Choosing Modules Wisely

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The beauty of uni is the amount of choice and flexibility you have with your degree, ability to pick and choose what you want to focus on is one of the best things about the transition from sixth form to uni. However, being wise about your choice of modules will also help you structure your time and not end up with a mountain of work all at once.

Check when in the year the module is

On the Essex Module Directory you can see whether a course is full year, autumn term or spring term, it’s indicated in the module code by FY-Full Year, AU Autumn, SP Spring. In my first year I made the mistake of choosing two Autumn term modules alongside the core modules I took, meaning I had loads of coursework all at the same time, and more lectures and classes too. It was definitely still doable, but when I was new to the university and time management deal, it did become a bit much on the run up to christmas when all of the coursework started to rack up. On the other side of that though, taking my optionals in the autumn meant that my spring term was the nice and relaxed, I only had three modules in comparison to the five that I had in first term, meaning I could give more time to coursework and start revision early.

Check what the assessment style is

Some people simply suck at exams, it just isn’t their forte, alternatively, some are terrible at organising their time around coursework, taking a good amount of time to check how modules are assessed means you can potentially avoid doing too much of whatever you struggle with (this obviously depends on department.)

Don’t be afraid to go outside your department

A lot of degrees will allow you to study modules outside of your department, this can seem intimidating as it isn’t in your area, but they offer you these modules for a reason. Having interdisciplinary knowledge can be so useful in the rest of your studies. I took a psychoanalysis module in first year, despite being a lit and film student and it was so useful, I was shoving Freud in any essay I could after taking it. You can apply knowledge from those modules to coursework and your independent research project. Everyone’s degree is different, shape it around what you find interesting.

Most importantly, go for your passion

You took this degree for a reason, take a good amount of time reading over the module outline, have a look at the bibliography, if necessary contact the module leader or your department for some more info. A lot of departments have their own facebook pages, you could even post on there to see if any other students could advise you on their thoughts about the module. Think about what really peaks your interest, a boring module is the worst.

 

10 Mistakes You’ll Make as a Fresher

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Coming to uni is full of new and exciting experiences, and you’re having to navigate a load of new things, so you’re bound to make a few mistakes, here’s ten things you might want to avoid, from ‘meh, you can get away with that’ to ‘for the love of all that is holy don’t do that.’ 

1.Not exploring the local area before studying starts

This isn’t essential but it’s A) useful to know the place you’ll be living in for three years and B) a nice thing to do to get to know your new friends and flatmates. It also means you can suss out local chippys for late night sesh food and where you can go for some retail therapy when things get a little too stressful.

2.Not getting familiar with how to find references before your first coursework is due

Again, this isn’t a massive mistake, but it’s just a useful thing to do before you’re bogged down with deadlines. Get yourself familiar with how to navigate the library and ways to find research material, for a lot of departments the library will give a talk on how to use the available resources, and there is loads of useful info on the library website too.

3.Buying every course book brand new

Unless you’re on a very specific course that needs particular editions etc, don’t be a wally and go forking out all your money on brand new books, go to charity shops, Ebay, Amazon marketplace and buy them second hand, or you may be able to find them online, some older books can actually be found free on apple store and kindle. A lot of lecturers will also upload the relevant reading material on ORB or moodle, so you won’t need to have the entire book, it’s best to get in touch with your department and ask beforehand

4.Joining every society under the sun

And how do you suppose you’re going to fit in Rowing, Archery, Sci-fi, Harry Potter, Pole, and Cheese and Wine society (yes that’s a real thing) into your week? Societies are great ways of meeting people but the truth is, signing up at every stall at freshers fair, you’re never going to be able to get to all of them, and you’ll be inundated with sign up emails. The best shout is to have a think what you really fancy and sign up to a select few.

5.Ruining at least one item of clothing in the wash

I did it, despite the fact that I thought I was an adulting boss before I came to uni, and not much self-sufficiency could phase me, I still managed to forget about a delicate kimono in my first wash and turn it into a pile of threads in the machine.

6.Worrying about what people think of your parents on move in day

You’re not going to be seeing them for a really long time, give your mum a break if she’s being a little clingy, everyone will understand. There’s no rush to be hurrying your folks out of the door. If there’s no welcome event in the evening of move in day, why not have a final meal with them before they head off. Emotions will be high on your first day, consider how weird it must feel for your parents now you’re flying the nest.

