If my first could be characterized by a freak out, the word for my second week of study is definitely slog. As in ouch my brain hurts from slogging it out to complete my first assignment.
I should of expected it. If you spend a few months away from the gym and expect to do the same workout you did before your absence, your muscles will quite quickly scream ‘hey take it easy there buddy.’ Almost 10 years away from varsity and 7 months not working have resulted in my brain being a bit out of shape. To go from life as lady of leisure to ‘hand in your 4000 word assignment in 2 weeks OR YOU FAIL’ has been a major shock to the cerebral. My brain feels a bit like it’s been through the academic equivalent of the first episode of the biggest loser.
However there have been some positive aspects. Teacher Trainee, The Queen of the All nighters during my first time at varsity, actually had the assignment largely finished TWO DAYS before the thing was due in. Am I 100% happy with what I turned in? Not entirely, but then my reaction to work is almost always grade dependent. I like a bit of external validation for my efforts in the form a nice shiny A. Bs are nice too and well Cs get degrees (or diplomas). I’m pretty confident I haven’t failed (the very fact I just typed that sentence now has me convinced I failed).
But this week has got me thinking about life as a student the second time around who is a.little.bit.older. than the stereotypical school leaver scholar (yes I hate the term ‘mature student’).
Starting (back at) study = adjustment = stress = take it easy on yourself
Although I resisted the temptation to entitle my essay ‘Jean Piaget is my homeboy,’ the Swiss theorist was on to something with the idea that we go through a period of cognitive conflict when faced with adapting to new situations. Starting (back) at varsity is exciting but also stressful. Give yourself time to adjust to your new life and take any setback when (not if) they occur as a chance to learn. Speaking of which, is anyone interested in a ‘LEVing 4 Vygotsky’ bumper sticker?
Maintain a network
University study can be lonely especially when it seems that you are the lone oldie in a sea of 18 year old school leavers. Education papers I have taken in the past have almost always had students from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds even if the gender is skewed towards women. This current course is no different in that regard. One of the highlights of the week was getting together with other students from my course in this city for a study session. As luck would have it, a staff member for one of the other sections of the course happened to be in town, it ended up being a highly worthwhile and fun experience.
Keep a life outside of varsity
Along with my regular gym work, this week I took a class in Stand Up Paddle Boarding (I’m hiding out somewhere in that picture) through my gym. It was good to try out a new activity and I felt reinvigorated to get into my study that morning. I’m also amazed that I didn’t end up in the water.
Get to grips with new technology
I love that Word now has a wizard that makes referencing a piece of cake, you tube has a whole bunch of nifty documentaries for me to watch, google books is useful for a quick glance at source material when it is too wet to venture to the library, USB sticks can store vast amounts of documents and obviously that I can blog. It wasn’t like that in my day when we had had to walk 10km to the library in the snow just to construct our bibliography, floppy disks were the height of portable data storage and they had this thing called USENET. But sersiouly, technology has probably changed a whole bunch since you were last at university so mastering it will make it easier on you in the long-run.
I spent way too much time this week at the expense of my class work which means that I am going to be spending a lot of time this weekend catching up on my reading because I didn’t prioritize my time well. Prioritize, Prioritze, Prioritze, shall be mantra for week 3.
Unplug your modem every once and a while
I didn’t realize how much Facebook,Twitter and general faffing about on the internet suck up my productive time until I was doing some work on my assignment while babysitting a friend’s child (said child was in bed). My friend had meant to give the password to the wifi connection but was running late so we forgot about it. But being without the internet actually worked out well, as I didn’t have any online distractions and got a whole bunch of work done on my assignment.
What tips would you give *cough* mature students to get their brains in shape after time away from the ivory tower?