My on-campus experience at USQ Springfield

By the words of Three Dog Night,

‘One is the loneliest number you could ever do’.

There are a few things I know about these lyrics:

  1. The man singing them was probably never sober enough to remember them.
  2. They come from a very catchy song, which was featured in the Disney movie Recess: School’s Out (best movie ever, don’t judge me please).
  3. They make a good point, especially when it comes to your university life.

Being alone whilst studying at uni would be like a Dyson vacuum cleaner and seriously suck.

Although university is awesome in so many ways, including giving a person a chance to discover how they can make a difference in the world, it can also be pretty tough.

Going from a comfortable and probably more controlled environment such as school or work to a place full of strangers, where you are much more responsible for yourself, can be difficult for a lot of people.

I remember feeling so nervous before starting university because I hardly knew anyone. I would practice introducing myself to other people in the shower because I was deathly afraid that I’d forgotten how to make friends. I remember thinking:

How am I supposed to remember how to talk to strangers and create a friendship? The last time I did that was in preschool and it isn’t as if I can bond with someone over our matching butterfly clips or the accessories we dressed our Barbies in, can I?

So even for someone like me, who can talk under wet cement, making friends can be a bit intimidating.

friendship-friendship-everywhere

That is why it’s so important to involve yourself in the on-campus experience.

Involving yourself in on-campus life gives you three things: support, super-lots-of-fun (one word) and a leg-up in your career.

1. Support
Involving yourself in on-campus life and activities can help you get through your uni years. Even just becoming good mates with the person who sits next to you in class can help you out. Not only is it far more fun to sit through an economics lecture when you have someone next to you to point out that your lecturer has something in their nose, but you’ll find that if you get chatting to the other people studying the same degree as you, you’re more likely to get along better because you probably have very similar life goals, and you most likely think the same way.

You may have been the only person in your family or friendship group to think that Django Unchained is the FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER, but once you get talking to someone with a similar sense of humour to yourself, you’ll find that you’re not, in fact, the only one who thinks that Jamie Foxx saying ‘The D is silent’ whilst covered in blood and battling oppression in the most violent way possible… is hilarious!

Knowing that you’re not the only one stressing about an assignment, or having someone to be able to talk to about a question in a study module that may as well be written in wingdings based on your understanding of it, can help you out a lot when you’re struggling.

The on-campus life at USQ also includes some awesome, free, student support services. In Springfield, there is an entire floor dedicated to helping students in any way possible: we have on-campus counsellors, people who are there just to help you proofread and reference your assignments, IT support, psychology rooms and prayer rooms.

Also, and I really think this is the best idea ever, every week the university LITERALLY hands out boxes of free food to students. And it’s not just healthy, boring food either… last week there were Tim Tams!

2. Super-lots-of-fun

Two words: Mechanical. Bull.

Yep.

That’s right.

USQ goes out of their way to make sure that the whole getting through uni’ thing is as much fun as possible! Check it out:

Every Wednesday we get some form of free food, on top of the free boxes of food as mentioned above (FUN).

About once a month a bouncy-castle is put up, and almost every week there’s a stall set up about something… student tourism (FUN), sex ed (…), community involvement (FUN).

Bouncy bouncy

The uni also has some awesome clubs and sporting teams. The best part is anyone can start up a club or team if they want! Right now, there’s a Minecraft club, a Dungeons and Dragons club (DOUBLE FUN) and there used to be a pirate club, which I’m hoping someone starts back up again soon.

The uni also organises student trips down to the theme parks on the coast (FUN). And of course there are the common rooms accessible by all students. These rooms are full of Xbox’s, pool tables and a basketball court out the back for you to show off your mad skillzzz (FUN AND HEALTHY!).

See? Look at how much FUN we’re having!!

3. Getting a leg-up in your career
Getting involved with on-campus life also means getting involved with extra projects related to your degree. I’ve found this to be the best part of university life.

Because USQ is always putting on such awesome events, including mechanical bulls, they’re always looking for students with different sets of skills to help out. Essentially you can kill two birds with one stone… or two ‘roos with one truck… or two animal-product-free bars of soap with one bubble bath for the vegans out there. Anyway, my point is you can use the skills you’ve learned at uni to help out FOR the uni, and add a little something to your resume to help out your career.

