How has my own personal academic tutor challenged me?

Personal academic tutors (PAT) are an essential part of your university career, but you may not realise the true importance of this relationship. Every student is assigned a personal academic tutor when they start at the University of Derby and they play a key role in helping you make the right decisions towards your future career. But how has my own personal academic tutor challenged me?

Support from the beginning

Personally, I know that having a PAT is a great way for me to make sure I always work to the best of my ability, and it also allows me to ensure I am creating pieces of work that I can be super proud of when I graduate. I have to admit, before I started my course here at the University of Derby, I never felt like I was being pushed to do my best work, I always felt as though I was simply settling, just to pass exams at college. However, this feeling changed once I had started my first year studying Media Production.

From the beginning of my course, my tutor was keen to find out what I thought my strengths and weaknesses were, which topics interested me, what areas of the course I enjoy the most and most importantly, what career I would like to pursue in the future. After each meeting I always felt so positive about the work I was producing like I’d found the right career path for me, which I must admit felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. But don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure – that’s what your PAT is there for, to help guide you through these decisions.

Pushing my personal boundaries

Throughout my first and second year of study at Derby I began to realise that Graphic Design was truly where my heart lay. Throughout my first year it turned out my PAT was the lead lecturer on that particular module, meaning we could talk about my interests and goals within lectures.  We would speak about where I could see myself working, and what type of designs I wanted to produce. Not only this, but throughout the module when I was producing work my PAT would always make me think ‘how could I do this differently?’ or ‘what adjustments can be made to make it even more unique than what is already out there?’ I was always being challenged to not only push the professional boundaries of design, but also my personal boundaries too. My PAT taught me the best way to build on the skills I’d learnt before starting university and now I am creating work that I once only imagined.

My PAT sessions help me understand what progress I’m making by looking at past and current grades. This comparison helps me to see if changes I’ve made to my studies are working or if they aren’t. If my current grade isn’t quite up to where I want it to be personally, my PAT and I can talk through, in detail, how I can change my work to be better. It is always great to be able to talk through everything.

Regular meetings are key

My PAT and I have regular meetings and catch ups. By having meetings like these after holidays, for example, it’s a great opportunity to lay everything out and help me to see how I can improve on my skills and work in the short-term.

Having regular updates with my PAT has allowed me to produce work on three modules that I’ve then won awards for at our ‘Media Production Awards’ ceremony. By working with my PAT I was able to understand what was expected of me in much more detail, which I could then put into practise and demonstrate within my work. It is through these meetings and conversations that I was able to constantly try new creative ideas to expand my understanding of design and therefore adapt my work. These awards are a huge achievement for me, and they are thanks to the relationship I have with my PAT – overall it has helped me develop greatly.

On top of this, I also discuss extra-curricular opportunities with my PAT. All of the extra-curricular activities are essential in giving me different experiences and skills that I will be able to use in my future career. I’ve also found that taking part in extra activities has drastically improved my confidence both academically and personally.

To summarise, achievements, whether they be personal or award based, become so visible with the help and challenge from your own PAT.

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