Pavlov's Couch

A Psychology Student's Mental Experience

Archive for the category “Student Life”

Personal Tutors

I wasn’t too happy with my results at the end of last term. I set myself high standards, driven in part by the knowledge of how competitive it is – an insane 15% acceptance rate last year! So having a C and a C plus in my grades at the end of term was obviously not something I was happy about. I realised that I need to put more effort in this term – and dropping out of all societies and such last term didn’t help the way I expected it to. In fact I suspect it made things worse, because it allowed me to be less organised which soon descended into plain disorganised and lazy!

One of the things I have decided to do this term to improve things is make more use of my personal tutor. I am generally pretty good at sorting my own mess out so speaking to my PT has, in the past, tended to be him confirming that am already doing the right thing or me just saying everything is fine. So I haven’t made much effort to keep my PT up to date in the past, only seeing him at the start of each term. But I am going to make an effort from now on to keep in regular contact.

So I started already. This week I had a very good session with my PT who was kind enough to put up with me for almost an hour and a half rather than the traditional fifteen minutes! He made a very good point after listening to me list the things I think I did wrong and how I’m trying to fix them: I need to be careful that I don’t get so caught up looking back at what I did wrong last term that I am stop paying attention to this term! Especially since I am so critical of myself I can get caught up thinking that anything less than perfect is a disaster!

Other than supporting you and giving you advice through your degree, personal tutors do something else for you possibly even more important than that: they write your reference at the end of you degree! If you haven’t kept up with your tutor, if you haven’t built a relationship and got to know each other, then that will show in your reference. So yes, it’s important to meet with your personal tutor regularly even if everything is going fine.

Head Start Week 2012

Brunel University Entrance photoThat time of year is here again when a lucky group of new students gets to take part in Head Start Week – a week of lectures, seminars, fun events, and generally learning about the university. The week is designed to get students who have been out of education for a bit used to university life, both in terms of the academic side and the practical side. The lectures and seminars cover everything from time-management to statistics, essay writing to critical thinking. Through the week each group also prepares a presentation which they deliver at the end of the week.

I took part in Head Start Week when I started university, and by the end of the week I found that I was a hell of a lot more prepared for university study, not to mention familiar with the campus and university itself. Last year I had the pleasure of being on the other side of things and worked as a student ambassador for the week, introducing new things as is my style, a Facebook group to promote the social side of things and a pdf booklet that captured all the questions and answers and other useful stuff from the week. This year, starting Monday this coming week, I will be returning to that role and my additions from last year will be re-appearing also.

I love Head Start Week, both as a concept and as something to get involved with. As well as being an extremely valuable week to prepare new students it is also incredibly social, and the friends new students make in this week will most likely be friends for life. It is such an experience to be involved in that and to give these new students the confidence to start their course on a strong footing. I honestly can’t wait for Monday and to meet the new group – in fact I have even met a couple already at open days and other events!

Volunteering and Student Rep Awards

Although the academic year is basically over, all the exams have finished and students are preparing to go home, there are still a few things left happening at the university. For example there is FACE week next week (the Festival of Awareness and Creative Expression) which is worth sticking around for. There will be performances, stalls, and various things put on by all the Societies so you can expect lots of fun happening s throughout the week (there’s a reason it’s sometimes called “reFreshers week”!)

Aside from that there was also the Volunteering and Student Rep awards this evening, where dedicated students are recognised by the university, the union, and the Mayor of Hillingdon for their work within and outside the university. This year Brunel students logged eight -thousand hours of volunteer work across something like 65 different organisations. That is a massive achievement and really speaks to the community spirit of a lot of the students here. If you volunteer and you don’t log your hours with the Volunteer Service – why not?? Get signed up, log your hours, and next year you too can be enjoying a free meal and free wine 😉

The awards are a fantastic ceremony, and this year it seems they listened to the grumbles that last years speeches were a bit long as no one seemed to speak for more than five minutes! At first sat in a full room and not recognising a single person is daunting, and I missed having all my fellow reps there (in the previous year I believe every rep was invited to the ceremony). However it turned out to be a fantastic experience to speak to students from all different schools across the year and make some new aquaintances.