Experience before I get experience

This is what happened to me. When the uni was covering a red carpet for the local council and needed a reporter, I put my hand up. By doing that, I was able to sharpen my skills and help out the uni. I was also able to make contact with local council members, which have been VERY useful!

Getting involved with extra activities on-campus has also shown my lecturers how passionate I am about my degree and my future in media.

Basically guys, it’s tough to do stuff when you’re alone, so get out there and talk to someone! (Yes, I know that rhymes, and yes, I am a rapper).

To demonstrate this again, I’ve summarised this blog in a little rhyme:

When I’m a uni (yo):
See someone I don’t know?
I introduce that.
Don’t understand something?
I ask that.
See a club I like?
I join that.
Met by an obstacle?
I challenge that.
Want to achieve something?
I step up to that.
…yo…

How to be a successful online student (using eCards as inspiration)

I love ecards. Whoever writes them just seems to get me. As an online student, scrolling through memes and ecards related to my interests and study area can take up a lot of my ‘study’ time. In order to make some use of this procrastination technique, I decided to use some of the humorous content I’ve found to help explain the online student experience.

If you study online, I’m sure you will relate to at least one of these ecards!

  1. Choose a subject you are interested in

Online study ecard: choose a subject you're interested in

One of the most important decisions when choosing to continue your education is making sure you study something you are really interested in and passionate about. This applies to your overall degree as well as to assignment topics. If you choose to study a topic that interests you, you are more likely to work hard to achieve your goals, and to enjoy doing it!

  1. Inspiration

What inspired you to study your degree?

online study inspiration

Discover what it is that keeps you focused and inspired throughout your studies. What was your initial inspiration for studying your degree? What do you want to do with your degree after you have graduated? Keep yourself focused and inspired by making a study playlist or hanging pictures of your family, partner, dream job or inspirational quotes where you study. Use this inspiration to help you keep on track and achieve your study goals.

  1. Stay positive!

online study: stay positive

Sometimes things don’t go to plan, and that’s OK! Don’t dwell on the disappointments or setbacks; use them as an opportunity to learn from the experience and grow as a student and as a person.

  1. Be realistic about your goals

online study: setting goals

Be realistic about your goals and what you need to sacrifice in order to achieve them. In an ideal world we would all succeed without studying, but the reality is you will need to put the effort in to achieve your study goals. This may mean you have to make some sacrifices, like cutting back your social life or replacing TV-watching time with study. Work hard and you will be rewarded with better grades, less stress at exam time, and being on track to graduate on time.

  1. Prioritise

online study: prioritisation

Prioritise your study goals with everything else you have going on. Being organised is important for many reasons, but make sure you plan enough time to actually study!

  1. Stay on track

online study: staying on track

Set yourself goals and study to-do lists and regularly check in to make sure you are on track. It isn’t a big deal if you miss some of your study goal deadlines, but it’s always better to stay on top of things as much as possible instead of having to cram like a crazy person at the last minute for an assignment deadline or exam.

  1. Procrastination

study online: procrastination

The procrastinator inside all of us tends to creep out during peak study times (you’re not alone in this!). It can be a welcome distraction from studying to starting an assignment. But there are ways to make your procrastination productive. Why not search some industry-related infographics on Pinterest or whip up some nutritious study snacks? Just remember, everything in moderation. You don’t want to get carried away and have the due date as the do date!

Find more ways to put the ‘pro’ in procrastination!

  1. Take regular breaks

Online study: take breaks

While it is important to study hard, make sure you also take the time to relax and unwind. Taking regular breaks helps to keep your mind refreshed and focused on the task at hand, as well as preserving your mental health!

  1. Celebrate the small things

Online study: celebrate

It can be difficult trying to juggle the competing priorities in your life, so make sure you celebrate all of your achievements, no matter how big or small. Whether you get the laundry done in the middle of the week, manage to cook and freeze the family’s meals ahead of time or receive an A on an assignment, take a moment to celebrate your achievements and recognise the amount of hard work you had to put in to make it happen.

10. Reward yourself

Online study: reward yourself

Finished a 30-minute study session and ticked all the boxes on your study to-do list? It is time to relax, unwind and reward yourself. Bake yourself a treat, order your favourite take-out or watch an episode of your favourite TV show. You’ve earned it!

Do you have any favourite memes or ecards that explain your study experience to a T? Feel free to share them or let me know which of mine you related to the most!

#usqstudy #usqonline #onlinestudy

aBroaden your Horizons

study abroad: broaden your horizons!

