My University Experience

I went to City University London to study a Foundation Degree (two years) and a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Industries.

2011 – 2014.

First year

The first year was rather scary because it was new. The transition from sixth form to university is such a big change and I found it rather overwhelming at first, especially because I still lived at home. Making friends was really difficult. During the first few months, I felt like university wasn’t for me and I was actually thinking about dropping out. I don’t drink, I don’t party and the whole university stereotype is basically drinking and partying and I felt like I did not fit in. After talking to a lot of people about thinking of dropping out, I decided to stick at it for a few months and see how it goes. I didn’t make a good set of friends until I was 5 months into the course and this is when I started to enjoy university. I started getting involved with the media team at university and did a bit of reporting for my student radio station.

With regards to the course itself, the first year was very practical and I enjoyed most of the practical modules. I got a lot of 2:1’s and 1st. Because university essays are rather different to school and college essays, I found that difficult and during the first year, my essay grades were not that great. I found referencing really difficult and I found the structure really difficult too. Also, I did not attend any seminars because during my first year, my social anxiety was rather awful and participating in class seemed terrifying. I got a bit more confident after completing my work placement at the BBC and when I went back to university after that, I really quite enjoyed it and felt really confident and was very excited for the next two years. I finished that year with a 2:1, which I was happy about.

Second Year

The second year was so much better. In fact, out of the three years, I felt like the second year I came out of my shell a bit more (which impacted my third year). My course was part music events management course and we got to manage and organize a music gig in the Roundhouse in Camden. I was into music a lot before but during my second year that kind of died down. I developed a passion for news, broadcasting and journalism so for that gig, I decided to join the broadcast team and challenge my filming and visual mixing skills, which I absolutely loved.

During my second year, I decided to write for the student magazine CityOnTopic. I wrote a few articles for the Politics section and it was rather lovely seeing my writing published in print.

My second year grades were absolutely amazing. I got a lot of 1st‘s and high 2:1’s as I did work very hard indeed. Again, I did enjoy the practical modules more than the academic ones. At the end of this year, I officially completed my foundation degree and achieved a high 2:1…and graduated!

Third Year

We had a choice whether we wanted to go onto the third year or not. I wanted a full degree so I decided to go ahead with the third year. This year was crucial and so much more difficult than the other two years. Starting third year was so overwhelming because I soon realized how much work I needed to do. In fact, it did make my anxiety rather worse but I realized I needed to work hard if I wanted to get a decent grade. I am such a perfectionist and study every single day for hours until I am happy with what I have studied.

We got to choose which modules we wanted to do focusing on our career paths – I chose the journalism route and did most of the journalistic modules, which I did enjoy very much so. Compared to other degrees, my course had to do two 6000-word dissertations. When I look back, that was quite scary but I actually quite enjoyed writing them both. My first dissertation was about ‘The Future and Management of British Newspapers’ and my second dissertation was about ‘How Citizen’s Perceive Press Coverage of Political Scandals’. There is a pattern. Both were about news and politics – something that I have a passion for. This is why I enjoyed writing them because I had a passion for the topic. In both of them, I got really good 2:1’s.

Basically, all my other essays were about news too. I got Firsts in all my third year essays, which I am so happy with. I love writing essays a lot, mainly because I love writing in general. I also did a full year Media Law & Ethics module and I honestly loved that module, despite it being so difficult, it was so worth it. In order to become a good journalist, you must know the law. I have no idea how many times I have written about defamation in my third year essays. Law certainly did have an influence on me during my final year. Coming out of university and going straight into working for BBC News – I realised how crucial Media Law was, so it was definitely worth studying it.

Because this was my last year, I applied to be a section Editor for the student magazine to increase my journalism skills. I got chosen to be the Health and Fitness Editor due to my passion for this area. I must say, I challenged myself a lot with this role and learnt so much about leadership and assertiveness as well as writing good articles.

Graduation was enjoyable and a very proud day for me and my family.

After three tough years, a lot of struggle – being in and out of hospital for my eating disorder, in the end, I achieved a very high 2:1, which I am so happy with.

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Going to university was the best decision of my life to be honest. It gave me so much confidence in myself and I developed a lot of skills for my career. Here I am now at the BBC. Dream job? Thank you university.

Is Work Experience Worth It?

