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  • Any tips for degree study?
  • Premier Icon Duffer
    Free Member

    I’ve just started a distance learning undergraduate degree, having done zero education since leaving school at 16. I know there are plenty of academic types on here. Do you have any tips hot tips for a new ‘un?

    I’ve already been advised to start a little database of all the references i use, so I’ve got a bit of a catalogue to call upon later in the course. Sound like a good idea?

    Premier Icon downshep
    Full Member

    Making yourself busy with lists and databases is a classic procrastination technique! As is sitting on the bog typing sarky advice on stw. Better go, supposed to be studying!

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
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    It is an excellent idea.

    Is it in humanities, social science, or science?

    Regardless, this can be extremely helpful: buy yourself a notebook and pen, and carry them with you everywhere, especially when you read. That way, whenever you have thoughts that relate to your academic work, you are able to write them down. Some of them will be silly and useless, but some will be excellent, and you can sort our which is which later.

    Also, using the same notebook, taking notes when you read helps you process the content, and allows you to write more substantially than you would in the margins of a book. Plus, you shouldn’t write in library books anyway.

    Above all, try to enjoy it!

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Full Member

    Top Tip , don’t get a Playstation or a Bong

    Premier Icon loddrik
    Free Member

    Do engineering. I did Geography. Pretty pointless in the end. Always demand for engineering graduates.

    Premier Icon Duffer
    Free Member

    Do engineering. I did Geography

    Bit late for that, i’m afraid! I’m on a Logistics BSc, which is what i do for a living anyway.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    Degrees aren’t inherently difficult these days, Duffer – what’s challenging for your typical undergrad are mundane things like organisation, planning and time-keeping.
    Most under-performing undergrads I see are almost never failing on their raw comprehension of the material, at least initially – they’re failing because they don’t have their shit together. You have a massive advantage here, as you’re a grown-up and you’re studying logistics. So keeping things squared away is what you’re all about. So just take each module as it comes, don’t worry if it seems too easy, and build up a pattern of good study habits.

    Premier Icon sangobegger
    Free Member

    I graduated last year with an environmental science degree at 48. I now work as a rural consultant in the sunny highlands. The previous poster got it in one about organisation. Plan, plan and plan. It removes all the stress, gives you appropriate timelines and gives your learning structure.
    Be an active learner, not a passive one (no I didn’t know what that meant either before I started).
    I watched the kids fail time and again simply because they couldn’t prioritise, so indeed keep your s**t together.
    When being set assignments, read the flipping question as well. And when you are sure you know what they are asking you, read it again.
    References – learn how to do it quickly and do it as you go, not at the end of a 1500 word essay ( cos I was in my flow man).
    Don’t read a dozen books when three will do the same thing. The biggest thing I learned was to streamline my learning.
    And have faith in yourself, hard work and diligence pays off and it will make you a more rounded singletrack poster ( and of course more intelligent, better looking and attractive to impressionable Young female students)

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Free Member

    Treat it like a job.
    These are your tasks/meetings for the day, this is when you will do them and to do them at this time you need to have done this prep.

    Premier Icon chomp
    Free Member

    Evernote

    put everything in Evernote

    In the last year of my part time degree and it’s been a god send. We get sent tons of stuff to read (almost all are pdfs or links to online journals) and putting them in Evernote (along with a pic of the notes I’ve taken if I bothered) has saved me no end of hassle.

    It’s also (imho) worth upgrading from the free version as it ocr’s pdfs and pictures of your notes.

    I have saved countless hours with this bit of software

    Premier Icon kenneththecurtain
    Free Member

    Find out what the grading system is, and focus your efforts accordingly. No point busting your ass for 5% if something else is running simultaneously for 40%.

    Also, work really hard. A good degree will be yours to cash in on forever, so a couple of years of pain is well worth it.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    Treat it like a job.
    These are your tasks/meetings for the day, this is when you will do them and to do them at this time you need to have done this prep.

    +1

    And a database of references is a good idea, as long as you’ve read and notated them (print them off and keep paper copies in folders organised by topic, it’s a good way to cut down on the instinct to hoard unread .pdf’s of papers).

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    I did a part time degree whilst working full time in my early 30s. It is about being able to be organised and being prepared to make sacrifices. Depending on workload, set aside one day or half day at weekends and a couple of evenings a week. Doesn’t have to be the same days each week, just plan it and use it.

    Getting a degree this way is hard, but employers recognise and respect that.

    If there is any sort of group assessment involved, beware. You are only as good as the weakest/least commited member.

    Don’t get married at the end of your first year. Don’t have a baby at the end of your second year.

    Just trust me on that!

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    bookmarking this, cheers.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    My top tips are try not to get stoned every day, miss all your lectures and never hand any assignments in…

    Premier Icon everyone
    Free Member

    For referencing I used Mendeley and it was an absolute life saver. It’s a reference database that can be used within MS word to import your bibliography in whatever format you want (can setup custom formats as well)

    You can also get it to look in your folders and it’ll rip out the metadata from any books/papers/journals that it finds.