The world is our oyster isn’t it? It’s a big wide world out there and I’m ready to get my travelling shoes on.  Oh wait… I’m a full time uni student!

As I write this, my friends are posting photos of London, Paris, Hawaii, China or New York into my newsfeed and the most exotic place I have been is a new-found aisle in the library.

There must be a way to have my cake and eat it too. Most of the time I don’t understand that saying: if there’s cake, I’m all over it. Cake analogies aside, there is a cure for our itchy feet that won’t compromise our hard study work or set us back in the time it will take to graduate.

There are two options for getting out of your comfort zone and taking every opportunity uni has to offer (you’re thinking ‘I would have been happy with just one, but two options… wow!’).

study abroad on my way

Option 1:

If you don’t study over Semester 3, do you find it hard to fill your days? After you’ve caught up on Game of Thrones and watched the finale of How I Met Your Mother a few times, you may start to think that all this spare time isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. This time of year is an awesome opportunity to organise a trip overseas (even as a working holiday) and explore your options of gaining experience in a foreign country.

If you do study over Semester 3, your classes are online so all you really need is internet and a device that allows you to check your UMail, access StudyDesk and write your assignments. So what are you waiting for? Enrol in your online classes and start planning your overseas adventure!

study abroad dream discover

Option 2:

OK, this is where it gets really interesting and this is by far the most exciting option. USQ offers a Study Abroad program that will allow you to see the world and not fall behind in your studies.  With a number of scholarships available from USQ and government grants of up to $5000 (which anyone can apply for) we can help you pay for your travels and will even suggest a number of partner universities where you can continue your studies overseas. You would still be a USQ student, but studying at an overseas university.

Having someone help me pay for my trip and not losing any valuable study time sounds like a win to me!

You had me at Study Abroad. I’m off to start my travel plans, pack my bags and find some super cool luggage. If you want to find out more about your USQ Study Abroad options and follow in my footsteps on an overseas trip of a lifetime, have a chat to your friendly Study Abroad Coordinator by emailing international@usq.edu.au or check out the web for more info http://www.usq.edu.au/international/study-abroad/.

study abroad packing

Why are you still reading? Go and get your passport!

The light at the end of the tunnel: study holiday planning

Well, we are halfway through semester already, but there is still hope for us… because holidays are close! I suspect that I am not alone in secretly saying to myself ‘Yippee it’s nearly holidays’. But it does leave me asking ‘Where did the semester go?’ If you are anything like me at the moment it all seems like study, study, study! Assignments… when will they end? And it would be so easy to think that with the mid-semester holidays coming soon I could just do nothing, have a complete break and forget all the assignments that are backed up halfway to Woolloomooloo.

holding booksBut I know that I would regret it at the end of semester when I go back to lectures and remember that those assignments are still due and aarrrrghhh! I haven’t started yet.

So holidays are an ideal opportunity to catch up on all the readings that you are behind in and get ahead on the assignments that are due before we get into the exam period. I find that a combination of relaxation, study and assignments works best for me during the mid-semester break. That way, when the last few weeks of the semester come around the stress levels are kept to a bare minimum. Well, that’s the theory anyway. It does work…mostly. Here are some options for studying during the mid-semester break:

  • Catch up on study and assignments one day, then take the next day off and catch up with friends.
  • Go crazy and work like there is no tomorrow, get everything done and dusted in the first week and take the rest of the holiday break off! The best thing about this plan is that when you get back to uni you feel like you have had a break and all your catch up is done.
  • Have a complete rest in the first week, do nothing, sit around, go to the beach, whatever you desire, then get into study in the last week of the holidays… but be warned! This plan does have a drawback! After a week of doing nothing it is really hard to get back into it and get motivated to actually start studying and begin those assignments again.
  • Do the mornings! Study in the mornings and have YOUR time in the afternoons.
  • Do the afternoons! Have YOUR time in the mornings and study in the afternoons.
  • If you are an evening person, have YOUR time during the day and study/ assignments in the wee hours of the evening.
  • If you are planning on going away for the holidays, take your laptop and assignment or study work. You never know, there may be a few moments that you will be totally inspired and a whole assignment can be completed in a few hours! Personally, this strategy never worked for me because I have always found the beach/family/shopping too alluring to resist!

