We tested a bunch of study spaces to find the most scientifically optimal one

Abstract

Owing to the positive reception garnered by our first venture into the world of scientific studies (Adventures, Unimelb 2018), it was decided that further scientific tests on the conundrums faced by the University of Melbourne student community were indeed necessary. This second instalment aims to continue demystifying student life by empirically ranking several popular study spaces and investigating what makes a study space ‘work’.

Again, we would like to acknowledge existing literature in the field (see: Adventures, Unimelb 2015) which served to outline the amount of choice students have when it comes to study spaces. However, it must be noted that much has changed since the publication of the above article: for example, a claim was made that “you’ll usually find a spot to study [in Baillieu].” No, gurl, you will not.

Consequently, we aim to update the literature in this field, and thereby determine the best study space for students at the University in 2018.

Hypothesis

Baillieu, hands down. A lot of us initially felt that this was a clear frontrunner in our test. To make things interesting, we have decided to omit Bailieu for two reasons:

  1. To stop encouraging students to study within an already-packed library (you’ll thank us in SWOTVAC)
  2. To level the playing field amongst the remainder of our spaces

This undoubtedly muddied the waters, and our seven testers were divided on the remaining study spaces.

Method

The testers

alain

  • Alain
  • Arts student in Media and Politics
  • True to his colours, his favourite study spots are Arts West and Arts Hall
  • Has 197 LinkedIn connections at time of writing

ayush

  • Ayush
  • 2nd year Arts student
  • Will study absolutely wherever he can find a spot (Law library or Bailieu preferred)
  • Dead inside and may or may not have been half-awake for this photo

beau

  • Beau
  • Commerce student but looks and sounds like an Arts student
  • Doesn’t believe in “studying”
  • Picks study spaces based on accessibility and cleanliness of toilet facilities
  • Loud study spaces are a bonus (so she can laugh when she gets a superlike on Tinder)

mark

  • Mark
  • Arts student but looks and sounds like a Commerce student
  • Frequently studies at home so he can play music out loud
  • “Frequently studies” :) :) :) :)

Tash

  • Tash
  • 3rd year Environments student
  • Studies at MSD to feel like an ABP student
  • In no particular order, her ideal study space has natural lighting, warmth, comfortable chairs, good noise levels, and no abnormal smells (Thankfully we tested all of these things. Like, literally all of them.)

tiff

  • Tiff
  • The most relatable Arts student
  • Mostly studies on campus since bed is a big distraction
  • Needs a good Wifi signal and a power point
  • Loves a nap in the Rowdy (shoutout to the no-study library)

yana

  • Yana
  • 2nd year Arts student in Psychology and Anthropology
  • Not nerdy enough for the nerds, but nerdier than your average homegirl
  • Has zero self-control to study at home and therefore enjoys the Panopticism™ of libraries

Testing Criteria

Between 12:30pm and 3:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon, our testers visited a number of study spaces, spending approximately 10 minutes inside each space. We strove to sit together in order to keep our experience of the space uniform. Where this was not possible, we dispersed in order to complete the tests.

We tested the following spaces: The Spot (level 3), Law library (level 4), Giblin Eunson library, FBE building (level 3), John Medley Linkway, Laby (Physics), Chemistry, ERC level 3, Arts West levels 4, The Ida, and MSD (both the basement and the atrium).

The following observations were made for each study space:

  • Whether or not there are power points (if so, how plenteous they are)
  • Whether or not food is allowed into the space
  • Whether or not there are toilets (if so, how many, are they clean, are there accessible toilets etc.) – credit to Beau for her outstanding toilet analysis

Ratings (out of 5) were also given across the following criteria:

  • comfort of seats
  • temperature (it was 27°C outside)
  • lighting
  • ambience/atmosphere
  • noise level (according to personal preference as opposed to actual volume)

This was followed by an overall score, which reflected our holistic views on each study space. These scores were averaged and ranked to present the results below. In the event of a tie, the winner will be determined as whichever study space scores higher on average in a majority (3 or more) of the criteria above. Without further ado…

