How to set your study expectations!

Are you wondering how to manage all the study that is ahead of you each semester? Are all the things you want to achieve whizzing around in your head and you’re not sure where to go from there? The answer to this problem is… Goals!

Goal setting is an effective study strategy that will help you reach that long-term goal of wearing your cap and gown (as well as a smile from ear to ear that will be almost impossible to erase) on graduation day. Then there are also the all-important short-term goals like assignments, lectures and actually doing the study each week. It is important to think about your study goals because they will help you stay motivated, focused and able to maintain direction each week. But be sure to make your goals realistic, achievable and do not over extend yourself.

Remember that goals must be smart:

How to set proper, smart goals

I have found that writing down a list of my goals is an excellent place to start each semester. This gives me a starting place to take action, so that I am more likely to accomplish my goals. Writing the goals down and keeping them in highly visible places such as on a whiteboard in my study room at home and in my lecture notes, keeps me on task all semester long.

This is the whiteboard I set up in my study space at the beginning of each semester that lists all my goals!

This is the whiteboard I set up in my study space at the beginning of each semester that lists all my goals!

Before I start each semester, I also draw up a study schedule detailing the weekly study requirements for each of my courses. I list what chapters to read, any extra articles that need to be read and modules that have to be completed. I include all my assignments (and the due dates) on my study schedule to ensure that an assignment does not slip by me during a busy week. I highly recommend having a whiteboard in your study area at home, because it is a great way to keep track of everything that is going on in your uni life. I have drawn up a table on one side of mine which lists the Who, When, What, Where and Why of my assignments and exams so that I cannot avoid them.

The ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘what’ are obvious, but the ‘why’ aspect is because ‘I’ want to do it for my own self-esteem and my future. These assignments stare back at me on a daily basis as a reminder of the expectations that I have set for myself. If you are not sure how to draw up a study schedule there are numerous sites on the internet that have templates. You could always use your uni calendar to achieve the same results and display it in a noticeable position.

Study expectations

But for all your planning, there may be times that things don’t quite work out how you would like. It is important to be flexible with your goals. This will help relieve stress when your goals and expectations seem unattainable. Break them down into smaller more actionable steps. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you to accomplish your expectations and goals.

The most important part of setting your study expectations, preparing, planning and organising your study, is that it empowers you. You are in control of your education, you can see how far you have come and how far you have to go. Critical to this is that you can celebrate your progress. I always make a point of doing something special when the last assignment is marked off my whiteboard each semester. It is not uncommon to see me dancing around the room.

Being in control of your study and setting your expectations is vitally important to the development of your will power to succeed!

Set goals and be successful

If you have some special way that you set your study goals or expectations, let us know!

How to get motivated and smash out that assignment!

I love to study and I love to learn. But let’s face it, assignments can be a bit of a drag. Yes, I enjoy the intellectual challenge, but the stress of getting the task done on time and showing my knowledge adequately to the marker can sometimes get the best of me. I know that all will be fine in the end – I have successfully completed numerous assignments to date – but that doesn’t stop me from feeling under pressure every time, right up until I hit that ‘submit’ button.

keep-calm-and-finish-assignment

So, is all this pressure and stress worth it in the end? Damn straight it is! Your hard work and dedication will be rewarded by a fabulous grade (hopefully!) and you will be able to reflect upon the journey that helped you arrive at your newfound knowledge that came as a result of preparing your assignment. Learning and knowledge truly are fabulous motivators for me. But I also love to reward myself further with unrelated intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Something that gives me the motivation to keep energised and get the assignment completed as best I can.

The idea is that these rewards are reinforcing – you are more likely to work hard to get this and your next assignments done as you will want the reward you know is available upon completion. It helps beat procrastination (which I am often very guilty of) and keeps us going as our energy levels deplete and we feel like calling it quits. Keep in mind that rewards don’t necessarily mean you have to buy something. Rewarding yourself simply ensures that something positive will follow on from your successfully completing an assignment.

Cappuccino with smiley face and chocolate chip cookie.

