Posted in Written by Sophie

Managing your anxiety during deadline season

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Everyone gets anxiety at some point in their lives, and it can go up or down for students depending on the time of year and how many assignments you have to complete. I have found some ways of coping that work for me when it comes to deadline season, and hopefully they might be useful to some of you who get anxiety or stress around this time!

  1. Focus on one thing at a time

One of the main things that I do when it comes to deadlines is trying to focus on too many things at the same time. The brain can only cope with so many tasks at once, and sometimes you can be doing an assignment or revision and your mind wanders off to another worry. Keep focused on the task that you are trying to complete, and worry about the other thing later. Let ‘future you’ deal with that when it comes to it!

  1. Google calendars and check lists!

To make sure that you don’t worry about lots of things at once, organise your life with Google Calendars so you know where you have to be, and use check lists (either written down or online – Checkli is a great website!) so you know what piece of work you will be doing and when. It is so satisfying when you can finally tick off a task, and it is quite rewarding when you know you have completed it. Don’t feel pressure to stick strictly to a check list if you have decided you don’t have time on a particular day, or if you’re feeling too exhausted to complete something.

  1. Take regular breaks

This is probably drilled into your head all of the time but it is so important to take regular breaks. Whether that be watching your favourite Netflix programme, or going out with some friends, make sure to wind down now and then so that your brain has a rest from the work.

  1. Try not to focus on the future, focus on the ‘now’

Part of Mindfulness (which I really recommend, head on over to the University Counselling Service to find out more!) is making sure you focus on the present, rather than the future. This is often the cause of lots of stress, and sometimes you cannot control what will happen in the future. All you can do is try your best in the current moment, and the future will sort itself out. Perhaps organise the weeks ahead at first, but don’t think about them until the time comes to complete the task.

  1. Talk through it

If you’re struggling, I couldn’t recommend more to speak to someone. I have been doing this more and more and you begin to realise things about yourself as other people can bring another perspective to a situation. If the stress and anxiety from university work is getting you down, speak to a friend, a family member, a colleague, a lecturer, anyone! And be sure to go to your GP or the counselling service if it all gets too much. People are here to support you and there is always someone you can talk to at university who will listen.

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

My Essay Timeline

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Hi everyone! I thought I would share with you a short blog post about how I go about planning my essay assignments. I have been at Sheffield uni for three years now (scary, where has the time gone?) and I have discovered a planning timeline that works for me and helps me balance my workload.

I give myself at least four weeks to complete an essay, and that means that I don’t end up stressing near to the deadline:

Week 1: This is when I gather all of my readings and make preliminary notes on each one, with references to why it is relevant to my essay/argument. It is also a good idea to think of your essay question at this point (if you have to make up your own), so that your reading and argument is focused from the start.

Week 2: I then create a plan and structure for my essay. This picks out the main themes throughout the essay, and how I will go about laying out these themes. It is always best to do this before starting to write, as you can end up having bits of writing here and there which isn’t coherent.

Week 3: The write-up stage. I start writing my ideas and thoughts down under each theme, and try to reference other relevant sources as much as I can. I try not to restrict myself too much at this stage, because it can end up taking longer if I am bothered about sentence structure and typos.

Week 4: Finally, I make sure to proofread and edit my work appropriately to ensure that my writing is concise and that everything makes sense. Try to leave a couple of days to step away from your work in the middle of this week, so that you have a fresh pair of eyes to edit it again. You could even get your friends/flatmates/family to help you spot mistakes/understand your argument!

This is by no means the most perfect way to plan your essay but it has worked for me so far! Be sure to go to some 301 workshops to help with your essay, such as: Essay Planning and Structure, Developing Your Argument, Critical Thinking, Academic Writing and Time Management! You can see the calendar here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops

Posted in Written by Sophie

Considering Postgraduate study?

If you’re in your final year you might be thinking about your options for when you graduate. One thing a lot of people think of is studying a postgraduate degree – but it’s not for everyone. The pressure of looming Grad Scheme deadlines can sometimes throw you off and make you want to stay another year at university, and it’s not always a good idea. It’s best to weigh up the pros and cons of studying a Masters or PhD before heading straight into the application! Here are some tips and points to think about before you start writing applications:

  • Will it just be another year of study?

