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How to stay on top of coursework when starting university.

I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?

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A good system is to keep a wall calendar with all of your assessment dates on it. A countdown system can be helpful, eg "2 weeks till hand-in of X". You will probably find that you have multiple assessments due around the same time, maybe even on the same day, so it's essential to have a system where you can keep tabs on each and every assessment.

In general, I would suggest a leisurely 4 weeks for an assessment, which covers reading, note-taking, drafting & revising. However, this won't always possible due to time contsraints, so a more stressy 2 weeks is also eminently doable. Anything less than that is likely to result in patchy work unless you are one of those people who can write brilliant essays off the cuff.

Avoid handing work in late because, without extentuating circumstances, you will get a flat 40%.

Always check the module assessment details for assessment weightings, which can help you to prioritise assessments - for example if something is worth 75% of the module, it's clearly more impactful than something worth 25% - but you also need to check whether you need to pass all assessments to pass the module.
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?

Break things down and take your time and maybe if your really worried as soon as it’s set start some of it and then do the rest another day
Academic calendar, helped me.
Original post by random_matt
Academic calendar, helped me.


That’s good
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?


Hi there! Firstly, congratulations on starting University in September, it is going to be a really exciting new time in your life!

For my course, I've had experience in trying to balance assignments as well as normal studying and placements, all at the same time. I have really found that the big A3 wall planners are super helpful! I've had one for every year of my degree (and I'm about to go into my fourth year now!) and they're great for keeping you on track. I try and get a wipeable one as lots of things and deadlines will change throughout the year! At the start of the year, I put on all the deadlines that I know of (and add them as they come in) and then set a reminder in my phone for a 2/3 weeks before this deadline. This way, you've got a visual reminder of what's coming up, as well as a physical reminder!

People handle course work in different ways and it's really about finding what works for you! Some people prefer to do it in one big go over a few days, others find it better to do it little and often. The first year of uni is great as it allows you to figure out what works for you! You can also try setting yourself check-in reminders and say that you want to have completed x amount by x date!

I hope this helps!

Rebecca - 3rd Year UCLan Student
As you probably know first year marks have little or no impact on your final classification... but this doesn't mean you should doss. it's your chance to try different ways of managing your work without it seriously affecting you if you try something that doesn't work out for you. Hopefully you've got a solid system set up for the later years.

As already mentioned probably some sort of calendar or diary is going to be the core.
Take advantage of any study skills seminars that are being run for new students.
do ur assignment as soon as u get it. even if u just make the document just do It the day u get it and then each day start bits and pieces of ur work and make a timetable on when ur going to work on ur assignment ensure u have enough time to double check ur work before subitmitting i recommend having ur assignment done 2 days before the deadline so that u can get ur references on point and check for any errors and mistakes.
Original post by cheadle
Avoid handing work in late because, without extentuating circumstances, you will get a flat 40%.


This very much depends on the university and the rules in place.

On my degree course the penalty for late submission of work was 20% mark deduction per day late, though there was the opportunity to appeal if there were extenuating circumstances.

At another university I'm familiar with, the penalty is 10% mark deduction per day for work submitted up to 5 days late.
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?

Hi @unknown011

My advice is simialr to the replies above, however, I personally prefer an academic diary over wall planners/calendars. I like to buy a day to view on, which you can find at The Works quite cheaply, and use it to plan my days and write to-do lists on the day pages. I also like to add countdowns on each page to my deadline day, so that I am constantly reminded of how much time I have left to complete an assignment.

I'd also suggest using your first year as a 'trial and error' period to experiment with what works for you, and to find out what ways of studying you enjoy. I would also advise anyone to try their best in first year, even if their grades are not contributing to their final degree, as it's good practice to work as if your assignments are the final work you're submitting. But you can use your first year to see what works for you. Maybe try a wall planner for your first assignments, to-do lists for you next one, and so on, to see what keeps you productive.