7.Getting caught up in all the fun and not doing the important stuff

Welcome week is predominantly  about enjoying yourself and getting familiar with your surroundings, but in between the partying and the fun stuff, there are a few admin things that are important to do. Make sure you go to the general welcome talk, registration, departmental talks and library tours, while they may seem boring and arduous, they’re important and useful in the long run. None of them take too long so you can get right back to enjoying yourself pretty quickly.

8.Panicking about not meeting your soulmate in the first week.

Likelihood is, in first week you’ll be finding your feet and meeting loads of different people, some might stick around, some might not. But really, don’t beat yourself up if the people you meet early in the term don’t seem like best mate material, good friendships take time, so don’t panic, you can still have loads of fun with first week randoms.

9.Hiding in your room

It’s very tempting, in the first few weeks, you have a new habitat and you want to burrow in it, only sneaking out to make food for yourself at strategic times when the kitchen might be empty. But making friends with your housemates, while it isn’t always the easiest, will prove useful when you’re midway into the year and fancy some company close to home.

10.Getting with someone in your flat

Just don’t.

And if you don’t know why, then maybe you deserve to learn from that mistake.

A Level results day: how to handle it, what to do with your results and celebrating!

One of the most exciting yet nerve-wracking things in life has to be A-level results day. You’ve made that wonderful step towards wanting to study those subjects that you love in more detail. Two years later and it is time to see how your hard work has paid off.

So here is what happens:

A-Level-results-day-collection-time-for-2015-pic-1The Build Up.

This year (2017) results are released on the 17th August. All universities, schools, colleges and sixth form centres will receive the results before the release date but annoyingly they are under a legal requirement not to announce until the specified date.

You’ll then go into your school, college or sixth form centre on the day to collect your results (check to see if there is a certain time in which you must collect them).

Remember your grades will NOT be displayed on UCAS Track which will only show if you have been accepted for your university application. UCAS Track will however update at around 8am on the day of result releases- so there is no point in staying up to look at midnight as nothing will change.

Didn’t go the way you’d hope?

Don’t be disappointed if you didn’t get the results you wanted or needed. Find out if there is the chance to retake you exam as this could easily rectify any issues you have.

If you don’t meet the grade criteria for your university it may be worth checking on UCAS track to see if they have still accepted your application, as is sometimes the case. If they haven’t accepted you then take a look at UCAS clearing to see if other universities will offer you place. Last year 33,000 students found a place at a university through clearing.

Better than expected?

Perhaps you didn’t consider university but are so chuffed with your results you now feel like it could be the place for you. In that case you can find a place through the UCAS adjustment system.

How to handle it

Whether you’ve applied for university or not, A-Level results day can feel terrifying. Remember to stay calm and that results are not always the beginning or end of everything. Most people find comfort in collecting their results with friends or family- in most cases they know what you are going through and are able to support you.

Your results can now be used towards your current or future university application and also for applying for jobs or apprenticeships/ internships. In some cases you will be handed a piece of paper with your grades on and will receive your certificates at a later date- either way keep anything with your grades on safe as you never know when you might need to refer to it.

Celebrate

There is no harm in celebrating a job well done. Be thankful that this is now the end of your a-levels- you’re free!

Grab a camera and take a picture of your chuffed self- if the local newspaper hasn’t got there before you.

Perhaps order a takeaway to celebrate but most importantly make sure that you tell your family and friends your results as they will be just as eager to hear them.

The Pains of Degree Snobs

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Ok, this is a bit of a ranty blog post, so buckle up, it’s time Chloe lays down the law on why, if you’re a degree snob, you suck.

I have always been of the persuasion that every degree is different and important in its variation from any other. I really don’t believe there is any study that you can do that is better or worse than any other, just different. There’s a really nice quote from our former chancellor Shami Chakrabarti about being ‘anyone’s equal, no one’s superior.’ To me, the beauty of being at university is learning about how many fields of interest there are, meeting people from other disciplines, and appreciating others for having different specialties from your own. But what do I know? I’m just a Film and Literature student.

A bit of background, last weekend, I was at a BBQ with a group of mechanical engineering students from another uni, and being a newcomer to the group, my degree and career path came up in conversation. Now, that’s fine, I do Film studies and Literature and love talking about my degree, everyone likes watching movies, so it’s not like people won’t understand the appeal of studying them right? However I always feel the need to self deprecate about the fact that I study film and I’m kind of bored of doing it, and it all comes from the exact reaction I received on this particular occasion, and so many others like it. If I were paid every time I had this conversation, I’d make Bill Gates look like a peasant.  When I tell people what I do, it normally goes a lot like this:

Them: So what do you study?