Of course, it’s excellent when you love your degree so much and want to carry it on. Or you might have found a really niche topic that you want to study which is slightly different to your undergraduate degree. Sometimes you can get into the career of your dreams by going straight into work, and you don’t always need a Masters or PhD to do it. Make sure you fully research potential career sectors that you might want to go into after study, and ensure that the Masters or PhD year will be a fulfilling one that may help with your career development. It’s absolutely fine to continue a subject you enjoy, but really think about the reasons why you want to study it. This will help in the application process too!

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  • Check all of the funding options available to you.

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate study, but these are not always as obvious or as widely advertised. There are the Postgraduate Loans, which in recent years have allowed students to lend up to £10,000 to help with tuition fees and living costs. Remember: the loan works similarly to the undergraduate loan – you only start paying it back once you start earning over £21,000. However, the repayments occur alongside the undergraduate loan, which is something to think about. Also, sometimes this isn’t enough, and you may need extra funds to help with living costs. There are often scholarships and bursaries available from most universities, as well as from charities and trusts. Two really good websites are Find A Masters https://www.findamasters.com/funding/postgraduate-masters-scholarships/scholarships.aspx to help you search for places as well as scholarships, and the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding https://www.postgraduate-funding.com/gateway which shows you a range of charities and trusts that are available to fund postgraduate students.

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  • How else will you be able to make the most of your Postgraduate study?

Studying at Postgraduate level also means that you can take on extra-curricular activities that you may not have had the chance to do if you were in a full-time job. It could also be a great time to join that society you didn’t manage to join, or work alongside your degree to gain extra experience. Think about the opportunities available to you while studying, and make sure to mention these opportunities on your application. Show that your Postgraduate study will be worthwhile and will benefit you in the long run!

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  • Don’t panic.

This is easier said than done, but this time of year can be very stressful for final year students. Make sure your current degree is prioritised over making applications, and take regular breaks (even if that means taking a full day off!) to recharge. It can get very overwhelming, but you do make it through the other side. It is not the end of the world if you don’t know what to do next year! Support is available all across uni.

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Good luck everyone!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

Finding your house for next year: Don’t stress!

It’s that time of year when landlords and agencies start to advertise their properties for the next academic year. giphy.gif

This is often a stressful time for students, and it certainly was for me in my first and second year, when I didn’t have much knowledge about renting houses. Here are some tips for finding houses, and try not to stress too much as there are always options for living in Sheffield!giphy 1

  • Be certain about who you want to live with.

This is my most important point, and that’s deciding who you would like to live with. It might seem that the people you are currently living with in halls are great, but sometimes arguments can occur later down the line, and you might have already signed for a house with them. Even if the house you end up going for is not as nice as the houses earlier on in the year, at least you would be living with people that you enjoy being around! Think about people on your course, societies, work, etc. and ask what their current plans are. Even if you don’t intend on signing for a house soon, it’s often good to get an early start when it comes to knowing who you want to live with. Remember that hanging out with your friends may be different to living with them, so really think about it.

  • Find a reputable landlord.

There are many reputable landlords in Sheffield, but sometimes you can come across less reputable ones. A big tip from me would be to go to propertywithUS in the Students’ Union to discuss the options for the area you would like to live in. Check the landlord/agencies’ reviews online too – even though an agency might appear reputable, the reviews may tell a different story. Also, check through their systems for deposits and admin fees. Usually, the deposit will be put into a protection scheme, which handles potential disputes towards the end of the tenancy and keeps your money safe. It’s often good to pay a deposit to cover you for damages, and sometimes there may be hidden admin fees (check the small print!).

  • House hunting events are fab!

The University often puts on events for those who are still looking for houses. There is always one early on in the year, but this is mainly for agencies and landlords to advertise their properties. After this event, often houses get signed for quickly. Do not worry about this – there are always properties, especially for groups of four and five. Most properties are also in walking distance or a bus journey from uni, so there will be something, somewhere. If you are looking for housemates, there are often events advertised even later in the year, for groups that are looking for individuals or individuals that are looking for groups. Check the Sheffield uni Facebook groups too – a lot of students advertise properties on there, but make sure to meet up with them with a friend. It could be unsafe to go on your own!