But regardless of how you go about studying during the holidays, that is, if you do any studying at all, just remember that the holidays are a great opportunity to catch up and get ahead with your studies. Any effort you do manage to put into study will just make life after holidays and before exams so much less stressful. And remember: distraction is the enemy of study!

distraction

The social media revolution and how it impacts on study

Hello again!

I have been an online student while on tour with Cirque Du Soleil for the past 4 years, so I know all about the dangers of social media and study. Social media seems to have taken over the world and hasn’t just affected how we contact each other, but also how we spend our time.

The negative impact of social media on study
The first big problem with social media is that it is a powerful distraction. In the olden days, you would only find out about something after it had happened or if you were close enough to see or hear it happening. Now, with social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you can be 13,000 km away (which is often the case for me) and still hear about it from your desk. This can be a big distraction when you are trying to study. For this reason, self restraint is perhaps one of the biggest lessons students have to learn, especially if they are studying online. It’s important to map out your time and plan when it is time to sit down and work and when it’s time to have fun.

jose in ecuador

It took a lot of self-restraint for me not to go to this street party in Montanita, Ecuador, and stay at home and do my assignment instead!

The positive impact of social media on study
I have found, as an off-campus university student, that in almost any USQ course you will study there will be Facebook Study Group. These study groups provide students the opportunity to help each other and explain concepts and ideas being studied in layman’s terms. USQ’s Student Representative Officers also provide motivation and support on Facebook and often have online chat sessions and events to help their students not only survive uni, but to thrive! These SRO’s will help you with any questions or queries you have about university.

USQ motivational

If you’re lacking inspiration, motivation or focus, make sure you check out USQ’s Instagram account @usqedu because they often give out some incredible prizes including onesies, study pants and more!

Tips to help defeat the distraction that is social media:

1.  Remove distraction with the help of apps 
These two apps block certain internet pages for an allotted time. I find them both particularly helpful when I have 12 hours before my assignment is due.

‘Self Control’ is free for Macintosh users (http://selfcontrolapp.com/)
‘Freedom’ is $10 for Windows or Macintosh (https://macfreedom.com/)

2. Set yourself rewards
If you don’t want to totally block out these distracting sites, you can set yourself a goal (e.g. ‘complete Module 3′ or ‘study for 3 hours’) then reward yourself with 30 to 60 minutes of social media gluttony or another form of treat (i.e. tiny teddies!). Just make sure that when you set yourself a clear goal, you stick to it!

3. Get a trusted person to change your passwords
This is by far my least favorite option, but if you find you are unable to use either of the above methods to control your social media cravings, it may be your best option. Ask a friend or relative, someone you trust, to change your social media passwords and only give them to you once you have completed your assignment or achieved your set study goal.

4. Buy a poncho
Why? Because it is impossible to be unhappy in a poncho and it makes studying fun!

jose in ponchoThank you for reading!

From the zany circus boy drinking hula cordial after finally completing his Intro to Law assignment. Now… time for a well-deserved social media binge!

Travel survival guide: Your map to enjoying the semester break!

We are almost halfway through semester, which means that the midyear break is fast approaching.  If you want something to look forward to once the hard slog is on hold, start planning your travels now!

Whether it’s a weekend away somewhere nearby or an overseas jaunt, these travel tips will help make sure that you’re prepared for the rest and relaxation or chaos and adrenaline-fuelled adventures you are dreaming of.

1.     Do your research (even if you like surprises)

When going somewhere new, it’s always a good idea to find out a little something before you go to ensure you stay safe and healthy and, for those who don’t like surprises, have a few ideas of what to see and do.  As a minimum, check to see if there are any health or safety risks if you plan to travel overseas – and take action now to prevent them.  You might also want to check that there aren’t any major events happening during your planned stay. If you’re like me and prefer not to pre-book, this makes it rather difficult to find a place to stay on arrival. Trust me, I’ve been caught out more than once!  It’s kind of like approaching an assignment – while it is possible to wing it, you’re more likely to do well if you know the basics before you get started!

packing essentials

2.     Pack light (but have something for all types of weather)

There’s nothing worse than lugging a heavy backpack or suitcase on vacation, only to realise that you don’t use half the stuff you brought with you and need other things, which you left behind. Do you really need 4 pairs of high heels if you’re going to the beach for the weekend? Probably not, but make sure you pack one pair just in case you decide to go out somewhere more formal for dinner or dancing. And make sure you bring something warm – when the weather gets bad, even the seaside can become freezing in summer!  And don’t forget a pair of jeans: you can dress them up or down depending on your shoes, top and accessories. It’s kind of like preparing for an exam. You can’t prepare for absolutely everything, but by ensuring you have a broad understanding and focusing on core concepts, you are more likely to succeed.

