As a recent graduate of Newman having studied the BA Drama, Theatre and Applied Performance, then the MRes Humanities (Drama), I have outlined 10 key tips for starting university. As I wrote them out, I realised they are things I wish I knew and relate to things I felt went well looking back 4 years later. I hope they are of help to you too in your studies.
The 10 Tips
1. Know your way around the campus
More so than ever with covid-19 restrictions in place, knowing your way around the university campus will be beneficial. If you begin with where your teaching spaces are, then branch out to where you can get food and where the library is for you to study for example, you may find yourself feeling more immersed and settled into university life. Take a virtual campus tour if you’re not able to visit campus.
2. Get set up on Newman’s technology
Tip 2 is about getting set up on Newman’s Intranet, making sure you can get onto MyNewman (the central online platform for each student to get to emails, their course information and the intranet). If you get these sorted, you will feel a lot better to be able to navigate digitally your course and communications. But do go and see the helpful IT team or email them if you need.
3. Get used to Moodle
Stemming from Tip 2, Tip 3 relates to the virtual learning environment Moodle that Newman uses. Moodle is where you will have access to your modules on your course each semester, where you can see each week’s outline and submit assignments if they are digital submissions. I found this confusing to begin with but if you navigate around, experiment with what information is on there it will help you. There is always the e-learning team on hand to help too. You can get to Moodle by logging in to My Newman.
4. Enact your passions while studying
Tip 4 is a call to say enact what you are passionate about alongside your studies. Whether that is getting a part time job (one of which I will talk about later), joining a society through the Students’ Union or taking on opportunities given by lecturers, I would say taking on your interests will expand your enthusiasm for attending Newman.
5. Connect with Mentors
This tip was something I did not really do and I feel I wish I had. The mentoring schemes on offer at Newman have increased massively. So, do get in touch with mentors and find out if your subject has any subject mentors. It is a great pleasure to be a graduate mentor for BA Drama and the MRes Humanities, so I would encourage you to use the service or become a mentor when the opportunity arises. You can also follow the Welcome Mentor page on Instagram @welcomementorsnewman2020 and / or Facebook @Newmanmentors
6. Consider being a student ambassador
As mentioned in Tip 4, being a Student Ambassador is one role I want to discuss as I was in this role for the 4 years while studying. I worked on helping organise and enact big events like Open Days, worked with school visits, supported Drama interviewees and represented Newman off-site at careers fayres. It is a wonderful role to meet new people and feel immersed in Newman’s community.
7. Try and meet people
One wonderful thing I feel I did was meeting people who were on, and not on my course. If you have chances to meet people then do so. Always take an opportunity to have a conversation as there is a friendly atmosphere embedded into Newman. I know though how tough it is to speak to people; I sat nervously so many times at the beginning of Newman. However, breaking through that initial barrier was the best thing I did and I have lasting friendships now 4 years later.
8. Plan and organise your time
Tips 8 and Tip 9 will focus now on being an effective learner in your studies. So, Tip 8 is about planning and organising your time. When faced with an assignment plan backwards from the deadline to give you time to refine and adjust your work. It also gives you time to plan reading, plan essays or revision time depending on your type of assignment. Overall, trust yourself and try out techniques that will help your learning e.g. I like to create visual notes to help me remember.
9. Remember, mistakes are fine
Tip 9 is to say outright mistakes are not the issue, it is how you learn from them that matters. Newman helped me understand this and I offer this advice to you now because it may allow you to be kind to yourself if things go wrong. Plus, you can build a mindset that can overcome adversity and you can intend to do the best you can. A key phrase I came across during my masters was: ‘Nothing means anything expect the meaning we give to it’. I hope this helps you to be able to give meanings to your work that are beneficial.
10. Be you
Lastly, I offer the tip to just be you! At the beginning I think I tried too hard to fit in and immerse myself in things after working for a year before attending. Trust that inner you, however that feels to you, because every time you attend a lecture or seminar you will be driven by your desire to do the best you can at that moment. Always remind yourself ‘why’ you have come to Newman and that can be your motivation.