My thoughts on ‘The Study Skills Book’…

 Having read the book ‘The Study Skills Book’ by Kathleen McMillan and Jonathan Weyers, I have come to a variety of conclusions about what it means to be a student & what skills I should like to posses by the time I’ve graduated.

There is a lot to be considered when starting out as a university student, I for one am fully aware of this having started out on a very different university course 2 years ago. The start of the book discusses the importance of goal setting for the long term and asks the reader to contemplate where they see themselves in 5 years time and 10 years time. I feel by looking at your long term goals you can make better informed short-term goals, this idea is backed up by the questions asked in the book, ie; ‘what subjects will you need to study to achieve your goals?’

This time around, I am staying at home while studying. I feel like this is a much better choice for me in terms of finance and being in an environment that is appropriate for my learning. Page 8 of The Study Skills book provides information comparing the pros and cons of living at home or moving into student accommodation. I feel like the thoughts laid out in the book are very similar to those I had when looking at accommodation options. Right now this is what’s best for me, but I have considered looking at shared accommodation in the future.

The book dedicates a considerable amount of time to talking about financing university. Every student has a different budget to work with as well as different out goings. The majority of my expenditure this year will be on travel, parking and materials for study (books, stationary etc). While university can be expensive, the long term benefits far out weigh the short term costs. As a Scottish student, I am very lucky to have the support of SAAS for tuition fees and indeed a loan should I wish to take up that option.

One thing I found particularly interesting from the book was the mention of the need for mental change, I agree completely with this. University can be a wonderful enlightening experience or a negative one, dependant on how you view it. My first experience of university was the latter, but having returned I have a completely different mindset and attitude towards achieving my goals as a professional.

University is very different from school or the workplace, it requires a lot of self directed activity and intrinsic motivation to get things done. As a whole, the university has general expectations of it’s students some of which I will go on to discuss. It is generally accepted that communication is vital to the progression and success of students, a student should aim to complete all administrative tasks such as matriculation in a timely manner. It is also imperative that student make regular use of IT and email accounts to keep up with any important information. Furthermore, personal organisation is expected of all students – this encapsulates time management, keeping note of important deadlines and creating a balance between work and play. A student is expected to embrace university life by being open to learning new skills and ways of working while assessing how they can plan their studies to get the most out of the course. As an institution, the university has a broad wealth of services available to students to ensure their university experience is both enjoyable and productive. It is expected that when issues arise for a student they will make appropriate use of these services before reaching a crisis. I have looked at these points mentioned in The Study Skills Book and have outlined the areas which I personally need to consider further and organise more efficiently. The book has opened me up to some new ideas surrounding how I can get the most out of my education.

As previously noted, University life is far removed from school life. The text asks the question, “What makes university different?” There are lots of answers to this question. Firstly, attendance is not monitored as rigidly as in school. For the teaching course, 80% attendance is required which gives quite a lot of room for the odd day off. However, a motivated student would look to keep attendance as high as possible. The teaching style also differs a lot from school, with a large proportion of input being directed in lectures rather than classroom situations. Typically, a student will work a 40-hour week on a full time course – however a lot of this time should be made up of self directed study, this is very different from the school learning environment. In terms of assessment, a student will receive a grade on the piece of work they hand in. Essays or assignments are not proof read by lectures/tutors and so the student should take ownership of having this done by peers or relatives. University is largely about learning to learn in a manner that can be continued throughout life, and allows the individual to embark on continual personal development.

On a whole, university is not just about passing exams or attaining a qualification in one subject area. It is about preparing a student for employment as a graduate. On leaving university, the learner should aim to have gained a repetoire of skills including; personal development skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, technical skills and intellectual skills, all of which are desirable to the employer.

2 thoughts on “My thoughts on ‘The Study Skills Book’…

  1. Richard Holme

    Some very interesting reflections here. The change from professional or school/college student to University student can be a challenge. I’ve always wondered how well students are prepared for this, and how much it depends on prior experience. The sudden change in levels of freedom and autonomy should not be overlooked by University staff and this is something I shall reflect on as a result of this post. Thanks.

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  2. Carrie McLennan

    Lynsey, this is a very insightful post in relation to some of the issues which we, as tutors, tend not to think about so much; we tend to focus on your academic development. You are so right, however, in acknowledging all the other aspects which are important for students as they transition into university life.

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