    A really useful time saver, easy to use as well!

    Premier Icon thestabiliser
    Free Member

    footflaps – you can hand them in up to a week late and still get the 40% you need.

    And there’s always re-sits!

    Premier Icon sprootlet
    Free Member

    I used a programme called end note for referencing. You can specify how the references are formatted (in accordance with your uni wishes) and provided you start using it at the start of your work it will automatically update your reference list.
    Apply yourself like you do to your work and you will be fine

    Premier Icon sands
    Free Member

    Some good stuff above – My two-penneth:

    sangobegger – Member
    When being set assignments, read the flipping question as well. And when you are sure you know what they are asking you, read it again.

    ^^^ This
    RTFQ should be imprinted on your brain.

    Also, keep going back to re-read the question.
    It’s all too easy to ‘drift’, particularly if you’ve found source material that is interesting, good quality, but not actually answering the original question.

    Correctly used, referencing should contribute validity and authority to your written work.
    As an undergraduate you are not presumed to be an expert.
    If I use MTBs as an example.
    Your opinion on their design might be creative, interesting, even original; however, it will ‘carry more weight’ if combined with references from say Robert Egger, Gary Fisher, Keith Bontrager.


    Buy this: Cite Them Right

    MoreCashThanDash – Member
    If there is any sort of group assessment involved, beware. You are only as good as the weakest/least committed member.

    ^^^ This plus lots

    Early on our course we had the option of a ’Statistics’ module, which was pretty much: ‘How to use MS Excel to register / display / create / extrapolate data‘.
    This was hugely useful throughout the course.

    There is sometimes one definitive text / source regarding a particular subject.
    E.g. back in the 1980s there was a book called ‘Motorcycle Chassis Design’ by Tony Foale. No competent person would have written on that particular subject without having read / referenced it.
    There may be an equivalent for logistics.

    If you find you are ‘word-tied’ and cannot get a start into what you want to write – a useful ‘trick’ is to draw a sketch / schematic and then describe it.

    HTH

    Premier Icon devash
    Free Member

    Just read as much as you can, on all aspects of your topic / course.

    You can never know too much.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    footflaps – you can hand them in up to a week late and still get the 40% you need.

    And there’s always re-sits!

    How about 25 years late?

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    Can’t you just buy the Degree off the internet?

    Premier Icon thestabiliser
    Free Member

    If you’re charlotte whatsherface of my geology course and you cry a lot and flutter your eyelashes then possibly.

    She got the deadline for the dissertation moved back four weeks, upon recieving which news I went back to nurturing teat of the cider bottle. I missed however the rest of the year complaining (quite rightly) and getting the original deadline reinstated until 5 days before the deadline meaning I had a sleepless 100 hours of rabid typing – at the end of which I came out with just shy of a first (for that piece, desmond overall but lucky to get that in reality).

    So yeah OP, cry and cheat and drink and take drugs and one day you’ll be like a composite of me, charlotte and footflaps with a very ordinary qualification. HTH

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    So yeah OP, cry and cheat and drink and take drugs and one day you’ll be like a composite of me, charlotte and footflaps with a very ordinary qualification. HTH

    Exactly, I didn’t get to where I am today by turning up on time sober and studying….

    Premier Icon holst
    Free Member

    Learn how to use a referencing manager such as Endnote or Zotero. If your school has tutorials on stuff like that, go to it and practice.

    Read in an organized and systematic way and keep notes as you go. I still use pencil and paper before typing them, but probably a tablet and something like Onenote or Evernote.

    When you have an assignment, get the core reading done as fast as you can. Write a rough outline of your first draft from your notes, then refine it and write a first draft as early as you can. Put it aside and don’t look at it for a week or two while you do the extension readings. Then read your first draft again and do a major rewrite. Do multiple rewrites until you’re only making minor changes, then put it aside again for a week or two and go back and tidy it up. First drafts are always pretty rough, the more you rewrite it and polish it, the better the end result.

    If you can’t spell or punctuate, find a friend who can and ask them to proofread your work.

    Premier Icon TooTall
    Free Member

    Cite them right is good.

    I went from A Levels aged 18 to MSc aged 38. Yup, steeeeep learning curve. I personally used Zotero for my on line research management. It is very good.

    RTFQ is essential. Write early, leave it, come back to it, read it again, edit it like holst said.

    Are you doing this course through Lincoln Uni?

    Premier Icon GrahamA
    Full Member

    You and lots of people have mentioned references – I’d recommend finding out if your university has a group licence for Refworks or a smiler reference manager, if they don’t Mendeley is free.

    Both Refworks and Mendeley integrate with Word and will let you insert a reference in the correct format and then automatically build a table of references in the correct format. If you do this managing references is trivial

    Learn how to do the references right at the start, I found it best to add everything I read straight into Refworks

    Premier Icon no_eyed_deer
    Free Member

    I’ll be more philosophical, rather than the excitingly-practically-minded data-reference-management-focussed advice that my fellow STWers appear to err on the side of..

