If I’ve learnt anything at university outside the content of my degree this year, it is the usefulness of interacting with academic staff like seminar leaders and your personal tutor.
Assuming that university is a place, beyond Sixth Form and college, to start acting like a ‘proper adult’, I’ve spent most of my university life so far avoiding ‘too much’ interaction with department staff about assignments. Only since changing this approach right at the end of second year’s final term have I realised that communication is actually much more of a mature and ‘adult’ approach to university.
My personal tutor has been endlessly helpful since I began contacting her about issues concerning course assignments; providing advice, checking up on me, and generally being extremely supportive.
I also highly recommend attending seminars during exam season. You may feel like you don’t have enough time, but these can be the most helpful seminars of the term and are entirely worth the time investment. Since attendance was considerably lower at this time, I was able to discuss my essay ideas with the seminar leader and other students thoroughly and as a result, my seminar leader provided incredibly valuable advice and encouraged me to speak further with him about my topic. By e-mail, he offered some great insight and recommended useful reading material I might not have found otherwise. As a result of just this one extra bit of communication, I felt entirely more in touch with and more invested in university and the up and coming area of criminology I am a part of. To my surprise at the time, department staff probably prefer students to actively participate in communication about degree content and I’m disappointed with my past self for passing up the amazing opportunity to discuss things with such accomplished academics!! I achieved a high first in this essay and I feel that speaks volumes for the difference engagement with staff can make.
I also arranged a meeting with my temporary dissertation supervisor this month to discuss the subject of my dissertation, which again, was endlessly helpful. As I had been beginning to feel very lost about what I was going to do for my dissertation, I was nervous about meeting someone to talk about it and it took some convincing myself to arrange the meeting. However, I strongly recommend doing this, especially before summer, because my meeting took a huge weight off my shoulders. I left feeling extremely informed (about more than I had even intended for the first meeting), very well supported, and even, as a surprise, more confident about my future career options (which had been a huge worry for me previously)! I also left with two printed off journal articles and a book recommendation which I picked up from the library straight after.
Discussion with staff members has made a huge difference to my outlook at university and so far they have only been incredibly friendly, helpful, and interested. I think it is a huge part of engagement with the degree and is not an opportunity worth missing at university.