Pictured from left to right: Jots Sehmbi; graduate of Bsc Information Systems and Management, Rosie Gosling; Director of Institutional Liaison, University of London International Programmes at LSE, Frank Wisselink; graduate of BSc Economics and Management 2010 and Liz Wise; graduate of Bsc Politics and International Relations 2010.
Hi all fellow students,
I completed my BSc Information Systems and Management degree after 7 long long long years this year…and thought it might be helpful to offer some words of encouragement and possibly some hints and tips for new students just starting off before I signoff from the VLE….and have a little look back at the 7 years….
When I joined UOL many years ago, there was no VLE, no online official discussion forums or online study guides. What existed was an unofficial forum called yansa.org (you are not studying alone) which was being run by a fellow student. This forum helped me to connect with other students who were studying the same courses, and out of that lifelong friendships blossomed.
Working with a core set of students, we established an unofficial online study group using messenger technologies and other online based forums. Soon I was waking up on Saturday mornings and logging into chat and study sessions with students from all across the world from Iran, Europe, Australia and the US. I thought wow…what a great feeling communicating and working with students across the globe to achieve study goals and support each other.
We then thought it would be a good idea to have a physical meeting once or twice a year for students who were starting their studies, as way of establishing study groups and putting students who had already completed modules, in touch with new students. I had already been meeting with 2 students once or twice a year at LSE as way of “kicking off” our studies and supporting each other, before the first kick off weekend was arranged.
In 2007, the first kick off weekend was organised at LSE by 3 students, with the help of the lovely folk in the LSE External office to get access to rooms and the library. We had around 30 students attend, from all over the world. Rosie Gosling also spoke and gave a warm welcome and helped students with studies. Out of this grew a following for the event with students contacting us for dates of the next kick off weekend. We ran the kick off weekends for another 2 years and by the time the last one was held in 2009, we had lecturers for 4 different subjects and 50 students attend, and Rosie was always there to give her time and a warm welcome and encouragement at each kick off weekend. Students gave great feedback and said that having 2 occasions (the kick off weekend and the officially run Study weekend by LSE) to help with studies was very useful. Particularly, having an event at the start of the academic year to *kick off* studies was good for motivation, and meant that by the time the revision weekend came around in February, students had made good progress and established study groups. Due to the success of the kick off weekends, the event which is now a Kick off day, was officially taken over by LSE in 2010. This is one of the high points of my time with the University of London International Programmes; to be able to create an event which will continue to provide support and guidance for new students year on year.
Other high points include:
1. A great sense of achievement in having completed the course by independent study as well as working full time and dealing with all of life’s complexities.
2. I’ve made lifelong friends from all over the world, who have shown me parts of the world I may not have travelled to and continue to offer wonderful friendships.
3. I have learnt a great deal of things along the 7 year journey, which I’ve been able to put into practice in both my professional and personal life.
4. The feeling that anything is possible and that the world is small place!
5. Understanding that changes are possible if we all work together.
There were of course times, when I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere and it was hard to focus on studies with having to also work full time. But bit by bit, year by year I finally completed my goal…so I my first top tip is this: don’t give up, you can do it, it’s about patience and doing what you can manage in the time you have. Even if you only manage to take a single unit in a year, that’s a great achievement, so give yourself a pat on the back for that!
Here’s a list of my other tips:
1. Focus on courses that you are interested in because you will likely do best in those.
2. Utilise all your resources, VLE, chat sessions and forum study groups if you can. Study groups helped me greatly for motivation and progress. When I was studying Sociology, a group of 8 of us would email a question we had made up on a particular topic to the rest of the group each week and we all had to respond via email to the question. They were short questions and only took 10 minutes to write a response…but they helped the key concepts gel in my head.
3. Start writing essays and answering short questions early, don’t ignore the end of chapter questions in the study guides. If you can answer those questions, then building up to a long essay should be simpler.
4. Create yourself a proper study space where you won’t be disturbed and you then know you’re in “study mode” when you enter that place. Not everyone has a place at home where they can study so think about using other public places: libraries, parks and coffee shops. I loved revising in the summer in the park as I didn’t feel I wasn’t being deprived of the sun by being stuck to a desk, and I got a nice summer glow in the process too!
5. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to your study plan, you will have good and bad days, as long as you do *something* you are on the right track.
6. Plan but don’t over plan – set yourself weekly and monthly goals at the start of the academic year and then adjust if needed. Having a plan is better than having no plan!
7. Enjoy your studies, if you treat them as a chore…it’s harder to study…no one likes chores!
8. Remember that you are NOT alone and there are lots of other students out there.
I have loved and thoroughly enjoyed my time studying with the University of London International Programmes and just wanted to share some of my experience so hopefully it can also help other students starting off.
Good luck to you all.