What am I even doing anymore? - Life of a uni dropout (ish) (GYG) Watch

Interea
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Hi! I'm Interea, and as you can probably tell from the title I'm a little bit lost at the minute. I don't even know if this counts as a grow your grades considering I'm not currently scheduled to sit any exams this summer, it's more of a grow their grades? Grow our grades? Who knows?

Anyway, for background, I was studying Maths at university in my first year until December when I had a teeny tiny mental breakdown, and before you know it, I'm on medical leave of absence for the rest of the year, yay... :congrats: Definitely not my finest moment in the way it played out, but mental health always comes first, and that's lesson number one.

So now I have until September to get better, keep on top of my maths knowledge, and try not to just sit in my room on my laptop all day every day. Or maybe not? See, I wasn't particularly enjoying my course anyway, finding it too easy and a bit boring, soooo it's looking very likely that I'm going to drop out instead of returning to my uni, and instead apply elsewhere for 2021 entry. That means a whole new round of uni open days, UCAS applications, personal statements, and a new addition this time round - entrance exams!

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My work towards these is why I'm kind of counting this as a GYG - sorry if anyone disagrees!

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Academics:

GCSEs: 9 A*s, an 8 and a 7
A Levels: 4 A*s
Uni results: Looking pretty strong until I flopped out haha
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The Plan:

- Get better
- Go to open days (I'll detail more in an update)
- Practise for STEP/MAT (let's pretend I haven't already been doing these for fun for the last couple of years )

And the strangest one for me...
- Tutoring! (Knew I'd circle back round to explain the "grow their grades" thing eventually, I just went for a bit of a ramble first oops)

I'm very excited to tutor since I love maths and I love helping, but also very terrified because teenagers are all so much cooler than me, so we'll see how that goes.
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So yes, that's pretty much where we're at at the minute. This blog will be a little bit about my tutoring preparation/work (hopefully with some pretty pictures of resources if I get my act together ), a little bit about how I'm keeping my maths up, a little bit about entrance exam/UCAS preparation, and probably just a little bit of me going off on a wild one about fun maths books I've read because I can't help myself sometimes... Feel free to stick around for the ride!
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Updates:
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Last edited by Interea; 1 week ago
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Johnny Tightlips
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(Original post by Interea)
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Hi! I'm Interea, and as you can probably tell from the title I'm a little bit lost at the minute. I don't even know if this counts as a grow your grades considering I'm not currently scheduled to sit any exams this summer, it's more of a grow their grades? Grow our grades? Who knows?

Anyway, for background, I was studying Maths at university in my first year until December when I had a teeny tiny mental breakdown, and before you know it, I'm on medical leave of absence for the rest of the year, yay... :congrats: Definitely not my finest moment in the way it played out, but mental health always comes first, and that's lesson number one.

So now I have until September to get better, keep on top of my maths knowledge, and try not to just sit in my room on my laptop all day every day. Or maybe not? See, I wasn't particularly enjoying my course anyway, finding it too easy and a bit boring, soooo it's looking very likely that I'm going to drop out instead of returning to my uni, and instead apply elsewhere for 2021 entry. That means a whole new round of uni open days, UCAS applications, personal statements, and a new addition this time round - entrance exams!

Spoiler:
Show

My work towards these is why I'm kind of counting this as a GYG - sorry if anyone disagrees!

Name:  Horizontal-Line-PNG-Photos 2.png
Views: 45
Size:  9.2 KB
Academics:

GCSEs: 9 A*s, an 8 and a 7
A Levels: 4 A*s
Uni results: Looking pretty strong until I flopped out haha
Name:  Horizontal-Line-PNG-Photos 2.png
Views: 45
Size:  9.2 KB
The Plan:

- Get better
- Go to open days (I'll detail more in an update)
- Practise for STEP/MAT (let's pretend I haven't already been doing these for fun for the last couple of years )

And the strangest one for me...
- Tutoring! (Knew I'd circle back round to explain the "grow their grades" thing eventually, I just went for a bit of a ramble first oops)

I'm very excited to tutor since I love maths and I love helping, but also very terrified because teenagers are all so much cooler than me, so we'll see how that goes.
Name:  Horizontal-Line-PNG-Photos 2.png
Views: 45
Size:  9.2 KB
So yes, that's pretty much where we're at at the minute. This blog will be a little bit about my tutoring preparation/work (hopefully with some pretty pictures of resources if I get my act together ), a little bit about how I'm keeping my maths up, a little bit about entrance exam/UCAS preparation, and probably just a little bit of me going off on a wild one about fun maths books I've read because I can't help myself sometimes... Feel free to stick around for the ride!
Firstly, glad you're somewhat better (though good luck for the rest of it !)
Which uni did you go to? If you don't want to answer, was it Russel group?
And was your mental illnesses due to university or something else? Or both?
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Interea
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(Original post by Johnny Tightlips)
Firstly, glad you're somewhat better (though good luck for the rest of it !)
Which uni did you go to? If you don't want to answer, was it Russel group?
And was your mental illnesses due to university or something else? Or both?
Thank you I wasn't going to mention my uni but I think I've mentioned it a few too many times in past posts to hide it haha, it was Birmingham - very good uni, great pastoral system and a good course if you haven't done further maths, but just not the right level for me.

