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    (also 1 or 2 of those you mention don't take transfers AFAIK – Exeter, I'm waiting to hear more from but I haven't had a flat no")
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    (Original post by Rattie)
    ..................
    Have you got an emergency essay template where you can just drop some facts into a standard structure, do an essay in half the time and catch up a bit? It's an invaluable tool to have, rather than starting every single essay with a massive reading list, a blank pile of paper/Word doc and no ideas.
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    Have you got an emergency essay template where you can just drop some facts into a standard structure, do an essay in half the time and catch up a bit? It's an invaluable tool to have, rather than starting every single essay with a massive reading list, a blank pile of paper/Word doc and no ideas.
    I'm not sure that would work with English… it's more getting the energy/motivation to do it at all that's the issue, although I suppose it might make it less daunting! What would a template like that look like?

    It's really unfortunate that this week's period paper essay is on the one thing out of about 25 that I didn't read over Christmas (several Marlowe plays)… 😒 He did give me dispensation to work on only one play instead of the prescribed 2 or 3 so I feel I kind of have to get it done now since he's given me this leeway. The other thing stressing me out for this paper is that I have an accommodation in my student support document that I should be allowed to submit plans instead of essays if necessary, so I've been doing that sometimes, but the comment in his email about next week's assignment that's aimed at me is one saying "if you have written essays every week you can just do a plan and some notes; if you haven't it MUST be a full essay", which has kind of broken my brain a bit.
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    (Original post by Rattie)
    I'm not sure that would work with English… it's more getting the energy/motivation to do it at all that's the issue, although I suppose it might make it less daunting! What would a template like that look like?

    It's really unfortunate that this week's period paper essay is on the one thing out of about 25 that I didn't read over Christmas (several Marlowe plays)… 😒 He did give me dispensation to work on only one play instead of the prescribed 2 or 3 so I feel I kind of have to get it done now since he's given me this leeway. The other thing stressing me out for this paper is that I have an accommodation in my student support document that I should be allowed to submit plans instead of essays if necessary, so I've been doing that sometimes, but the comment in his email about next week's assignment that's aimed at me is one saying "if you have written essays every week you can just do a plan and some notes; if you haven't it MUST be a full essay", which has kind of broken my brain a bit.
    Imma preface this by saying I've just finished an essay and my brain is pretty frazzled, so if this isn't lucid let me know and I'll try and clarify

    I'm having trouble figuring out how far what you're experiencing is "completely normal" and how far what you're experiencing is "completely normal + exacerbation by unspecified health problems". I think this could account for your tutor/supervisors' apparent lack of concern over your progress. I don't know what your health issues are, how they affect you, or how bad they are. Thus all I can talk about is what is completely normal, and leave you to gauge the impact of your health issues. In the spoiler below I've included shorter replies to smaller points raised on the thread, as well as to your original question about transfers.