Me: I do lit and film at Essex, it’s great

Them: *Disapproving look* Riiight and what are you going to do with that afterwards?

Me internally: giphy fvf

Me in real life: Yeah haha I know right, what an airy fairy degree!

After this I usually politely school them on how many options I have and the very decided career path I want to take, it normally shuts their disapproval right down. What frustrated me on this occasion was the fact I was surrounded by a group of BEng students, all looking down on my BA. The feeling that people think their degree is more legit than mine boils my blood. For the reason that yes, there are some degrees that have very practical and obvious applications beyond academic study, but it in no way makes studying them any better than studying an arts, humanities or any other “less worthy” degree.

I’m an easily riled person, maybe because I’m a redhead, maybe because I’m really bored of this particular conversation, and perhaps I should just brush these encounters off, but what annoys me is how illegitimate these conversations make me feel. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s doing anything like art history, liberal arts, performing arts, sport science, criminology, sociology, or anything else that doesn’t require being a calculator monkey, will have experienced this at least once too. Being made to feel stupid or less legit, because of the thing you feel most passionate about, it feels trash. It’s like when someone slates your favourite band or TV show and you want to headbutt a wall, because of how wrong their opinion is (I am fully aware that opinions are opinions but I’m sorry, if you think my film studies and literature degree is useless, you’re just plain wrong.)

The way I see it, is without these fields, arts, humanities, sport etc. what would the world do beyond work? It feels hypocritical to sit in your Star Wars T-shirt, criticizing people that study and work in cinema. How else is that thing you love going to exist without the people who devote themselves to making it?!

So, moral of the story of my long angry rant is… don’t be a wally. Regardless of what you think about someone’s degree or passion, consider that  it’s A) fascinating to them even if it isn’t to you and B) probably very useful for what they want in the future. Even if it isn’t, there is no shame in studying something you love, and you should never ever be made to feel that there is.

giphy (7).gif …Chloe out.

Your First University Essay

3093588562_b255f9a2fb_zWhen I got to the end of primary school, I remember a teacher telling me that soon I’d be at big school writing these things called ‘essays’ I remember they sounded really difficult and terrifying to a 12 year old brain. When I got to secondary school, fastforwarding about 3 years, writing a two page English essay and getting A’s based on the argument that red curtains signify anger, felt really legit. Oh my sweet summer child, if only I knew…

When I came to university, I had obviously come a long way since my first essay in year 7/8 and had written loads throughout school and sixth form. But what I didn’t know is that a university essay is most definitely not the same as anything I had done before, and just like that little 12 year old  felt the fear rush over me once again, not of essays this time, but of having to think about referencing. So here’s a few things to keep in mind when you write your first university essay (note not everything applies to all degrees and some styles may vary, but you get the gist.)

Reading Around Before You Start

I can’t stress this enough, don’t just start your essay blindly without thinking about which citations you’re going to use. I made this mistake with my first essay and it’s a real struggle making a point and then trying to find a perfect supporting quote to back up your argument. You will also run the risk of making your point seem really tenuous if you do it in this order.

Don’t underestimate how long this will take! For a whole essay, during a busy term time, I usually allocate about 3 weeks per deadline, the first week and a half of that, maybe even two weeks, is reading and researching for me.

The best thing to do is to get your subject matter first, and a rough idea of your opinion on the argument and then go straight to reading up on it. I personally prefer books over the internet, probably because it makes me feel more studious sitting in the library with a big stack of books. Go for stuff that is roughly linked to the subject and then the index is king, find quotations that may be useful or connected and note them down in full, making sure you have the page number, author, chapter title, publication house, date and location. I like to do this on a word document, making sure it stays nice and organised with little line breaks as I do it.

Use Your Reading to Inform Your Argument

The reality is, you probably can never do enough reading on the subject you are writing on, but there will come a point when you’ve got to get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) usually because the deadline is only a few days away and you’re starting to sweat over your empty word document. Depending on the department or task, you may need more or less, but four strong references are probably a good starting point. From these you can formulate your plan (this is where it varies from student to student, while some will plan very heavily, others -myself included- will do a rough plan knowing that eventually that will go entirely out of the window. I quite like this method because it means your essay can flow organically and your opinion can adjust as you write but you still have a framework behind it.)