  • Check everything in the house.

When you are arranging viewings for houses, be sure to check every room in the house, and look for things that may need repairing (such as broken furniture, facilities, mould, general fittings, etc.). Ask the current tenants about any problems that may have occurred there – don’t be embarrassed to say this in front of the estate agent. They’re human too, and even though they’re trying to sell you the house, they wouldn’t mind if you asked lots of questions! Don’t be pressured by pushy landlords too. Only sign if you are happy with everything (or if there are solutions to any problems that have arisen), which leads onto my next point!

  • And finally… only sign when you’re completely happy.

After making sure you know who you want to live with; checking the landlord/agency; and going through every aspect of the house, you can go ahead and sign. Ensure you read through all of the contract (as it is legally binding!) and ask the landlord if you are unsure on any of it. Also make sure that they have a repairs and maintenance team in place, and ask about insurance for the building and your contents. You often have to buy your own contents’ insurance, but it’s often good to ask about it.

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Happy House Hunting! And don’t worry about it – there are always places to live and people to live with. It’s just about finding the right ones.

Posted in Written by Sophie

Finding support when you need it! Part 2

Happy Monday everyone! 🙂 Here is the second part of my blog post on finding support across the University, as promised! Hopefully some of these services will be of use to you, if you’re having concerns about any aspect of University life. Check back to last week’s post if any of these services do not relate to your current situation.

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Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS)

DDSS assist students with any kind of impairment or condition which makes it difficult to study or undertake assignments. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism spectrum condition, physical impairment (not an exhaustive list), then speak to someone at DDSS who will be able to help you. There are a number of different ways they can help you, and it is all based around your needs, such as 1:1 support, copies of lecture notes, extra time in exams, etc. DDSS are located in the Alfred Denny Building near the university concourse.

English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC)

There are a number of English language courses and services available with ELTC for students who may be wanting to improve their English. The facilities consist of modern classrooms, well-equipped computer suites and audio-visual equipment and learning resources. All of the staff are experienced in teaching international students both in the UK and overseas too. ELTC are located at 78 Hoyle Street if you have any English Language-related queries.

Personal Tutor

Your Personal Tutor is someone you can talk to about any academic worries, or any personal circumstances that could be affecting your academic study. They may have expertise in the subject area that you are concerned about, or can give general advice related to essay feedback and structure, exam revision and managing your workload. You will have some dedicated time to have a general meeting with them (and potentially with other students too), but you can schedule as many meetings as you wish with your Personal Tutor, as and when you need to. There may be a specific way of setting up these meetings, whether that be through Doodle Poll or through their Google Calendar, or I am sure you can send them a quick email.

Careers Service

The Careers Service is now located in Edgar Allen House at 241 Glossop Road (as of recently!) and is dedicated to careers information such as graduate jobs, part-time jobs while you study, developing your CV/applications, and much more. They are helpful for any year of study, and can also help you once you graduate. They hold a number of different events that you can attend, whether that be Careers Fairs, talks, and networking opportunities. You can schedule one-to-one appointments too, to go over anything you may be concerned about, such as personal statements, CVs and applications. There are online courses too, called Career MOOCs, which help you to succeed when writing applications and attending interviews. There are so many resources available at the Careers Service, so check the website out: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/careers/index.

That concludes my (non-exhaustive) list of services that could help you across the University! If you are still not sure where to go, SSiD are excellent at signposting and can point you in the right direction, especially if there is something you need help with and is not mentioned here.

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Posted in Written by Sophie

Finding support when you need it! Part 1

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to go if you’re in need of support. There’s so many support services available on campus and it can be overwhelming when you’re not sure what each one specialises in. In this blog post I have listed a number of services that may be beneficial to you, no matter what your problem is. Hopefully I have covered most grounds here!giphy (8)SSiD

SSiD are here to answer the majority of your questions about all aspects of university life. If they cannot answer the question for you, they can direct you to appropriate services that will be able to. During your time at university, problems may arise where you’re not sure which service would be best, so SSiD can help. They’re also there to print new UCards, results, certificates of student status, and are able to confirm your student status too. SSiD are on Level 3 of the Students’ Union.

