Use what you have. Do what you can. – Authur Ashe
Recap and Introduction
You may recall in our previous issue we discussed the basic first steps you need to take in order to create good revision habits and the information you’ll need to know before hand. In this issue, we will be looking at the many resources available to students and how they can save you time.
Use What Your Uni Provides
I think when it comes to this, students tend to be limited in how much they put into their education especially at higher levels. I myself, in the first two years of university, struggled to use all the resources available to me but believe it or not there are so many!
- Your University Website
This will not give you specific study information but what it will do is give you all the basic information you need to complete your studies such as :
a) University regulations
b) Exam dates and regulations
c) Information about financial aid
d) How to get tested for dyslexia and other learning difficulties
e) Library information
f) How to book a study room
g) How to report extenuating/mitigating circumstances
h) Your university’s other resources and important links to tools such as moodle
i) Graduation of course.
2. Your Department’s Page
Furthermore, if you go to your department’s page on your university website you’ll probably see the specific department requirements which would include information on:
a) Department guidelines for Referencing
b) Department expectations for the format of essays/exams
c) The names of course leaders and lecturers
d) Who is in charge?
e) Information about changing your course or your mode of study.
Depending on the university or college/sixth form, there are obviously more or less of these bits of information on the site but please make sure you check it out.
3. Other University Websites
These are things like moodle and campus connect or “my *insert uni name*” any of that kind of stuff as well as any extensions from those pages. They are all important for providing valuable information about your education – it’s literally all handed to you with the hope that you’ll apply common sense and use it – so use it.
4. Online Library Resources
I never used to use this at all but it’s so much quicker to be able to read your uni’s E-version of a text or check if the book you need is available online before you make the trip to the library. I really really advise doing this to save time especially because it also tends to show you exactly where to find the book.
5. Fellow Students
I know they can seem pretentious and a bit stuck up (some really are) but there’s a high chance that your fellow students are just as confused as you. Have study groups where you can break down the information together because two heads are better than one. Ask each other questions, create a group chat – whatever works for you. As you grow closer you’ll find yourselves motivating and cheering each other on which really helps in the last few hours before work is due or before an exam.
6. LECTURERS/TUTORS/COURSE LEADERS/HEADS OF DEPARTMENT+EMAILS
Yes I’m shouting. The reason for this is that not many students actually approach these important people for help. They are literally there for you. And of course you cannot show your lecturer your essay before you hand it in. But what you can do is visit them during their office hours and ask them loads and loads of questions whilst taking notes and use those answers to shape your responses. You have to play the game. These are the people marking your work – work out what they want from you by constantly discussing your ideas with them. Your tutors are there to support you – some are useless – mine airs my emails until I knock on her door – but since I know that, that’s what I do. I think my head of department sighs when he sees my name on his screen but I don’t give a damn – it’s my education and I will bother you continuously because that’s what you’re there for. I know in first year it’s a bit scary and you might feel nervous but baby – £27,750? Ka… Hm.
7. Library Spaces and Study Rooms
If you can’t work at home for whatever reason the silent study area in the library is always a good idea or booking a study room in advance. I say silent area because I can’t lie anywhere else in the library is just a massive distraction and you don’t need that. But book whatever you are allowed to book in terms of working spaces and really make full use of that £27k.
Study and Revision Resources
Aside from what is available to you directly from your university, there are so many other tools and resources available to you as a student and you’ll find that most of them are free if you log in with your uni credentials. Here are just a few (some of them are English specific because that’s what I study – sorryo):
- Google Scholar
Stop using the general google search bar. Google is so vast and filled with so much great information but it’s also got a whole heap of crap that will not sit well in academic essays. Google Scholar is uniquely designed with students in mind and aims to narrow down search results to the ones which are academia friendly – try it outtt and let me know how you find it.
Literally, YouTube is so fantastic if you know how to use it. Find lectures on topics you don’t quite understand. Also from what we spoke about last time in issue 1 – if you’re a visual or auditory learner, YouTube is a massive help in breaking things down using voice and visuals.
3. Bitesize (for our younger readers)
BBC bitesize is a tool I encourage my GCSE/A level students to use. It covers all the basics of a topic, shows you a video about it and then gives you an online test so you can measure how well you’ve understood it.
I can’t lie JStor is the love of my life. It has a massive bank of academic resources including journals and articles and extracts from important critics. So here’s where I get 80% of my alternative points of view from. And this is one where you can log in through your uni so just check that your uni has a JStor subscription.
5. The OED
The Oxford English Dictionary is just so important when you want to do close up analysis of a word and need a standardised definition, the OED is perfect for you. It also include the etymology of a word and it’s first recorded use. The most thorough dictionary you could use.
I’m sorry – it’s English specific but Opensourceshakespeare is basically a bank of Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre. You can search specific words or phrases and see how many times they come up in a specific play or in several or all of the plays. This is an excellent tool for demonstrating wider reading and knowledge of Shakespeare’s motifs. (Okay I’ll stop). I’m going to try my best to find similar ressources for other subjects, I promise.
There are literally loads and loads more but you need to research what is available to you specifically for your course. Ask your lecturer – they would definitely be able to help (hopefully?).
Editing and References Resources
Editing and referencing are crucial parts of academic study. As long as you’re writing essays in English, you have to be able to display command of the English language regardless of which course you do. Basic SPAG is important. But English isn’t everyone’s strong point and even for those of us who enjoy English – that really doesn’t mean we can spell or punctuate well sksksk. So here are some tools that will help you with that:
1. Spell check – like duh?
Grammarly is designed to help you make your work more concise, avoid repetition, avoid spelling errors, avoid using the wrong tense etc. It generally works quite well although you do need to keep your eye on it for American spellings etc. You do need a monthly subscription to unlock all the extra features but I promise you it’s worth it if you’re not sure about SPAG yourself. The best thing about Grammarly is that you can install it into your actual computer so it can correct emails and other documents.
3. Cite this for me
A LIFE SAVER (but I don’t use it anymore because I’ve learnt to reference finally sksksksk). Cite this for me is a tool which creates a bibliography for you. All you need to do is entire the book title or ISBN and you have the citation. But I’d say learn to reference just in case there are mistakes.
When I’m doing research sometimes a quick poll on twitter really helps. Use the public, obviously not for academic facts/statements but to get an idea of the opinions and povs out there.
I’m going to stop there because I could honestly go forever about resources that are available to students. Let me know if you would like me to create a bank of links to more educational resources either on Twitter or in the comments.
Please use the resources that are available to you. Education is already really hard – do not make it harder for yourself by not reading into all the different ways you can simplify it.
Until the next one, stay blessed ❤️🙌🏾📚