The Results

The winner: John Medley Linkway (ANOTHER OBSCURE CHOICE)

Study space Score Categories won (1st, 2nd or 3rd place)
John Medley Linkway 4.3 Seat comfort (tied 2) temperature (1) ambience (2)
ERC (level 3) 4.25 Seat comfort (1) lighting (2) ambience (1) noise (1)
Law library (level 4) 3.6 Temperature (2), lighting (3)
FBE (level 2) 3.6 Noise (3)
MSD atrium 3.57 Lighting (1)
MSD basement 3.4
‘The Labyrinth’ Chemistry building 3.3 Temperature (3)
Physics building, Laby IDEAS Centre   3.29
Giblin Eunson Library (level 3) 3.29 Seat comfort (tied 2),
The Spot level 3 study lounge 3.2 Ambience (3)
Arts West (levels 4) 3.19 Seat comfort (tied 2) noise (2)
The Ida 2.5

 

Analysis

12. The Ida (average overall score 2.5)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 1.8 2.4 3.9 2.1 2.1

Likelihood of getting a spot: 80%, but it’s sometimes used as a function space so don’t rely on it too much.
Can you eat there: it’s literally a bar

sdr

The reopened student bar on Level 1 of Union House has always been a chill area for students to hang out, play pool, or study if they so choose (which is why we included it). However, none of our testers scored it higher than 3 out of 5, leading to its subpar ranking. This just doesn’t seem like the ideal place to study for most people—unless you don’t mind the chatter as background noise while you study, it’s hard to imagine being that productive here.

On the plus side, the toilet around the corner is also “the most hipster toilet” at our Uni, if you’re into 70s décor. Also, the natural lighting here is plenteous and there’s booze at the bar. Basically, don’t come study here unless you want an excuse to drink.

Most favourable score: Alain, Mark, Tash and Yana (3/5)
Harshest critic: Tiff (1/5)
Kindest comment: “I love this place to chill and chat and do light work” -Alain
Meanest comment: “weird vibe and straight up distracting” -Tiff
Best summary comment: “well, if your study method includes booze…” -Yana

 

11. Arts West level 4 (average overall score 3.19)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 3.6 3.4 2.2 3.5 3.9

Likelihood of getting a spot: 20%. Better the higher up the building you go, but overall not great.
Can you eat there: yeah go for it

cof

Logically and geographically, this feels like where you’d hit up next if Bailieu was full. Unfortunately, as a result of this, Arts West is pretty much always full as well. In addition to the lack of space, the complete lack of natural lighting also came under fire from our testers; in particular, Tiff gave a score of -5000 in the lighting category. Even just treating this as a 0/5, Arts West wasn’t able to even pass in this criterion, with an average of 2.2/5 for lighting.

It did however perform more strongly in the ambience and noise categories. The echo-y acoustics of the building suited the tastes of most testers, and as Ayush put it, “it is enough to remind you humans exist but not enough to distract.”

Most favourable score: Beau, Mark and Tash (3/5)
Harshest critic: Tiff (1/5)
Kindest comment: “MY FAVOURITE TOILET IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSITY. Accessible toilets on each floor, and the aesthetic is just on point, the white brick wall is just basic yet so sophisticated and minimalistic. The lighting is always on point.” -Beau
Meanest comment: “Everything just reminds me over and over of how stupidly dark this place is for no good reason” -Tiff
Best summary comment: “would not recommend unless you’re an Aesthetic Hipster™” -Tiff

 

10. The Spot study lounge level 3 (average overall score 3.2)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 2.4 0.4 3.4 3.7 2.9

Likelihood of getting a space: 30%. This place has a lot of long bench seats and tables, but in different places for some reason. This means that you have a good chance of finding a seat or a table, but not both at the same time.
Can you eat there: eating is more common in the level 1 study space than the level 3 one, but no one will kick you out for doing it in either.

sdr

The stomping ground of many Commerce students, the Spot study lounge on level 3 (there’s another lounge on level 1 but it’s usually more crowded so we didn’t bother with it) is generally a well-decorated and well-lit place to study, with plenty of power points as well as group discussion pods and a wide variety of seating options. You may wonder why its ranking doesn’t seem to reflect this. A one word answer: ven-ti-la-tion. Comparisons were drawn between this lounge and “Satan’s foot bath”—blame the West-facing windows, and be careful when studying here on warm afternoons.

