As we approach a new year of study, we at SPOT have been reflecting on how we feel now versus how we felt on our first ever days as Occupational Therapy students. Personally, I still feel nervous, excited and unsure of what to expect but now I have a network of peers to share those feelings with and previous students to receive tips from! With that in mind, we’d like to share some tips for brand new students about to embark on their first year studying Occupational Therapy!
- Occupational Balance. You’ll learn about this in lectures but possibly have none in real life! It’s so easy to get bogged down with studying and forget to make time for your leisure activities! Get involved in student activities, go for long walks with the dog, or just trot off down the pub! Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, and helps clear your head, make time for it. It’s so important.. and will also help you feel fresh for studying!
- Be Organised! If you have a smart phone, get your email set up on it so you don’t miss key information! If you know you’re a procrastinator, schedule in study time.
- Know Your Learning Style. Find out your learning style using tools such as the online VARK Questionnaire (VARK Learning Limited, 2017) or Honey and Mumford (1986) online learner questionnaire (ELN, 2015) to understand how you learn best. I found this useful in determining the most effective way of note taking in class. It also helped me understand those who do things differently to me. (Links to online questionnaires can be found in the reference list)
- Seek Help! Most universities offer extra financial help and creche’s, as well as academic help like writing skills and maths, which anyone can access. If you’re having difficulty, seek help early rather than struggle alone, you’ll be amazed what’s on offer!
- Get Feedback. Whether you do worse or better than you anticipated in an assignment, get feedback from your marker. They will always say something surprising that will help you in future assignments.
- There Will Be Ups and Downs. It’s OK to have doubts and not to love every lecture on every topic. Don’t give yourself a hard time for this, but do share these feelings with your support network to get some perspective.
- Wider Reading. When I was last studying, most information was spoon fed to me by teachers. University is different. It can be tempting not to do the wider reading your lecturers recommend but reading research, getting involved in twitter conversations etc is how you develop a greater depth to your knowledge.
- Use Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc all help you develop your voice as an OT, meet inspiring people and discover areas that excite you.
- Don’t Be Intimidated. Whether you’re a mature student or fresh out of school, you’re all in this together and all have something to offer. Talk to people of different ages and backgrounds as well as those you share similarities with. There’s a lot to learn from everyone!
- Take Opportunities. I missed a lot of opportunities in my first-year due to thinking “I’m too old” or “I’m just a student, I don’t know enough.” OT’s are wonderful people and most are excited to hear student voices and support student led initiatives. If you have an idea, share it!
- Be Proud of Yourself! You’ve got into university, you’re doing something new, you’re following your dream. Take a moment to tell yourself well done!
If you have any tips, share them with us via:
Or on our forum: https://www.spoteurope.eu/OTforum/
Don’t forget to use #OTStudentTips
Erma Bombeck (2017) You Can Do It. Available at: http://www.oecnhs.info/listynum-you-can-do-it-quotes-tumblr.html (Accessed 5 September 2017)
Honey, P. & Mumford, A. (1986) The Manual of Learning Styles. Maidenhead, Peter Honey.
The E-Learning Network (ELN) (2015) ‘Honey & Mumford Learner Types (1986) Quiz’, Available at: http://resources.eln.io/honey-mumford-learner-types-1986-questionnaire-online/ (Accessed 5 September 2017).
TheLatestKate (2015) Available at: http://thelatestkate.tumblr.com/post/124386559149/the-thing-you-can-do-it (Accessed 5 September 2017).
VARK Learning Limited (2017) ‘The VARK Questionnaire. How Do I Learn Best?’ Available at: http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/(Accessed 5 September 2017).