Think on what the author is saying, you don’t necessarily have to agree with them, you may disagree wholeheartedly, but that can make for an even stronger argument. Then you can shape paragraphs around their point in relation to your own, either the point can heighten your argument or be used as a point of discussion.

Watch your Language

When writing your first university essay, the likelihood is you will be tempted to use all of the complexity that your capability allows. Avoid this. Just because you know the word ‘verisimilitudinous’ doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use it 12 times (although it is a great word.) Of course using the odd term, complex word, or sentence structure may benefit you occasionally, but writing like this all the time can read as confusing and may sometimes make you seem like you’re trying to hide the fact you haven’t got a clue what you are talking about behind big words. Try write clearly and fairly simplistically, essays aren’t a vocabulary test.

Taking a Step Back and Simplifying When Your Brain Feels Mushy

I’m going into my third year now, and with every essay, I still without fail, hit the wall at some point during every essay. There’s a few things you can do when this happens to keep yourself on course. First of all, if you haven’t already, write yourself a little mini thesis, this can even become a part of your introduction or conclusion, write down an extremely succinct version of what your argument is, your essay concentrated. This really helps if you are getting lost or veering off on a tangent, use it to remind yourself what your essay is about. Secondly, if you can’t quite word what you’re trying to say, I find it really useful to try and orally explain the point I am trying to make to a friend. It makes you clarify what you are trying to say and bring it back to basics away from a tangle of words.

The Dreaded Footnote

Ugggggghhhhhhhhh referencing why?! You will have heard of plagiarism and how much of a big deal it is. Plagiarism is important to be aware of, you may think that just not being an idiot and avoiding copying people is enough, but plagiarism covers incorrect referencing too. Depending on your department the referencing style you use may vary, you can easily find guides of each style on the internet, i.e. Harvard, APA, Chicago etc. However a lot of departments will have a style handbook too to help you with that. Referencing isn’t hard once you’re in the swing, but getting it in the right order and correct can be a struggle, but after a few essay’s practice, it is sort of second nature. Be aware too that footnotes and bibliographies go in different orders depending on the style.

Stickler on the Proof

Just for the love of all that is holy, proof your work. Proof read it alot, proof read it until you’re sick and tired of reading it, then, read it again. It may be a struggle for your first essay as you may still feel a little too shy to share your work, but reading and proofing each other’s work is so so useful as well in making sure your argument is clear and cogent.

People work in different ways, all of these tips may prove completely useless to you, but I hope it has dispelled just a couple of those first essay fears!

How to survive your dissertation!

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Most of us eventually have to face it once we reach our final year of study – “The Dissertation”! The final year project is more than the multiplicity of your usual essays; it requires creativity and critical thinking. Let me tell you about my journey of writing an undergraduate dissertation!

Finding a Topic

Deciding on the topic of your dissertation might be the most important step of the whole process since it sets the overall framework of your research. Some departments will provided you with a list of topics to choose from, while others such as the Sociology Department will expect you to think about your own topic.

The first aspect you should think about is picking a topic you’re genuinely interested in, since your dissertation will accompany you throughout your final year.

As a starting point I reviewed the course material we covered in the previous years and browsed journals relevant to my subject, noting down any keywords which caught my attention.

Check if your department archived samples of previous dissertations submitted, those not only allow you to see what kind of topics have been researched by former students, but also help you to get an idea about the general structure of a dissertation in your subject. For instance the Student Resource Centre stores dissertations ranging from undergraduate to doctoral level within the field of sociology and criminology.

I considered what field I am interested to work in my future career and selected my topic accordingly. Writing a 10,000 word dissertation about a topic relevant to your future job, demonstrates interest and determination which might be an advantage for your application.

Deciding on a broad area of research will make it much easier to narrow down potential topics, aim to do it by the end of your second year – however you’re usually still able to change your topic after the summer vacations, so no worries!

Start planning

Your research question might change, your motivation is likely to fluctuate, thus your supervisor should provide a constant you can always refer to. Meet up with your supervisor at the beginning of your final year and discuss your ideas with them. Even if they are not experts in your particular topic, they are still able to provide you with helpful feedback and point out how to find relevant resources.

