Tag: advice

The Ideal Study Environment (from The Badger, Week 5)

Studying for exams and getting essays done on time at uni can often be difficult at the best of times, however if you attempt to do it at the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be even more monotonous and troublesome. If you make simple changes to where and how you do your work, it will save you time and your sanity.

The first step in improving your ideal environment is to observe what you usually do and figure out if it is working out for you or not. If it isn’t, figure out why. From experience one of the worst places to study is in the bedroom. Obviously many bedrooms at uni are fitted with a study desk, however staying in your room for hours on end can cause a serious case of cabin fever which can make you feel worse. As most students know, staying in your room for too long is a rookie mistake both for study and socialising. The other common mistake students make when studying in their room is the endless number of distractions. You intended on research or even simply note taking, then you realise you are hungry, sleepy or bored. You decide instead to cook, clean your room, watch Netflix and have a nap. Then you realise you did nothing but procrastinate and you panic. If you leave your flat to go study you will feel a lot better being more focused and organised since there are less distractions.

For many students (including myself), it is more productive do complete work somewhere that is designated for studying such as the library or the I.T. lab. The best advantages of going to the library is you have the necessary texts available to you with a plethora of books and journals at your disposal. Another advantage of going to a designated study environment is everyone else there is there for similar reasons, so they will also require a quiet, clean, well-lit place to study just like you. As long as you follow the library or I.T. lab rules and respect your fellow students’ need to stud,y, it is an ideal environment to be productive.

Regardless of where you study, you can still face obstacles for studying. As it was mentioned before, procrastination is a common issue for many students, especially when it comes to gadgets. Since your laptop is one the most important tools for research on Study Direct, contacting lecturers, typing essays, and handing in essays through Turnitin. However your laptop is also used for recreational purposes such as Facebook, contacting friends and family, streaming shows and videos, playing games, and randomly looking up unrelated topics online. One of the best solutions to getting distracted online is downloading an app that can block certain URLs for a certain amount of time. I recommend ‘Cold Turkey’ since it is free and you can choose what websites you want blocked and how long you want them blocked for. Of course you must also be careful with how much you use your phone. Turn off your phone and keep it away from your desk since if the phone is out of sight, it will likely be out of mind.

Another obstacle which is commonly faced is forgetting important things for studying. When you are stuck for something and need it immediately such as glasses, go back and get them, but do not leave your bag or laptop unattended because it will either be stolen or moved by disgruntled students who want the last desk available. If it is non-essential in urgency, do something else with what you have. In the case of forgetting important things, always pack the day before and double check if you have everything you need.

The final thing to consider when studying outside of your flat is how long you want to study for. Try arriving by noon because you will have more of a chance of finding a desk in comparison to 3pm. If you are thinking in squeezing more time even though you are feeling sleepy at night, just stop where you are, go home and get sleep. When you are tired, you will not be able to remember as much as you wanted and you are more likely to make mistakes in your work than you be if you were wide awake.

The most important advice in finding the ideal study environment is to find a place that will help stay motivated and productive to help maximise your grades in the best way possible.

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What I Learned From Being a Student Journalist (So Far)

I have been a student journalist for just over a year now. Given that there is no specific handbook for being a journalist, I learned a lot of things for myself. So if you want to write for a university publication, here are a few pointers to make life easier.

1. Read newspapers and know current events: This is fundamentally important if you want to perfect your writing skills. Reading the publication you want to write for will give you a sense of the target audience and what format they want the articles. Also reading up in current events makes the article making process much easier as you don’t have to start from scratch.

2. Join the university journalism society: Joining a society or club is considered a valuable piece of advice for all students. For student journalists, joining the journalism society is highly advised. You get the chance to talk to people who are in the same boat as yourself, you learn more on how to make it in the business and you get to have fun with journalism.

3. Beware of editors: When you write your article for the publication, you are satisfied with the content, grammar, layout, length, etc. and send the email to the editor. However the editor may not be as satisfied with it as you are (and not tell you). So come publication day, you pick up a copy and your article is unrecognisable. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil to edit articles if it’s too long or it’s incorrect grammar or the information needs updating. It sucks because it feels what you did wasn’t good enough and you don’t know why. Try not to dwell too much on it and try again in the next article. So make sure you know what they want to avoid the chop. (Note: editors are not evil. They are just doing their job just like you)

4. Expand into several areas: When I started out, I wrote in the features and entertainment section in the university magazine. Now I write features, entertainment, current affairs in the university magazine and features and entertainment in the university newspaper. I have done several types of articles such as interviews, reviews and news reports. I have also wrote different topics such as burritos, anime conventions, Snapchat, the Ferguson Riots and the Ebola crisis. It’s important to try different things as you’ll learn how to write different topics and you won’t be tied down in the future.

5. Don’t do too many articles at once:  You will need to give time to make a quality article. So if you do two or three in a very short space of time, it will drive you crazy.

6. The key word of student journalist is student: It is very easy to prioritise writing articles over your essays, exams or projects because nobody ever wants to write about narratology in Wuthering Heights nor Francophones in Quebec (especially the latter). However you are in university for your degree. So if you have lots of essays to do, give the article writing a break for a few weeks. You’ll get your chance again when the essay/exams are over.