The type of reward should be something of value to you – something that makes you want to work hard and get the assignment done (before the last minute, if possible!). I like to do something that I haven’t had time for while working on assignments, such as catching up on my favourite TV shows (e.g. Orange is the New Black or Covert Affairs), chatting with friends online who live far away or reading a book I’ve wanted to get stuck into. You might prefer to go for a massage or spend the night online gaming – choose whatever it is that will motivate YOU!

And if you’re really struggling to get the assignment done and that reward upon finishing seems like it will never come, reward yourself along the way. Break your assignment up into segments or smaller tasks and plan smaller rewards for completing each of those. It could be a delicious mocha once you’ve got the basic outline of your assignment planned or a walk in your garden to stretch your legs after doing the necessary background reading. Again, it’s important to choose rewards that will motivate you. With the smaller rewards, aim to make them less time consuming – your ultimate goal is, of course, to get the assignment finished (and get that big reward).

Feeling when assignment finished

Smash out those assignments and enjoy the rewards!

The honeymoon is over: preparing for a splendid semester!

So, it’s that time of year again: the start of semester. It only comes around three times a year and only two times for some. It’s a time filled with (for myself, at least) equal parts of trepidation and excitement.

New classes. New subjects. New assessment.

This is how we feel most of the time at the beginning of semester:

Harry Potter #Igotthis

‘I’m ready for the classes, the subjects and most importantly, the assessment. I got this.’

For some of us, this is approximately three weeks in:

Hermione - I know the answer!

‘Yes, I know the answer to that. I’m keeping up with all of the assessment and study! Wooo! Go me!’

Midway through semester:

The mid semester blues

‘I kind of just want it to be over. Is it holidays yet? I should be studying, but I really don’t have the motivation’.

End of semester:

End of semester stress

‘Ergh’.

Needless to say, assignments and study can take their toll, so it is best to start early to gain some momentum for those last few weeks of study before the final exams!

It can be hard to get motivated at the beginning of semester when exams and assessment pieces seem so far away… So here are some tips to stay motivated at the start of semester that I’ve picked up during my three years of study.

Normally, I will try and write all the assessment due dates on the first pages of my note books for each particular subject. This way, they are easily accessible and I will know exactly how much I need to get done and when. Due to this, these assessment pieces are never far from my mind.

I also enjoy having a thorough understanding of each subject’s content by the end of week 1. I don’t mean knowing all of the content, I mean knowing what the content is. This means that I have a very good idea of how much study I need to complete during semester, as well as how long the assessment pieces are likely to take me. Some assessment pieces will take a bit longer than others, of course, so these are normally started a tiny bit earlier if they are due at the same time as others.

It’s also about peace of mind as well. I don’t ever have any assignments pop out of nowhere with three days to go before they are due, or 25 psychology articles on DiReCt (the course readings) that I haven’t had a chance to look at with only two days before the end of semester exam…

Writing down a general idea of your responsibilities and other activities throughout the semester is a good idea (I personally love the massive calendar we get mailed at the start of every year).

These may include things such as sporting commitments, work or… music festivals!

splendour in the grass musical festivalI was lucky enough to go to this particular festival last weekend!

Because I knew I would be away for the first week of classes, I utilised my organisation skills and adjusted my schedule so that I could fit in these amazing three days full of music, friends and food and still feel confident about the semester ahead!

Hopefully these tips will help you feel equally as confident about tackling the new semester!

That G-RAD-uation Feeling!

RESULTS ARE OUT!  Congratulations to everyone who will be graduating in September.  It’s a rewarding moment, receiving THAT email after years of slaving away behind a keyboard.  After enjoying the immediate obligatory celebrations, there’s a bit of a gap before your graduation ceremony.  I remember a friend asking me “why bother going to your graduation ceremony, isn’t it pointless if you can just get your degree mailed to you.”

Here’s why…

Firstly, you get to wear an awesome hat and gown.  You know, the ones you always see in those American college films and they toss their hat in the air and by some miracle all catch their own respective hats.  Now is a good time to mention you’re technically not allowed to throw the hats now.  Did I mention the gowns are basically Hogwarts robes?

ProTip:  Take a wand to graduation and duel members of other faculties for maximum enjoyment.

tom graduation

Another part worth going for is the chance to be snapped by the local paper.  Personally, I love every bit of limelight I can crawl my way into, so with local newspaper photographers doing the rounds, there was ample opportunity.