    I'm slightly concerned that you're leaping to transferring, and you don't really want to think about whether or not that decision is the right move: it almost seems as though you've just decided that it is the right move, and that's that. Again, though, I'm missing context on the health problems so that could account for this apparent leap. What I would say, however, is that all your work-related problems are completely standard. Everyone at Cambridge is flattened by their first term, and second term isn't much better (regardless of how little your fellow students may show it, they are struggling - I guarantee that). Sorry, but that's just the way it is: the weekly essay grind seems at times to be of genuinely unassailable difficulty. It's normal to be overwhelmed; it's not out of the ordinary to hand in plans for essays (very nearly the majority of people in my cohort didn't hand in eight essays last term, and we're in third year now). It's also perfectly normal to get your reading list for the class and be stunned at the amount of prep you're expected to do. The trick (you'll be amazed at this revelation) is just not to do it. Do the bare minimum. I do the absolute barebones mandatory reading for weekly classes, and count it as a rare luxury brought about by supreme time management when I have time to do anything more than a skim reading of the compulsory texts. This is cause for international celebration. In my first term, I was all over the place. Literally, I had no idea what was going on. Every week I'd sit down with some medieval book I could barely even read and invent some nonsense for 2000 words which would summarily be torn to pieces by my supervisor. By the end of term I was pretty ill and wound up in hospital when I got home. But second term was a little bit better: I found that I'd started to develop a workflow and - crucially - care less about the pressures being put on me by the university. I started to set my own goals and expectations rather than allowing supervisors and peers to set them for me. Things were still hard (Lent is a miserable term of darkness and Renaissance drama, I know), but they weren't quite as bad. Then when summer rolled around with Shakespeare term, things were incredible. It's comparatively zero effort, and college will relax its stranglehold on you a bit after prelims. Shakespeare is much easier to write on than the stuff you've been doing so far, the days are longer and warm and you can read outside (would recommend grabbing some fellow englings and wandering over to Grantchester on a warm day: you can do some Shakespeare readings while walking/picnicking/lounging in the meadows over that way and it's genuinely such a fun day), and you'll have so much more time to relax (also: MAY BALLS). I really want to emphasise the extent to which everyone suffers in their first two terms: it's so hard here, and you feel like you're never good enough. But give it time, and things improve: I promise! Next year is even better; you'll just do coursework for the first two terms, so that's quite nice (doing your own thing at your own pace). First year is basically straight into the fire, and everyone considers dropping out at some point.

    Also, you're doing an insane amount of reading, by the way. Like, way more than I've ever done over a holiday. You read 24 of 25 texts over Christmas?! That's an absolutely massive effort, and I feel like I should congratulate you! But I also need to caution you: you're currently doing too much work and this could exacerbate your health problems. This sounds weird, you protest, because you're handing in essay plans rather than finished essays. I'd counter that by saying that a plan is fine, because that's the thinking element done. The finished essay is merely a formalisation of the plan in fancy language with footnotes. You've done the heavy lifting of reading and thinking with a plan, so handing a plan in is nothing to worry about and shouldn't be seen as a failure. What I mean by saying you're doing too much work is that you can majorly reduce your holiday work. Make sure your holiday is actually a break rather than just a change of scene for the same rate of studying. I do very little reading over the holidays; maybe two or three key texts. You can definitely reduce this workload. There is no need to do prescribed holiday reading.

    Also also, loads of freshers read too far into supervisors' comments. Are their comments aimed at you? Maybe. Are they pointed? Maybe. But, like, basically -- who cares? Don't let this affect you. Supervisors are paid to do this, and if their students under-perform in college's eyes then their job is in danger. Therefore they'll always be pushing and nagging and chasing - you've just got to have some zen, and not let this get to you. You're doing more than fine atm: 2.1 prediction, told by college you were their highest-profiled applicant, doing shedloads of reading... that's an enviable position. Your supervisor will always nag you, even if you're coasting a starred first. Imo it's best to treat a supervisor with cool politeness: just do your best work, but keep them at arms' length emotionally. They should never be allowed to affect how you feel.

    So I don't know. If your health conditions are such that they are making life intolerable, then that's the choice you've got to make - of course. Health > Cambridge. But I hope you at least consider deeply this tableau I've tried to paint of what life is normally like for normal first year students, and that you compare this to your own experience. Everyone finds it miserable here. Everyone struggles. Almost everyone is ill after their first term, to varying degrees. The stress cannot be overstated. The lack of validation is crushing. The sense of failure is pervasive. But things do get better, and remember that dropping out is a nuclear option: there is no going back, so please make sure you're absolutely certain that you have to do it before you press the button.



    Spoiler:
    Show

    (Original post by Rattie)
    Thanks, I hope Parliament has something helpful to say
    You sound like my supervisor :')

    I don't know of anyone who's directly 'transferred' to another uni, but I know a few people who have intermitted, then decided not to come back and go elsewhere instead. One guy's at York now after intermitting last year, for example. This is different, I know, because you don't want to retake first year elsewhere, but it's just the closest I've heard of happening.

