Success begins with a dream. We start our degrees with some idea of what we would like to do courtesy of the credential we have the opportunity to earn. The nuts and bolts of the work comes after the inspiration, enrolling in the program, wading into study, then lurching towards exams. Maybe creative people generally feel that things like studying are also a creative process. I know I do. We work to create knowledge, ideas, opportunity, and maybe even art, where there was none before. Every creative process I know of, including study, is disciplined and focused. That’s how I am thinking about the mountain of work on my desk, and why I made my study packets.
The work on my desk is organized into 4 sections: my 3 ring binders, primary texts, secondary reading, and my precious ‘Literary Analysis Study Packets.’ My Study Packets are all important. They have been refined over a few years of study that has intensified in the most delightful way. This year they are my new best friends.
I always collect study tips, Examiners’ Reports, feedback, handouts, reading lists, and other materials from colleagues and tutors, and discover resources along the way. Everything is sorted into its proper place in my binders then edited to a concise process outline in my packets. For me, having a structure in place before sitting down to work is really helpful, and my study packets provide it in the form of questions and tasks. They especially help me approach focused study and research of primary texts.
Focused study and research is quite a bit different from reading. For me, it starts with language. I like to spend a lot of time on close reading, so I worked out a way to study various kind of texts in-depth through this approach. I made a packet specifically for studying prose, poetry, and drama. It helps keep me focused and organized, but also helps me to discover things about the texts that might otherwise be overlooked, helps me compare and contrast them, and helps me analyze each kind of text in great detail. A side benefit is feeling more organized when managing 4 units.
With my Study Packet at hand I can dig in, confident that my research will meet the specific learning outcomes, standards, and expectations required to succeed in exams and in my own personal goals. The exercises I use for analyzing prose, poetry, and drama are very different from note taking and other skills used to approach tasks like secondary reading. Analysis of primary texts is a unique part of studying literature and requires a unique approach. And it is fun to engage with this great art in such a fundamental and direct way.
Engaging this way is not really difficult, but creating the process can be challenging. Much of the material in my analysis study packets comes from seminars through our English Department’s support schemes. Paying attention to the tutors’ direction and learning to use it independently is the key to getting the very best results from independent study. Taking this generous information, applying it, then editing it to a ‘process outline’ that fits my unique needs for different units or time constraints has been an important part of developing an effective, efficient study approach.
For me, if success begins with a dream then studying is part of the process of living and achieving it. No matter what degree we are studying for, figuring out how to master the material, or medium, is a big part of success. I think we all dreamed big to find and enter our course of study at The University of London International Programme. The good news is, now that we are here and studying, the sky is the limit.
Caowrites is studying for a BA English with the University of London International Programmes.