I know, I know, no one wants to hear about the next school year when there is still summer to enjoy but it’s got to be done. I used to think that I had to go buy stationery I won’t use and or books I won’t read to get ready. I still remember stationery aisles in the stores laying bare after the students rush to fill pencil cases. I hate that feeling of turning up on the first day of the new year and already feeling behind. So with that being in mind, here’s a little curated list of things you can do to get you prepared for anything that comes your way.
1. Reading Lists
Instead of buying random books a friend of a friend told you too, get your hands on this year’s recommended reading list. Instead of spending a painful amount of money on a physical textbook, check your university library is they lend the ebook version, if not it’s time to bust out the good old local library card and check there too. You would be surprised what they have I remember buying a UCAT preparation book off amazon and finding copies of the exact same book in my local library a week later (so annoying ☹). Get familiar with all the services that your library offers, there is often so much you are missing out on! Also, learn the opening and closing times so you can plan revision sessions.
2. Course Content
Familiarise yourself with the modules you will be taking next year by looking at the course map or syllabus. It’s also a good idea to be sure on how you will be assessed on the content throughout the year. Is it through lab reports, coursework, essays, exams? Are they at the end of the year or intermittent? Are they all individual or involve teamwork? Are they online or in person?
3. Who To Talk To
Always make sure you know who the key contacts are in the faculty, keep a little memo of important emails like your personal tutor, where you can go if something goes wrong or who you can talk to about different issues you might have. Know where to access support services whether it be for financial hardship or mental health.
Now’s the time to download those apps to help organise your life. I’m a newcomer to Notion but I am already a convert. I am determined to join the army of people who worship Anki for flashcards as long as I fully understand how to use the interface. For 3rd year of medicine, I think apps like Medical Dictionary, Geeky Medics (a lifesaver for clinical exams!) and MedCalc (app that guides clinical decision making) will be helpful. I got this recommended by that TikTok account I have mentioned in a previous blog @medical_kat.
In terms of equipment, try not to buy everything at once, it is stressful and expensive but take stock of the things you need to bring to certain classes. For example, I usually have to bring my university provided iPad and student ID and to more clinical sessions I will have to follow the dress code, bring my stethoscope and a watch with a second hand for taking pulses.
6. Dress Codes
While we are talking about dress codes, I know I will be in a hospital and GP environment all year next year so I need to start investing in some more smart clothes, so I am not rotating through the same three pairs of trousers.
7. Clear Out!
August is always a cleansing month for me, I go through my room with a rubbish bag and a box and throw away or recycle anything unnecessary that I have accumulated in the past year. Handouts, used notebooks, and even clothes I have no use for. A tip I have is to digitalise the information you need to keep and throw out the physical copy or condense it to a small folder that you put away in storage.
Don’t forget to apply for student finance, it is very stressful to be worried about that and try to keep up with classes at the same time. The phone lines will also be a nightmare as other students that have left it late will also all be calling. Don’t get caught waiting listening to hold music! This is also a chance to review your spending habits over the last year, and maybe set some new goals for this year. Lastly, for those that plan to work while studying, check your schedule to see if you can handle both the academic workload and your job. If your job last year was too difficult, didn’t pay enough or very far away, maybe think about switching to somewhere new before getting swept up at school.
9. Study Techniques
Now is your chance to also review the study techniques you used last year and see if they still serve you. If not, write a list of techniques to experiment with in the first few weeks before you settle into a pattern.
I wish everyone a good start to the new academic year!
PS: a small update to the blog about my current reads, I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seat, dying to know. I am currently reading Rudy Francisco’s Helium a poetry collection that I am really enjoying so far!