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The University Life: Studying for a Degree

The progression from secondary to tertiary education represents probably the most important and certainly the largest-scale adjustment – in terms of learning and lifestyle – individuals will experience in their scholarly lives. For the three or more years’ degree duration, one is (in most cases) now dedicated to a single discipline of enquiry; a course of study that is therefore far deeper than it is broad. What this highly specialised mode of study equates to is a fairly profound transition in learning approaches; the foremost component in this is a sizeable leap in independence. Undergraduates are expected to exercise far more responsibility in structuring and maintaining their own study efforts. Put simply, degree students, being adults, are largely treated as such. Hence university study does not involve the same highly regimented, punitive and paternalistic dimensions that are found in secondary education. Lecturers are not likely to take you to task if you miss a seminar or lecture (if they notice your absence at all). These commitments are yours to honour or neglect and the gains or losses are similarly your own; it is up to you. The price of autonomy is discipline and discipline is born of will power: which you will definitely need to cultivate in good measure. You need to be self-motivated, ordering your life so to accommodate regular study and get the best results from it; in other words, learning how to be a scholar. The academic life is, after all a life.

Becoming a Scholar: What is Expected

As an undergraduate, you are expected be engaged in continual research and composition, producing a number of formative (ungraded) and/or summative (graded) essays every year. In effect, the study effort is yearlong; there is no real cessation in learning, per se. Conventional “holiday” periods, you will observe, are in the scholarly calendar referred to as “weeks without lectures”, and for good reason; you are expected always to be engaged with your degree topic on some level. Set reading thus usually extends to each month of the year. Further, there will never be a time when no piece of work demands at least preliminary attention. Simply put, you should always be doing something. Generally, this “something” will be research, which activity claims the majority of an undergraduate’s time. For this reason, learning effective research tools and methods is absolutely essential. The degree course is a huge undertaking with numerous component parts (or modules) which form an aggregate overall qualification. In order to manage this sizeable task efficiently, thorough preparation is highly advisable. This is where professional writing services can be of great assistance. We have a broad range of professional researchers on staff, who have years of experience in scholarly work. Enlisting the help of an experienced academic can be an essential boon in cultivating your own research and compositional skills. We can provide you with study guides and revision plans, research notes, annotated bibliographies, editorial services and proofreading, as well as scaffolding essay plans, or producing model answers as a reference point for your own composition; in addition, we can offer general guidance and mentorship. Moreover, our website offers a wealth of information, advice and instruction on university study, from means of effective of research, through how to improve your writing, score top marks, to impress examiners, all the way to composing the dissertation.

Scholarly Writing: Conventions of the Academy

Scholarly writing is a peculiar matter; it has a unique flavour, quite apart from other sorts of writing, such as prose fiction or poetry, journalism, web copy, or what have you. In fact, scholarly discourse is fundamentally distinct from other and “ordinary” forms of communication. No one speaks in the same way as an essay reads. Academic writing is full of technical terms, Latinisms, citations, footnotes, references lists, as well as complex, occasionally opaque and, yes, sometimes convoluted structures. The use of this mode of writing in the academy is much the same as the function of smart clothing at a formal occasion: it lends legitimacy and prestige, evoking an air of seriousness deemed appropriate to the context. Just as you would not arrive at a funeral in a tee-shirt and shorts, you should not deliver an essay containing informal, conversational, vernacular or otherwise inappropriate writing. This is vital; you will not grade well if your writing does not meet expectations. This means students need to ensure their own composition is fit for purpose, meeting all the necessary conventions of scholarly prose, of which there are many – and these need to be learned. As a degree student, a good proportion of your final grades will depend upon your ability effectively to engage with scholarly convention, and to work within those conventions in an illuminating fashion.

So, what does undergraduate writing involve? Firstly, there are some simple formal rules, to do with what the essay looks like, how it is titled, referenced and formatted. Such conventions vary depending on subject, so these rules will be established by specific tutors (who may require alternate formats and referencing systems) upon setting the assignment. Getting this “formal” bit right is the easy part. Next is the construction of an argument: compellingly to order and employ information in a critical fashion, so as to make a case for or against a given proposition (a suggestion that can be argued for or debated against). Putting together a persuasive argument is a skill that takes time to master, demanding understanding of formal logic, rhetoric, and other rules of expository writing. You will not achieve first-class grades if you do not address the above concerns. Indeed, part of your overall grade comes down explicitly to the quality of prose in your essays. Of course, the ideas need to be well-considered and logically consistent, but lacking lucid explanation they will not hit home. In this regard, professional writing service can make the difference, helping you elevate your work to the highest standard: in terms of intellectual content, cognitive power, clarity, economy and precision. We can help you with every stage of the process, from research, through composition, to redrafting, to final polish and proofreading: guaranteeing that the end product is in the best shape possible.

The Route to a First: Going the Extra Mile

University life is a demanding but decidedly enjoyable experience, allowing you to delve deeply into a particular area of study which you find interesting: which motivates you, therefore, to commit and study in earnest. Being passionate about your topic will likely fuel your engagement with it, helping you sustain interest and thus succeed. Yet, for those of you wishing truly to distinguish yourself – to go that extra distance – and achieve a first-class degree, passion alone will not suffice. You will need to push yourself beyond expectation, working continually to a higher standard – of research, writing, observation and analyses. It will require hard work and dedication. While it is true that most graduate level-jobs demand only a second-class degree, candidates who possess a first-class qualification make up the prized minority. Not only is a first-class degree a remarkable achievement and source of pride, therefore, it is also a positive asset in the jobs market. Seeing as you are likely only to take one degree in your life, and considering the very significant impact it will have on your career, aiming for the best results possible seems highly sensible – and not only for the piece of paper on graduation day. The knowledge and skill-set you acquire in gaining a “first” will translate to valuable personal competencies, above average abilities and understanding. Such rewards should not be underestimated: knowledge is a reward in itself.

In order to ensure the highest possible grades, you need to put time, effort and thought into your degree. Seeing as undergraduate study is largely autonomous in character, results will largely depend upon initiative – on the decisions you make. You need to map out and navigate your own personal route through undergraduate study. For each student, that route will be specific. The independent nature of such study puts the onus for success on the individual, who must take charge of their affairs and be conscientious in their approach to scholarship. You cannot wait for someone else to push you in the right direction or coerce determination. Be active and take control of your degree; do not let readings slip by and deadlines creep up. Stay on top of your study commitments, dividing your workload into manageable portions across the week. Further, use every tool, enlist every source of help available to you. Make your work as good as it can be, put in the extra effort. When, in years to come, you look back on your time at university you will realise how precious and unique those years were; as so many people say, the “best years of your life”. So, make the most of that time, work hard, do well, and, most importantly: enjoy yourself.

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