Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Should you apply for postgraduate study?

Are you unsure whether you should undertake post graduate study?
Has it been a while since you studied? You've most likely completed a Bachelor Degree and are currently in the workforce so you are an excellent candidate for further study in your field of knowledge and expertise. 

A recent conversation with a friend led me to write this post. My friend wasn't sure whether she should study again, especially seeing as it had been a long time since she had last attended University. She had completed her undergraduate before online learning had come about. These days, enrolling in subjects, signing up for tutorials, searching for journal articles, participating in discussions with other students and submission of assignments can all be done online.

Learning has never been easier. Whether you decide to be an on campus student, an online learner or a mixture of both, studying has never been so accessible and flexible! 

Here are five tips for enrolling in postgraduate studies:

1) Choose your postgraduate study
There are postgraduate certificates and degrees or if you have completed a degree with honours, you may want to look at undertaking research for a Doctorate. Research courses at different Universities as many have studying by distance options. This opens up the choice of available courses.

2) Choose your area of study 
Ask yourself is there anything you would like to specialise in. Carefully check the pre-requisites for entry into the course as some require the area of study to be in the same stream as your undergraduate degree. Many courses can be tailored to meet your learning needs.

3) Choose your mode of study
If you're working full-time, enrolling in 1-2 subjects per semester would be doable. Take into consideration that postgraduate studies are typically shorter than undergraduate degrees. Even if you are an on campus student, there will still most likely be an online component.

4) Fitting Uni in with your life
With your life busy with work, family and social commitments, how do you fit in Uni? Think of your postgraduate studies as a hobby. You know how to learn, you are just having fun in a field that's already familiar. Organise yourself so that you find the balance in your life.  Use a calendar and schedule in the weekends when study is a must and include important birthdays, events etc to work around. 

5) Embrace the new way of studying at University
Teaching and learning at University has changed a lot especially over the last decade. It's okay to feel overwhelmed at first. You will have tech staff at the Univeristy to help you with logging on and email etc. As a postgraduate student, there will be a smaller number of students than in an undergraduate course therefore you'll be able to get to know the lecturers better- even online! They are there to help you! And join a study support network like eDegree for some great study tips  ( yep shameless plug!).

Monday, July 22, 2013

5 tips to get rid of Writers Block and get that assignment done

Stuck in a rut with your writing? Assignment due next week? Here are some tips to get rid of writer's block and start the words flowing again. 

1. When do you do your best writing?
Keep a log of when you produce your best writing. Is it late at night? Do you need silence in your surroundings? Think about the times you have been able to write in the past and try to replicate those writing conditions.

2. Set small writing targets
When tackling a writing task just seems too much, begin with a small goal. This could be as little as writing 100 words on the given topic. It doesn't have to be perfect, just get a few sentences down. If that even seems too big a task, try writing a simple outline that includes different parts of the assignment. Use subheadings to break down the larger topic. You may find that once you get started, you keep going. 

3. Relax. 
You know that you can write. You've done it plenty of times before. Throw the negative self-talk out because you can do this. Relax by making your writing space as comfortable as possible. 

4.Reward yourself
Make writing fun by rewarding yourself. Each time you complete a writing goal, give yourself a small reward. For example, if your goal is to write a paragraph, reward yourself with a coffee. The more challenging the goal, the bigger the reward. 

5.Aim to write regularly
I'm not talking about editing or writing a few words then checking Facebook or the online news. I'm talking about producing new writing for 15- 30 minutes daily. This new writing will most likely be the task at hand but can include free writing on other topics including posts in a blog. The aim is to make writing a habit and therefore through practice, making writing easier and avoiding writer's block altogether. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Save it or lose it!

I did it again. I didn't take my own advice and I lost a piece of work. Save it or lose it! It was only two years ago that I posted about ensuring that all work is backed up properly. Read that post here.

This time I was working on a Prezi - a mind map program I downloaded onto my iPad. Luckily, the work I lost was not crucial and I hadn't spent a lot of my time on it as it was only in the early stages. But it has served as a reminder - save it or lose it!

So here's a recap to ensure nothing is lost by failing to  ctrl + s!

1. save the document or project as soon as it is started.

2. make it a habit to save at regular intervals or as soon as a small block of work is complete.

3. don't just save it on your pc or tablet - transfer it to an external hard drive, usb or even better to the cloud!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Oops, I uploaded the wrong assignment!

Has this ever happened to you? Uploading the wrong assignment for a unit is an easy mistake to make. You have probably noticed that course units within a stream usually have the same letters preceding the course code to indicate they belong to that subject. For example, EDPE243 - ED indicates it is an education subject.

One student, Casey* submitted two assignments for her teaching degree three weeks ago. Today, Casey received her results. One assignment she received top marks and the other she failed. Casey looked at her assessment uploads and realised she had accidentally uploaded the same assignment for both subjects - subjects that had near identical course numbers. Upon realising this, she contacted her lecturer by email who confirmed that she had uploaded the wrong assignment but could only mark what was uploaded. The stress from this mistake and hoping for a solution left Casey in tears and sick to the stomach that all her hard work would go to waste. Casey sent the lecturer a copy of the correct assignment in hope that if anything, she would gain some feedback.

Other students' stories who came from different Australian Universities;

Another student, Danielle* said that she had mixed up two assignments once and it was the lecturers who realised and emailed her to upload the correct assignments.

Jacki* didn't realise that she had uploaded the incorrect assignment until her lecturer contacted her. But the due date had already passed by the time the mistake was picked up. However, Jacki was able to resubmit the correct assignment but with a penalty.

Jo* uploaded the correct assignment but an earlier draft. She had to learn the hard way as the lecturer stated that she could only mark the uploaded assignment as there was no way of knowing if she had used the extra days to complete the task.

Mixing up assignments when uploading assessment because the unit codes are near identical is an easy mistake to make. Here are three tips to ensure that you don't have to endure the same stress as Casey.

1. When saving an assignment, ensure that you use both the unit code, unit name and assignment number to identify it easily.

2. Before pressing 'submit' when uploading your assignment, triple check that it is the correct assignment for the unit. If you are tired (if it is not the due date), leave the uploading until you are feeling more refreshed.

3. Go back into where you submitted the assignment and ensure that it was received.

*names changed to protect identity.