Learning from experience

Jonathan Hutchinson – BA (Hons) Product Design

We are now members of a generation where higher education is one of the most expensive choices we will ever make. With increased fees becoming the norm, every guide to choosing somewhere to study is guaranteed to include details of contact time for your chosen course in line with the notion of ‘getting value’ for money.

Of course, this is a factor to be carefully considered, but what I’m about to tell you is the amount of ‘contact’ you have with your course, and University as a  whole, really depends on you. No matter the amount of advertised contact time, from day one you should dive head first into your course’s activities (and University life for that matter). You will find that during your time as an undergraduate the extra mile is where you’ll get the most out of your degree.

Sign up to optional trips, volunteer for something, and join a cause! But most of all talk to people; especially those with the experience to help you. This will tap into a greater depth of knowledge which will broaden the scope of your projects and assignments, as well as leading to insightful discussions and debates with peers and tutors.

When I went to my first open day, I had a long chat with current final year students doing Product Design. Even though they were there to ‘sell’ the University, speaking to them gave me a real picture of what my course looked like, the good points and the bad. This honest perspective played a big part in why I chose to study in Lincoln.

From this, I learned that it pays off to get to know the people who have been here a while – from my course and others. Even in Second year, it wasn’t too late – getting an idea of what Third year would be like significantly helped me. I found out about the hurdles I’d face, topics I might struggle with and which tools or resources to use. One way to connect with people was by joining a society. It was a great equaliser – when you have a passion for a sport or activity it doesn’t matter what year you’re in. I was pointed towards the best bloggers, websites and companies who posted course-relevant and cutting-edge content on a regular basis. Just following them on social media was a step in the right direction.

Looking back, one thing I found is that you can never be too far ahead of the game. Don’t see the paragraphs that form your module descriptions as the full extent and boundaries of your course. Don’t indulge the notion that being a student is a limiting factor, which means you’re not allowed to join the conversations going on outside your subject area. Join in from the get-go, make mistakes, correct yourself but remain involved and in touch!

Not to sound clichéd, but we’re in this together and we need to help each other out. There are certain things that you can only learn from experience, but the experience of others can help too. So, if you’re well established here at Lincoln and think you know a little about what’s going on, spare a thought for those just starting out.

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