Temperature issues aside, this was actually a lovely space, receiving the third-highest score in the ambience category for its visually pleasing décor and its productive crowd. There are also vending machines with various Asian snacks and drinks. All in all, a decent space which explicitly lost points for being too hot.

Most favourable score: Beau and Tash (4/5)
Harshest critic: Yana (2/5)
Kindest comment: “feels like we’re in the corner office of Deloitte” -Tash
Meanest comment: “I am breathing in humidity and people’s stress” -Tiff
Best summary comment: “Too. Bloody. Hot” –Ayush

 

9. Giblin Eunson library (level 3) (average overall score 3.29)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 3.6 3.0 3.1 2.9 2.6

Likelihood of getting a space:  20%. Not terrible, but you’ll only be able to find a space at one of those long tables where you need to directly face someone else. This leads to you being slightly paranoid the whole time you’re studying that you’ll look up from your laptop and accidentally catch their eyes.
Can you eat there: technically not (since you know, it’s a library) but it’s pretty common to sneak a snack or two. Just don’t, like, pull out a giant bowl of noodles and start slurping it at your desk or anything.

Performing slightly better than its neighbour, Giblin Eunson library was a fairly similar space to the Spot in many respects. The temperature was on the warmer side as well, and the crowd were also the right mix of productive (so you feel inclined to be productive too) and non-judgmental (so you don’t feel pressured to stay productive for hours on end). Also positive was the collaborative spaces—just be aware that the project rooms are not completely soundproof.

Though there is an accessible toilet, none of the bathrooms are particularly well-lit or “aesthetic”, according to our toilet expert. Also, power points and empty seats may be a bit hard to come by. However, if you do get a seat, you can take comfort (literally) in the knowledge that they are the second most comfortable on campus. According to us, anyway.

Most favourable score: Beau and Mark (4/5)
Harshest critic: Tiff (2.5/5)
Kindest comment: “[The seats are] firm and will support your lower back in a way that business/economics studies will not.” -Mark
Meanest comment: “Why do I feel like I’m in a pantry idk” -Tash
Best summary comment: “Pretty decent but not exactly the best” -Ayush

 

8, Physics South building, Laby IDEAS Lab (average overall score 3.29)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 2.3 2.0 3.5 3.1 2.7

Likelihood of finding a seat: better if you’re a first year – they’re the only place on campus we’re aware of that has a first-year students only study space. For the rest of us, 30%.
Can you eat there: yeah go for it

Going from one corner of campus to another, the Laby IDEAS (always said in all-caps) Lab on the ground floor of the Physics building struck a tie with Giblin Eunson, and came out on top owing to comparatively better scores in lighting, ambience and noise levels. Overall, this was a fairly divisive study space (with the third-highest standard deviation of the lot), and some of our testers were surprised to find it so high.

To be fair, it was pretty stuffy inside, and there weren’t exactly lots of options for seating, but the ambience really struck a chord with some testers, and features such as whiteboards and a TV displaying timetables for first-year physics classes were additional selling points for this space.

It also contains a weird futuristic space-dome thing (pictured left), so you might enjoy it if you like pointless but cool interior design choices.

Most favourable score: Tiff (4.5/5)
Harshest critic: Ayush (2/5)
Kindest comment: “very snazzy place” -Tiff
Meanest comment: “Overall, not impressed with the building so not even going to try to find the toilets” -Beau
Best summary comment: “it’s pretty cute” -Yana

 

7. ‘The Labyrinth’, Chemistry building (average overall score 3.3)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 2.7 4.0 2.8 2.9 2.9

Likelihood of finding a seat: this place literally has two tables. Good luck.
Can you eat there: as far as we can tell, yes

sdr

Finally. A well-ventilated space. You get an H1 in the temperature department. However, that’s probably the only reason this space placed this high—in other areas, it was considered just so-so, particularly in lighting (which was orange and bizarre and unnatural).