rainy day

3.     Expect the unexpected (and hope that they’re only positive)

We all know how good it feels to finally be on vacation after a seemingly never-ending semester. You’re no longer on a deadline… you feel on top of the world! Nothing can get in the way of a great vacation… but just in case, make sure you take out travel health insurance, particularly if you’re heading overseas. In some countries, you won’t be treated unless you can prove that you have the money to pay beforehand and it can be very, very expensive. It’s like that last-minute cramming you do before you walk into the exam room – you might not need it but you will be so thankful you put the extra effort in to swot if you do.

4.     Go with the flow (unless of course it’s free flow all night!)

So you get to the airport and find that your flight has been delayed, or you check the forecast and that bright, sunny beach you were dreaming of is currently being pummelled with rain. Fret not, for vacations aren’t the time for precise plans anyway. Chances are that there’s some great free stuff to check out at the airport (movies, gardens, even slides for adults!) and reading a book from the dry sanctuary of your beach bungalow is still a more relaxing and tranquil experience than you would have if you were at home. Think of it like tackling the ups and downs of uni. You might not always take the path you had planned or get the grade that you strived for, but you gain that all-important knowledge and understanding in the end.. and it is this that sets you free!

keep calm and plan your holiday

I wish you all a triumphant march to the end of semester.  Study hard, but don’t forget to take a break and plan a rewarding vacation to look forward to!

How being proud of your uni can pay off

It brings me great pride to say, as a USQ student and a USQ student ambassador, that the Springfield campus Open Day was a huge success! It was raining for the days leading up to the event and many of us were worried mother nature would rain on our parade (pun very much intended), but she didn’t! Of course, she was not incredibly nice, and decided to make it quite windy on the day instead… but that was nothing we couldn’t live with.

The Open Day included all sorts of useful information for prospective students, including faculty and general information sessions, individual talks to academics, campus tours and the opportunity to talk to current students. Of course, not all of the day was centred around information and  fun activities were also available, such as free fairy floss, giant jenga, a caricature artist and zorb balls, just to name a few!

open day Caricaturist

It was great to have the opportunity to talk to a number of grade 12 students who are quite nervous about their upcoming QCS test as well as life after high school. I talked to one student in particular who was 100% sure she was coming to USQ next year. We talked about what uni life is like for a little bit, how she feels about the upcoming QCS test and how nervous she feels about leaving school. As she left, she said, ‘see you next year’, which gave me a fantastic warm squishy feeling inside!

Of course, many of the prospective students who turned up on the day only knew about it because of our fantastic student ambassador team, which I am proudly a part of. We regularly go to expos and schools to talk to a range of people from the public about why tertiary education and USQ can be the right choice for them! This is a picture of a few student ambassadors doing their thing at Open Day! You’ve probably seen a few of us around campus without even realising it!

Open Day Ambassadors

Personally, my favourite story from Open Day is about a grade 12 student from Livingstone Christian College, which I visited in the week leading up to Open Day to do a scholarship presentation. Even though it took this one student 2 hours to get to our campus, using both a bus and a train, he promised me he would come, and he did.

Open Day behind the scenes

He was one of the first people on campus on the day, and also one of the last to leave. While on campus, he spent most of his time in the mock TV studio our Bachelor of Applied Media students had set up, even going on camera and being interviewed by one of the Bachelor of Applied Media students and fellow student ambassador, Eliza. Eliza even used that interview to write an article about him in The Queensland Times. All up, it was the perfect day for the student to get involved in university life and see what being a creative arts student at USQ could mean!

Open Day behind the scenes

At the end of the day, this student said he was going to change his QTAC preferences to include USQ because of the close ties that USQ’s creative arts faculty has with a number of top-class theatre companies!

Knowing that I was able to contribute to creating a positive experience of uni life for this student, and that this could help shape his future in ways he never even thought of before, gives me a great sense of pride in myself and in my uni.

Top 4 deadly spots to hang out in Toowoomba with the USQ Mob!

Welcome to USQ! You’re probably wondering where to hang-out with the Mob now that you’re a student. That’s where I come in! Read on for 4 deadly spots for having a yarn and finding your place at USQ!