Mental illness is just something that's always been a part of my life, things had been getting worse for a couple of years and were going to hit breaking point soon enough whatever I was doing. Having said that, the stress of going to a whole new place and adjusting to a new routine with a far-from-ideal timetable and inconsiderate flatmates definitely didn't help too much!
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Interea
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Update 1: Getting started
I want to make sure I keep this updated at least once a week, just to hold myself accountable - when you've only got a 6 hours of scheduled commitments a week it's tricky not to just spend the rest of the time napping! I'm hopefully going to start sharing photos of my revision and such, but at the minute a lot of my sheets have identifying information for the students I'm tutoring since we're just getting started, so I can't really share that... But I am a fan of pretty summary sheets and aesthetic study spaces, so I'm aiming to bring back some of those habits back from A levels. A girl can't own this many coloured fine-liners and not put them to good use, after all

Tutoring went really well this morning, I'm a lot more comfortable with it than I expected to be, and I finally understand why people always recommend teaching others as part of your revision: the pressure of being the one who's meant to understand what they're doing really forces you to take it in! After all this time I finally understand messy conic sections 9 markers, I'm quite proud of myself :dance: I definitely recommend planning to teach a topic to a friend/parent/anyone if you're finding a particular topic isn't going in, especially if like me you work well under pressure (and have used that to justify years of procrastination haha). I'm going through hypothesis testing with several groups/individuals tomorrow, I'm a bit worried since I didn't really get it last year but I think with a few hours work this evening I can get there. With a lot of these topics it's not that I can't get the right answer, it's that I have to guess what to do and have no idea why it works, which is obviously not ideal if you have to explain to other people why they're doing what they're doing!

I'm off to Oxford on Thursday for the weekend because I wanted to look at all the museums and buy myself some maths books in Blackwell's, so I might have a little peek around some colleges while I'm there. I don't really know how I feel about the prospect of applying to Oxbridge, as I never considered it in Sixth Form since I had no faith whatsoever in my abilities... Guess we'll just have to see! If I do end up reapplying in September at least I know I've got the grades already for all the ones I'm considering, so I won't be influenced by what they require so much (yes I was that standard "choose my unconditional offer" student last year oops).

Spoiler:
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By the way if anyone wants to adopt me for a night out this weekend I wouldn't say no lol, I have no idea what places are good but I want to go for a boogie :banana:


So that's about it for now. If anyone's actually reading this, I hope you're having a good day, and I wish you a productive week! :^_^:
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Interea
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Mini update:
In a move that does not surprise me in the slightest, I have not yet managed to start revising hypothesis testing, and have instead been watching A Very Potter Musical on YouTube and attempting to recreate the dances (emphasis on attempting)... You know, sometimes things just don't work out as you plan, that's just the way life goes.

I am definitely going to start now though, it's 8:30 so if I can reread the textbook chapter and make sure I have my resources together by 9, I can have an early night and then check I can do all the questions I'm taking with me in the morning. It does mean an earlier start for me, but to be honest my focus is non-existent between the hours of 5pm and 4am, so it's time for me to embrace my early morning focus like I used to do with all my procrastinated homeworks! Seriously do not know how I got good grades at A level, aside from my pretty summary sheets and neat desk my study habits were a prime example of what not to do But I'm learning (slowly) now, and hopefully holding myself accountable on here will help with that.

Okay now I'm just procrastinating again, time to do my work! Bye for now
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Interea
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Update 2: Settling into life
So I've officially met all of the students I'm tutoring! Luckily they all seem very motivated to learn, which was a concern for me as their teachers nominated them (rather than them asking for extra help). It was a bit of a drag doing hypothesis testing 3 times in one day last week, but I can safely say I know it very well now, and it gave me a good insight into how the 3 different pairs/individuals learn differently so I'm ready for future sessions now

I had a really good time in Oxford, managing to do nearly everything I wanted to, and I came home with 3 new books! Two of them were planned purchases (books I'd borrowed from the library at uni but had to return before I finished them), but one was an impulse buy - very unusual for me, but I'm loving it so far. It's Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life by Robin Wilson, and while I don't normally enjoy biographies I'm really hooked on this one, and I will be reading more of it tonight once I finish my tutoring preparation. I did unfortunately have one very bad day mentally while I was away, and I thought I'd have to come home early to make sure I could keep myself safe, but I managed to get myself back to my hostel and sleep until things improved. Bit of an annoying reminder of how far I've still got to go in my recovery though... But hey, what can you do?

