Posted Nov. 22, 2021
It’s the eternal question, how can you ensure success in your postgraduate studies?
Here you are — a former undergraduate student who has weathered the storm, now preparing to embark on a postgraduate journey. While it’s easy to declare a new challenge means new beginnings and a fresh, new outlook on life, first ask yourself this: have I learned the right lessons from the pitfalls of my undergraduate studies?
Your undergraduate dissertation might have stretched your academic muscles, but the pressure only mounts from this point forwards. Though this is not to say the leap in difficulty isn’t something you can handle (you certainly can), only you need to set off on the right path. So, in this article, we aim to help set your postgraduate studies up for success. Read on as we explore how to get back into a good studying routine, ready to take on this new challenge.
1. Practice strategic notetaking
Note-taking: the scribbled companion to a meandering lecture. During your undergraduate student life, too often note-taking becomes a confused obligation so undecipherable the information is never looked at again. For your postgraduate experience to be a success, things like this need to change. Postgraduate notetaking demands a strategic approach that thoroughly maps out all the information from the speaker’s mind. To do this you need to understand the crux of the lecture and get to the point fast. Refrain from scribbling down everything and anything that sounds important, instead confine your notes to the main points, being careful to attribute quotes as to not lose them in the fold. Some postgraduate students make a special effort to record lectures using mind maps, which helps to create a visual representation of the speaker’s narrative, linking points together quickly without wasting words. Another good tip is to summarise arguments in your own words to avoid inadvertent plagiarism — hopefully, as a postgrad you are too experienced to succumb to this pitfall.
2. Care for your physical and mental health
Concentration is the key to effective studying, but that’s not to say you should be cramming in back-to-back sessions at the expense of your mental and physical wellbeing. Your postgraduate studies are likely to be a stressful process, but there are ways of managing that stress so that you can see the masters or PhD course through to the end. When planning your study routine, be sure to incorporate elements away from the postgrad grind that safeguards and preserves your health. After all, as long as stress levels are elevated, your body and mind are vulnerable to a series of issues. For example, anxiety is linked to flu-like symptoms and can hamper your immune system's ability to fight off illness. With this in mind, you could benefit from taking supplements or vitamins for university life and studying to boost your immune system. Many students take supplements, especially during flu season, because they are packed with vitamins to shorten sickness and stave off illness during exams and peak study periods. Sometimes, even when your body feels fine, your mind deserves a break. From study burnout to social drama, student life takes its toll on your wellbeing. It’s important to stay active during this time, not by doubling down on your studies, but by embracing the things you enjoy — this can be anything from exercise to getting reacquainted with your favourite video game. It’s all about taking some ‘me’ time away from the pressure of your postgrad to ensure you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
3. Embrace your academic community
As a postgraduate student, there are many university resources available you might not have needed, or were even aware of, during your undergraduate days. For example, Bournemouth University provides a range of student services from financial aid to skill-building workshops and job hunting – all to establish a support platform for postgraduate success. Moreover, you should not shy away from the wider community on your course, get out there and network. While it’s easy to bury yourself in a textbook, communicating with friends, students, professors and supervisors often prove a vital sounding board for your ideas.
In a nutshell
The step up to studying a postgraduate program is something your undergraduate studies alone will not prepare you for. Why? Because your postgraduate modules are credited at a higher level, plus you are expected to master independent study on route to a far more substantial final project. From practicing strategic notetaking and caring for your health to embracing the wider academic community – if you follow our tips, you should set yourself up for success and hit the ground running into a good studying routine.
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