ProTip:  Being friends with the valedictorian goes a long way to increasing your photo chances.

I did worry that the ceremony itself was going to be a bit of drag, much like the old-school assemblies.  However, on the day, you feel an emotional investment with each part of the proceedings.  From marching through the middle of town, to the keynote speeches, and even the individual presentation of awards to each student.  Standing in the wings waiting for my turn to receive my award was the best part.  Watching each student before me push their chest out, lift their head and stride across the stage, you know that they are feeling the same pride that you are.  It was at this moment I realised what I was about to be awarded wasn’t just a piece of paper.

Achievement unlocked graduation

What you receive during that fleeting moment on stage is ultimate satisfaction.  Each all-nighter pulled, each early morning lecture, each overdue library book fine, each social event neglected all culminated into an abundance of achievement and self-gratification.  That’s a feeling I could never recreate opening my degree in the mail.

I’ve since had my degree framed and it is something I am proud to hang on display for everyone to see.  There’s no better feeling than graduating uni, and I’d love to do a postgraduate degree just to do it again.

tom graduate

Until next time,

Tom

Kick-start the brain with some healthy study snacks!

On these cold winter days, it is easy to snack on all the wrong foods while you’re buried in study books. I know I do. But there are lots of options for us to choose that we don’t have to feel guilty about afterwards.  Here are some of my favourite snacks that are healthy and tasty too.

Banana, Honey & Hazelnut Smoothie

Banana, Honey & Hazelnut smoothie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blend 1 peeled, sliced banana with 250ml soya milk, 1 teaspoon of honey and a little grated nutmeg until smooth. Pour into two large glasses and top with 2 tsps of toasted, chopped hazelnuts to serve.

Pepperoni Pizza Bread

Pepperoni Pizza Bread

Halve a small loaf of Italian bread horizontally and toast under the grill. Brush with olive oil, top with tomato sauce, grated low fat mozzarella, parmesan and sliced pepperoni (or your favourite topping). Toast until bubbling. Sprinkle with dried oregano.

Feta dip

Feta Dip

Blend 1/2 cup low fat Greek yoghurt, 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise, 1/4 cup crumbled feta, 2 tsps chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried dill), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp white or black pepper and an optional dash of hot sauce.

Cut up veggies like carrots, celery, capsicum and cucumbers and use them to dip.

Banana Chips

Banana Chips

Slice a banana into thin slices and lay on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 950C/2000 F until golden for 2 to 3 hours. Let harden at room temperature.

Crunchy Chickpeas

Crunchy Chickpeas

Cook a 440g can of drained chickpeas in an ovenproof dish with 2 tbs olive oil and 1 tsp each of cumin and smoked paprika for 2 minutes. Season with salt, and then bake for 20 minutes at 2200C/4250F.

Bagel with Ricotta and Strawberries

Bagel with Ricotta and Strawberries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread ½ toasted whole-grain “flat” bagel with 2 tbs fresh ricotta. Top with ⅓ cup sliced strawberries. Drizzle with 1 tsp honey.

Dark Chocolate and Nut Clusters

Dark Chocolate and Nut Clusters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix together ¼ cup unsalted roasted nuts and 30grams melted dark chocolate (70 to 80 percent cocoa). Drop onto wax paper; refrigerate until set.

I hope you all enjoy these mouth-watering snacks as much as I do. So when you reach for all those unhealthy treats we all love, but we know are not good for us, remember that there are some tremendous healthy, scrumptious and inexpensive snacking alternatives. Share your own snack recipes with us all, we would love to hear from you!

- Lisa

Jet-set your way to study success!

For regular readers of my blogs posts, I’m sure that my wanderlust comes as no surprise.  Everything I do can usually be related to the adventure, excitement and cultural experiences of international travel and my university study is no different.  Traveling has, in fact, set me up to be a successful student.

tokyo skyline

Let me explain…

When I travel, I often find myself immersed in cultures that I’m unfamiliar with.  I’m also often surrounded by people speaking a language that I have limited or no knowledge of.  Needless to say, the experience can be both exciting and daunting at the same time.  It’s kind of the way you feel as a student sometimes.  You know, you’re so excited at the beginning of semester as you log into StudyDesk, only to find lectures and readings that don’t make immediate sense to you.  They’re loaded with technical and discipline-specific words that you’re unfamiliar with and you feel a little out of your depth.  For all intents and purposes, the readings and course notes could be written in a foreign language with the amount of sense that they make to you on that first day.  But just as I find in the foreign countries I travel within, it slowly becomes clearer and you learn more and more each day.  In the end, you’re left wondering how it could have ever felt foreign to you because you now speak in that ‘foreign’ language yourself and it all feels like second nature.