I've spent the day trying to catch up on everything I'd normally do over the weekend. Note to self: do a better job of writing up my tutoring on the Thursday if I plan another weekend away! I had to spend much longer working things out today because my memory of what each student struggled with and wanted to look at more was a bit foggy. Glad I'd written down more than usual in the sessions! I think I'm all set for tomorrow now though, and I know which resources I need to make/print out tomorrow afternoon for my Wednesday sessions, so it's all good. Definitely still need to work on not procrastinating though

I'm going to have to have another early start to learn content tomorrow, I'm really struggling to stay awake in the evenings with the medication I'm currently on. If after my next GP appointment I'm still on the same stuff I'll have to reschedule to account for that :rolleyes:

As before, if by some chance someone is reading this, I hope you have a great week and get through all your to do lists!
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Interea
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How I prepare for my tutoring sessions:
I'm not sure if this is of interest to anyone, but I know this will likely change as I go on, so I'd like a record for myself of how I've adapted Currently I have my little red notebook to keep track of everything, which I write in with pencil to allow my perfectionist soul chance to fix mistakes.

Page 1:
On here I just have my timetable written out, including timings of breaks and such - I never went to the school I'm tutoring at, so I'm struggling to remember their lesson times.

Pages 2-5:
Before I started, I was given a list of names of students, and various topics they may like to focus on. This allowed me to prepare some resources for the first sessions, and also get an idea of where I'll need to initially target my revision. I have these topics written down in my notebook, with roughly a page for each student/pair, and I'll be adding any important notes to these pages as I go (i.e. areas of particular repeated difficulty for them, things that maybe aren't understood as well as they could be even if they can do the questions most of the time etc.).

Page 6 onwards:
This is where the main organisation comes in. Here I am making note of what questions I have done with each students (numbered to match the copies saved on my laptop), and particular areas of struggling that aren't major enough to go on the main individual pages. I am also recording any extra in depth explanations I have given of things (i.e. why things work, not necessarily needed for the exam but I find can really help strengthen understanding), as I am doing similar topics in several sessions and want to make sure I'm not repeating myself or neglecting anyone by mistake. Then I make note of what topics they have requested for the next week, as I scribble this at the end of my sheet of working from each session following a conversation with them and am at risk of losing that information otherwise!
Writing this stuff up takes me a long time as I write very slowly (extra time for the win ), so I have been procrastinating it a little too much... In fact, I'm typing this up as a break because it was driving me mad! These notes have already proven very helpful to me though, and I want to continue making sure I target my sessions as well as I can to give the most benefit for my students.

My resources:
So far, I have just been going through exam style questions with all the students - I am doing topics that largely just need practice with a bit of guidance, and it is allowing me to get to know how each of them approaches maths. I have a fairly large stock of questions on my laptop that I have been digging through to find the best ones, and putting these together in a single document per topic. So far I've just been making these as required, although with half term coming up I might try to get ahead of the game a little more. In the sessions themselves, I work through the questions at the same time with some of the students, so I can show them clearly how to write it down and help identify step-by-step errors. With others we talk through them together and I only write to add explanation - I am trying both styles with everyone until I work out what works best for them.

Essentially, my goal is to do as much as I can to make these sessions as useful as I can, based on what each individual/pair wants and needs. I'd say I put in 45-90 minutes of work per week for each 1 hour session once I add in extra revision time, so it's a fair commitment but I'm really enjoying it so far
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MajorFader
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Do you have a YouTube channel by any chance? I think I recognise the writing...from somewhere. Idk don’t mind me.

Where are you planning to apply to for 2020-21 cycle?
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Interea
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(Original post by MajorFader)
Do you have a YouTube channel by any chance? I think I recognise the writing...from somewhere. Idk don’t mind me.

Where are you planning to apply to for 2020-21 cycle?
I don't have a YouTube channel and I haven't written much anywhere before, but I do have a habit of picking up speech/typing mannerisms so I probably sound like a lot of people

I'm currently looking at Warwick, Durham, Imperial, UCL, Oxford and Cambridge. I'm currently learning towards Warwick, but I don't know some of the others very well at all so I'll have to go to the open days and see what I think.
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