  1. The Common Room

CAIS Common RoomThe Common Room can be found in the College of Australian Indigenous Studies, in TA Block.  This is the where the USQ Mob hang out to enjoy endless cups of coffee and yarns with their new study friends.  The Common Room is a great place to kick back before class, read up on your class notes or catch up with your sisters and brothers. You might even be lucky enough to see the Aunts and Uncle who sometimes come on-campus. It’s a great place to share stories, designs and dreams. We all come from different areas, but in The Common Room we are all the same, working for the same dream. Even if it is just to proofread an assignment or work out how to reference an article, there is always someone there to help over a cuppa and yarn.

  1. The Hub

USQ Hub ToowoombaSoak up uni life in the R Block Hub. Not only can you grab a quick bite at the café and Refectory, you can also just lounge about on the funky chairs watching the fish swim by. Everyone meets at The Hub before and after classes to catch-up and head off to classes together. As the semester progresses and assignments start rolling in, the library is just an elevator ride away from The Hub, where you can get your study on.

Need to charge your phone? No worries! Take advantage of the power points, computers and printers at The Hub while you sip away on a hot coffee and snack on a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich. The Division of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Services is also on hand to help out with tech issues you may have!

  1. The Gumbi Gumbi Gardens

This place is just too deadly, and is a great place to chill out and have a good yarn. The Gumbi Gumbi Gardens are just along the main entrance to USQ and on tough study days it’s an awesome place to get back to nature.

If you haven’t already, get to your iTunes or Play Store and download the Gumbi Gumbi Gardens Audio Tour.  It will help you to appreciate the things around you and allow you to enjoy a well-deserved study break.

As a mother, I like bringing my children to have a walk through the Gardens to discover the different hidden plants and totems throughout the gardens. It’s awesome to see my children run about and play in the Gardens while I catch up on study, or revise my lecture notes.

Gumbi Gumbi gardens Gumbi Gumbi gardensGumbi Gumbi gardens

As you can see from these photos, my family love the gardens! They enjoy the open space, the plants and rolling down the hills). It’s great to share their Aboriginal culture and sometimes we are lucky enough to have James Stumer from CAIS (College for Aboriginal Indigenous Studies) come along to share Indigenous knowledge with us!

  1. Murri Meet-Up

Murri Meet Up Group Donella and TylerNeed study advice or just want to have a chat about university life? Murri Meet-Up is a deadly opportunity to get tips and tricks to succeed in your studies. Best of all, it’s available on-campus or online. So if you aren’t close by, you have access to the Mob, no matter where you are!

This hangout spot is especially great when it gets close to assignment and exam time. The Murri Meet-Up leader is a student who has been there before and will be able to step you through.  When you first get to uni, I recommend enrolling yourself in Murri-Meet up, not just to get the most out of your studies, but also to find your place in the USQ Mob.

Catching up with the USQ Mob is one of my favourite study experiences and these 4 places allow me to take a break, learn from my brothers and sisters and enjoy my time at USQ.

So where will you hangout?

The 5 stages of starting an assignment

It appears as though semester two is well and truly underway again. Now is the time to start (if you haven’t already) moving through the motions of those assessment pieces, and for those of us graduating or taking a holiday over summer, these will be the final few for 2014! What’s not to cheer about? Oh that’s right… all the work we have to do beforehand. I was thinking… why don’t we make this a little bit easier for each other and share some of our rituals for how to get the ball rolling on our assignment work? I usually only get the opportunity to speak to classmates studying the same degree as me about what I get up to around assignment time and I think it would be really valuable to start bouncing ideas around with other faculties too!

Let’s get started, here are my top 5 super-secret psychology student assignment preparation stages:

1. Find your motivation and set yourself up for SUCCESS!
I personally like to blu-tac my study schedule to my lounge room wall so my goals are always there as a reminder to stay on track. If you’re a little bit edgy and competitive, maybe pair up with a fellow classmate and devise a challenge. Who can keep to a weekly assignment writing schedule? Word of warning: WINNER TAKES ALL. Kidding, but maybe the overall champ gets an IOU for coffee?

USQ success

2. Prepare… your time!
Prepare to be flexible when things might go off track and don’t beat yourself up if and when it happens. If you are working on a group assignment, allow yourself even more time so that you can be flexible and understanding of other team members time committments. Remember that there are some incredibly valuable skills to be gained from group work, and you may even begin building some new friendships!

