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Tips for Approaching Deadline Season!

Hello!

Assignments and exams are stressful and pretty much the sole reason for high stress amongst students at any university, but it doesn’t have to be so bad so here are some hints if you find your deadline closer than you expected it to be.

Lists – make a list of everything you need to do, not just ‘write this essay’ but break down what steps you need to take to make sure the essay gets written. If you’ve got multiple assignments then make sure you break them all down in the same way – being able to do a bit of one assignment then a bit of another one might make studying and getting it all done a bit easier because it’s different kinds of work or topics.

No plans – make sure you don’t have any plans, as soon as other commitments come into it you’ll find an excuse to not do any work because you have to be somewhere soon and you don’t want to cut down the time you have even more – give yourself as much time as you can.

No distractions – putting YouTube videos on in the background or just sitting with your flatmates while they play Resident Evil 5 will distract you even if you don’t care about video games. It can be boring and a bit harder to get into it but once you get started you’ll realise you get way more done when you’ve not got Vlogmas videos on in the background.

Find distraction-free rewards – rewarding yourself for getting certain amount of work done is one of the easiest ways to motivate yourself to want to do work. Let yourself have a chocolate or another treat of your choice when you’ve written a certain number of words or written a certain number of pages of notes (obviously adapt this to fit your assignment work).

Getting assignments done this close to Christmas is so difficult because you’re so close to a holiday and getting to go home and spend time with those you love but you’ll enjoy the time off so much more if you know you’ve done as well as you can.

Good luck with your last deadlines and Merry Christmas!

 

In The Student Seat: Sophie
blog: SophieCountsClouds

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Taking a Leave of Absence from Uni

Committing to a university degree is daunting, let’s be honest. You literally have to decide, yes I’m going to spend around 4 years studying this one thing (while having no money, just saying). There will be points when you think “No I really can’t do this, I’ve got 20 assignments due and 5 exams tomorrow and I REALLY WANT TO GO OUT”. That is so normal and you’ll get over it, knuckle down and TADA you’re out with all your friends.  But what happens when you really and truly realise you’re way over your head and stop coping?

This is exactly what happened to me.

I started my third year of university and the proverbial hit the fan. Everything suffered… my work, mental health and relationships all plummeted. For the first five months of my third year I was a wreck and being completely frank, I barely remember them. Between the depression and binge drinking there’s a lot of memories missing for me.  Some days I don’t think I got out of my bed, depression was that debilitating.

One morning, after a particularly heavy night of boozing, being carried home by my friends (and the odd security guard) anxiety and depression making their presence know, enough was enough. Not only were my course, relationships, physical and mental wellbeing at risk; I was 100% on the path to destruction. We’ve all heard horror stories of students committing suicide or dropping off the radar completely and it all makes sense to me now.

So I left. Packed my bags, talked to my tutor, who genuinely deserves a medal for putting up with my issues that year, rang my long suffering Mum and left. It took me about a week at home to get everything sorted out, just a week to put my BSc Physiotherapy on hold, stop my accommodation and slip back into my pre-uni life. Genuinely the best decision ever made!

You might think that just upping and leaving is cheating, or taking the easy option, or quitting… but honestly it just isn’t. One of the most important things about university is learning to look after yourself and knowing your limits.

After a few months of R&R, CBT and support, I’m re-enrolled, back on track and even job hunting for my graduate job. What I’m trying to say is…don’t kill yourself to get a diploma because it’ll be no use if you’ve self-destructed into a quivering wreck. The advice I offer is to find yourself a good university contact, like a tutor or lecturer and let them help you and familiarise yourself with the counselling service that your uni offers.  Work hard, play hard but look after your well-being, and don’t be afraid to say you’re not coping.

Taking a leave of absence or abeyance isn’t quitting or leaving for good, it’s simply saying “I want to do this, but right now it’s not the right place for me”.

In The Student Seat: Sarah

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Doing Christmas on a budget!

Christmas at uni can be a little bit difficult – being a student, you have a lot more responsibility and buying Christmas presents isn’t always cheap so here are some ideas for getting presents on a budget and celebrating the holiday without breaking the bank.