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Keep reading and reading materials relevant to your topic! Make notes and don’t forget to keep track of your references; I started a table on Excel where I initially added the reference and some key words, and later on evolved it to a comprehensive overview of the literature, including used methodology, comparisons to other literature and evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each source.

Most of us are guilty of procrastinating and finishing some coursework last minute – however be aware of the scope of your dissertation! Many departments require about 10,000 words and weight your dissertation as a full year module, making it impossible to complete it within only a few days but it is necessary to begin well in advance and work on it continuously. Bear in mind that if you carry out empirical research, the process might be less predictable and you should plan some extra time in case anything unexpected happens. Write an outline for your research, setting out what you need to do and set yourself personal deadlines.

Don’t think of your dissertation as one large bulk of work, but plan each chapter individually, roughly outline the key points for each chapter and how many words you approximately plan to write for each section, which will help you enormously to avoid excessive word cutting later on when you need to ensure your work stays within the set word limit.

The writing process

Find your own working style and don’t compare yourself with others, some might have finished the vast majority of their research by Christmas, while you have been working on other assignments, as long as you made a realistic schedule and stay determined you will be fine.

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Create an environment where you can thrive, some of us can only focus in a quiet corner in the library; others get inspired when sitting with their laptop in one of the cafes on campus. Whenever I felt stuck with a paragraph I would leave my work place for some time, and get a coffee from the Starbucks on campus, or take a stroll around the lake to collect my thoughts.

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Always make sure you get sufficient sleep! When being drowsy I felt that my productivity suffered, especially when trying to demonstrate creativity within my arguments. If you are more of a night owl, like me, being more efficient in the late evening, be aware of other commitments such as classes you have for the next day. Doing an all-nighter on a regular basis might disturb your biological clock, so it is best to avoid those nights until the final period if necessary.

Before submitting

Once you finished the writing process, you need to edit your work. Make sure it complies to the guidelines provided by your department, check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and whether you titled all of your tables and graphs. If possible try to finish early and submit a draft to your supervisor who can provide you with some final comments.

Also ask your friends to read your dissertation (or parts of it if there is not sufficient time), ask them to be critical and mark any sections they feel are unclear.

You can print and bind your dissertation on campus in the Copy Centre (though I would recommend to print it yourself in the library or in a lab to save a bit money), but be aware that there will be a long queue on the final day, so plan to be there at least a few hours before your deadline!

Last but not least, don’t forget to take the obligatory selfie with your dissertation 😉

Organisational Tips for a Tidy Student Mind

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At university, you’re going to be overloaded with information and stuff to do, both fun and not-so fun, staying organised for some is natural, for others it’s a complete uphill struggle. Here’s a few tips that have proven useful to me during my first and second years at Essex.
Deadlines

Using a program like One Note or Evernote to organize all of your core uni details, you can use it as a sort of online pin board on which you can attach pictures, to do lists, links etc all in one place. I have a little picture of Campus Cat on mine to boost morale when my deadline list gets a little terrifying. I also have login details and useful notes that I may need like my weekly budget so I don’t spend all that sweet sweet student loan all at once, but more on that later!

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Keep a planner and a calendar! Keeping a little calendar on your desk, crossing off each day just to know where you are when it comes to deadlines, you will know exactly where you are in the month in accordance to when the abundance of coursework needs to be handed in.

Note Taking

Keep little project books or separate sections for every module. For me, I have to keep each module separate when i’m note-taking. I buy several A5 project books, just like the ones you used to get at secondary school, and decorate them accordingly so I know exactly which is which, my film module had a large clapper board, US lit had a star spangled banner, you get the picture. It also gives you a great excuse to get a bit crafty.

 

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Code your note taking to make it easy to quickly reference things. Do this to fit your best learning methods, I came up with a little key at the beginning of my note pad, with different emojis and symbols that I would draw in the margins for myself to be able to go back quickly when looking over my notes.

Make sure everything is clearly titled and subtitled so you can find it quickly for reference.

Illustrate your notes, this is especially good for visual learners, I personally learn so much more when I can remember a picture that relates to it, even a simple diagram can make something resonate so much more .

