“Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed, not by strength, but perseverance.“ – Samuel Johnson
Welcome back to the Just do it series. This is the 3rd and final issue. If you’re a student this one is just for you. If you haven’t already read the previous 2 issues I’ll link them:
As you may or may not know, I’m a final year English Literature university student. I’m currently finishing up my last few essays and I thought it would be good to finish this series with tips on how to address studying during challenging times. I know some people have already finished for the year but this will still be relevant to you if you a) are going back into education at some point or are not a final year, b) are a GCSE/A Level student, carrying on with education and c) even if you’re already in employment.
This is a blog topic I’m well qualified to write about. All four of my years have uni have been covered by extenuating circumstances. I’m really tough on myself about how well I should be performing but I’ve honestly been through hell the last four years and need to chill. So that’s the first thing – be realistic with yourself in relation to what is happening around you.
Yes you could’ve achieved a first class or an A* or a grade 8 – why didn’t you? Was it because you were lazy or procrastinated? Or was it because a family member passed away or you had to learn from home in the middle of a pandemic?! As a student – especially in university – the aim is to continue getting better from essay to essay (or exams which I don’t do loool). But in order to do that you have to realistically evaluate your shortcomings. This doesn’t mean making excuses – it’s simply looking at the situation for what it is. If something has happened an it’s not your fault then you must acknowledge that and act accordingly. We all go through things every now and again that will interrupt the cyclical nature of our lives. It is 100% your responsibility to assess both yourself, the severity of the situation that interrupted your work and if there was anything you could’ve done to change or prevent doing as badly as you did.
Self evaluation during difficult times (or any other time really) can be broken up into these 4 simple categories:
- Strengths – what are you good at even when times get tough? Do you work harder? Do you read more? Do you shut out distractions?
- Weaknesses – What are you already bad at doing on a normal day? Does it get worse? What has changed from good to bad?
- Threats – Are there any direct threats to your learning? Is what ever the situation is physically impeding you from learning? Could you consider moving elsewhere?
- Opportunities – Even though something has gone wrong – what opportunities are available for you to still be successful? Can you get an extension on your work? Will your boss allow you to make up the work missed over the weekends?
Most of these are self explanatory but I will focus on the last one because it’s so so so important.
Dawg. You should never ever ever sit an exam or start working without fully understanding how an institution will support you during a psychical, emotional or psychological crisis. Never ever ever.
Especially when it comes to places of employment OMG. With schools and universities somewhere, somehow your tutor or fellow students will mention the phrase “extenuating/mitigating circumstances” “pastoral care” or “extensions” – I even get random emails about it all the time. But I really really care about my mental health because the smallest negativity in my atmosphere can ruin me.
Going into new roles I always always ask employees about how they would support me when something does go wrong in my personal life. Some of you have signed contracts which – after you get past what we in English literature call “Bullshit” (this is actually literary theory) – say that you better keep it stepping after one day off or something dumb like that. That’s obviously extreme but you know what you need – you must check that your place of work can cater to that otherwise you’re minimising the happiness you can get out of going to work which already is a crap thing we have to do within itself.
But back to education – every single university or school has a set of guidelines and policies regarding behaviour, pastoral care, exams, attendance etc. Read it all. This first of means that if the guidelines aren’t followed you are well educated of your rights based and that you know that’s these rights exist as official documents in public spaces. The opportunities to protect your work often lie in these documents.
So How Does It Work?
Now for every school/university/workplace the protocol is different but I’m going to use how my uni deals with extenuating circumstances as a basic guide. That being said – there are even differences between departments within the same unis because they’re all funded differently – so as well as finding out the general uni guidelines, find out the specifics for your department.
So in my department under normal circumstances every student is permitted 2x 5 day extensions per academic year with a decent reason. Doesn’t have to be drastic – but you have to make sure you apply for the extension on time. If the matter is a little more serious and requires more than 5 days you could get a 10 day extension.
If you won’t be able to do work for an extended period of time you can apply to for extenuating circumstances which gives you either the whole term or the whole year to complete the task.
If you still can’t do it you’re either granted summer firstsits or if you do it and do it badly, summer resits. Resitting the entire year is literally the last resort.
Now although not every uni will have this exact system in place – there definitely is one and if you feel it doesn’t actually help a large number of students – get your students union involved. They’re there to help with things like this.
Most establishments are running a WFH (work from home) policy and are directly emailing students and staff with what the next steps are. Emails are definitely the best way to keep yourself informed.
Right now my uni is giving extensions to everyone and anyone because we’re really in a pandemic and this is a serious enough reason for all of us to need a bit of extra time getting through.
For finalists, they’re also running 2 policies in deciding your overall grade.
Safety Net: this is for anyone who has performed excellently in their previous years and in this academic year up until 02 March. Any work handed in before that time will be averaged to create a baseline grade. You grade can only go up from this and even if your work after the 02 March is crap it will not affect your overall degree classification.
Best 90: If your work from 2nd year isn’t great but you’ve worked your ass off even with the corona, using the average from your second year wouldn’t be fair. So, the uni will pick your best 90 credits from 3rd year, leaving out the other 30 and come up with an average grade for your 3rd year. For my course our 2nd year is worth 1/3 and 3rd year is worth 2/3. This will still apply.
If your university does not have something in place to protect your grades or ensure you get the best grades possible – you must speak to your students union ASAP.
So Now We’ve come To The End
There’s only so much that I can do for you. With these three posts I have definitely given you a start on how to succeed in your education but also how to create overall good habits for work.
Practice. Plan. Persevere. The 3 Ps I’ve just come up with on the spot. Get to know what kind of learner you are, find out what resources are available for your course and get all the information you need about what to do when things don’t go as planned. Always feel free to come back to these posts to remind yourself. Believe in yourself because I do too 🥰
Don’t be an idiot and stay blessed….
P.S. Congratulations to everyone who has finished uni this year 🎉🎉🎉🎉 I am very very proud of you ❤️ I’ll be doing a separate post on this when I finish too xoxo