updated on 14 September 2020
Right now, everyone is getting ready for the new academic year. Incoming students are wondering what their new university and classmates will be like. Returning students may be wondering whether the no detriment policy carries through to the new academic year, because, well, the pandemic is still ongoing.
As the first day looms, I want to share some tips on navigating the hybrid university life!
Participation is still important
When I started my final year at Kingston University last September I did not think I would have finished my degree at home, during a global pandemic. As it turned out, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Some universities have created this hybrid of face-to-face and online lectures, while others have switched to solely face-to-face or solely online (at least for now). My number one tip is to show up in whatever format your university chooses. If you can go to campus (and feel comfortable), do so. If your lectures are online, join the live sessions. Complete the recommended reading, seminar questions and ask questions if you have any. Your lecturers have put time into adapting and creating material for you – it’s only fair to participate in the class. Although lectures may be recorded and later uploaded, being able to ask questions live is very useful. On the flip side, I found that having the option to rewind a recorded lecture or exam/assignment briefing was so relieving because I didn’t miss out on any vital points that were being made.
Your law society is still there for you. University societies have all adapted to novel delivery methods and your law society is no different. As a past law society president, I know first-hand the effort and stresses associated with running events. Don’t let the hard work of your law society committee go to waste. There will be law firm events, employability sessions and so much more happening. I know the era of the Instagram Live workshops may be dying out but if your law society has any show up – even if it plays in the background while you get something else done.
The proof really is in the planning
I recently uploaded an IGTV on how I stayed organised throughout my degree. Organisation is one of the most important skills to master during university. While independent study will be a bigger part of your year, it is imperative to create a schedule. Being disorganised and overstressed are arguably the last things you need on your plate. Find what works for you and run with it!
I’m a visual learner and therefore my organisation style matches this – I need colour and handwritten schedules to stay organised. If your brain works without having to handwrite, I highly recommend using your Google/phone’s calendar. It has all the benefits of a physical planner and you can set it to notify you closer to the time of the event. As an advocate for all things colourful, I strongly advise colour coding. It allows you to know what an event is without even having to look at the exact details – plus, it looks pretty.
You’ve got this!
I know at this point you’ve heard this phrase one million times. But here’s my reminder to you ahead of the first day of term – you can handle anything thrown at you. Will there be extremely difficult days? Of course. Just remember to take a break, process your feelings and move forward. There are lots of Instagram pages and newsletters you can sign up to that give that fresh boost of motivation and positivity, including the LawCareers.Net weekly newsletter. However, toxic positivity is a real thing so unfollow and unsubscribe if you’re feeling overwhelmed and guilty instead of motivated and inspired.
To my fellow international students, it’s always difficult being so far away from home, far less during a global pandemic. But as the saying goes, we move! Some days were harder than others because of my brain’s constant battle processing the impacts of covid-19 on the UK and my home, Saint Lucia. On these low days I was reminded of the importance of taking care of my mental health. And this is my reminder to you – remember to care for yourself. It may seem that things are going back to normal but you’re in a position where covid-19’s impact hits you twice – immediate worry and worrying about what’s happening at home. My advice is simple; use the wellbeing services at your university, speak to your personal tutor if you have one or a trusted adviser. It’s still an uncertain time for everyone but remember to focus on the things you can control, like your degree, and take care of yourself.
All the best with the new academic year! Take it one day at a time and give it your best shot.
Faustina Edward is a law graduate and former president of the Kingston University Law Society. You can follow her motivational blog, The Unicorn Project, on Instagram.