Money Money Money Money

Ok I know you’re gonna be all ‘but Chloe I’m not an idiot I know how money works.’ but coming to uni for many can be a completely new experience in independence, you have all this responsibility, rent to pay, laundry, monthly bills, the lovely list goes on! A lot of people get to uni and have had the pleasure of having never had to do any of that stuff, they get in that bountiful student loan, and within two weeks they’re into their overdraft and down to dried pasta and cereal for every meal. If like me, money seems to disappear from your bank account (not so) mysteriously, working out a strict weekly budget can really help you when it gets to the last bit of term and you’re crying to your mum on the phone because you can’t even look at another pot noodle.

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First of all rent, obviously, the best thing to do is pay that rent straight away, as soon as you have your loan, just pay it, it will hurt to see a thousand odd pounds go out of your bank but then at least you’ve paid for somewhere to live. Then all of those direct debits, Netflix, Spotify, whatever else has to come out, and an average for laundry spending. Then with all of that left over, divide it by the number of weeks till the next loan drops and hey presto! You’ve got a weekly budget that you can throw away on all the trash food and midnight amazon orders your heart desires!

Reading

You’re a student, no matter what you do, you’re going to be reading for the majority of your life now so get used to it. However for most, the reading list is so substantial and daunting, (and trust me, I’m a Lit student, I’ve been there) that they just give up and don’t read anything. They’re then faced with two terms of catch up reading to do when it comes to the revision period.

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Of course you can’t always control when you get your reading list so my next advice may be completely useless if you have a disorganised lecturer, but try as hard as you can to read ahead, only if just a few days before the lecture, it’s so useful. For literature students, there will be modules with a novel a week, take two of those at the same time, and you’ve got The Odyssey and Huckelberry Finn to read within the next three days on top of additional course reading and deadlines too, good luck with that one.

These are just a few ideas, and people’s brains work in entirely different ways! Experiment with your studying, you may find something really creative that works especially well for you. Let’s be real though, we all front like we’re totally on top of things and then around week five we go back to being the terrible, disorganized monsters that we are. Most importantly though, buy cute stationary!

Results Results Results

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Not to freak you out but:

First Year: Tuesday 11 July 2017

Second and Final Years: Wednesday 5 July 2017

It’s the final countdown! If you’re an undergrad, you probably have a strange feeling in your stomach right now, it’s probably nerves, or fear, or dread, or a nice cocktail of the three. For second and third years, exam results are a mere 2 days away! First years, you’ve got a few more days yet, whether that’s a blessing or curse I don’t know!

There is no right or wrong way to deal with getting exam results, although I’m sure you’ve smashed it! But if you are uncertain about receiving your results, here are some things that have proven useful to me and my friends over the years.

A Good Setting

You don’t have to take this to the extreme, but if you’re super nervous about your exam results, it can prove useful to make sure you’re in a nice familiar spot, and your choice of company can make a massive difference with how you handle your results, it depends on the kind of person you are. You might want to celebrate or cry among friends or family or you may be like me and want to hide in a locked room out of sight to open your results. I had a friend during A-levels who had taken this to the extreme and scouted out a specific bench at the botanic gardens beforehand and retreated there like a monk to open his results email. You perhaps don’t need to be that dramatic but find a good setting, grab yourself a cuppa, breath and open the damn email, you got this.

Be considerate

When you receive your results, it’s super tempting to message all of your friends asking how they did, especially if you did really well and want to tell the world, which I can’t blame you for wanting to do! It’s a tricky one, because they probably feel exactly the same, and want to ask you too, so if you think it’s OK to ask, then maybe take a bit of time considering your approach, so you don’t seem like you’re just asking them so you can brag about your own.

Next Steps

The likelihood is you’ve probably done great on your exams, so happy days, time to get krunk. However there is a possibility that you aren’t as happy with your results and you may have to consider a retake, you can find information about that here or you may be able to appeal your results but you’ll need to read carefully up on it first.

Most of all…GOOD LUCK!!

Best places to study on campus

Ah yes, the student life. Studying day and night. And since you can’t be locked up in your room all the time, you need a good place to study!

Of course, there is the Library, where you might spend most of your time. I sure do – all day, every day. Don’t get me wrong, our library is great – 5 floors of pure goodness + undergraduate and postgraduate reading rooms; but it does get boring and repetitive sometimes. So here are a few alternative places where you might enjoy studying instead

Student Centre

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Our new Student Centre is amazing. Truly. It is open 24/7 and there for the taking. That means that you can go there at 4 am like it’s no big deal (not that you would…).