Central Welfare and Guidance (CWaG)

Central Welfare and Guidance support students who are experiencing personal difficulties that may be impacting study or their university experience in general. They have direct links to external agencies depending on your situation, such as: Rape Crisis, SY Police, Domestic Abuse and Community Mental Health. Some situations that CWaG include, but are not limited to: serious ill health, bereavement, bullying and harassment, mental health problems and domestic/sexual violence. They’re your number one service for anything welfare related, so pop in to see them on Level 6 of the Students’ Union.

University Counselling Service (UCS)

As well as the University Health Service (UHS), the University Counselling Service are available for anything Mental Health related. Not only are there appointments available for all students, but there are many online resources and sessions running. There are Mindfulness Stress Reduction sessions, Group Therapy and Individual Counselling sessions, and various workshops. You can access Self-help resources here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/counselling/self. If you think you’re having any mental health problem, the UCS can help you at 36 Wilkinson Street. To book your first appointment, you can register with Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS) for triage appointments: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/mental-wellbeing.

Nightline

There are sometimes evenings when you just need to talk to someone about something that has been troubling you. Nightline, a volunteer-led association run by Sheffield students, is an excellent service who will listen to you, and not lecture. No problem is too big or too small, and all of the students are trained to keep things non-directive, confidential and anonymous. They operate between 8pm and 8am any night during term-time, on the number 0114 222 8787. You can also call 0114 222 8788 for information. They also have a listening service via email if you don’t mind waiting longer, on nightline@sheffield.ac.uk.

301 & Maths & Statistics Help (MASH)

The place to be for anything academic skills-related. Whether that be wanting to beat procrastination, brush up on your writing skills, or deciding which statistical test to use in your research, 301 and Maths and Statistics Help can help. You don’t have to be an undergraduate either, postgraduates are also more than welcome and you can be from any degree background. We have workshops, one-to-one sessions and online tutorials, so however you would like to work we have it available for you.

On top of all of these great services, there are SU officers that can help with any of your concerns and complaints, and can make change happen. There are also societies within the SU, such as LGBT+, Black and Ethnic Minorities students committee, and more that you could get specialised support from and meet like-minded people. This is not an exhaustive list – there is plenty of information on SSiD’s page via the university website too!

Check back next week for Part 2! 🙂 giphy (9)

 

 

Posted in Intern advice, student life, Written by Sophie

Get involved in Social Sport!

No matter what your year of study is, Social Sport (in association with Residence Life and Sport Sheffield) is a great way to get active, make friends and have a laugh. Since being a Residence Mentor, I have found out a lot about getting involved in casual sport which does not require any commitment. It’s free if you live in any of the University Residences (Endcliffe, Ranmoor or City) and it’s really cheap if you don’t – often £2-£3. It doesn’t matter which level of ability you are for any of the sports, just go along and try it out!

You could relive a sport you enjoyed during school, build on your existing skills, or even try something completely new. It’s an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety, to get involved in something if you’re not sure what interests you, and meet like-minded people who want to get active and have fun. If your course is anything like mine, you might want to fill up your hours during the day, or blow off some steam after a long day of lectures in the evening.

Here are some examples of the Social Sport you could get involved in soon, and cater for lots of different interests:

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Amazing for combatting the typical student tiredness, releasing tension or concentrating on your breathing. There’s no need for previous experience, as the experts will take you through all of the correct techniques.

Quidditch

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A unique mix of rugby, dodgeball and tag! Obviously taken from the Harry Potter series, so it is definitely something that caught my eye. It’s exciting to both watch and play so go along and check it out!

Mountain Biking

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Off-road cycling, with a women’s beginners session too! Qualified leaders take you on basic off road trails around the Peak District and all bikes and safety equipment are provided. You will need to be able to ride a bike to get involved.

