person working at a laptop and writing notes

Balancing course placements and lectures/assignments

Many of us students find balancing the demanding nature of university hard to balance with other commitments.

Many of us students find balancing the demanding nature of university hard to balance with other commitments, such as part-time work, self-care, or spending time with friends and family.

For some courses, like my masters course, a large component of our learning has been a placement module. Therefore, I had yet another commitment to manage whilst studying lecture material and writing assignments.

I thought I would share some strategies I adopted to ensure I was successfully managing everything within my workload and not becoming too overwhelming with everything I had to do.

Keeping a diary

Notebook and laptop on a desk for someone doing a course placement

As my course is a counselling placement, my placement hours are counted per appointment schedule with my clients, I was lucky to be with an organisation who allowed me to be in control of my appointments and schedule them around my university timetable and what was best for me.

By keeping a diary, I was able to see what free time I had in the week after allowing time for lecture preparation, university contact time, and writing assignments.

Additionally, I enjoy highlighting events in my diary after I have completed them in order to feel more productive and less overwhelmed when my week is full.

Using a countdown app

Monthly schedule and planner

This recommendation might not be for everyone as some people do get stressed out seeing how many days they have left to write an assignment or prepare for a presentation, however, for me, using a countdown app always allows me to keep informed about the due dates of my assignments.

When you have a busy week such as lectures and placement it can be easy to forget about writing assignments, but the countdown app allows you to plan ahead of time and decide whether to use your free time to socialise, or see if you have an impending deadline which needs to be worked on.

Making use of personal tutors

People looking happy while working as two people high-five.

On our course we had a few personal tutor group meetings per term where our tutors would check in to see how we were all getting on managing with university and placement.

My biggest piece of advice is to be honest with your tutors about how you are managing to see if there is anything they can do to support you.

Our lecturers were understanding and supportive about any placement concerns we had, and regularly checked in with us to see how we were feeling so we could share how we were feeling with each other. It was nice to know other members of the course were getting used to the adjustment of starting a new placement alongside other university commitments.

It was also beneficial to me to be open with my course mates and lecturers as I was struggling with my confidence at the start of the placement, but now I am almost finished with my placement hours I have grown in my self-belief.

Self-care

Placements and university are important but so is managing everything effectively to ensure you are looking after yourself to reduce the risk of burnout. By choosing to do things that energise you and prepare you for the next week ahead is important, for me, spending time with friends helped me to recharge.

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