Making the case for making mistakes – OurWarwick
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Making the case for making mistakes

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Luke James | Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Contact Luke

The dust has settled now.

My degree certificate has arrived.

I’ve enrolled on my masters.

I’ve re-applied for student finance.

My time at Warwick – beyond using the University’s tennis courts and writing this blog – is over.

However, having looked back at my previous posts, I’ve noticed that I haven’t written much about studying. You might be wondering why.

Well, it’s because I wouldn’t recommend following in my footsteps. Although I’m comfortable with my methods (they worked for me… I graduated with a first), I know that they aren’t best practice.

During term time, I would wake up at seven o’clock, start work at eight, and continue until about 18:30 (albeit allocating some time for exercise and lunch). I spent most of my time reading and writing notes.

That was it. Besides from my first-year revision, that was as sophisticated as my studying methods were. I wasn’t making mind maps. I wasn’t studying with friends. I wasn’t making little revision cards. I was reading, attending taught hours, and taking notes.

Was it fun? No.

Was it time effective? I doubt it.

Was it the best way of protecting my mental health? Probably not.

Would I do it again? To a large extent, yes.

I wouldn’t want to re-do my time at Warwick because I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. My approach to learning was flawed because I prioritised working hard over working smart. Here’s an example.

In PAIS, you’ll be set a lot of reading – often three core readings (which are typically a book chapter or journal article) per module, per week. Usually, there would be a fair amount of overlap between the core readings, especially in years one and two.  Despite that, I poured over every word looking for the slightest nugget of information that could help me out along the road.

Was my meticulous to be admired or did I waste lots of time reading about ideas that I already understood?

Honestly, I lean towards the latter.

And that’s fine… because I’ll try to take that on board as I start my MA in September.

As a self-avowed perfectionist (a trait that can do more harm than good), the point I am making is this: it is okay to work in imperfect ways and there is no shame in noticing (in retrospect) that you made mistakes along the way.

That, in my view at least, speaks to the heart of the double-edged sword that drives university life.

University is what you will make of it… and that includes making, owning, and learning from your mistakes.

Goodbye for now; speak soon.

Are there any topics that you would like me to write about in the future?

If so, please feel free to get in touch. I’m happy to take suggestions on any subjects that you want to learn more about. For context, here are some of the things I should be especially well-versed in:

  • Writing an undergraduate dissertation
  • Studying in the Politics Department
  • Living in Warwick’s cheap on-campus student accommodation
  • Being on a society exec at Warwick
  • Student journalism
  • Warwick’s sport facilities
  • Living in Coventry

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Luke James | Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Contact Luke

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