I also like to sit down with my assignment the day I get it, and I roughly plan out what I need to do in the time leading up to the deadline so that I am making progress each week.

Hope this helps.
Emily
Student Ambassador at BCU
Pre read lecture notes by skimming through the before the lecture - If there is something conceptually confusing instead of being confused in the lecture and consequently missing parts you will have already encountered this and can pay more attention to the details.

Also only take notes if it genuinely helps you, so many people take notes and never look at them because the course handouts are already more detailed than the notes they create, don’t make notes just because you feel you should
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?


Hi!

I just finished my first year at Uni doing computer science which is a lot of coursework so I'm hoping I have some good tips for you :smile:

For me, Uni is a massive reset, new people, new buildings and a great opportunity to set some positive new routines. So I would suggest personally that from the very first week where you are getting very small tasks just try and do them straight away, if you get into that habit it's going to really help moving forward.
But if you're brain isn't cooperating and you just find yourself procrastinating then have a look at your class schedule, at Heriot we have (at least in my first year) computer labs that are optional to go to but are there for people to go in to ask questions or receive help with coursework or to just do coursework in a space where there are fewer distractions. That kind of thing might be a great help to get you focused on coursework.
If you don't have that at your university maybe you could try setting times to meet up with friends to sit together and do coursework. Obviously, not helping each other but sometimes seeing others powering through some work might make you feel like you need to as well.
You could also try getting a very scary red pen and write the number of days until it's due on a post-it note above you're computer or wherever you like to chill out so it can motivate you to get going with the coursework if you find yourself getting distracted.
And my last tip in this very long list is that for coursework where you can choose the topic or what you want to focus on within a specific topic take some time to choose one that you are generally interested in. Then - while it will never feel completely like you're not doing work - it'll feel like less work and effort to write about it.

That's a lot of text but I hope maybe one or two of those things might help! Let me know if you have any other questions to do with starting Uni, as I just finished my first year all the nerves and excitement that came with moving to university are very fresh :smile:

- Jessica
1st year, Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence)
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?


Hi @unknown011,

One way I keep on top of my work (all course work as I study a creative degree), I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all my deadlines which are handed out at the beginning of the year and, more than likely, are broken down for you when you arrive at your first few lectures (for each module).

It looks a-bit like this: DATE /MODULE /NOTES
25/11/2022 AD4301 journal 4pm
28/11/2022 AD4302 installation 2pm... ect. ect.

This way I always know which bit of coursework I should be prioritising at each time, working towards other too of course. I sort of find myself doing a chunk of the work that's in first and when I get bored I switch to the next bit of coursework (all the same lay-out just switch the titles). I copy and paste the structure of my presentations/word templates for each module and they typically start out like this: Title, Ideas page/details, mind-map, research, planning and so on and so on. This way, I don't have to spend my time individually planning out each task and it just seems like half the work is already done - I just need to fill the pages!

Another thing to ensure is that, all the content produced links together, this is so the work is thorough and is a constant evaluation of my initial ideas. Like I say, I use this structure throughout all my modules and out has proven to be successful in demonstrating organisation and critical thinking.

Hope this helps! and wishing you all the best for September!
Ellie
@unknown011

Why have you struggled to hand work in on time?

Are you a procrastinator, forgetful, or do you prefer exams?

What are you planning to study?

How do they assess you? What is the weighting/ balance like between exams and assignments?

The key thing is to pace yourself. Some assignments will take longer than expected especially if you need to reference. As said above, you do need to have time to go through your work, particularly when you are getting used to referencing and using the reference system at your university.

Check the marking scheme and be clear on what the assignment is asking you to do, otherwise you may struggle to hand work in time simply because you misunderstood what was being asked of you.

If you leave it to the last minute, you will be in a rush and not able to do your best (unless your a person who thrives working under pressure!) and could easily miss marks.