Charity shops – charity shop products are often associated with being grotty and second hand but you can find some real gems, even if it’s just little stocking fillers, it can be an easy way to get some nice things and cheap. Or if you want more of a main present than a filler, you can use charity shops are a platform for making some really sweet, personal presents – you can buy photo frames and put pictures of you and your sibling or your partner or your pet in and give it to your parents or grandparents.

Plan! After Bonfire Night a lot of stores and TV ads go intensely Christmassy, so at that point it’s a good idea to jot down all the names of people you want to buy presents for and having a think about what you want to get them. Planning ahead means you can buy what you want all in one go and you also don’t miss some good deals that the shops have, particularly with it being Black Friday this weekend, Amazon has loads of deals and I’ve been getting spam emails from every website I’ve ever bought something from with cyber weekend sales – it’s the perfect weekend to buy all of your presents if you’re organised enough to plan it all in advance.

Decorations aren’t expensive – in my first year, I bought a three-foot tree for £8 and a bunch of decorations, tinsel and fairy lights from Poundland – it came to less than £15 total and you could ask other people your living with to contribute if you’re wanting to do it for less. The only thing I forgot was a star but that led to a fun afternoon of my friends making stars out of paper and making a top hat? It was so silly. The point is – it’s not expensive to make your house have that little bit of Christmas sparkle.

Personal presents – having touched on this already with photo frames, making something that has a more personal touch than economic value can save your bank balance and actually be received better than a more expensive present. Photo albums, collages, scrapbooks, promise of a day out or a night in, IOUs like a massage after a long day or a nice bath after work – I have had a few friends where we wrote stories for each other for Christmas, whether it included characters we loved from our own stories or other stories, it was so much fun. I bought little notebooks and printed pictures and stuck them all in and made a little photo book and it was so much fun, I loved making it and the friend I gave it to really loved it too, she might even still have it.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year and whilst it can be difficult to not be able to give your family and friends what they really deserve when you don’t have the money for it, but that doesn’t mean Christmas can’t be as good as any other Christmas.

Happy holidays!

 

In The Student Seat: Sophie
blog: SophieCountsClouds

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Study Alternatives | US Education

I graduated college in May of 2016 and to be honest, my experience wasn’t the most positive. For the first three semesters, I suffered from major anxiety attacks, toxic friendships and unsuccess. Since my fourth semester was the most important, my mom hired a tutor and I began taking vitamins to reduce my anxiety. The combination of those greatly helped because I graduated college with honors.

Since my college program, Arts, Letters and Communication was a only a two year preparation to a university program, I would have to choose a university program that would suit my needs. Also, because I hate public transportation and am an independent student, my tutor recommended distance education. I was even able to find a program that meet my interests: an English certificate. And so, as of now, I am an English online university student.

Online education comes with its up and it’s down: more room for procrastination and laziness. But, then again, it builds organisation skills, independence and pride. Also, as a student, you feel better about yourself.

And so that’s why I decided to study alternatively!

Thank you for reading!

In The Student Seat: Mary
blog: future-jetblackhearts.tumblr.com

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5 tips for picking the right course

One of the scariest parts of applying for uni is knowing whether you’ve picked the right course – sometimes it’s a little overwhelming so we’ve collated X tips to help you try and find what’s the right course for you!

First things first – making a list or a mind map or a mood board of the subjects you like, the things you enjoy and the things you’re passionate about. Some people love film, some people love science and some people love any kind of the variety of subjects that are on offer but you need to think about where your passions lie.

Then, order a bunch of prospectus’s from as many universities as you can – they’re completely free and they’ll give you a complete list of everything that’s on offer. It’s worth noting that not every uni offers every course so you’ll have to do a bit of research in terms of picking a more specified uni – some are more creative, some are more academic, it depends on what area you want to study. Reading prospectus’s should give you more of an idea of what you want to do.

The next step is to go to as many open days as you can (or as many as you can afford, train fares can add up!) – talk to as many lecturers as you can, go to as many talks as you can, really try to get a feel for the university while you’re there. You can find out about the units you may go on to study, the kind of facilities that are available at the university as well as what the area is like and student halls!