Ultimate Frisbee

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A fast-moving team sport, played with a flying disc and no referees. Sounds interesting! Some compare it to Soccer or American football, but it definitely has some unique features to set it apart.

Mindfulness and Meditation

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Similar to yoga, but are centred around helping people switch off from hectic student routines. There is a focus on achieving the best results to help you relax, and there is lots of practical advice and tips.

To get involved and book onto sport, visit http://www.residencelife.co.uk/how-to-book-residence-life-sports-and-activities_34103 which tells you all about booking. It’s important to do it a week in advance, as they get full really quickly!

Posted in Extracurricular, Intern advice, student life, Uni work, Written by Sophie

Balancing part-time work/activities alongside your studies!

For many of you, getting part-time work or undertaking extra-curricular activities is really important for developing your skills and getting that extra cash alongside your studies. Working at the 301 skills centre and as a Residence Mentor has made me realise the importance of balancing various deadlines and shifts, and how much employers value this. Here are a few tips that I have put together which have helped me throughout my few years at University, and how you can reduce stress-levels during exam periods.

  • Find a student-friendly job or activity with managers that understand how important your studies are to you.

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An obvious one is getting a university job. There are a number of different departments around the university that are always employing people, and an easy one to get is an ambassador job. I worked for the School of English as an ambassador and worked on Open Days, UCAS fairs, or introductory seminars. The Students’ Union is also usually hiring, in the various shops/eateries they have. You might even find research jobs or placements that pop up in your department, which require you to work 100 hours, for example. Keep an eye out on the Careers Service ‘Career Connect’ page, which all students have access to. If you do decide to go for a job with an external company, make sure they know which hours you intend to work. The University recommends 16 hours or less, and I’ve found that doing evening shifts allows me to do course work during my free hours in the day. See what works for you!

  • Organise your life!

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Now that I am a Masters student, I know how easy it is to lose track of what you have going on and when. I now have a wall planner, a diary, and various to do lists dotted around my bedroom, because I know it’s the only way I’ll know what I’m doing and when! We also have Time Management workshops at 301 which are now bookable at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops, with the first one starting on 27th September, 1.15pm. It gives you realistic and practical tips for managing your time and being more productive, which can help you organise your activities around your studies! I always make sure that I write down all of my shifts as soon as I know them, as well as any deadlines, appointments, society meetings, etc. Even using your smartphone to write everything down is a good idea!

  • Know that it’s okay to have multiple breaks.

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It’s so important to know when you need a break, and when you need to ask for help. There are so many times where I have bottled my stress up and I could have easily talked to someone. There are many services across the University, but even just talking to a friend or personal tutor can really help put things into perspective. It sounds simple but sometimes I just needed reminding that there are people around who can help! Also, never feel guilty about taking breaks throughout the day – you know your own body and mind, and when it needs a rest. If that means taking a full day off your studies/activities, then go ahead! As long as your work or activity is not taking over your studies of course!

  • Just need the skills? Volunteering is an excellent way to get them!

If you just need the skills and development that a job can give you, then signing up to activities at the Sheffield Volunteering office is an excellent way to gain them. I have done a few activities with children and it really helped me to figure out whether teaching was right for me. Not only can it help figure out what you want to specialise in, but it’s incredibly rewarding and the hours you work are not meant to impact your studies in a negative way. I did a few hours a week at a project combatting homelessness last year, and it gave me that much needed boost every week to see that I was supporting people.

I hope these tips were helpful to some of you looking for part-time work and worrying about fitting it around your study timetable. University is not only a chance to study but a chance to get that experience for future employers. But remember, your studies should be your number one priority and you’re not obliged to remain in a job or activity that is making you stressed!

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

Student mentoring: a rewarding experience!

If you’ve applied to be a student mentor (whether you’re in your second, third or fourth year) you will probably be emailing your mentees very shortly, and I hope you’re looking forward to it!  I found this to be an incredibly rewarding experience, as you’re able to give your own personal, honest account of your time at university so far, and really put your mentees at ease.  You may also want to put something back into the community that once helped you too!  It looks great on any type of CV and I found that student jobs/positions across the university value it highly.  I thought I would just talk to you about some of the things that worked for me while I was a mentor, and how you can signpost them to 301 if they’re struggling with any study skills!