Although at this point I am kicking myself for not logging my own volunteer hours (curse my intense revision schedule!), I was proud to receive an award for something else – Student Rep of the Year for Social Sciences. I do feel a little guilty about it because I know there are other reps, one in particular who made a fantasic amount of effort through the year and achieved a great amount, who deserve the award.

I would like to say thank you to all the students in my year, without you guys making use of me this wouldn’t have been possible! Also to all the other Social Sciences reps who all do fantastic work 🙂

End of Year Retrospective

I have reached the end of my second year (of four) of university so I thought it might be good to have a quick look back at what the year brought me.

After a number of interviews, and a ridiculous amount of applications and searching, I finally found an excellent placement working in a Forensic Psychology setting. It wasn’t an area that I had considered before, but now I feel it is a door that has opened for me.

Returning from placement I landed in what most people describe as the most difficult term of the entire degree. Five different modules, all of which were assessed 100% by exams (as opposed to an exam/coursework split). Developmental Psychology was the one I was most looking forward to, but due to issues with the lecturer it turned out to be my least liked. Those issues were so bad that myself and the other student rep had to call a meeting with the lecturer and the senior staff, which ended in two hours of him shouting at us all! Cognitive Psychology was actually ok, despite being a module that I can’t quite get excited about. Social Psychology was great, and the lecturer (who is in fact the aforementioned senior staff member) provided excellent handouts which really helped with my complete inability to take good notes! I think I would be interested in taking the advanced social psychology module if there is one, since this module was an excellent foundation but has left me hungry for more. I absolutely loved the Individual Differences module – all about personality and intelligence. I would definitely like to learn more in this area too, and I particularly enjoyed reading about Rogers whose theories I have loved for a long time now. But I was surprised to find that after speed-reading Goldstein’s The Organism I actually prefer his theories to Rogers! Finally I absolutely love love loved biological psychology and thoroughly enjoyed learning about hemispheric specialisation for the exam (I might even write a post about it). I will definitely be looking out for opportunities to learn more in this field.

This year saw me, for the first time, take a break from the Psychology Society and hand over the reigns to other students so that it may grow. And it has done, with my best friend at the helm the society has done fantastically well and gone from strength to strength. However I missed being involved in society activitdp (although I have to admit with this killer term I know I made the right choice), so I have re-joined the psychology society committee as treasures and also founded the university’s first ever Zombie society!

The exams at the end of the year were tough, and as I have said before I have many regrets for the lack of effort I put in earlier in the term. I am particularly disappointed in my Individual Differences exam which I was actually really excited about, cut neither of the two topics I has revised especially well and been extra interested in came up, so I had to fall back on my two backup topics.

I also finally “get” using mind-maps for revision. It may not be the best way of learning little facts like authors and dates of studies, but it ties everything together in a structured way which really helps remembering the rest of the stuff and can make a big difference when it comes to structuring your exam answers.

I also stopped volunteering with MIND this term, once again to allow me to concentrate on my studies. My level 3 NVQ in mental health work was similarly put on hold. I do miss the volunteering and one day I will take it up again (although probably doing something new) but for a while I think I am going to make good use of the extra day a week free.

Looking forward, I have spent the day preparing to resume my NVQ work. Learning from my revision experience I have created a plan of what work to do on what day, and provided I stick to my quite intense schedule I will be finished in about three weeks ish. I have also started planning to get ahead for my next term; I have obtained copies of the lecture slides and I will add them as tasks on my schedule. I will also be returning to the gym tomorrow after almost three weeks off. I am dying to go! These past weeks I have done no exercise at all and my diet has been appalling!

So in many ways nothing has changed – I am still working hard! But at least now I don’t need to feel guilty every time I take a break!

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