Once you have a more solid idea of what course or area you would like to study, use UCAS to find which universities offer that course, read up on the units you would be taking and what kind of entry requirements they have. At this point, you can get a good list of which universities you might be interested in and find out if there are any more open days you can attend before you need to get your application in. You can now do more research into each city and what’s available there if that’s something that’s particularly important to you.

If at any point you feel a bit lost – whether it’s before you’ve started looking, the application process or even if you’ve got to uni and you realise that it’s actually not what you’re expecting – talk to someone. Your leadership team at school or college, the student hub at uni, your course leaders and teachers – they will be able to advise you who to talk to if there’s someone more qualified and they’ll be more than happy to do what they can to make sure you’re doing what’s right for you.

In The Student Seat: Sophie
blog: SophieCountsClouds

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4 Money Hacks for Student Living!

It’s not a surprise that students are known for not having any money and not always being particularly sensible with money. It’s not easy, to go from being reliant on your parents for basically everything to being completely self sufficient! To be given a lump some of money in a loan and to be told to survive till Christmas is a big challenge.

Some people get help from their parents and everyone gets a different amount of loan but here are some generic, hopefully helpful, tips to manage your money!

1. Give yourself a weekly allowance
When the loan comes in, write down how much money you have, write down how much your rent costs till Christmas (regardless of whether you pay it all in one go or in monthly installments) and write down how many weeks it is until Christmas. Well, not necessarily Christmas but until the next bit of loan comes in. You know what I mean.

Right I’m going to bring maths into this because I can’t think of another way to explain this simple equation.

If X is how much loan you get, Y is how much rent you pay and Z is how many weeks until the next loan, do: (X – Y) / Z = how much you can spend per week! X minus Y, all divided by Z then magic, money!

If your parents give you money or if you have a job you can factor those figures in too, but the point of this is that once you’ve figured out this figure, stick to it! Don’t let yourself overspend, if you want to make a larger investment then save the money by underspending in other weeks and if you do underspend, you can treat yourself later! Be strict with yourself.

2. Sacrifice branded food
There’ll be a lot of Asda basics and non-branded food – you’ll save so much money. The taste isn’t really that different and you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run. On average, my boyfriend and I spend under £20 a week between the two of us just by knowing what meals we can make cheap and making the most of it when a parent comes to visit.

3. Open a savings account
If you have something in mind that you want to save for or you have a lump some of birthday money or even a spare bit of money – say you’ve underspent one week and you’re feeling really proactive and want to save it. It’s so much easier to move that money into a savings account so you can’t see it and can’t be tempted to spend it.

4. Don’t take your card on a night out!
Nights out aren’t for everyone and some people go out more than others, but generally I’d recommend withdrawing a certain amount of cash and letting that be your limit. Some people accidentally spend hundreds of pounds on nights out and there’s no risk of that if you leave your card at home.

This doesn’t just apply to nights out – if you’re going to a social event or going into town with a friend but don’t want to spend any money, don’t take your money! Then if you want something, you really have to think about it before you buy it.

Obviously all of these tips are easier said than done, but if you can learn from your mistakes and be as sensible as you can with money, it’ll be super useful in the long run!

In The Student Seat: Sophie
blog: SophieCountsClouds

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Being a Journalism Student | Course Chatter

One of the scariest things about university is knowing you’re doing the right course – there are so many courses with slightly different names that are all very slightly different and how do you know which is the one for you?

That’s a whole different post in itself but for today I thought I’d write about what it’s like to be a journalism student.

If you don’t like talking to strangers, you’ve got to learn to do it pretty fast – sure, you might not have to do it in a real life journalism job but you have to be good at socialising, talking on the phone and emailing strangers. As a university journalist, a lot of the stories you’ll be covering are very locally based so you have to work with the locals to get the story! It’s not something that a lot of people are comfortable with, but it’s something you figure you have to do and you get to a point where you just get on with it.

