1. Be really organised! I work 2 ½ days a week, study 2 ½ days, and have 3 year old triplets. I’ve discovered being a mum, especially to a hoard, means I’m much more focused and use my time wisely - when I have it!
2. Start everything early. You will run out of time otherwise. Start planning your reading and assignments at the start of the module.
3. Finish everything early. I make sure I’ve got a first draft of an essay at least a few days before it’s due. That way, if the kids are ill (which has happened), I can at least submit something.
4. At the start of your course you will probably feel like one of the gang with everyone else. However, as time goes on you may start to feel like an add-on who turns up randomly. To resolve this…
5. Try to get involved in departmental and course events whether they are social or study related. I’ve struggled to achieve this around work and family, but you really will find it useful if you can do.
6. Getting involved with student representation and committees will help both you and your fellow students - and your prospects if you want to go on to further study.
7. Mendeley is a great free app for reading papers and adding notations. You can enter the citation details for books too and add notes online. It means you can access your reading wherever you are (on a PC, phone or tablet) and you can use it with Word to write and reference your essays. Worth spending a bit of time to learn how to use it, as it really saves time later on.
8. Appreciate it! I have really enjoyed studying. It’s such a change from work. It’s such a privilege to have time to think. I even enjoy writing essays! I can’t say I would have felt like that when I was younger.
Claire Cunnington, MA Social Research