As an English student in my third year of University, I am extremely busy with my studies, part-time employment and a range of extra-curricular endeavours. However, I believe that planning and organisation is essential for success. This enables you to make effective use of your time and ensures you get the most out of your experiences. You may be wondering how exactly you can make effective use of your own time too… well, let me give you a snapshot of a typical day as an English student.
I begin each week by noting down lectures, seminars, tutorials, work and exercise class times into my diary. I then make a list of university work, part-time employment and extra-curricular activities that I have to complete in the week. I plan my week in advance, including what I’m doing at various points of the day and where I need to be. This ensures I’m making effective and efficient use of my time and enables me to clearly see what I need to get done and when. However, things don’t always go to plan so it’s important to adjust it accordingly as you may find that some tasks take longer to complete, whereas others will get done much quicker than anticipated.
Before lectures and seminars, I complete all mandatory reading, make notes when reading and conduct secondary reading into the novel/subject matter. During lectures, I make concise notes of key areas/theories, note down areas to follow up after class, as well as similarities with my individual findings. During seminars, I elaborate on points of interest with peers, challenge peers’ ideas and pose personal ideas to the group to gain insight into others’ thoughts. After class I always make sure to re-read my notes, type up personal notes, lecture notes and seminar notes under subheadings on a Word document. I re-read certain passages of the text to conduct in-depth analysis, research other areas and then complete my seminar participation form. Following this, I work on reading and researching in preparation for next week’s class. Adopting this approach towards your studies will ensure you are making effective use of each class and will make revision and assignment preparation much easier. Scheduled lectures/seminars for my course are 12 hours per week, 4 hours for 3 days, but I ensure I attend university from 9am – 5pm and sometimes even 9am – 9pm as I just can’t get enough of studying (the library has literally become my second home).
Throughout my time at university I have had a variety of jobs; I worked as a Study Advisor for the Study Skills department, an Associate for the Careers and Employment Service, a Medicines Over-The-Counter Assistant and Dispenser at a Pharmacy, an Ambassador for Outreach, an Intern for Surtal Arts, and a Sports Participation Assistant for the Union of Students. The skills gained from each of these roles have enabled me to develop my transferable skills as well as obtaining a deeper insight into various industries.
I get involved in many extra-curricular opportunities such as writing articles for the website Punjab 2000, acting as the Sub-Editor for Phantom Media Newspaper, and live guest speaking on BBC Radio. I am involved in academic representation as a Programme Representative and College Representative, I’m a committee member of Raise and Give and the Literature and Decolonisation network, Vice President of the English Society, a University blogger and vlogger, and present at many conferences and events. I believe it’s very beneficial to explore a range of options and grasp each opportunity that comes your way. Not only does this increase your skill set and subsequently your employability prospects, it also enables you to develop new areas of interest and hobbies.
It is important to keep fit and exercise. I combine my passion and exercise together, which is Bhangra and Gidha dancing. I attend weekly classes and perform at events such as weddings and parties with a team, and also help the Captain to run classes. Having an activity which takes your mind off work and the intensity of academia is also very important.
I always end the day with a reflection as it is only when we reflect on our day, actions and successes that we can succeed further and learn from our mistakes. I reflect upon my achievements throughout the day, as well as areas of improvement/growth/development. I then conclude my day with a prayer and meditation before bed.
The key to getting university work done, having multiple part-time jobs and being involved in many extra-curricular activities is to be organised, plan well and manage time effectively. However, most importantly, it is essential to have a genuine passion for everything that you do.