Adjusting to being a student in 2020

How to get used to a different way of studying, by Goldsmiths student Arturo Roman Larrubia.

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There’s no way around it: whether you’re returning to study or you are a new student, the start of the next academic year is going to be… different. Amidst the current pandemic, departments across Goldsmiths will be combining some on-campus teaching with a range of online activities, in order to best guarantee the safety of students and staff while continuing to deliver a great learning experience. 

It might seem daunting at first, but it won’t last forever, and there are lots of ways to help ensure you have an enjoyable and successful first year at Goldsmiths.

Your lecturers are there for you

There might be occassions when they’re behind a screen, but don’t let their pixelated appearance deceive you. Your lecturers are caring people who want you to be successful in your studies. Over the past few months, academic staff have worked tirelessly to adapt their teaching to digital means where necessary, while maintaining the same high-quality delivery.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during online sessions, or book an online one-to-one slot during their office hours to discuss or clarify anything that’s on your mind. You can also email them – more often than not, they’ll be quick to respond.

You’ll also be assigned a personal tutor at the beginning of your studies. If you feel like you are struggling to transition into your studies or perhaps you’re finding it difficult to keep up with all of your modules, your personal tutor is the person to go to. They’ll happily discuss any worries with you and will support you throughout your journey at Goldsmiths. 

Goldsmiths’ services are always available to help

It’s completely normal to question the standard of your own work – after all, it is likely your first time at university! While there’s probably nothing to worry about, if you do feel like it needs some improvement the Academic Skills Centre can help. You can book a one-to-one online session if you need guidance around structuring an essay, for example. Or perhaps you’re struggling to find the right resources or simply have no clue how to reference the work of other authors? Whatever it is, they’ve got you covered.  

I would also strongly recommend using the Goldsmiths Library search engine too. If you’re looking for that perfect reference, type in a few keywords into the search bar and the chances are you’ll find an article that’s perfect for your essay. Just make sure you reference it properly!

Keep your eyes peeled for events 

Goldsmiths regularly organises a range of events aimed at expanding your knowledge on topics that may be of interest to you, including talks from renowned experts. Even if they’re held remotely, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the practical applications of what you’re learning on your course, and to build a network that could be beneficial to your career.

If these events relate to a topic relevant to your course you’ll probably receive an email encouraging you to attend– I’d recommend them if you really want to squeeze every last drop out of your time at Goldsmiths!

Use technology to your advantage

You might be sceptical about the benefits of learning online, and understandably so. However, there are some positives to working from your bedroom that you might not have considered. Firstly, commuting becomes a thing of the past. The time you usually spend commuting to university, with all of its inconveniences and disruptions, is now time that you can use for reviewing your lecture notes or pre-seminar reading.

But most importantly, remote learning gives you flexibility to study at your own pace. Some of your lectures may be recorded and uploaded to the College’s digital platform. This allows you to pause and follow it at your own pace so you don’t miss out on a single word, giving you time to take clear notes and collate information with other learning resources so you gain a thorough understanding of the topic. If you’re not an early bird, you can review lectures in the evenings if it suits your study style better. 

Even if your seminar sessions are recorded it’s still important that you attend the live session as they’re structured to encourage student participation and the exchange of ideas that enhance learning. 

If you feel like you’re struggling, talk to someone 

Studying at university can be one of the best times of your life, however it isn’t always easy and can present lots of challenges. You might experience anxiety due to deadlines, financial hardship, or feelings of loneliness – that’s common, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whatever your situation is, your physical and mental wellbeing should be your priority at all times – good academic performance will follow. Goldsmiths is aware of the importance that student wellbeing has on academic performance, and that’s why it provides the necessary tools and services to overcome any difficulties. 

If something in your life is affecting the ability to hand in work on time or to a sufficient standard, you can apply for extenuating circumstances. Your situation will be closely monitored by the department and you may be eligible for an extension, which will give you the additional time and space you need to complete your work to the best of your ability.  

If you’re feeling down, anxious or lonely, you can reach out to the Goldsmiths Wellbeing Service and have a chat with a Wellbeing Adviser who will help you develop a positive outlook on things.  
Alternatively, if there’s anything else you feel is affecting your performance, you can get in contact with your personal tutor or the Student Centre, who will advise you or help make the necessary adjustments to help you.