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People often have a rather cynical view of work experience and in this economy, we are seeing a lot of youth unemployment. Many of that is down to no experience or a lack of motivation to go out and find a job and yes, I know the government has a part to play in this and they are offering a lot of training opportunities for young people who do not go to university. However, unfortunately, if we do go to university, a degree is simply not enough. In any sector now, you need to have some kind of experience outside of education and many of them are unpaid.

In 2012, I completed eight unpaid work experience placements and now, with me being in my final year of university, I have a lot of experience under my belt for after graduation. One of the reasons why I excelled at getting those placements is because luckily, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I was simply aiming for that, which does makes things easier.

There is nothing wrong about not knowing what you want to do but that is what work experience is for. Finding out what you are good at and where you want to go. When people think of work experience, they think of a job that you want to do in the future but that is not necessarily the case at all. If you don’t know what you want to do, I suggest you think long and hard about what you like, what you don’t like, what you are good at, what you are not good at and find a sector that you think you may want go into and research that.

I have had ambitions ever since I was young to work in the media, specifically in the music industry. I got my first work experience placement at a music studio in Year 10 and I really enjoyed it. Since then, I wanted to be a music journalist because I loved new music and I was obsessed with certain bands – I thought I really wanted my future to be based around the music industry. A few years down the line, I could not have been more wrong and that is down to work experience.

When I eventually got my first undergraduate work placement during my first year at university, I did something that was nothing to do with music. I worked at BBC Radio 4 for one month and then I did a lot more unpaid radio and TV work placements.

By meshing all of those work placements together, I am now confident enough to tell you exactly what I want to do as a career because I had a lot of different experience to come to a decision about what I really want to do. Sometimes, you may think a certain job is so amazing yet you have not had a chance to work there but when you eventually do, it may not be what you were expecting and vice versa – a job that you really think won’t be to your taste but when you do it, it may perhaps be your dream job. So, do not knock it, until you have tried it.

What I am trying to put across is that, do not be put off by unpaid experience because all my placements made me gain so many skills and industry based knowledge. It did a lot to improve my confidence and self-esteem. I also got to see how the world of work will be like, so it has prepared me for the real thing. Most importantly, I made amazing contacts (who I hassle now and then for a job). Now, I will not have to do what many students do after I complete my degree – go out and look for unpaid work experience, which to me is a waste of time after graduation. I do not want to be unemployed after I leave university.

Also, what I want to stress is that, people think work experience is just making tea. Well, I do not know about other industries, but certainly when I was on work experience, they basically threw me in at the deep end straight away and I had to do big tasks. They treated me like I was an actual member of the team and people relied on me to finish a task promptly. I did not even have to make a single cup of tea to be honest with you. So, it may be unpaid but it may not be what you are expecting it to be like and you get so much out of it for the future.

So, in a nutshell, what I did was, whilst being at university, I did as much unpaid work experience as I can to make myself ready for employment freshly out from university in 2014. That is what employers look for, experience as well as qualification but to me, experience overshadows everything.

I am in my third year now and along with two dissertation to do, I am also starting to think about if I want to do a postgraduate degree or apply to paid graduate schemes or even proper jobs and applying to graduate schemes and jobs feels right because I feel qualified and ready, or rather I will do after I graduate and perhaps after working in the industry for a couple years, I may want to get back into education to do my Masters.

To me, work experience is so important. In fact, it is a must if you want to get a good job. Work experience can also be life-changing, because for me, it was and to answer the question of this article, yes, work experience is so worth it.

Essential Study Tips For Students

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I have been asked to write a post on how to study in general giving examples of how I study so here it is.

I study everyday. A day without studying, especially at university, is a day wasted. Now, being the introverted and a perfectionist person that I am, I guess you would not be surprised by that.

I am basing this post more around university students but I do speak in general terms at times so it can still apply to school and college students as well.

Plan

The most stressful thing about studying is when and how to fit in your studies on top of everything else, such as a job and social life. Thankfully, I do not have any of those problems because I am solely concentrating on university and university only this year. But of course, everyone’s case is different.

If you have a job, do schedule your shifts on days you may not have university but make sure the shifts are sensible. I would try and leave the evenings free, so that can be your time to study.

As for social life, do go out and have fun but make sure it is not on a day before a lecture. Go out on a Friday night only and leave the weekends for studying. Some of you may not agree though but I think that is sensible.

