How do I make notes and do readings for university? Watch
Student life, in partnership with UEA
So I've just started a Sociology degree, and this may sound totally stupid, but how do you read and make notes for university. A level was so structured and if you followed the textbook you were guaranteed a good grade. I have 6 modules this autumn (2 of which are seminars, what even are they? lectures?), and each consists of around 10 weeks of teaching. I'm entering my second week of teaching and all of the week 1 introductory lectures had readings. I haven't read these yet because I thought it was just introductory week and I wouldn't need to make notes on them or on any texts till week 2, am I right in doing this?. Each week has maybe 3 core texts to read and around 5-10 supplementary readings. Do I have to read these supplementary texts? I'm scared of missing something, like a huge topic or study if I don't read them, or make bad notes and don't include them. For one of my modules the reading is based on the Sociological Imagination by C Wright Mills, and the chapter I have to read (as it's core) is "the Promise". I have a very very vague understanding of what he's saying but I have no clue how it relates to Sociology in the slightest. The language is so over the top and embellished, like Mills get to the bloody point already!!. The cherry on top of this is that I don't even know how to organise my notes/reading/ lecture slides for university. I'm a bloody mess who is scared of not getting a 2:1 already. Help me lmao.
Most lecturers include those as a starting point. They'll recommend you read a chapter in a textbook. You are then supposed to read that, and go and do your own research about it more. Say, for example, the chapter mentions a few researchers or studies but doesn't go into detail. You're then supposed to go ahead and research those authors/studies more yourself, make notes, and use those references in your assignments/exams.
It takes a bit of getting used to. You're in first year, so don't worry. They don't expect you to be perfect and know exactly what to do. Does your university have support tutors, or people you can see about this sort of thing - like support sessions? It may also be worth popping and seeing your personal tutor or a lecturer as they'll be able to give you advice as well.
I only do supplementary readings during term-time when I'm writing an essay or doing a presentation on that week's topic.
Over reading weeks, Christmas and Easter, when I'm revising and deciding which topics to focus on for the exam, I will then do supplementary readings for other weeks too. However, I look at all the past paper questions for the topic first, and make sure that my supplementary reading is very focused around those questions.
If a particular week's topic didn't interest me when we did it, and I have no interest in writing an essay on it or doing it for the exam, then I won't do any supplementary readings on it.
I don't read supplementary readings in anywhere near as much detail as I read core readings - I use them to gain a few extra arguments and points that I can deploy in essays.