Updated: Jun 15, 2022
From Part 1, I shared 3 tips that helped me through my MSC journey, which were:
Tip 1: If you're lazy, get organized and get efficient. Tip 2: Break work into small pieces and start early. Tip 3: Skim read and slow read effectively
This time, I'll be sharing a few bits more that really helped me, and hope it can help you too.
Tip 4: Don't be afraid to ask questions
Maybe it's an island thing, where you don't want to ask questions for the fear of looking silly. Just ask anyway. If you're lucky and you pay enough attention in class, someone else might ask the same question you have.
At Brunel Uni, each course had its own online question forum, where students can ask questions anonymously. If you're too shy to ask in person, you could always post your question on the forum, and the lecturer would respond in a day or two. Or, you could also email your lecturer directly too.
I loved that there were many platforms to ask questions at Brunel Uni, and the lectures at Brunel Uni are very responsive and helpful. Most of them were friendly and happy to talk to students and answer questions. A lazy person like me likes to ask a lot of questions so I can figure out what needs to be done, how things can be done, then get things done, with least amount of effort possible. I need all the answers and help I can get to carry on getting things done without too much hassle, so, I will ask all the questions I need to ask.
If you never ask, you'll never know. And if you never know, you'll never get things done. If you don't get things done promptly, you're going to need a lot more energy and effort to sort it out later. Too much hassle. So don't be afraid and ask questions.
Tip 5: Use resources effectively (Free Uni services)
Most unis offer free academic skill sessions, like writing seminars, how to use SPSS software, basic statistics for research or proofreading services. Such services are there to help students achieve the best possible results, so use it if it's available at your uni.
Some unis offer additional help for International students, especially if English is their second language. (Auckland Uni and Brunel Uni both offered such help)
For academic writing at Brunel Uni, we could book 4 sessions ( 1 hour per session) each semester with an advisor who would proof-read our work. We had to book 2 days in advance and provide a draft of a maximum of 1500 words. During the session, the advisor would give constructive feedback on our work, like the writing style, coherency, grammar, referencing, format and such.
If you were brave enough, you could even ask them what grade they'd give you for your draft, and how you can bump it up to an A+. I did this, and of course, my ego was bruised when the advisor told me they'd give me C+ for my draft🤣. Anyway, I took their advice and fixed my assignment and eventually did get an A+ for it.
For these free academic writing sessions, you had to be strategic when you book. Obviously, when it's closer to the assignment due date, a lot of students would be booking at the last minute and it's hard to get a booking. So, start your assignment early and get help early.
Other than academic help, most unis also offer free counselling, career advice, mental health and well-being seminars etc. Before the pandemic, Brunel Uni offered a lot of free seminars for postgraduate students, like professional career development and leadership development. There were usually snacks and tea available at these seminars, which was my true reason for going lol. I also attended a few online mental health seminars during the semester, and I personally found such seminars were helpful during the Pandemic and lockdown periods. Even with the pandemic, these support services were still available, but all online via Zoom.
Tip 6: Learn how to maximise using the library & online resources
Some courses have a list of mandatory textbooks in the required reading list. However, textbooks are EXPENSIVE 🤯🤯. Instead:
Borrow physical textbooks from the Uni library. I prefer to borrow library textbooks that already have some wear and tear on it because that usually means that students who borrowed it before have highlighted key points and left notes on the textbook margins. I can learn from that and if I highlight and make notes in the textbook, it makes little difference to the state of the textbook.
Brunel Uni library also had the digital version of most textbooks, but you couldn't download it and you can only view it online via the library website.
If you have to buy a textbook, try buying a 2nd hand or an earlier edition as it's usually cheaper. You can even search for free versions of textbooks online. Here are some sites you could check out:
Sometimes, there are even textbooks not on the reading list which are easier to understand than the compulsory textbook, so it's worth checking out.
Librarians are really nice (especially at Brunel Uni) and if you chat with them about what course you're doing, they have some helpful suggestions about similar/relevant textbooks/databases/journal articles in your field of study.
Tip 7: YouTube anything you don't understand in class
There are so many great YouTube videos that help to explain and simplify a concept in 20 minutes or less! YouTube is great!
For example, in my case, I don't have a business academic background. There were some mandatory courses of my MSc degree, namely, International Management and Strategic Management, which had bits of finance, economics and management principles.
What I didn't understand from the lectures and readings, I'd look up on YouTube. Something like "Competitive Business and Corporate Strategy for economic growth for dummies".
I'd watch a few videos and my notes started to make sense more, which was really helpful for me. If I still had questions, I'd pop it on the question forum or email the lecturer.
Tip 8: Don't miss/skip class
Most unis offer lecture recordings, so people tend to think this makes it ok to skip class (Pre-covid scenario). Lecture recordings are great for students who may have a schedule clash between uni and a job or students who were sick on the day of the lecture etc.
However, every once in a while,
the online recording will not be audible due to some technical error, or
the lecturer forgot to press record or
the lecturer is petty and intentionally doesn't record when they talk about bits that come in the exam or assessment, as a reward for those that made an effort to show up to class (true story 🤣🤣) or
you don't have a good internet connection at home or where ever you're checking in from and you can't get the most of the recording.
Since lectures, seminars and tutorials are all part of your uni experience, make the most of it and go if you can (assuming it is safe and you are going to Uni in a country that currently doesn't have strict Covid restrictions lol). Even though most classes are now online, it's still best to attend the class as scheduled instead of just listening/watching to the recording after. My point is to think of lecture recording as a back-up for revision, and not as a substitute for class.
That's it for Part II and here's a summary of all the tips so far:
Discussed in Part I:
Tip 1: If you're lazy, get organized and get efficient. Tip 2: Break work into small pieces and start early. Tip 3: Skim read and slow read effectively.
Discussed in Part II:
Tip 4: Don't be afraid to ask questions. Tip 5: Use resources effectively (Free Uni services). Tip 6: Learn how to maximise using the library & online resources Tip 7: YouTube anything you don't understand in class. Tip 8: Don't miss/skip class.
Part III will cover the last few tips and overall summary, and again, I hope this was helpful to someone! Thank you for reading this far!