Also, if you have various modules you are studying for, then split the studying for each module for a different day. A study timetable comes in handy for this. I know that may seem geeky but honestly, it will make your studying so much easier. Every Sunday night, I make a plan for the week ahead and write down what day and what time I will study each module. It really does help.

Space

I don’t know about you but I study best alone, in my bedroom with no distractions. Music is off, radio is off and TV is off. I have my own desk with all my study materials and because I have the space, it motivates me to get up, sit on my office chair and just get on with it. If you have the space, you will find that it will motivate you to study.

Have the Relevant Study Materials

Make sure you have the right study materials. This includes stationary such as a notebook, pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, page markers etc…

Most importantly, look through your reading list and buy or borrow textbooks from the library. Having the relevant books will help you immensely with your studying. I find them incredibly helpful. A dictionary can be very useful too when you come across a word you do not understand. I would recommend the usual Oxford English Dictionary.

A computer. My Macbook Pro is my life and is a lifesaver when it needs to be. When you are writing an essay, you will obviously need your computer so have that at the ready.

Keep all your study materials in one place. That way, you will not lose anything – important papers, notes etc… Get yourself a folder and keep things organised.

Make Notes and Highlight/Underline/Annotate

Making notes is crucial. Read your texts, pick out the relevant points, underline, highlight, annotate. Get your notebook out and write down the most important points. When I have finished reading a chapter, I usually summarise it in my own words in my notebook. It is always good to test your memory – especially if you are revising for an exam.

Recently, what I have been doing to my textbooks is page marking them with a colourful page marker. For example, I am studying Media Law and there are chapters I need to read but because there is a lot and I cannot possibly cover all of them in one day, I get out a page marker and stick the marker onto the end of the chapter. This reminds me that I need to read that chapter soon. This trick is very helpful.

Ask for Help

At university, when you are in the middle of an assignment, you will have seminars – which is a class after your lecture with a small group and everyone must participate and during this time, you can ask for extra help for your assignment. Go to them and ask for help if you need it.

In my case, I do go to my seminars but even though it is a small group, I still feel quite anxious asking for help around other students, so I usually book a personal tutorial with my lecturer so I can have a one to one session/seminar with them and that helps me a lot. If you have issues with anxiety, I would really reccomend this.

Take a Break

Do not just study all day with no breaks. Take a 5 – 10 minute break every 15 – 20 minutes or so. This is important because it relieves stress and it gives you time to take in everything you have just learnt.

…Finally not everyone will benefit from this form of studying because I do understand that life can get in the way. It is up to you to develop a study routine that will work for you. If you are serious enough to do well in your studies, you will put the time and effort into developing a well structured study plan.

Graduation Day Outfit

 

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I graduate next month from my two-year degree and deciding what to wear is appearing to be a nightmare. Graduation is a wonderful time to mark the end of your academic education in style and for many of us, especially women, we to tend to panic about what we are going to wear. I am sure you woud want to go out and celebrate with your university peers after the ceremony and you want to look your best. Here are some of my graduation outfit and style ideas…

  • A Conservative Dress  – You want to dress for success on your graduation day because of course, the day is all about celebrating your success. A short skirt and a crop top will not look good or impressive. Choose a dress that compliments your body and shape and possibly stray away from black if you can as your gown will be black. Do not wear something rather puffy because I am sure you do not want to look quite big under your gown. I would choose something with a high neck and a dress that is light and elegant like this smart plain white a-line shift dress. You can pair this with either tights of leggings and also a black cropped waterfall blazer if you want to cover up your arms.
  • Wear Comfortable Footwear – There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable on one of the important days of your life where you will have to walk, stand as well as pose for your photo! Wedges are a comfortable bet for this, however, I am not the one for heels. I would not want to look overdressed so I would wear flat gladiator sandals. I still do not want my footwear to look simple and too underdressed, so the caged design will give the whole look a dressed up feel, but not too dressed up if that makes sense. If you want a bit of height and look more dressed up, then wedges will do the trick.
  • A Small Bag – I am the type of person who feels lost without a bag. Wherever I go, I must have a bag with me. At graduation, it is advised you only bring what you need such as your phone and camera. If your dress has a pocket, you probably will not need to take a bag with you. However, a bag will finish off the whole look. I would go for a small elegant yet simple cross body bag that also turns into a clutch bag, enough to fit in your phone and camera.

So I would definitly go for a monochrome look for graduation as it is a very formal occasion. For make-up, I would do a very simple winged out cat-eye look with a natural finish.