The Student Room Group

First year struggling with history at an RG

Hey, i am currently in my first year of history too and I feel completely overwhelmed and like I am drowning. The reading feels like alot and although i could choose my modules, i just dont find them very interesting and zone out allllll the time when i do my reading. Im really trying but i dont know if it is too early in the academic year to tell. The reading and assignsments being due in a couple of weeks are really stressing me out. I know its not meant to be easy and college was obviously different but it just feels like way too much at once. I hadnt even started university yet and the week before the lecturers were sending me 30 page readings and documentarys to watch for the first lectures/seminars. This is my second time trying university, last year i dropped out of journalism at another uni so I dont really have any choice to do anything else or move unis etc. this year is way too intense already. I cant tell if anyone else is struggling too but i just dont feel motivated to do the work. Everyone else seems to be enjoying it and have meaningful input in the seminars when i didnt even understand the readings. I feel like they have just left us as it is and dont know if this just because it is a russel group uni but there is literally little to no academic support at all. Finding it really hard to make friends too. I dont know what else i would study, im not really interested in anything, i just had to choose something because my parents wouldnt let me not go back & i enjoyed history at a level but now this feels like hell! I go to my academic advisors office hours every week since he teaches one of my modules and he doesnt help, never actually answers my questions, i never leave his office knowing more than when i went in and its getting really frustrating. Questionning why I was once interested in history at all :// any advice? Does it get better?
(edited 7 months ago)
Original post by aaliahpatel2004
Hey, i am currently in my first year of history too and I feel completely overwhelmed and like I am drowning. The reading feels like alot and although i could choose my modules, i just dont find them very interesting and zone out allllll the time when i do my reading. Im really trying but i dont know if it is too early in the academic year to tell. The reading and assignsments being due in a couple of weeks are really stressing me out. I know its not meant to be easy and college was obviously different but it just feels like way too much at once. I hadnt even started university yet and the week before the lecturers were sending me 30 page readings and documentarys to watch for the first lectures/seminars. This is my second time trying university, last year i dropped out of journalism at another uni so I dont really have any choice to do anything else or move unis etc. this year is way too intense already. I cant tell if anyone else is struggling too but i just dont feel motivated to do the work. Everyone else seems to be enjoying it and have meaningful input in the seminars when i didnt even understand the readings. I feel like they have just left us as it is and dont know if this just because it is a russel group uni but there is literally little to no academic support at all. Finding it really hard to make friends too. I dont know what else i would study, im not really interested in anything, i just had to choose something because my parents wouldnt let me not go back & i enjoyed history at a level but now this feels like hell! I go to my academic advisors office hours every week since he teaches one of my modules and he doesnt help, never actually answers my questions, i never leave his office knowing more than when i went in and its getting really frustrating. Questionning why I was once interested in history at all :// any advice? Does it get better?


Hi @aaliahpatel2004,
I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling to find your feet - I felt similarly when I first started too! I finished my undergrad in History this summer, and there were times when I felt the same, and it was really difficult. You're not on your own though, there are plenty of people who don't completely gel with their courses straight away, and the teaching style is so different to A Levels it can take some time to adjust, so try to be kind to yourself, you don't need to know everything or contribute loads from the get go! It sounds like you're doing everything right in asking for help, but if your advisor isn't very supportive are there any other staff members you can talk to or a student support or wellbeing service you could talk to, maybe a students union? Not having any academic support is not okay, and first years especially usually get extra support to help with the transition, but if you're finding things difficult then your department should be stepping up to help - try the welfare support teams too!

In terms of readings, in my experience one 20-30 page reading per seminar per week was fairly average, and we were expected to at least skim read it so we had a general understanding to discuss in classes but not exhaustive knowledge, so try not to pressure yourself too much. Also, contributing to classes is great, but not something you'll always be able to do - there might be one week you find really interesting and have something to say, and a few others where that's not the case - that's okay! Please make sure you're keeping in touch with family and friends from home and uni, so you have a support network, and try changing the way you study - maybe in a different setting or using chatgpt to help you summarise the texts and confirm you've understood them, and make sure you have a routine and time away from uni. Sometimes I like to watch those YT videos of people studying or study advice videos for some encouragement, so maybe try those out too. You should also be able to apply for extensions if you need to, so try not to worry about the assignments - definitely come up with a plan for each and try and run it through with the module convenor so you feel a bit more certain about them.

To me, it sounds like you're pushing yourself a little too hard and heading towards a burn out, which isn't uncommon, especially when you're just starting out in your academic career. My best advice to you would be to try the support services if you have any, and keep trying! Have a think about what it is that isn't working for you. Is it the course, uni, campus/accommodation, content you're covering? Because there's plenty of history courses across the UK, and I'd encourage you to chat to your admissions teams about moving universities if its any of the above- you owe it to yourself to spend three years somewhere you feel happy and supported! Maybe try checking out the History course offered at Reading for some comparison. If it means anything, I absolutely loved it and the department, university and support staff are incredibly attentive when you need them. Check out the course overview here, the modules offered within it (look for the ones beginning HS1), and some info here about student life at Reading in general if you'd like! Either way, there's absolutely no shame in moving, it just means you may have to do some catch up to be up to speed with the rest of the cohort.

P
lease know that it definitely gets better once you settle into the teaching and independent learning methods - many people I knew were still figuring it out in second year, let alone first! The first year of uni is all about finding your feet, you don't need to get top marks. The most important part is giving it your best shot - sometimes you can only give 70% and that's so okay! As long as you're getting good feedback on your assignments so you know where to improve, you're doing fine. Feel free to reach out to me/us with any questions about studying History in general or our course, but make sure you're talking to your support network and your uni about what they can do for you to make your course more accessible and enjoyable for you - that's literally what they're there for!

Best wishes,
Kat :smile:
MA Diplomacy Student

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