If you start too early, you might feel like the work is dragging and it might feel frustrating to have to wait to hand it in, so planning when you are going to start is helpful. You can then manage it in chunks e.g. reading journals and notetaking, starting a first draft, editing, finding additional references, checking references, word count etc...

I tried using a planner in my first year to put deadlines in, but I think the most helpful thing for me has been a calendar on my noticeboard and using the calendar on my phone.

Uni is a great time to meet new people and to go to different societies, so do make the most of the opportunities that you have, but try to keep it to one or two societies that you go to regularly.

All the best,

Oluwatosin 2nd year student University of Huddersfield
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?


Hey @unknown011
Its great to hear that you wanna be up to date with your coursework submissions! With this motivation, you're already half way there :smile:

I am a computer science student and in my second year, I had 8 modules so obviously you can imagine the amount of coursework that I had each week with loads of deadlines overlapping .
The way i used to stay updated with what deadline is when was that i bought a academic planner calendar for the year and quite literally stuck it up on the wall in front of my study desk. Since all assignment deadlines are already planned and posted, i wrote everything down on my planner or the current term. This made it a lot easier for me to have a quick look and keep track of what assignment is soon to be due and which ones I have to prioritise my time.
Personally i liked it better than having them on a planner app with a checklist, but you could have a lot different preference.
I hope this helps and best of luck for starting university!!!

Vyomika
Hey there! How you're feeling now about starting university is very normal as this is a big new chapter.

My advice for completing coursework on time is to get into a good routine and setting yourself a schedule that you can stick to. Getting yourself a diary or calendar could be useful to put in all of your deadlines and adding in your daily tasks. Doing this can be so beneficial and it will also make you feel so productive. To-do lists are also useful, you can put in all the tasks you need to complete that day, it can be small tasks but ticking them off always helps me feel organised, so it will probably help you too!

Completing you work in the university libraries may help you too as this will be a space with minimal distractions, meaning you can be more pro-active with your time. I have always found that attending the library with a friend is good too, as you can hold each other accountable for completing your work, and it also feels less boring when you have someone who you can do it with. Getting up and going to the library has always helped me as it gives me a structured routine, so hopefully this will help you as well.

I hope this helps and the best of luck for starting university in September!
Scarlet - Sheffield Hallam Student Ambassador
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?
Developing strong personal administrative & organization skills will be vital to a career (& frankly adult life).

People have different methods but experimenting with tools & a strategy for how you balance your life are going to get you started.
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?


Hello,

Congratulations on beginning college in the september! Starting university can be both exhilarating and terrifying, so having mixed feelings is totally natural. It's encouraging to learn that you're driven to succeed and earn a first in your degree. I understand your concerns about efficiently organising your coursework. Here are some tips to help you remain on top of your studies.
Keep track of your assignments, deadlines, and significant occasions by using a planner, digital calendar, or task management tool. Divide larger activities into smaller, more doable steps. Determine the most important and time-sensitive tasks and prioritise them accordingly. Prioritise those first, and then move on to other things. Set aside time each day or week to study and complete coursework. Find and stick to a study regimen that works for you. When undertaking a difficult task, divide it into smaller, more manageable chunks. This will save you from feeling overwhelmed and will allow you to handle the task progressively.
Reduce distractions during study time. Find a quiet spot to work, turn off your phone's notifications or utilise distraction-reducing apps, and notify your friends and family when you need undisturbed study time. If you're having trouble with a particular subject or assignment, don't be afraid to ask for assistance. Make use of university resources such as professors, teaching assistants, study groups, and tutoring programmes. To avoid burnout, it is critical to take frequent pauses throughout study sessions. Short pauses might help you freshen your mind and increase your concentration when you return to work.
Improve your time management abilities by predicting the length of tasks and allocating time accordingly. Avoid procrastinating and begin working on tasks early to allow for revisions and improvements. Remember your objective of getting a first in your degree and use it to motivate yourself. Celebrate minor victories along the road to stay motivated and involved in your studies. It is OK to make mistakes or endure difficulties. Be gentle with yourself and learn from your mistakes. If you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, seek help from friends, mentors, or university resources.
Remember that the transfer to university can be a learning experience in and of itself. By following these tactics and determining what works best for you, you will be better equipped to manage your homework and attain your academic objectives.

