flat lay photography of blue backpack beside book and silver MacBook
Credit: Matt

Hey friends!

Welcome back to my space! So it's been a couple months since I've handed in my final dissertation and I'm not going to lie, they have not been an easy transition from a high stress situation and juggling expectations and other stuff that we are not going to talk about today.

What we are going to jump on are the ten things I've learned from being at Uni and the tips and tricks you can use to make your educational journey a little easier. If you didn't know, I'm a Masters graduate of Digital Marketing Communications at Man Met. It is a course that I've grown to learn and love which is why I've been jumping back into content creation, following what I was taught!

Anyway, let's jump right in:

1. Self Discipline

group of martial artists sitting on the grounds
Credit: Thao
This is something that comes the moment you decide to sign up for your course. I'm pretty sure I've briefly talked about this, but at University, you spend more time studying outside of the classroom and lesson times than you do during. Don't take lessons as the only time you're going to learn something, see them as a session for you to gather information on where you can source out other things as well as check if you are on the right path in your research/study. As such, self-discipline is really important because if you don't have it, chances are you're not going to do as well as you'd like!

2. Love what you do

people laughing and talking outside during daytime
Credit: Priscilla
I know studying is not something everyone enjoy doing and most of us do it out of societal expectations and what not. But after my degree, I realised that I actually take pleasure in diving into books, finding out new things and putting my knowledge to use. I love my whole thesis process, writing, critiquing and all that fun stuff. All of these only came in the time where I did my masters because trust me, during the days where I was pursuing my BA, I was struggling so much. I hated waking up and going to the library where I'd spend hours on end on something and then ended up with a grade that doesn't even reflect my effort. So after handing in my thesis last year, I sat down and tried to understand why the difference? I was in the same uni and learning something that is even more challenging than the last - then I found the answer: I grew to love what I was focusing my time on.

Back in my Bachelor days, I was doing research and studying things that I did not have 101% interest in. Even though it was an area where I enjoyed, I did not love it while in my masters, it was something I was very excited about. I couldn't wait to attend lessons, discuss things with my classmates and tutors and basically just do everything without anyone or anything 'weighing on' me. Maybe because it was a new area where I'm dipping my toes into or it is just a subject area where I could very easily relate to since you know, I'm very into my digital world. So yes, loving what you do is very important so if you're thinking of applying for a course, make sure you will love it, not just enjoy it.

If you're in uni and you still have plenty of time where you can switch into a course where you'll find yourself excited to get out of bed, do it. Trust me, you won't regret it.

3. Plan, plan and plan

grey and black pen on calendar book
Credit: Renata
Similar to the first point, the only way to practice self discipline is to plan. Plan everything that you can, I have up to three planners when I was at uni and doing part time work. One planner for each 'area' so I can keep track of my tasks and time. I personally find that I work best knowing what comes next so by writing down and planning my days out really helps me keep everything on track. It also makes me aware of deadlines and sort out what assignments comes first and where I have the time to do other things because at the end of the day, you still kind of need a life right?

4. Stick to a schedule

black chalk board
Credit: Daniele
Following the point above, when you put a plan in place - stick to it. If you are juggling multiple units, make sure you space them out and allocate specific times/days to research on them. Sometimes you may need to switch days around especially around submission dates, but make sure you give each unit ample time and attention. Speaking of submissions, I always set myself three days prior to the actual deadline for me to complete my work because I want to check, double check and triple check. When you do that, you'll realise that you can make the silliest mistakes which you might not even pick out just because you've been buried in this work for the last few days/weeks and our brain automatically ignores something that you've previous recognised before so take the time to check through!

5. Support System

photo of three women lifting there hands \
Credit: Simon
This was something I've spent a lot of time praying for before I started my masters and I would say God has answered my prayers in the best way possible. Having a support system is one of the pillars of success in uni, in my humble opinion. A support system can be a group of classmates, tutors or even a mixture of both. These people will usually be in the 'same boat' as you and understand what you're going through. You don't necessarily need to be in the same group as these people in group work but you trust them and you are willing to turn to them when you need a little bit of push, whether it is academically, physically or emotionally. Because I was an advanced student when I was doing my BA, I joined a class where everyone had their own circle of friends and thank goodness I found two friends that brought me through two years. They've been the loveliest and the best people I've spent my BA years and I couldn't have done it without them.