Signpost

So now you know what I mean about travel setting me up for study success, right?  Those skills I’ve learned from years of travel are highly relevant and have prepared me to be the best student I can be.  The similarities between study success and travel don’t end there though.  My international jaunts have also taught me how to fight through my tiredness and pull an ‘all-nighter’ when I have to.  You know, you arrive in another country that’s many hours behind the time zone you just came from, meaning that you won’t get sleep until nightfall in your new location – many hours later than what it is in the time zone your body clock is working on.  That ‘all-nighter’ (or more typically, ‘half-nighter’) is a skill I’ve had to utilise a few times when fighting the clock to smash out assignment amazingness.

Uni student thinking

I’ve met a lot of different people in my many years as a travel junkie and I think it would be safe to say that no two people have been exactly the same.  Whether or not an individual appears to be better or worse off than me, the constant is that I can learn something from each and every one of them.  It’s our uniqueness that sets us apart and that same uniqueness that provides an opportunity for learning.  I’ve found the exact same with my study.  Each and every student I’ve ‘met’ and studied with (all online) has helped me to learn and progress in my study.  The collaborative effort and encouragement has been invaluable and set me up for the success that I’ve achieved thus far.

So you see, being a successful student doesn’t mean you have to sit behind your computer, buried behind a wall of textbooks day in, day out.  You can get out there and travel the world knowing that your experiences will set you up to be an awesome student too.  Happy travels!

University isn’t just White Fellas business, but Black Fellas too.

It has now come time to choose your path, do you go to university or do you do something else with your life?

Elders, Uncle and Aunty, Sista and Brotha, a university education is available to us and within our reach. Our mob and our country, need more of us to go to University so that our history and our ways won’t be lost and buried in White Man history. Time for us to stand proud and strong and support each other to go to university and become something our country and community will be proud of.

University isn’t just for those with white skin, but for us all.  Some people within our own community, our own mob, will tell you education is a waste of time and will lead nothing but heartache. I am here to say they are all wrong.

I am now onto my second degree at university, this time at USQ. When I completed my first degree, I did not know what I wanted to do, the field that I chose was competitive and work was hard to come by, but because I had my degree in my hands, another door opened up for me.

I landed a job overseas in Japan, teaching English to Japanese middle school children. I was paid to do something that came naturally to me, English. I spent over 3 years living in another country, learning about a different culture to the one that I grew up in. But without that degree, I would have never have had the opportunity to go and work overseas.

Now why did I choose USQ this time around? Quite simply:

  1. I wanted a university that would work for me and with me
  2. To study a degree that would lead to a career
  3. I wanted a uni that has won awards
  4. And has an excellent reputation both here in Australia and overseas.

I trawled through the various university websites, checked out courses and sent numerous emails to lecturers and admissions people with questions about the courses that were offered, I visited the Toowoomba campus numerous times for their Open Days and checked out the various schools and faculties before submitting my application.

USQ was my only choice; it has a great online component, fantastic on-campus lessons and teaching staff. But not only that, I met fellow Indigenous students who were working towards their degree in many different areas. There is even an Indigenous Centre to help you network, make friends and succeed in your studies.  Murri Meet-Up is a deadly program to learn from other students and at the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, the tutors are around to help and there’s a chill out areas in the court yard or common room to have a yarn with other students. USQ ticked all the boxes for me. I am now doing a course that I love, have met wonderful USQ people from the USQ Team who make university life meaningful and got to learn more about our country. I have found many Sistas and Brothas here, too.

The old saying of being seen and not heard is long gone here at university, if you have something to say, then say it and debate it. Like many people about the place there is ignorance as they haven’t heard the truth about Indigenous culture, but at USQ they’re making an active attempt to do the right thing for Indigenous Australians and our future children.

