhall square and spent some time catching up with course mates and taking photos. When the time came, we entered Guildhall through a student only entrance, sat down in our assigned seats and waited for the ceremony to start.

It started with the Vice-Chancellor and departments’ representatives entering the Guildhall. The Vice-Chancellor then opened the ceremony with a short speech and following that, the presentation of degrees and graduates began. We were required to quietly leave the Guildhall and make our way backstage to prepare for our appearance on stage. We queued in line, waiting for our turn while the graduation assistants adjusted our robes and checked the order in which we were standing. They checked the order at least 3 times with the last check right by the edge of the stage.

I have to say, waiting backstage is kind of nerve wrecking. All I could think about was that I could not embarrass myself by tripping, or falling, or dropping my hat, or having my hood slide off… in front of everyone in Guildhall (and everyone outside, watching me on the big screen, AND everyone watching online. No pressure, right?) The tripping part was especially important for girls, as majority of us wore high heels. The good news is: no one tripped! Some people even did little victory dances! It felt very good to get out there and be congratulated in front of so many people for our hard work and effort over the past three years. I was proud of myself and all my course mates.

The ceremony ended with closing speech from the Vice-Chancellor and a short video from the Chancellor Sandi Toksvig (who unfortunately could not be with us on that day due to work commitments). After we exited Guildhall, our entire department gathered around on Guildhall steps to take a final photo.

Afterwards, there was time for final goodbyes and even more photos. This was definitely the saddest part of the day – realising that our University experience is officially over. What is awaiting us right now, is the real life out there. The life of grown ups, with full time jobs and council tax to pay. But we will be okay.

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Course, Exams, Free time, Future, Job hunting

Job Hunting is a real pain in the neck.

First of all, apologies for not being very active here.

Since my last post, what my life mainly consisted of was revision. And more revision, then a couple of exams and A LOT of stress. Quite honestly, I don’t remember ever being this stressed over anything! But the 28th of May marked the day of my last exam, which essentially meant end of my official student duty at the University of Portsmouth. Scary, huh?

I bet most of you just answered “meh, not really” in your student heads. But trust me, it is and you will only begin to understand it when you get to where I am right now. I feel like I am not ready to leave University yet… I have come to love my life here in Portsmouth; I feel like there’s still a lot to do, a lot to be discovered. Unfortunately, everything ends eventually and this is my cue to man up and move on.

I have previously mentioned that I applied for a Master’s course at King’s College, but unfortunately I did not get in. I am not giving up on this, however this means that I will have to find something else to do over the next year or so. So I started job hunting…

And trust me when I say this, I am already tired of this! It’s hard and discouraging. You have to make sure that the type of job you’re going for is really what you are capable of, and that you fit the person specification. So that’s what I’ve been doing, going through the person specs, getting more excited with every single point mentioned because I believe I fit in… until I get to the end, where it says “Essentials – car owner and driver”. I think it goes without saying that I don’t drive… And that, unfortunately, is my biggest disadvantage! In my current situation the experience I have is meaningless if I don’t fulfil this particular requirement.

In Year 2 I completed a module called Occupational Choice for Psychology Students, and it’s main aim was to provide us with information about what will be required of us once we leave University and choose a psychology related career path. There was a lot of talk about how important experience is (obviously) but nothing about the ability to drive! If I were told about this then, I guess I would have had a driving licence by now…Oh well, this is currently item number 1 on my to do list for when I get a job. But I need to get it first…

And this is kind of how I feel right about now…

source: http://makemethink.imgfave.com/page:5?after=15464878

But we’ll see how it goes…

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Clubs and societies, Course, Exams, Free time, Future, Nightlife, Travels

“The last week back…”

So here it is. The last week back to University for this year, or for life for some. Coming back to University after Easter means no more lectures; it means a lot of free time, where we have hardly any responsibilities, apart from paying bills and revision (duh!), but students are experts at working around these 😉 I was looking forward to my week back, but it proved to be very busy and EXTREMELY stressful!

This week was the week when I had two interviews to attend. On Thursday I had my dissertation interview, which is similar to vivas the PhD students need to do. Everyone was really nervous about them, as our year group was the first one to do them in our department. What definitely didn’t help the stress levels were the people on facebook who complained about how badly their interviews went.

I personally think my interview went really well. As soon as they called me into the interview room, I felt calmer. I think it’s the wait that made me anxious more than the actual interview. It is also worth mentioning here that I’ve now learnt not to listen to other people when it comes to individual assessments like this one. If their interview didn’t go well, why should it mean that mine will be a flop as well? I left the interview relaxed, but unfortunately this was not the end of stressful events for me…

Friday was the day I had my postgraduate interview with King’s College. I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed about anything before. Not even that one exam last year when I was convinced I was going to fail it (I got 40 so I was so close!). In the interview, I had to present a research proposal, which unfortunately was a total flop. I was losing all my hope until we got to the more practical questions. These went okay, so I’m hoping I at least got an average number of points. But trust me, words cannot describe how happy and relieved I was after I left the Institute of Psychiatry.

To release all the stress and frustration, as well as to forget about my questionable performance at the interview, I spent the rest of the day in London. In the evening I went to see one of my favourite bands at the O2 Academy Islington! This was exactly what I needed! Jumping, dancing and singing along to your favourite songs is by far the best way to get rid of negative energy! To add to that experience, I was lucky enough to meet the band after the show. We had our photo taken, and they signed my poster, which already hangs on my wall in a special place 🙂 I don’t think I need to say how knackered I was at the end of the day!

Saturday was the first day during the week when I could actually sleep in for a little bit longer. It was also a good time to finally get together with my friends, who I haven’t seen since before Easter! We ended up going to the Union for Psychology Society’s Summer Blowout event, with the summer being in the name only. For the end of April it was quite cold… But as long as you have your friends around you, nothing else matters. These get togethers will be one of the things I will miss next year. But for now, we need to make the most of the time we’ve got left.

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