You’re always busy – always looking for a story, with live news days, assignments, interviews, research workbooks, trying to find work experience. I don’t even need to mention wanting to join any societies or having a social life or down time, right? Because it’s a given that it’s all going to be a squeeze. Generally, you need to be the kind of person that likes being busy and works well under stress, as well as having really good time management but you’ve got to be stressed like 90% of the time. A relaxed journalist has forgotten their to do list. (Over stereotyping to the max, but you get the gist).

You’ll have a strength, but you have to focus on your weakness – I do multimedia journalism, which means I learn about producing video, audio, pictures and copy for a full package. A lot of courses approach an angle similar to this now because of the kind of multimedia world we live in but in multimedia it’s completely equal in all four strands. Personally my strength is writing (as if this blog wasn’t enough to suggest that) and I like taking photos and making videos but I find audio quite difficult, particularly when I like editing in a YouTube style which makes it difficult when news editing doesn’t do jumpcuts. Focusing on your weaknesses is a good way to approach it because then you have strengths and then other skills that are just as proficient.

You’ll have friends and flatmates that just don’t get it – they won’t get why you go into uni for 8am sometimes or why you go out at the weekend to film packages for newsday. Personally, all of my friends do BSc courses and take the mick out of me for doing a BA course, but when they see the workload and hear about what I have to do, they have on occassion (not that they’ll admit it) accepted that each course has it’s difficulties and they wouldn’t do my course if you paid them. Right this second, I’ve had two of my eight before-Christmas deadlines pass and my flatmates are yet to get any assignments which is pretty disheartening, but you’ll power through it.

You might not even want to be a journalist – the course teaches you such valuable applicable and life skills but the news journalist industry is hard and you have to be a very particular kind of person to really want it. A lot of people don’t – I know people that want to be photographers, PR assistants and publishers but journalism is a very difficult industry and you’ll admire the people that do it whilst finding your own direction to go in.

Journalism teaches you so many amazing skills – a little bit of multimedia knowledge can get you a long way, but it’s your own interest in video, photography, audio and writing that’ll get you anywhere. It’s that desire to learn and for knowledge, and just being that little bit too nosy but you’re not ashamed of it.

I love being nosy and I love studying journalism because I feel like I’m already in the industry – until this very moment I didn’t even think I wanted to be a journalism but being a newsroom is actually really fun. Working with new people every week and getting to build on each others skills is a wonderful course to be on.

Multimedia journalism is a wonderful course and it’s made me way happier than I ever thought I could be.

I don’t normally write this here, but if you’d like to do a profile on your course and some tips for someone who may be considering taking it up at uni, please drop us a message at our contact page, message our Facebook page or send us a tweet!

Also caffeine. So much caffeine.

In The Student Seat: Sophie
blog: SophieCountsClouds

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Am I too late for university?

So a few years back now I failed my first year of college… I thought at the time that was a big no go as it were. All my friends were moving on to their second year and here I am, choosing new courses so I can sit my first year again and I’ll admit, at first I was scared that I was going to be alone for the next two years in lessons, being a year older and all. What I discovered instead was I made some new friends, even though they were all the school year below me, none of that seemed to matter. As it turned out, whilst I was the oldest in the class, I wasn’t the only second year in the room as there were some people who had sat a preparation year for my course prior to doing the course itself.

A couple of years later I finished that course and the people I met on that course are some of the most interesting and fun people I’ve ever met. But now came university, I went through the whole thought process again. I’m a year behind, here comes seclusion. I thought this because in this country, you finish school at 16, college or sixth form at 18, and then go straight to University. This is how you’re taught from a young age that education works in this country and here I was, 19, and going to start University. As most universities have started doing, my uni had made Facebook groups for new students to start talking and find out who they’re living with. Through this I discovered several people from my upcoming flat and not to my surprise, everyone I found was fresh out of college and heading in to Uni. While these people seem nice (and one of them the best person I’ve ever met) they were all younger than me and I was scared that I was going to move in and they were all going to just ignore me and leave me to my own actions.