    The only other thing I really know about this is that Cambridge is not very nice to people who want to suspend their studies in any way (permanently, temporarily, whatever). They only very recently relaxed the policy banning intermitting students from returning to Cambridge during their year out. Therefore I'd be surprised if you didn't encounter resistance from college because they don't want their statistics to look bad... again, don't let this affect you emotionally. You do you.

    (Original post by Rattie)
    I've been told my prelims won't be classed at all :/

    What would be on a transcript – just a list of topics I've covered?
    Prelims are pass/fail, but you get indications of class marks as part of the feedback. I've dug up my prelim feedback: it's quite vague, but you do get an indication of class for each paper. You're otherwise correct though - you'll get no formally-graded work until you sit Part I, because the English Tripos is really silly like that.

    (Original post by Rattie)
    He might have been taking the fact that I've been ill into account; I'm not sure.
    Your supervisor definitely wasn't taking illness into account, haha. They don't do that.

    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    I have quite literally zero experience of doing English at Cambridge but I suspect the answer may lie in working "smarter" (I hate that phrase but actually there's something in it) and playing the system. Other posters can provide more concrete strategies on how to actually do that.
    Oi, working smarter rather than harder is the name of the game, I have accrued enough free time this week to go to London for the day today, because treat yoself

    I feel I am at peak time management right now, I am on fire (contact me in week 5 and see if I still feel the same)
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    (Original post by Parliament)
    Imma preface this by saying I've just finished an essay and my brain is pretty frazzled, so if this isn't lucid let me know and I'll try and clarify

    I'm having trouble figuring out how far what you're experiencing is "completely normal" and how far what you're experiencing is "completely normal + exacerbation by unspecified health problems". I think this could account for your tutor/supervisors' apparent lack of concern over your progress. I don't know what your health issues are, how they affect you, or how bad they are. Thus all I can talk about is what is completely normal, and leave you to gauge the impact of your health issues. In the spoiler below I've included shorter replies to smaller points raised on the thread, as well as to your original question about transfers.

    I'm slightly concerned that you're leaping to transferring, and you don't really want to think about whether or not that decision is the right move: it almost seems as though you've just decided that it is the right move, and that's that. Again, though, I'm missing context on the health problems so that could account for this apparent leap. What I would say, however, is that all your work-related problems are completely standard. Everyone at Cambridge is flattened by their first term, and second term isn't much better (regardless of how little your fellow students may show it, they are struggling - I guarantee that). Sorry, but that's just the way it is: the weekly essay grind seems at times to be of genuinely unassailable difficulty. It's normal to be overwhelmed; it's not out of the ordinary to hand in plans for essays (very nearly the majority of people in my cohort didn't hand in eight essays last term, and we're in third year now). It's also perfectly normal to get your reading list for the class and be stunned at the amount of prep you're expected to do. The trick (you'll be amazed at this revelation) is just not to do it. Do the bare minimum. I do the absolute barebones mandatory reading for weekly classes, and count it as a rare luxury brought about by supreme time management when I have time to do anything more than a skim reading of the compulsory texts. This is cause for international celebration. In my first term, I was all over the place. Literally, I had no idea what was going on. Every week I'd sit down with some medieval book I could barely even read and invent some nonsense for 2000 words which would summarily be torn to pieces by my supervisor. By the end of term I was pretty ill and wound up in hospital when I got home. But second term was a little bit better: I found that I'd started to develop a workflow and - crucially - care less about the pressures being put on me by the university. I started to set my own goals and expectations rather than allowing supervisors and peers to set them for me. Things were still hard (Lent is a miserable term of darkness and Renaissance drama, I know), but they weren't quite as bad. Then when summer rolled around with Shakespeare term, things were incredible. It's comparatively zero effort, and college will relax its stranglehold on you a bit after prelims. Shakespeare is much easier to write on than the stuff you've been doing so far, the days are longer and warm and you can read outside (would recommend grabbing some fellow englings and wandering over to Grantchester on a warm day: you can do some Shakespeare readings while walking/picnicking/lounging in the meadows over that way and it's genuinely such a fun day), and you'll have so much more time to relax (also: MAY BALLS). I really want to emphasise the extent to which everyone suffers in their first two terms: it's so hard here, and you feel like you're never good enough. But give it time, and things improve: I promise! Next year is even better; you'll just do coursework for the first two terms, so that's quite nice (doing your own thing at your own pace). First year is basically straight into the fire, and everyone considers dropping out at some point.

