05 Apr Student Blogger – Matt Reilly – Managing the workload
The first thing I learned about university is that it’s your responsibility to do the work and attend lectures etc, which is very different in comparison to school where you are constantly chased and monitored by teachers and tutors. It is also different to school in the sense that the materials aren’t supplied to you and there are not always ongoing tasks so tutors can see if a topic has been properly understood. Sometimes the exam maybe the first and last time your knowledge is tested on a topic.
As I am studying Journalism my contact hours are high and I find my days can be long and busy, it can be tiring but I enjoy the fact that I am never bored. I spend around 18 hours in University but there are other optional sessions which I attend when I can. My course is very vocational and thus I have such a lot of hours. Other courses vary in hours, for instance social science subjects like history and psychology only have about 10 hours a week as students are expected to do a lot more independent reading.
I spend about 2/3 hours a day doing independent study, sometimes more or sometimes less. Some weeks will require more work than others depending on exams and assessments so the amount of independent study changes from time to time. I find my course really interesting so I enjoy the reading and sometimes read more into a topic than is necessary.
I think the main difference between university and sixth form other than the increased responsibility to make sure you’re doing the necessary work yourself is that there is a lot of assumption of knowledge. I am not sure if it’s just personal experience or others feel the same way but I feel like many lecturers and tutors assume you have a lot of knowledge on some topics and are therefore very brief when covering it. I find I need to do a lot of pre/post reading for lectures to fully understand the main theories/concepts. At school I never really had this problem as we learnt through lessons and it was easy to discuss more in depth whereas in lectures the approach is more to absorb the information being delivered to you and then to go away and do further research. The change in style takes abit of getting used to but eventually it becomes the norm.
I still have quite a lot of free time to do whatever I like, I try to make sure I have at least one weekend day off every week to relax and forget about the workload. It would be easy to get snowed under and have to spend a few days solely studying to catch up. I find the best way apart from study sessions is to make use of breaks between lectures or while I’m cooking for instance – basically anytime you aren’t doing anything important and have a bit of time on your hands do some work and it all reduces the work load.