Today we’re going to be talking about improvement at university and for me, this is a very important post because I think this is an area in which I struggle and actively need to improve on. So you aren’t alone and hopefully we can improve in this area together.
Why Is Improvement Important?
Like everything, you need to improve at university and there will always be ways to improve. Believe me, university markers (rightfully) love to point out all the small and big ways how you can improve. From improving the structure of your essay to writing the discussions in your reports, there are always ways to get better.
Furthermore, improvements become more and more important each academic year because your first year at university is easy compared to the second and third. Moreover, for many courses, the second and third year often count more towards your final degree classification. This is great because it means you can find out how you do at different assessments in your first year and know how to improve for your second and third.
Overall, if you want to do well at university, I would unofficially recommend you keep wanting to improve, write better essays and always strive to do better.
Of course the flip side, I don’t want you to get stressed out about improving so always try and find a balance between relaxing, learning and improving. This will become clearer in the rest of the blog post.
How Can You Improve At University?
One of my flaws at university is that I don’t do enough of these options below because university in general is great for students who want to get better. Since, at least at my university, there are lots of resources and opportunities for you to read things online or speak to people in person about how to improve your work.
Therefore, I’m telling you this for two reasons. The first is if you feel like you should be doing more to improve, you aren’t the only one. But both of us need to take a leap and be proactive about how to improve because it will benefit our degrees. The second is I want you to know you aren’t alone at university. There are ways for the university to help you if you’re struggling with assessments.
Use What’s Available:
Now this very much depends on the university itself but I cannot imagine any university doesn’t have this type of support.
Anyway, my university has a Student Learning Advisory Service which offers two kinds of support: online and in-person. The online support includes lots of great articles and online documents about how to write better, how to research, organise your writing and more. This is great because it provides generalised support that’s available immediately. Thus, you can read it and find out how to improve.
I’ve done this before and I do recommend everyone try it. I know I’ve found it helpful before but on some topics, I feel like it’s a bit too general. As well as the advice for how to improve depends on the degree and the school too.
For example, I study psychology so I need to write scientifically in the American Psychological Association 7th Edition manner. Which is completely different to how a law student or media studies student would write.
In this case, definitely check out your school and what’s available for you specifically.
Again, I know there are things available from my school, like emailing my academic supervisor, but sometimes I don’t feel confident enough to go and talk to them. Also it doesn’t help that I’m terrible for explaining myself properly. But this isn’t an excuse for me or you not to go out and seek these opportunities for help because I’m doing this blog post to make myself ask for help more so I can improve. Often, the people who gave been in the system for years on years are likely to be able to offer the best advice.
In fact, I’ll be doing that a lot this year for my placement projects.
All in all, I know it can seem scary or too much effort to get help from your university. Yet we both need to think about it like this, the successful university students go out of their way and actively want to improve. They enjoy improving and want to get better so they can get better grades for their degree.
That’s how we need to think about it. Improving is needed but it can be a fun learning experience like I mentioned in the previous Mindset posts.
Read Academic Papers:
I know this sounds horrific to a lot of students but I promise you it works and I realised this last week. Due to at the moment, I’m on my placement year and I went through my First and Second year of university without reading an academic paper outside of what was needed. Even then I only tended to read the abstract and conclusion, you’ll be amazed what you can learn from those two sections alone!
However, for my placement I need to write an academic literature review, I’ve done them before, but I really wanted to focus on this one since it was for my placement. Therefore, I read this great literature review done by my Placement Supervisor and his PhD student and I made notes and I thought nothing more of it. I left it for the weekend but when it got to Monday, and I started to write the literature review. I was very surprised to know that my academic writing seemed to improve a lot and I understood how to write a lot more.
Consequently, I know it doesn’t sound exciting but I promise you reading academic papers is a great way to improve your academic writing skills. As well as if you read ones on topics you enjoy then this can be fun.
So try it and have fun!
Use The Internet:
Finally, there is nothing stopping you from doing your own research to improve. Reading academic papers and looking at what your university offers are both great options that I highly recommend. But sometimes you need someone else to tell you things so you can fully understand it.
You could look at YouTube Videos about academic writing.
You could read articles from other universities or students about essay writing.
All these can be helpful to you, so be proactive and have a look around. You never know what you might find.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve found YouTube videos to be helpful to me and online articles, so try it for yourself.
Alternatively, you might find resources from Active-Class useful. Active-Class has a community blog, written by students, for students. So, consider visiting the site for some insights into education.
Overall, this area isn’t spoken about and it is avoided by most students. This doesn’t make you a bad student and this is something we all need to work on. I know I need to work on this area as well as I know this post has been useful to me so I can think about how I can improve in my academic writing.
So please, research how to improve, use your university, use academic papers, use whatever helps you. But remember to keep learning and having fun too.
However you decide to improve and help your university mindset, I wish you all the best of luck with your university journey!