Tips for Starting University Part II: – OurWarwick
OurWarwick

Tips for Starting University Part II:

Volunteer.

Why should you volunteer at university?

Giving back allows you to discover more about yourself, gives you a spring in your step and empowers you to drive forward.

At the end of the day, it’s not what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back” – Denzel Washington

I wish I had volunteered more during my first year, especially considering that Warwick is so full of these opportunities. Here are some examples:

  • Warwick Volunteers
  • Enactus
  • Warwick STAR: Warwick STAR is part of the national ‘STudent Action for Refugees’ network and an active and fun society involved in fundraising, campaigning and especially volunteering for refugees.
  • RAG: Warwick Raising and Giving Society is a student-led charitable society raising over £250,000 a year for various causes via challenge events, raids, volunteering, one-off events and a social calendar.

I have a friend that as part of the RAG society, fasted for 48 hours and shaved his head for the meningitis research foundation to raise well over £600 in a matter of weeks which I found very inspiring and shows how even though we are mere students, we can have a big impact on a certain cause we believe in.

I think it is a risky trap to think ‘I’ll help once I’m working’ or ‘once I’ve made it’ (whatever ‘made it’ means to you), because the habits you form now are the habits that will form your young adult life and then feed into the way you live the rest of your life. Giving your time, your effort and your talent will charge you with an unstoppable momentum that will make overcoming obstacles in your own life seem less daunting.

Use support from tutors and ask elders for coursework advice.

Exams are tough, but I don’t think they’re as tough as coursework. This is, of course, my opinion and I’m certain many will contest against it. However, when you put into perspective the fact that coursework is moderated (i.e. your coursework may be moderated down – unlike test grades) and that essay-based/report-based coursework is more subjective and usually follows criteria that often invites alternative perspectives, I think there is a lot that can go wrong with coursework.

The explanation of why I think coursework is tougher than exams mainly applies to maths based/multiple choice exams where past papers are available and answers usually have a right/wrong answer.

Now that the distinction has been made, how can you maximise your chances with coursework?

  • Find and ask people that have done well in previous years for a certain piece of coursework (e.g. ask your subject mentors if you’re studying Economics) and read through examples of good work if you are given access to these. I wish I asked for more advice e.g. about which essay to do and how to maximise the potential of high marks for certain pieces of coursework. This exercise can save you a lot of time because year on year, students fall into the same traps.
  • Secondly, although you can’t give your tutor or module leader the final draft, you can write out the essay and then walk them through your logic during office hours. This is a great way to see if you have approached the essay in a way that will score a high mark and can be great at raising red flags in your thinking.

Overall, volunteer more and be strategic about coursework involving essay writing. The term is just around the corner, so best to start thinking about these tactics well ahead of first term.

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