On the ground floor, it’s full of computers and study pods with projectors, where you might enjoy studying with friends. The pods are also separated by plastic walls you can draw on! How cool is that?! On the second floor there are loads of computers, but also individual study spaces for you to use and enjoy. If you do not like sitting at a desk, don’t worry; there are a bunch of sofas there as well for us lazy ones.

Zest/Orangery

zest

Located on Square 3, Zest is a vibrant and stylish café and is a great place to visit during the day with your friends. They offer breakfast, cakes, Costa coffee (the best), tea and loads of other drinks ranging from presses to bottled drinks.

Adjoining Zest is the very-helpful Orangery, which features study pods just like in the Student Centre. What is different about these pods, though, is the fact that you can enjoy all the beverages and food that you buy at Zest, right in your pod! So if you fancy a coffee or tea, want to study but you’re not really feeling the SC or the Library – pop in here and enjoy the café vibes while you study. You won’t regret it!

North Teaching Centre

Our new North Teaching Centre is located right in between the North Towers, therefore it is very easily accessible by people who live in the North Towers or Houses. There are a bunch of classrooms there and while you might not be able to access them while there is a lecture, you can always be in the hallway. Yep. You read that right. Right as you go up the stairs, on whichever floor, there are big tables next to the wall with screens mounted on the wall so you may use them as you wish. They are great for a group study session or if you just need more space for your materials. And as I mentioned, they are located right in BETWEEN North Towers, so if you are going to live there next year, you can just pop down there in your pyjamas and study (we don’t judge).

Squares

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Ah yes, the ever-so-busy squares. There have been multiple times where I have seen people sitting on the benches on Square 3, or sitting on the ex-fountain-garden top on Square 4 and studied, especially when it’s very sunny outside. Truth to be told, I would not be able to study there since it very busy and I can’t even hear a fly when I am studying, but hey – different strokes for different folks, as they say.

SU Bar

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Our beloved SU Bar is always full on action. Whether it’s a lazy Saturday morning and they have live music sessions, or if it is a wild karaoke night, you can always count on the SU Bar. Some people, after they are done with their classes, go to the Bar, get a coffee and work on their writing while watching a football match on TV or something of that sort. I have to say, it is quite calming to know that coffee is literally five steps away from where you work.

Now that I have mentioned just a few places to study at our University, I hope all of you will be motivated to work even more and make your uni family proud! Now go and get those firsts!

5 reasons why I love the University of Essex

As I prepare to wrap up my time at Essex *cries uncontrollably* a lot of things have been coming to mind. Three years have passed exceptionally quickly and now I’ve written my last essay (my 16th essay at Essex), sat my last exam, submitted my dissertation and ordered my gown for graduation it has now become all the more real that my time here is ending.

Looking back, these are the reasons that I fell in love with Essex in the first place and why it continues to get under my skin.

Diverse Community

Essex was recently declared the 15th most internationally diverse in the world with 44% of the student population coming from abroad. As a result there is a wonderful mix of cultures on campus, most of whom have their own society which is open to anyone wanting to learn more about their culture (and cuisine!).

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Architecture 

Ok, so it is not everyone’s taste- but come on, concrete was exceptionally fashionable in the 1960’s when the university was built. But brutalist architecture I find strangely interesting, and mix this with the other fantastic (and award winning) buildings on campus then you have some incredible buildings to study in.

Thursday Market

I blame this market for making a dent in my student finance loans! On Thursday the market is a must to pick up bargains and delicious food. Think books, bread, burgers, fruit and veg, sweets, fish, cakes, and CD’s and you’re generally in the right area of what is on offer and how lucky we are to have this on campus!

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Module Variety 

I’ve probably mentioned before that just because you study a particular degree doesn’t mean that it will be exactly the same as a similar degree at another university. You have the option to pick modules that suit your interests and one of the reasons that made me choose Essex was the fantastic variety of module on offer. This meant that I could select the modules that I was interested in and wanted to know more about.

Supportive Staff

There is a greater emphasis at university for independent study and performing your own research, but that doesn’t mean that you are left on your own. The staff in your department and across the wider support network are some of the most caring, supportive and friendly people that you’ll ever meet. They are people that you can moan to, laugh and converse with- and their passion for their work is contagious.

I can’t put into words every single reason why I love Essex as much as I do – there aren’t enough hours in the day! But I will say I’m incredibly proud to be an Essex finalist and will miss this place when I’m gone!