Education is for all and is not just limited to those with an OP score. If you didn’t have an OP score when you finished school, USQ has an alternative entry program that can help you gain entry into the course you want to pursue, Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program or IHEPP. This is a one year program that will help you get into university and get you into your future career. Check it out http://www.usq.edu.au/study/degrees/indigenous-higher-education-pathways-program

USQ fly our flags high and continue to share the importance of our Elders, the importance of helping our mob and to watch us succeed in becoming Deadly graduates when the time comes. Not many universities can hold their head up high and say that they are trying to make Indigenous students feel included in all aspects of university life.

So what is stopping you from going after your dream?

I am unstoppable

Meet up with the USQ mob here at campus and follow your dreams to a rewarding future.

Whether you want to be a teacher or a doctor or nurse, there is a degree here waiting for you. Your USQ mob will help you every step of the way and when it comes time to graduate, you know that your mob here at USQ and at home are standing up there on the stage with you.

Have questions about joining the USQ student mob? Ask me!

- Julie

A Simpson-Free Springfield

So, I thought for this blog instalment I’d write a blog to you all about the go to places near and around Springfield Campus! Only the most avid student will ever believe that their whole time spent on campus will have them immersed in study. Sometimes you just gotta get out a bit, see the sights, and spend some time with your friends from university.

Kwik E Mart

So… we may not have a Kwik-E-Mart, or…

Moe's Tavern

Moe’s Tavern.

But we do have The Central Tavern, Springfield Lakes, and Orion; a whole shopping centre! Your move, Simpsons.

You have nothing? Checkmate.

We also have the campus facilities like the gym and the student commons, one of which is to keep you active and healthy, the other is to laze around in between lectures and chat with friends. The common room does have a pool and ping pong table though, which is great fun and can lead to some very intense rivalries.

We also have a new building popping up. And although you can’t go in there just yet, there is a super cool live video you can watch, on the left hand side of this link:

http://www.usq.edu.au/springfield/new-build

But seriously, it’s pretty impressive. Things are happening. The tavern is right next to the campus facilities, so it’s the best place to get a quick bite to eat in the middle of lectures (especially when you only have an hour break in the middle!)

Orion, the shopping centre, is also being expanded. It currently has 100 specialty shops and a food court, which is perfect to do some shopping after, before or between lectures, as well as a bite to eat. My personal favourite is Nandos, however, this may change once the expansion is completed.

I’ve heard that there are 750 more new specialty shops coming in, which includes an Events Cinema. Sounds to me like it’s just one more way to get out of a lecture!

Robelle Domain is a close stroll to the campus as well. It has its own Café (they do a fantastic Turkish Chicken sandwich), 11km of boardwalks, walking tracks, sport fields, barbecue areas and playgrounds, which includes a water play area!

I think one of the best things, personally, about going to university at the Springfield Campus is that so many new developments are occurring each and every year. It’s a flower that just won’t stop blossoming!

It really is quite exciting to be involved in all the activity in and around campus.

Share your go to spots at the Springfield campus! – Nick

The A-Z of surviving a teaching prac

 Blog 1

So it’s your first teaching prac and you want to ace it but not quite sure how to pull it off?  Never fear because with these simple yet effective tips you’ll be cartwheeling all the way to the classroom!

Do your homework!

Make sure you know how to get to your new school, what time to arrive, where to park and what to wear.  You don’t want to be stressing over these things an hour before you’re expected in the classroom.

Be excited (but nurture that scaredy cat inside of you too!)

Enthusiasm will have you off to a great start – you’ll energise your students and they will think you’ve been teaching for years.  A few nerves are normal so don’t worry about those – they’ll keep you on your toes!

Be ready to learn and open to new ideas

You might feel out of your depth at times but that’s perfectly normal – you’re there to learn.  So don’t beat yourself up or think you’re doomed if your first (second and third!) lesson doesn’t go to plan.  That happens to the most experienced teachers as well and it’s a great learning opportunity.

Raise your hand

Ask for help or advice if you need it.  You aren’t expected to know everything so don’t be afraid to seek guidance and feedback from your mentor and other teachers at your prac school.  They are there to help us succeed and will most likely be thrilled that you’re open to learning from their wealth of experience.