    Also, you're doing an insane amount of reading, by the way. Like, way more than I've ever done over a holiday. You read 24 of 25 texts over Christmas?! That's an absolutely massive effort, and I feel like I should congratulate you! But I also need to caution you: you're currently doing too much work and this could exacerbate your health problems. This sounds weird, you protest, because you're handing in essay plans rather than finished essays. I'd counter that by saying that a plan is fine, because that's the thinking element done. The finished essay is merely a formalisation of the plan in fancy language with footnotes. You've done the heavy lifting of reading and thinking with a plan, so handing a plan in is nothing to worry about and shouldn't be seen as a failure. What I mean by saying you're doing too much work is that you can majorly reduce your holiday work. Make sure your holiday is actually a break rather than just a change of scene for the same rate of studying. I do very little reading over the holidays; maybe two or three key texts. You can definitely reduce this workload. There is no need to do prescribed holiday reading.

    Also also, loads of freshers read too far into supervisors' comments. Are their comments aimed at you? Maybe. Are they pointed? Maybe. But, like, basically -- who cares? Don't let this affect you. Supervisors are paid to do this, and if their students under-perform in college's eyes then their job is in danger. Therefore they'll always be pushing and nagging and chasing - you've just got to have some zen, and not let this get to you. You're doing more than fine atm: 2.1 prediction, told by college you were their highest-profiled applicant, doing shedloads of reading... that's an enviable position. Your supervisor will always nag you, even if you're coasting a starred first. Imo it's best to treat a supervisor with cool politeness: just do your best work, but keep them at arms' length emotionally. They should never be allowed to affect how you feel.

    So I don't know. If your health conditions are such that they are making life intolerable, then that's the choice you've got to make - of course. Health > Cambridge. But I hope you at least consider deeply this tableau I've tried to paint of what life is normally like for normal first year students, and that you compare this to your own experience. Everyone finds it miserable here. Everyone struggles. Almost everyone is ill after their first term, to varying degrees. The stress cannot be overstated. The lack of validation is crushing. The sense of failure is pervasive. But things do get better, and remember that dropping out is a nuclear option: there is no going back, so please make sure you're absolutely certain that you have to do it before you press the button.



    Spoiler:
    Show





    You sound like my supervisor :'

    I don't know of anyone who's directly 'transferred' to another uni, but I know a few people who have intermitted, then decided not to come back and go elsewhere instead. One guy's at York now after intermitting last year, for example. This is different, I know, because you don't want to retake first year elsewhere, but it's just the closest I've heard of happening.

    The only other thing I really know about this is that Cambridge is not very nice to people who want to suspend their studies in any way (permanently, temporarily, whatever). They only very recently relaxed the policy banning intermitting students from returning to Cambridge during their year out. Therefore I'd be surprised if you didn't encounter resistance from college because they don't want their statistics to look bad... again, don't let this affect you emotionally. You do you.



    Prelims are pass/fail, but you get indications of class marks as part of the feedback. I've dug up my prelim feedback: it's quite vague, but you do get an indication of class for each paper. You're otherwise correct though - you'll get no formally-graded work until you sit Part I, because the English Tripos is really silly like that.



    Your supervisor definitely wasn't taking illness into account, haha. They don't do that.



    Oi, working smarter rather than harder is the name of the game, I have accrued enough free time this week to go to London for the day today, because treat yoself

    I feel I am at peak time management right now, I am on fire (contact me in week 5 and see if I still feel the same)


    Thank you, that's all really helpful, and thanks for the information re: prelims and classification.

