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How to get the most out of your English Degree

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The prospect of paying nine grand a year can be a tad daunting… or terrifying. It really makes you ask yourself; for the money I’m paying, what am I actually getting from my degree? Here is how to get the most out of it:

 Turn up to Lectures

I know there is going to be a morning (or two or three) when you miss that alarm. Fair enough you might be very tired after that big night out, but the bottom line is you don’t have that many contact hours at all. So if you miss this lecture you will be missing out a big chunk of learning that you are paying for!

 Utilise office hours

I remember when I first arrived at Newcastle a lecturer said; ‘If you have any questions about anything in the module here are my office hours, just pop in and see me and we can have a chat’. My reaction was along the lines of: ‘Erm… Nope’. The prospect of having one-on-one with a lecturer intimidated me and I didn’t want to identify myself as some kind of simpleton that didn’t understand what was going on. Now I realise that I was being an idiot. The lecturers are probably the most valuable resource you have. They are experts in their fields and the ones who will be marking your essays. So when it comes to writing an essay for your course and you are panicking about whether you are on the right lines, go to the office hours. It’s the best way to get direct feedback on your ideas but its only possible if you take the initiative and go.

 Seminars and study groups

Many students say they learn a lot more in seminars than they do in lectures, but you have to contribute to get something out of it. It’s a great forum to air ideas and interpretations but if nobody speaks you’re not going to get anywhere. I tend to go by the rule that its likely that everyone in the seminar is going to say something stupid at some point so don’t be shy. The more people contribute, the more relaxed the atmosphere is and the more you will get from this. An uptight seminar is the worst so don’t let it happen.

 Books!

Buying all the books you need can get EXPENSIVE but there are ways to try and lessen the impact on your loan. Listen out for deals at the start of term from Blackwells and second hand book sales in the Percy Building as well as checking the book swap cubby hole on the first floor of the Percy building for any books kindly donated from the years above. Also USE THE LIBRARY, (crazy idea I know) its one of the resources you’re paying for. Make the most of it.

Whilst none of this might seem revolutionary, what I’m trying to say is you get back what you put in! Don’t be the person that moans about having to pay fees if you’re not going to participate. English doesn’t use labs or much technology, its old school. If you want to get the most from of your degree: read, turn up and talk.

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