Blog 3

Clear your in-tray

Chances are you’ll be exhausted after your first days of prac so try to have your assignments and other important things completed beforehand.  That way you’ll be able to devote whatever energy you have left each evening to preparing for the following day of prac.

Reflect, reflect, reflect!

We hear that word all the time but there’s good reason for that – reflection is a fantastic learning tool so it’s a good habit to get into.  Written reflections will also provide evidence of your personal learning journey which will not only be satisfying for you to read at a later time but also relevant to future employers.

And finally, give yourself a well-deserved high five!!

Juggling the demands of prac, uni and personal life all at once certainly isn’t easy so don’t forget to reward yourself along the way.  It could be as simple as grabbing a (large!) mocha on your way to school in the morning or spending a few hours at the beach.  Whatever works for you.

blog 2

Until next time,

Jodie

Top 10 Stress Busters

Studying at university can be stressful particularly when assignments are due, or when we are about to undertake our exams. It is so easy to believe that you are alone and that all those around you are not feeling the same pressure as you, but this is not true. Everyone is stressed at these times. So when you are feeling the urge to pull out your hair, bang your head on the wall, or just sit in a corner and cry, just remember that there are many ways to relieve the pressure on yourself.

So here is my top 10 list of STRESS BUSTERS

# 1 – Have coffee with a friend!

This is the best thing to do! Meet up with some of your friends and have a nice cuppa and just talk. You don’t have to talk about study, assignments or anything serious in fact simply talking about every day run of the mill things will take your mind off your troubles and  calm you down. There are some great meeting spots on-campus to have a cuppa and chat.

# 2 – The Japanese Gardens!

If you haven’t seen them, you are missing out. They are at the Toowoomba campus and they are amazing. Just sit back, relax and take it all in.

# 3 – Listen to music!

Find a quiet, dark spot, put on your headphones and listen to your favourite music. Blocking out the whole world, even if it’s only for half an hour or an hour, is very soothing.

# 4 – Walk!

If you have a dog, then take Rover for a walk.  Everything around you will appear to slow down. If you don’t have a dog, then take yourself for a walk. Don’t always walk the same route, walk a new route each day. It is amazing what you see on foot. Early mornings are a great time to walk!

Blog 1

# 5 – Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!

They say that laughter is the key to happiness! If you are feeling really out of sorts with stress then watch some comedy on YouTube or join a laughter club. They are all the rage and the experts are praising the healing benefits of having a good laugh. There are clubs in Toowoomba:

http://laughter-club.meetup.com/cities/au/toowoomba

# 6 – Exercise!

I know it can be hard to get going, but a good workout will provide immediate relief from tension. Even if you can’t bring yourself to break into a sweat, any form of exercise that gets the blood circulating will release the endorphins. Swimming, skipping, stretching or Tai Chi, are fantastic and fun ways to exercise.

# 7 – Be prepared!

This sounds boring and dull but it really does help to relieve the pressure from stressful situations. If you are going into exams, get yourself organised the day before. Pack all the items that you will need, plan the route that you are taking to your examination venue, have some healthy snacks packed to get the brain cells working and leave in plenty of time to get there with time to spare. And of course get plenty of sleep the night before.

# 8 – Chocolate!

It doesn’t matter who you are, this really works and needs no explanation.

# 9 – The unusual Options!

  • Wear a rubber band on your wrist – flick it when you’re stressed
  • Drink orange juice – it is believed to make you feel less anxious
  • Chew gum – studies have shown that it reduces anxiety, stress and enhances multitasking
  • Paint – get out the brushes and paint, it is said to promote relaxation
  • Blow up balloons – It forces you to breathe deeply, this will relieve stress

# 10 – Read the little book of calm by Paul Wilson!

No, seriously this is a real book, I actually own a copy and it has the most incredibly amusing tips for keeping calm and relaxed. It will definitely put a smile on your face and provide some really obscure tips like:  ‘Wear Donald Duck underpants’ & ‘Add a dab of lavender to milk; leave town with an orange, and pretend you’re laughing at it’.

Here’s a funny clip that may help to relieve stress:

If you have any useful Stress Buster tips please share with all of us, we would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

- Lisa