  1. Use a template for your first email, but make it personal.

A template is an excellent way to write an introductory email to a mentee, but making it personal ensures that the new student feels welcomed to the university, and can rely on a friendly face when they move here.  Take the time to look at their profile and see what interests them – you may find that they share similar interests to you, or you can direct them to the societies we have on offer at Sheffield.  I always recommend the Activities Fair in Intro Week, as it’s a great way to get students started on an activity they may not have tried before!

  1. If you’re not sure, signpost.

A mentee may want really specific help during their time at university, and it is often best to signpost them to the appropriate service if you do not know the answer yourself.  For instance, if they’re having specific worries about any study skills, such as Academic Writing, recommend some of the tutorials and workshops we have on at 301!  Not many people know that MASH (Maths and Statistics Help) and all of the other services here are for people across all disciplines, so do let them know!  This goes for other services across the university too – always direct students if you’re not confident in giving the answer yourself.

  1. Arrange for your mentees to meet together.

When you offer to meet up with you mentees during Intro Week, it could be a good idea to get them to meet with you together!  That way, they may have a friendly face during lectures, and they could discuss their worries with each other if they would like.  If one of your mentees does not feel comfortable meeting with others, arrange a separate meeting.

  1. Always check in on them.

During the most stressful times at university, or if you haven’t heard from them in a while, remember to check on your mentees to see if everything is going ok.  They may not know where to turn to, and you may be able to offer the most appropriate support for them.  Sometimes people just need someone that looks out for them!

I hope this post has made you feel excited for being a mentor – I remember being very eager to get started and to help students within my department!  I hope you’re all having a lovely summer. 🙂

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

Getting a head start with your research over the summer

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I hope you are all having a lovely summer holidays!

Are you moving into the final year of your degree and will be writing a dissertation?  It *could* be a good idea to start researching your main idea, if you’re feeling productive.  When I first started preparing, I had to send in an idea so I could be matched up with a supervisor.  If you haven’t done this already, or if you just want to carry on developing your idea, this post may help you!  It’s not necessary to do lots and lots of research over the summer, but it could help you get a head start before your supervisor meetings, and you may have more developed questions to ask them.  Here are some tips for early research:

  1. Figure out what you’re interested in.

If you have some sort of idea of what you want to do, then great!  You can probably skip this step.  If you don’t, then no worries!  Start off by making notes/diagrams/mind-maps on topics you’re interested in within your subject.  I got my dissertation idea just from attending a lecture!  There might be something in one of the lectures that hasn’t been researched enough, you may want to apply a new concept to an already existing theory, or you may want to combine different areas within your subject.  Whichever way you decide to go about it, it all starts by deciding what area you’re most interested in and working on from that.

  1. See what’s already out there.

Start off with a simple Google Scholar/Star Plus search.  If you still don’t have a concrete idea, but you do know what you’re interested in, this could be a good idea to see what others have researched.  You may stumble across some interesting, recent articles that haven’t done X, Y and Z.  If you’re looking at a specific topic, make sure to view all recent articles written about it, so you don’t start claiming you’re filling a gap in the literature that isn’t there!

  1. Get advice from your tutors.

Even though it’s the summer holidays, you could write a list of questions as you go along, ready to ask your tutors/supervisors when you start the next academic year.  You might even find that you answer the questions yourself, just by researching.  Remember that it’s not a requirement to start research so early (unless you have been instructed to by your tutors) and that even making a list of questions is a good way to get a head start.

Disclaimer: if you feel at any point that doing research is not helping you, and that you would like to wait until the start of your next year, do not feel guilty for stopping.  I did tiny amounts over the summer, and the amount I researched did not affect my progress throughout the academic year.  Also, drop in to 301 at any time during your final year!  It’s not just for first or second years here – in fact, I only utilised the workshops/study sessions in my final year when I needed the help!  There is support in every section of the university, so don’t panic!