I wanted to hear from a student about their experience, how they feel they’re progressing in their study, of uni in general, what motivates and helps them and what, if anything, holds them back. So I asked my cousin, Amelia, to come and have a chat!

Amelia Vella is studying a double degree of Bachelor of Psychology with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) and is now in 2nd year.

What would you say to your first year self, now that you’re one year in?

I would say develop a better way to attempt assignments – time management. Maybe make up a calendar and follow it, each day tick off tasks. That’s the only way I can motivate myself to finish on time and not be stressed and worrying about finishing.

How do you feel about the transition from high school to university?

Luckily in my class I do have friends, so if I need help I can ask them. Sometimes I email my tutors for help. They can’t offer direct help, they always say ‘check the unit outline’ , they can’t give me direct answers about an assignment. I think there is good support at Macquarie I just haven’t tried out some of it yet. 

Actually I have tried PAL (Peer assisted Learning) for Psychology.  I’ve been to two classes where a tutor summarises the lectures, making sure we understand all the content. And that does help, it just makes me feel a little bit more confident.

Why did you choose Macquarie and what was your motivation for this doing this degree?

Firstly, I came here because my brother was already here. And no other University, as far as I know, offered my degree and I’ve heard that they do have a high employment rate (from my degree) and that’s important to me and was part of my decision. And I always liked the campus.  

What is your goal at the end of your degree?

To graduate with a degree that will lead to employment and earn a stable income. Also to improve my intrinsic motivation, knowing that I achieved this amazing academic achievement.

How do you feel it’s going? Is this goal in the front of your mind?

Yeah, it’s an every day thing – I really do want to complete this degree.

Is the social side of things important to you on campus?

Yes but then again I do see my friends in lectures, ’cause luckily the friends I’m close to do my degree.  But with different classes on different days and different schedules we don’t get to see each other all the time.

I’ve not have not joined any societies just yet because I feel like I don’t have time, normally I have work when the societies meet.

I don’t really hang out at the new Ubar –  it’s too open and everyone can see everything. I like to be in a corner, not so exposed.

How is combining work and study?

I have 2 casual jobs and work about 10 hours a week, I can pick up hours whenever.

I can manage time better if I put the effort in, it’s just I need to find a way to fix that time management.

Who has been an influential teacher for you and why?

I remember in high school every lesson the teacher would go back to the content we learned in the last class, to get it into our heads to make sure we understood it so we can move on. That was one good skill that she had.

For Psychology I find that the lecture content really helps because it’s good to go through it. With Education the content is fairly straightforward so the lecture doesn’t seem so crucial, to recap everything we’ve learned, it’s already clear to me.  I do attend lectures most of the time because I’m here twice a week, so I might as well.

What’s been your experience with the learning technologies?

I don’t bring my laptop to uni anymore because it’s too heavy but I do go on my phone and watch lectures on my phone. And I do the polls and it is helpful. I’ve not yet live streamed. I like how with lecture recordings you can fast forward at 1.5 speed, because some lecturers talk slowly so it’s good if you can speed it up!

ilearn is good. I think it’s improved. Last year it was a bit slow, but now it’s definitely improved.

How could you your educators help you more?

If tutors were more enthusiastic and passionate that might be good. If they could make classes a bit more fun, more games, online quizzes. In one of my tutorials last year we did a Kahoot exercise and that was fun. I wish every week, or every second week, they would create a quiz so that we could go over the lecture and tutorial content. I really feel that it helps me take it in, you always remember the quizzes when you’re doing an exam, you think ‘I remember the kahoot quiz’.

I feel like if teachers were more encouraging that would be helpful. The attitude at uni is more ‘fend for yourself’, develop your own motivation and you need to do it on your own. Which is good, because we need to learn how to motivate ourselves rather than relying on others, but maybe just a little bit more encouragement would help.

How do you manage your assignments and study?

I know they can’t really say much in terms of assignments, it’s up to the student to figure it out themselves. They do always respond to my emails but they just say that they can’t tell me, they can’t lead me.

I tend to struggle with starting my assignment, I don’t know where to start. So I tend to ask questions and then they just say ‘well you’re on your own you need to figure it out yourself’.

I just have to learn to be independent. Sometimes I ask my friends but even sometimes they don’t know and they’re confused too. At least I try to address what I’m dealing with.

Sometimes my friends and I get together on Skype calls and I find that really helpful or we’ll just message. But I’d rather study on my own than with the group. Because my time management isn’t always the best, I just study on my own.

What do you want to improve over the next couple of years?

Definitely time management, 100%, because I also have to go to work.

(the interviewer directs Amelia to the StudyWise ‘Managing your Time’ Module!)

How do you find your study impacts you emotionally?

It does because I stress a lot, because I want to achieve a high grade. It’s hard when I’m stuck on something. Last week I finished my assignment but I didn’t have enough time because it took me a while figure out how to start it. I was working too so it was stressful. But if I manage my time better that wouldn’t happen, I would be fine.

Do you know where to go for well being help?

Yeah but I don’t think it’s that serious at this point.  I did reach out in high school during Year 12 but I now think I’ve improved in terms of stress and anxiety so at this point I don’t need it, but maybe in the future.

I don’t have any friends who have dropped out but I do have a friend who reached a breaking point last year, just stress and everything got to her – work, study. She didn’t really do anything about it. I told her that she should have gone to see someone but she didn’t. I think over time it just went away.

No one that I’ve met says ‘I hate uni‘, it’s just sometimes complaining about the workload. But no one says they want to leave or switch unis.

Would it be helpful to hear from past alumni about their experience, those who have gone on to find employment after study?

That would be helpful yes, to learn how 4th year was and how the prac was and what I can do now to motivate myself and do better.

Would you say there is anything that holds you back in your study?

Not really. I think it’s just my goals and my time management. I wouldn’t say anyone or anything holds me back.

Is there anything you want teachers to know about what you’re going through?

My tutorial teachers are very understanding, for example they don’t get angry if someone is late, because that person might of come from work or something. But I wish or I hope that they know that as students we have a work life, we have so much going on and if they could be a little bit more understanding, just to know what we’re going through.

If you were failing or falling behind, what would that feel like and what would help?

My self confidence and my self-esteem would drop. I guess I would need to motivate myself to do my assignments earlier. Like I said, time management. Maybe talking to my tutorial teacher about it just so they know what’s going on. Having that one-on-one time does help. It’s just hard because at the end of the class sometimes I have another lecture or tutorial or have to go to work so sometimes I don’t have time to actually speak to the teacher.

I’ve never used zoom or Skype with a tutorial a tutor. I don’t always feel comfortable face to face, I’d rather email. 

If you’re a student reading this, feel free to leave a comment below with any other things you’d like teachers to know about your study experience.

Posted by Geraldine Timmins

I was Communications and Engagement Lead for the Learning Innovation Hub 2017 - 2018 and Teche Editor during that time.

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