3. Organise food and drinks to ensure you remain well-fed and hydrated.
This is not difficult for me because I love procrasti-eating, but sometimes I do need to remind myself to take a break, stretch and grab a glass of water. I think it is important to be organised before you sit down to do some serious assignment writing by preparing a yummy study snack and having a bottle of water on hand.

4. Become mobile.
Set yourself up with a cloud storage account so you are able to access your assignment anywhere. Because USQ has set us all up with UDrive, this is easier than ever. MS Office is also free on mobile phones now and for those of us who are pretty tech savvy individuals, this can make studying on the go that little bit easier.

5. Get started!
Finally,  get comfy and pull out your study materials. You might be here for a while so it makes sense to make yourself right at home in your chosen study zone. I have heard of all kinds of elaborate set-ups during my time studying at uni, but my preferred study space is on the couch with a desk or two and lots of cushions to support my back.

These stages are critical for me to get the ball rolling on the assignment writing process, but they can change depending on the type of assignment.

There is always a new, different or smarter way of starting an assignment and I would love to hear yours!

Group work: playing to your strengths

Today we’re discussing what a lot of students see as the dreaded, soul-crushing experience of group work. I know a lot of people really, really, really dislike group work and I understand why. There’s usually one person who doesn’t show up or do their part and gives you a lame excuse. I once worked on a group assignment with a guy who would show up, but then literally fall asleep in the back of the room. Although he provided us with endless entertainment (we used to see how many pens we could stuff in his jumper pockets or how many sticky-notes we could stick to his body before he would wake up, he wasn’t very helpful when it came to the assignment. Had we been studying sleeping patterns, this may have been a different story. But guess what? Group work is an important part of uni life, so we need to learn how to make the most of it!

eliza teamwork theory

When we are first told we have to take part in a group assignment, our first thought is often ‘Why do group assignments even exist?’

Well… it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a job where you never interact with others. Unless your job is to be the first person to live on the moon or something like that. And when you think about it, a lot of awesome things wouldn’t exist without people working in a group. We wouldn’t have movies, much music, buildings… we’d all essentially be living like Tom Hanks in Castaway, yelling ‘Wiiiiiillllllsssssssooooonnnnnnnnn!’ at a volleyball with a face on it. In fact, we wouldn’t even have this analogy because that movie wouldn’t even exist. So, you see, group work is important.

When assigning the roles in your group, try to pick a job that you’ll enjoy, no matter what time of day it is or how stressed you are. Also, try to pick a role that’s going to help you in the long run. For example, I want to be a journalist, so I try to pick roles that involve writing or talking. And if you’re feeling up to it, challenge yourself! University is a safe place to make mistakes and ask for help, so you should feel comfortable knowing that if you get in a little over your head, you can always ask for a hand.

When you first plan the assignment, make sure everyone’s roles are as clear as possible so there won’t be any overlapping and all the gaps will be filled. It’s also important to communicate when you have a problem! If Disney movies have taught me anything (aside from the fact that I will probably never be a mermaid) it’s that you should always be straight up about how you’re feeling about someone.They might not realise they’re upsetting anyone, so by telling them, they can do something about it. Just make sure you go about it in the nicest way possible. Be gentle and positive in the words you use, and try to remind them of why this assignment, and their contribution, is so important. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you explain to your group that you’re struggling, they may be able to help you, and should be more willing to, considering that your problems affect the group.

teamwork

Be careful to maintain a balance between your individual role and the ‘working together as a group’ part of the assignment. If you’re the sort of person who has a tendency to take over, then listen up! One of the things you learn by doing group assignments is how to trust others. I know you’re just trying to be caring when you’re looming over your group mates asking them constantly if they’ve written their three paragraphs yet, but they probably won’t see it that way.

teamwork

A way to do this is to inspire your team mates by reminding them how important the end goal is. For example, if you have a Facebook group for your assignment, every now and then post a reminder of what it’s going to take to get a High Distinction. This will inspire others to do their work and keep you motivated too.

So you see, guys? Working in a group doesn’t have to be horrible! Just remember that the people you’re working with are all in it to reach a common goal. You probably have a lot in common with your team mates and they are there to support you if you need help. Most importantly, you’re learning important teamwork skills that will help you succeed in the workplace.