7. If you have an idea for an article, try it: Coming up with ideas is not easy. But when one spasmodically appears, let the editor know. If they approve, go for it. Editors love it when contributors have ideas as it makes life easier for them. My most recently written article was about Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass” and the body positivity message in the lyrics. A friend of mine shared the song on their facebook page. In a comment thread, she mentioned how the message was original. At the same time, the editor was asking for ideas in the entertainment section. I mentioned my idea and she liked it. So don’t be afraid to try.

8. Building experience is rewarding in the long run: Of course being an unemployed student sucks. Sometimes putting down on your CV what exactly you do with the magazine may be irrelevant for the part-time/summer job stacking shelves at the supermarket. Nor does it fully help with the degree (except maybe the writing bits). But building up experience with your articles will get you noticed and your hard work will get you a job.

9. Get a copy for your mother: She will insist on it.

Advice to Leaving Cert Students 2014

A year ago, I did my Leaving Cert. Whether you are doing it the first time or a repeat student, you are more than likely nervous. So here’s some advice I’ll give you to get through the next few weeks.

  1. Wind down before going to sleep: This is ultra important for effective sleep. I did this by watching my favourite film The King’s Speech the evening before English paper 1. I felt calmer before I went to sleep (I also listened to hypnosis on my iPod). Don’t do an all-nighter. IMG_0975
  2. NEVER revise one just one or two poets: I get it, you might not like all six poets, and yes it takes a lot of time when you have to study the comparative study and the single text (more than likely Macbeth). But just pinning your hopes on your favourite poet, can lead to disastrous results. In Leaving Cert 2010, everyone wanted Eavan Boland to come up, she wasn’t there. In Leaving Cert 2012, everyone wanted Plath to come up (I agree that her poetry is easy to write about and her poetry’s better than Adrienne Bitch) but she didn’t feature. If you want to narrow down, do at least 4. 
  3. Practice revision papers can the most effective study: I advise to practice it the day before. And in the case of languages, practice the aurals.  It’s super effective.
  4. Look at revision books: If you are running low on time for reading the text book, try the revision books. It has pretty much everything you need, but more compact. This is especially good for French. 
  5. Stick to your guns: Don’t drop down to ordinary level the morning of the exam. It’s inconvenient for everyone. Believe in yourself and fight your way through if you must. 
  6. Don’t do an exam post-mortem: If things go wrong, it will make you feel worse if you keep thinking about it. And don’t go near the class genius. It’s your battle, not theirs. Move on and focus on the next exam. Besides you might do better than you think. Below Average
  7. Don’t be the high-achiever asshole: Everyone knows you did lots of subjects, intend on getting over 600 points, and you brag about how easy you found Higher Level Maths while many others struggled. Seriously, shut up.tumblr_m0aoigV8On1qdqlhzo1_250>
  8. After finishing maths destroy notes responsibly: Seriously, Project Maths deserves it. Accompanying soundtrack is optional. I recommend “How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy.  IMG_1047
  9. Keep focused on your days off: Whether you have a day off or a week off between your exams, keep going. Yes it’s boring. Yes you’re going insane. Yes you hate your friends for being done before you. But your time will come, and it’s worth it. 
  10. When you’re finished your exams treat yourself: For the first time in forever, you can do whatever you want. (But realistically, you need sleep).disney-frozen-elsa-the-past-is-in-the-past-o 

Good luck to all who are doing the Junior Cert, Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied. March on soldiers!

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How To Survive The Leaving Cert

This week, most youngsters have returned to school (I feel like an old biddy for saying “youngsters”). For many, they have the misfortune of being in 5th and 6th year. When I was in both years, I was filled with dread and a sense of “how do I get through this”. I can prove to you that it is possible to survive this whether you are in 5th or 6th year. So here’s a guide for both years.

For 5th years:
1) If you thought the Junior Cert course was a lot of work, the Leaving Cert course is even harder. So that is why nobody took you seriously when you were complaining about the Junior Cert back when you did it.
2) If you are feeling that your subject choice was a bad idea or struggling in the first few weeks, ask your teacher for advice, or if you wish to drop down to ordinary level or to change subjects.
3) If you get a teacher you don’t like, give them a chance and you could get along in the long run. Trust me, this is worth it.
4) Most importantly: DO NOT WASTE FIFTH YEAR!!! For the love God, don’t treat it as a doss year! Work as you go along. It makes things easier later on.

For 6th years:
1) Listen to your career guidance councillor in class, especially for the CAO stuff.
2) The CAO usually opens in the beginning of November, so try to register and fill in your courses within the month to avoid doing it at the last minute in late January.
3) When you get your oral exams, you will be introduced to the examiner. Contrary to popular belief, they are nice people who are not out to get you.
4) When preparing for the orals, make a rough script to tailor to your life and your interests. Just don’t go over board.
5) For the love of God, don’t narrow down to just one poet in English!!! If anybody remembers the Plath fiasco of Leaving Cert 2012 you will know why.

For both years:
1) Learn your Irish picture sequences THE MINUTE YOU GET THEM.
2) If you are struggling in a subject and don’t want to drop down: go for grinds. It may be more work, but it makes a huge difference.
3) Try to get sleep and don’t do all nighters. If you’ve seen Inbetweeners, you know what could happen.
4) Be careful of distractions like TV, your phone or the Internet. Studying away from home like study sessions and Lenten bans are two effective methods from personal experience.
5) Though you’ll be making sacrifices, you need a small hobby in your spare time to keep you sane and calm.
6) If things are going badly, don’t give up.
7) Most importantly, remember that you WILL get through this. And you will be fine!

I’m handing the torch the you and I wish you the best of luck!