Best wishes on your journey!
I hope this is helpful.
Kind regards,
Mrunali Kalbhor,
University of Sunderland Student ambassador
Original post by cheadle
A good system is to keep a wall calendar with all of your assessment dates on it. A countdown system can be helpful, eg "2 weeks till hand-in of X". You will probably find that you have multiple assessments due around the same time, maybe even on the same day, so it's essential to have a system where you can keep tabs on each and every assessment.

In general, I would suggest a leisurely 4 weeks for an assessment, which covers reading, note-taking, drafting & revising. However, this won't always possible due to time contsraints, so a more stressy 2 weeks is also eminently doable. Anything less than that is likely to result in patchy work unless you are one of those people who can write brilliant essays off the cuff.

Avoid handing work in late because, without extentuating circumstances, you will get a flat 40%.

Always check the module assessment details for assessment weightings, which can help you to prioritise assessments - for example if something is worth 75% of the module, it's clearly more impactful than something worth 25% - but you also need to check whether you need to pass all assessments to pass the module.


I usually give my self a 10 day window for writing the essay and I do the tutorials/notetaking first. I am studying with The Open University so most of my work is done online.
Original post by unknown011
I'm starting university this September and I can't wait. I'm really excited but also nervous. The reason why I'm nervous is because all of my school life I've had trouble staying on top of my coursework and handing it in on time.

My family are proud that I've got into university but also aren't supportive as they don't think I'll make it due to me always having trouble handing in coursework on time.

I do have trouble putting course work first before anything and anyone first. Now that I'm going to university I realise the importance of handing in coursework. I would love to achieve a first in my degree, not going to lie this would be a "sod you" to people. Does anyone have any tips for staying on top of your coursework?

Hi there,

Congratulations on starting University in September - getting into University is already a huge accomplishment in itself!

I think it's very normal to feel a mixture of nerves and excitement - it's a new place with new people whilst learning new things. I think it's also normal to worry about handling the assignments/coursework. Do remember, how you work and at what speed is an individual thing and a learning curve. It's totally fine to spend a few months figuring out how it best works for you.

I'm in my fourth year now and I've learnt a lot over the hears about managing workload and balancing that with things outside of university. A lot of what I'd suggest has already been mentioned but I hope you still find this helpful!

1. Once you've started all your modules for a term, make a list of all your deadlines and what type of coursework it is (essay, presentation, poster, video etc). In my first year I had a list of all the key dates and stuck them to my pinboard so I could always see them - helps to not forget!

2. Once you have a list and have had some initial info about each of the assignments, start to think about how much time you might need for that piece of coursework. You might only need a few weeks for an essay but more weeks to create a poster or presentation. This year I made a Gantt chart to help plan week-by-week what work needed doing. If you haven't heard of a Gantt chart I've linked this page which might help. You can make these easily in Excel - they don't have to look fancy! What I like to do is list all my coursework in rows, divide columns into weeks (week 1, week 2, week 3...), colour the deadline week in a specific colour and then leading up to that week have 'prep weeks' in a different colour. Here you can see when you should start working on an assignment, how many weeks you need to work on an assignment, and can overall visualise what weeks you'll be more busy. Never forget to put weeks off (we all need a break now and then)!

3. As you're going through term and submitting work - tick them off on your list or chart. It's a nice way to show yourself you've accomplished something and motivate you to keep staying on top.

4. If you get stuck on an assignment, it's ok to step away. When you're stressed or panicking your brain probably isn't working at its best, so take a breather and come back with a fresher mind.

I hope this helps and if you have any other questions don't hesitate to ask! Good luck:smile:

Bethan
University of Exeter Student Ambassador

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