Similarly, in my masters year, I found a bigger group of people but this time the dynamics were different just because everyone is slightly older with different experiences and cultural background so there was a lot of bounce off. BA and Masters are very different journeys because of the level of work and all that, that comes into play. This group of people has not only been there through the uni days but also on days where we just need to polish a few glasses of wine or simply head out for a nice dinner somewhere. Also, with this group, we are on really good terms with our tutors who are very much like the super smart friends that can't wait to impart their knowledge to you. All of these peeps helped me kept my head straight and been there through the best and the worst times so I highly recommend that you find yourself a strong support system.

6. Revise

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Credit: Green Chameleon
This goes without saying but apart from working on your assignments, I recommend that you always look back on the lessons you have and the notes you've taken. Just to refresh your memory a little and keep things new and also use this time to jot down any new findings/questions you might have for your tutors or peers. You'd be surprised how much new information you can uncover from just looking back at some slides or even just listening to the lecture/notes again so be sure to do this!

7. Work with fun items 

assorted stickers
Credits: Kyle
I don't know about you but when I have my work stuff such as notes, textbooks and other items organised in a fun way, I am more motivated to get things done! So if you're like me and you love yourself some cute stationary, kit yourself out with some crazy highlighters, washi tapes, stickers, post it notes and all that fun stuff. Carry them around with you all the time so you don't have any excuse to not dive into your uni work wherever and whenever. I usually get my items from Rymans, Paperchase and Ohh Deer so be sure to look out for student discounts and or their sales for some cute items to keep you going.

8. Self Love, Rest

silver tabby cat sleeping on white blanket
Credits: Erik
It took me awhile to realise this but as much as we want to get the absolute best in uni, we also have to take care of ourselves. And by that, I mean your health - from your physical to mental and emotional health, make sure you give them as much love and rest that you can.

Uni can be a difficult time with all the stress and other things you may have to handle on the side so it can get a little overwhelming some times so make sure that you allocate some time in your plan and schedule to rest and unwind. Do this either through a task that gets all your focus such as a puzzle, chores, playing music, dancing or even like what I did - illustrating.

Putting together pieces was something I did to get myself out of the stress zone and into the creative zone where I can bring to life some of the things I enjoy doing. This was how my own little shop - The Cheryl Co came about. If you're looking for some illustrated art of Manchester, quirky greeting cards or even portraits featuring loved ones, don't forget to pop by and check it out!

9. Ask Questions

grayscale photography of man raising his hand
Credit: William
This is probably one of the highlights of my masters year - if you know me, you'd know I HATE speaking in front of people. I don't like asking questions in front of others and I just don't like speaking in front of a room full of people. It doesn't help that I'm well, not English so I have a different accent from everyone else in the room and it can be challenging to understand what I say and I cannot for the life of me deal with people asking me to repeat myself over and over again. I get embarrassed way too easily too so coming out of my shell and asking questions in class was one of the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. BUT it was also one of the most rewarding lessons I've learnt just because there are so many things you can pick up just from asking that one question in class. It can be such a crazy thing to do but my tutor said something that made me started asking questions - you've paid for this education, it is essentially a service so why not ask questions and make the most out of your money?

When he put it this way, it really makes sense because when you recognize that you've spent a good amount on something, you want to get the most value out of it and by asking questions in class, you are 'getting more' if that makes sense! Also, you'll never know how many other people have the same burning question(s) like you do. So ask away and take your time to do that! I was very lucky to have friends to encourage me to ask questions and tutors who go around the table for everyone to voice out and basically get used to speaking up and it was just a very rewarding experience. This is something that I've taken away and still practice outside of uni - for instance I was at an event and I don't know what came over me but I was just so into it I didnt even realised I was having my hands up, excited to ask a question and find out more about it! So this is something I highly recommend you put into practice!

10. Be Fearless

girl running on grass field
Credits: Julia
I'm ending off this looooonnnggg blogpost with this little note - chase your dreams fearlessly. To many, uni may only be a phase that people just want to get through, but it is still a couple of years in your life where you can make your future. So find something you love, chase it with all your heart and run with no fear. Step into new areas, learn new things and you'll find that you're not just on another ride but you're paving out a way for your future!

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With that, thank you so much for reading and I hope that you've enjoyed this post of me talking about what uni has taught me! If you have any more questions about Uni or anything that I've talked about at all, feel free to reach me at my email or social media! You know where to find me! X