    I actually didn't feel super-stressed by reading the texts over the holiday… I enjoy reading this stuff, and when there's no deadline, it's kind of fun to read things I wouldn't usually consider. Doesn't feel like work, really, when I have time to do it. It's more that it's just bloody typical, the one thing I didn't fancy reading (**** you, Marlowe) comes up when I'm having a really tough time health-wise, and term-time reading isn't something I have the concentration or energy to do. And I hate not doing the work – but then I guess lots of people do. I've done an absolute *max* of three or four hours a week studying, right from the beginning of the year, including the frequent breaks, which is kind of pathetic, and which I worry will have bad consequences down the line.

    My health problems are pretty serious; they severely affect my ability to do stuff; sometimes I can't really do much other than lie in bed, and I have medication but TBH it's a bit shite! But it's something I've had to deal with for many years and will have to deal with for the rest of my life, so it's important to find ways round it. I think a lot of it is pretty normal; others on my course have some of the same problems. I just have a lot of fear around the potential effects on my health; not to put too fine a point on it, I might die… or at least have long-term problems. It's not that I feel necessarily under *more* stress than others, more that I'm less resilient WRT the consequences.

    I very much don't want to drop out! If I absolutely have to leave, it'll be to transfer, and if I can't do that, I stay even if it drives me crazy I can't intermit or drop out entirely, for personal reasons, so transferring is my nuclear "need a way out" option, since the other two are out, and therefore I need to get that set up as an option. My tutor tells me I'd find it more difficult at other universities, though, as the quality of work expected at the moment isn't something I find tricky; it's mostly just *doing* the damn stuff in the first place, which would be a problem anywhere, but also the quantity of it, which is tricky because I spend so little time studying

    Oddly, my supervisors have always been extremely generous with feedback for my essays – the odd constructive comment, but certainly no ripping-apart, and no lack of validation – they're actually less critical than the teachers I had before, even though I've asked for a robust approach! I don't mind criticism of the work itself. Presumably I've been lucky with the ones my college has chosen, or they're being nice because we're delicate freshers. The email comments were definitely aimed at all of us, or rather, each pointed comment was clearly identifiable as being about one student in particular… mine were about submitting plans instead of essays, even though it's listed as an accommodation in my student support document (pointlessly, since writing the damn essay is the "easy" part, as you said). He seems like a nice guy in general and supervisions are fun (all my supervisions have been fun). I have the standard, regulation fear of failure and impostor syndrome, for sure, though.

    Thanks for the really detailed response (essay? ); it's all very helpful. I still can't help feeling there's a risk of being forced to intermit. I know a couple of people who have been, and my college has, I think, one of the highest intermission rates in the university. Glad to read about your experiences and I will try to follow your advice about giving less of a ****.
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    TL;DR: in theory I'm capable, in practice I'm not! And I need an escape route lined up, since my home life means that I *really* don't want to have to be back there full-time; managed to spend half the Christmas one staying with my parents, but that's probably not going to be an option over Easter.

    Coming to university *was* my escape route 😒
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    Plus, the 25-book thing isn't as bad as it sounds – I didn't mean to imply we were supposed to read all of every book! Some of them it was just a couple of specific chapters or whatever, and over a six-week holiday, it's less than one a day, and a lot of it is quite enjoyable. A play takes maybe an hour or two to read, if you can concentrate, given that reading is a hell of a lot quicker than performing, a chunk of textbook will take longer, but a book of poems can be got through quickly unless you fancy spending some more time with it, something like Paradise Lost will take ages but other things are much quicker… I was thinking more in terms of the fact that a few of my friends at other places have so little reading to do but still complain about it, which kind of suggests the workload in general might be a little lower. One of them was complaining about being told to read FOUR WHOLE BOOKS over Christmas and having THREE ASSIGNMENTS IN THREE WEEKS OMFG 😂

    My brother did maths; now he really *did* study over the holidays, poor sod.

    I enjoyed the holiday; it's term time that's sending me crazy 😒 I just don't seem to be able to study for more than a few hours a week, and it's definitely affecting my learning.
 
 
 
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