I moved in, met my flat mates and they all seemed like really nice people, no one even asked how old anyone else was, it didn’t even seem to matter. I started my course and in icebreakers, we had to introduce ourselves and say how old we were and as it went round the room, I began to notice that actually, there were way more people who had a gap year or even several before coming to university and that started to give me hope.

Now, in my second year of university, while yes some of my friends are 19 going on 20, others are 20 going on 21, one is even 23 going on 24, and no one cares. I realised after a few weeks at university that everyone chooses to come to uni at different ages and no matter the age, no matter the person. Everyone will find acceptance and more importantly, friends.

In The Student Seat: Lucas
blog: Lucas Films Stuff

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Student Perks!

Being a student has many economical perks, outside of the obvious crippling debt and prospective unemployment.

This week we’ve collated a list of some of the best perks of being a student in the UK, just in case you’ve got this far and not heard of them yet.

6 months of free Amazon prime – watching TV shows and films on demand and ordering stuff that will be delivered directly to you the next day? Spontaneous Christmas present offers that will arrive the next day? Pointless stuff you will probably never use but definitely need that will arrive the next day? Yes please!

UniDays – a whole website full of discounts codes for every kind of website you could possibly imagine. 10% off at Apple doesn’t sound like a lot but when you’re thinking of buying a new laptop it shaves a hell of a lot of money off. Also when you need take away in the midst of a late night assignment work, JustEat discount vouchers are like a chorus of singing angels.

Microsoft Office – completely free. Word, ExCel, PowerPoint, other things, all completely free. Free things are nice. Especially when you see how expensive they are when you’re not a student. Make the most of it while you are a student. Word is always useful.

Adobe Creative Cloud – not free, but a lot cheaper. Imagine every program that Adobe produces, for £15 a month. For a lot of courses, programs like Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere are really useful and getting them so cheap is really convenient.

Student Railcard – if you’ve moved a long way away for uni, getting a discount on train journeys makes everything a lot simpler. Even for fun days out, it’s way more fun to have a nice day out when you have a third off the train ticket to get there.

There are student discounts everywhere – any shop you go in, it’s worth asking because there’s every chance somewhere will have some sort of discount, which is always nice when you’re shopping.

There are always loads of local deals too in whatever university town you’re in, it’s worth checking them out.

I should probably say – you have to be sensible with your money and try not to spend it all in one go. But what would uni be if you didn’t place an unnecessary Amazon order at 2am and buy take out when you’re at your lowest? Just do it wisely.

 

In The Student Seat: Sophie
blog: SophieCountsClouds

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Handling School Stress

School is an easy way to get stressed out. There are so many things going on all at once and it can be difficult to balance a good academic and social life. So, here are some tips to help you out.

Set a schedule! I know it sounds obvious, but it really helps. Writing down due dates can be so helpful. Also, try and log study hours on there as well. It helps keep you ready for an upcoming test and allows time for other activities, like hanging out with friends.

Speaking of hanging out with friends, try and plan ahead of time. Last minute plans can be really stressful and can eat into your school/study/work time. Also, scheduling makes it easier on you and the person you are hanging out with!

Don’t use electronics before bed! I know social media keeps us all glued to our phones, but putting it down about 30 minutes before bed helps you fall asleep faster and leads to a better night’s sleep. Try reading or drinking a cup of tea to sooth yourself. Also, try taking a bath if you have one! I know those always help me feel better when I’m stressed.

Ask for help! Lots of students are struggling in class but don’t ask for help, which leads to a boatload of stress. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to talk to your teachers really can make a different.

Don’t wait until last minute. I know lots of students do this, especially with weekend homework. Getting your homework done Friday after school or on a Saturday afternoon really helps keep you less stressed. Doing your homework last minute on a Sunday isn’t good, even though you’re still doing your homework. People usually tend to rush in these situations, which leads to sloppier and less accurate work.

In the end, different methods work for different people and the likelihood that anyone will manage handling their stress with the first thing they try is little to none – it takes work to find what works for you and keeps you at your calmest and happiest! But you’ll get there in the end.

In The Student Seat: Kate
blog: whocaresaboutkate

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