Skills to Success at University
University study needs a lot of new skills — however there’s lots of help at hand. Have you heard about some free online training to help you feel prepared to study and more confident in all areas of learning?
Hello! I’m Katie, a third year BA English Literature student from Middlesbrough. Since April, I have been helping with the creation of a MOOC (massive online open course) on skills to success at University, alongside other fellow students — alongside this I have worked various part time jobs which I have balanced alongside my studies.
After university, I am hoping to travel and try out different jobs, placements, internships and voluntary roles. I have always been drawn to different career paths and have never really felt like I want to do one specific thing. I am excited to pursue my interests, gain experience in different areas of work and see where that takes me. With regards to my interests, I am particularly drawn to journalism, museum and archival work, social work, teaching English abroad, teaching in higher education, charity and community outreach work, media, and wellbeing related disciplines — I am also considering postgraduate study. Basically, I’m very indecisive! Although, I do think that we should never limit ourselves and if there is something you want to do — go for it! Oftentimes we may feel pressure to put ourselves in a box and decide on one specific career early on in life, but that’s not for everyone. Your goals, career plans and work experience can be as multi-faceted as you’d like — it’s all valuable!
I got involved with the MOOC because I know I would have massively benefitted from it when I first came to university. It’s so important and I think there was a huge gap for something like this. I feel like university can seem quite scary and intimidating at first for a lot of people. Some people transition really easily and don’t find it challenging at all — others really struggle — and that’s completely okay! I think the MOOC will be really useful as a companion to people who are just starting university, as a practical and realistic guide to help you prepare. Although this won’t be the case for everyone, I think a lot of students from underrepresented backgrounds will find it difficult to adapt to university life in one way or another. Whether that’s experiencing imposter syndrome, struggling to make friends or keep on top of work, or not feeling like you’re “smart” enough to be on your course — you’re never alone with these feelings and that’s why it’s so important that there’s helpful aids like the MOOC available in the early stages. These are all feelings I have experienced at some point whilst at university and I know how much it can impact your experience, which is why I wanted to be involved in the MOOC.
During the development of the MOOC, I gave my feedback and input on each section of the course. I was given the opportunity to explain and comment on what I liked and didn’t like about the content, format and layout of the MOOC. When it came to filming, I was given prompts and general topics to give my advice and ideas on, but the advice I gave was completely my own. It was a really good opportunity to reflect upon and consolidate the skills I had learned at university so far. I also prepared various resources and exemplar note sheets and essays, demonstrating different study methods, which were subsequently scanned onto the MOOC as downloadable PDF documents. These will hopefully help new students with their studying and essay writing techniques at university. The whole course was very student-led, and those who were overseeing the course were always very keen to hear our thoughts and perspectives — which was really nice!
I think the course will be really beneficial for new students — I hope that it will help develop their time management skills, essay writing methods and note-making techniques really early on in their degree — these are all things which can often take a while to develop and perfect, at least in my own experience. I hope it helps to stop mistakes being made that can be avoided, and hopefully new students can learn from our experiences! If I were a new student, I think I would particularly benefit from finding out about the various means of support available. It’s so easy at the start of the term to miss out on the emails about pastoral officers and wellbeing contacts — but they are so useful to know and you will probably need them at some point. Completing the course will allow people to learn about what support is available at university, and how to assure you make the most of your experience whilst looking after yourself in the process, and I think that is absolutely crucial — whether you find the transition smooth or a little challenging.
During my participation in the MOOC, I have been able to consolidate my skills and achievements throughout the year. When writing the script and discussing my learnings throughout the year, I have been able progress with my own academic development. I have also made new connections and friendships within the student success champion community — meeting people with common interests and experiences has been incredibly rewarding. Even in terms of my confidence — before taking part in the MOOC, I never thought I would be so comfortable in front of the camera. After this experience, I have found myself much more interested in the possibility of a career in media or broadcast journalism (jobs where I will potentially be in front of the camera).
With regards to other opportunities I have been involved in/ things I am looking forward to, I was chosen to take part in the LEAP (Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme) in my second year — this year I will be completing the careers/mentoring section of the programme. I have found this so interesting, beneficial and rewarding and I am really looking forward to continuing it this year. I am also a member of the Well-being forum for the faculty of arts humanities of cultures, which will allow me to give my input on wellbeing strategies and activities within the faculty — in order to help students feel more fulfilled whilst at university. I am also hoping to submit some articles for the Gryphon whilst in my third year — this is something I have wanted to do throughout my years at university so far and I am motivated to do so in my final year!