    Pretend to think like a professor of your chosen subject. Don’t just try to be an undergraduate student. Think like an academic. Be inquiring like an academic. Research each module, paper, assignment, as if you were an academic expert in that field.

    Your grades – and enthusiasm – even for the most potentially boring parts of your course will improve greatly as a result.

    Your assessors will want to grade highly people who are trying to think like them.

    Premier Icon Duffer
    Free Member

    Thank you for the input, all. Especially the points about note taking; i know from experience that I very rarely make note of things, i simply rely on my brain to remember everything. It always lets me down… it’s a habbit i will need to learn.

    I’d never heard of EverNote. A little googling tells me it’s broadly similar to OneNote. I’ve been given Office365 for free, which has OneNote included, so i’ll certainly have a play with that. Thanks.

    Premier Icon sodslaw
    Free Member

    Treat it like a second job, be prepared to have a minimal social life for a while, especially at the start while you’re feeling your way to how much work is required. If you can do an hour most evenings after work, that way you should have at least one full day free at weekends. Also you may be eligible to use local universities’ libraries, there’s a scheme you can apply for which will get you access (sconul, possibly?) via whoever you’re studying with. Don’t dismiss the local library as a quiet place to work free from distractions (partners, children, TV, Internet…)

    Premier Icon Waderider
    Free Member

    I found the program Mindmap really useful at uni.

    Get a job in a bike shop for £.

    Premier Icon jools182
    Free Member

    loddrik – Member
    Do engineering. I did Geography. Pretty pointless in the end. Always demand for engineering graduates.

    Don’t do engineering

    I did, and now everyone I know, even friends who were always in the bottom set, earn far more than me

    Premier Icon Duffer
    Free Member

    Also you may be eligible to use local universities’ libraries, there’s a scheme you can apply for which will get you access (sconul, possibly?) via whoever you’re studying with.

    Yeah, we recieved a handout at the induction day about that scheme. Ironically, the University running my distance learning programme is also the closest to me geographically. I’ll probably be moving to Oxfordshire sometime this year, so it could be something to make use of in the future.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    Don’t do engineering

    I did,

    What type?

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Full Member

    Last year I studied for some professional exams and the following are things I found handy after ten years away from exams and nearly twenty years since my degree.

    Simplemind app. It’s a couple of quid on Android/Apple and about twenty quid for PC. It’s a mind map making tool, very intuitive to use and with cloud storage portable between platforms.

    Assuming you need to learn content for for exams you can Use images and diagrams and visual associations and review them by recreating them to commit stuff to memory. For example I learned some convoluted regulatory requirements by linking landmarks on a journey i do regularly to a key word or words from the requirements. Coloured pens and plain white paper are good I used to use right up to flip chart size.

    Figure out a routine that works for you to get your hours in. I worked the same pattern week in week out.

    If you have to travel for work take some books and a pad along. If I stopped for a coffee I’d do some reading or a quick review of something for ten minutes.

    Premier Icon jools182
    Free Member

    footflaps – Member
    Don’t do engineering
    I did,

    What type?

    Civil/Structural, HNC level

    Premier Icon TooTall
    Free Member

    I’ll be more philosophical, rather than the excitingly-practically-minded data-reference-management-focussed advice that my fellow STWers appear to err on the side of..

    There’splenty of time for that free thinking once he’s got the basic admin sorted. I loved learning, but getting the basics nailed early is a few less things to worry about and give that latitude for more edumacation.

    Premier Icon holst
    Free Member

    ‘ll be more philosophical, rather than the excitingly-practically-minded data-reference-management-focussed advice that my fellow STWers appear to err on the side of..

    I started out in engineering, ended up with an undergraduate degree in philosophy of science/political philosophy, then an MA in an interdisciplinary field which got me a job that is generally interesting. To succeed in any academic field, you need to read a lot, organize those ideas, and then link them to the bigger picture. The philosophical side is useless if you don’t do your basic readings and organize your ideas. The information is useless if you don’t think about it and restructure your existing knowledge.

    As an undergrad, I basically did all my readings as fast as I could, wrote notes, then went on epic benders to loosen my synapses up a bit. That gave me time to ponder how the new information fitted into a bigger picture of the world and make connections between different areas of knowledge. That approach does not work if you don’t do the readings first and organize your ideas. Just going on a bender will not help with your assignments, you must put in the grunt work first.

    Premier Icon Duffer
    Free Member

    Are you doing this course through Lincoln Uni?

    TooTall – i certainly am. You and i work for the same company, so you’ll know the course i mean. Have you done it?

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Full Member

    What are you going to do with your degree? 50% of graduates are under-employed/don’t use their qualifications. Too many people with degrees chasing too few jobs and some employers are switching to direct hires / vocational training – degrees aren’t necessarily a passport to higher employment these days. Make sure your qualification makes you more employable – try and blend your existing experience with your new knowledge to gain professional affiliations too

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