We struggled to find seats, since the area was largely a computer lab for Chemistry students only. The building was also very maze-like, and we didn’t spot any accessible toilets or many power points at all. The overall scores all fall between 3 and 4—basically, this is an uncontroversially mediocre area.

Most favourable score: Tiff (4/5)
Harshest critic: Alain, Mark and Yana (3/5)
Kindest comment: “It’s a cozy spot and I like it since it’s got warm lights and it feels like I’m Bilbo Baggins in my hobbit home” -Tiff
Meanest comment: “[This] would never be my first choice. Actually kinda sucks. This is why I haven’t touched Chem since Year 12” -Tash
Best summary comment: “It’s decent but I’m not sure if I’d come here frequently” -Mark

 

6. MSD library basement (average overall score 3.4)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 1.6 2.9 2.9 3.6 2.4

Likelihood of getting a seat: 1%
Can you eat there: emphatically no

sdr

Not gonna lie, we also the most difficulty finding seats here out of all of the spaces. However, those around us who had already found seats were all business, and this space was praised by all testers for its very productive vibe. The temperature was a little divisive—we couldn’t agree if it was “toasty” or “very stuffy”—and some found the quiet atmosphere a little oppressive, though this was definitely a bigger issue for another space on this list (see 3. Law library).

Food isn’t allowed in here and power points are plenteous along the benches and around the individual tables between aisles of books—all of this suggests that this is a library highly conducive to individual study. Note that if you need the bathroom, you will have to head upstairs, unfortunately. Could be a deal breaker for an otherwise very neat space.

Most favourable score: Tiff and Yana (4/5)
Harshest critic: Alain (2.5/5)
Kindest comment: “Serious but not too serious. Aesthetic is spot on.” -Yana
Meanest comment: “I like this space but it’s a bit too barebones and sterile.” -Alain
Best summary comment: “Good if you want a warm place to study hard” -Ayush

 

5. MSD atrium (average overall score 3.57)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 2.5 3.6 4.4 3.1 3.1

Likelihood of getting a seat: 30%, but you might need to hunt around a bit to find a chair
Can you eat there: probably not a full meal, but unlikely someone will stop you if it’s a snack

sdr

Fortunately, many of our qualms with the MSD basement are resolved on the upper floors of the building. Seating is more available the higher up you go, there are toilets on most floors (though poorly lit, according to Beau) and you’re allowed to eat. Power points are also generally available, unless you’re seated at a bench.

However, arguably the strongest selling point of this space is the sheer amount of natural lighting (no tester gave this space a rating lower than 4 for lighting). The openness of the space does lend itself to being a bit echo-y, but I think all of us could use a reminder that the sun exists during SWOTVAC.

Most favourable score: Mark and Yana (4/5)
Harshest critic: Ayush (3/5)
Kindest comment: “studious, productive, modern.” -Yana
Meanest comment: “It’s a good ambience but sometimes there’s pockets of weird noises and distraction and maybe it’s a bit too open” -Alain
Best summary comment: “I love natural lighting So Much NATURAL LIGHTING!!!!!” -Tiff

4. Faculty of Business and Economics (level 2) (average overall score 3.6, tied with Law library)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 2.5 2.7 2.8 3.6 3.8

Likelihood of getting a seat: 50% – the space you enter as soon as you exit the elevator is probably going to be a bit more crowded (pictured left). But if you turn to the right and like, make an u-turn, you might be able to find some sneaky seats down the corridor (pictured right).
Can you eat there: yes (but people will frown at you)

While many pass through here on the way to the Spot, few head upstairs to visit the FBE study spaces. We’re actually a little surprised this one placed so high, considering that it was a pretty average space in retrospect, but the availability and variety of seating options, as well as the abundance of power points and even the inclusion of a kitchenette are definitely pluses for this space. Also, the toilets are clean and functional (with an accessible toilet to boot).

By now, everyone figured out that there’s a fine line between a productive space and a chill one, but in many ways, this space is the line. It’s nice for collaborative projects, but also for people who just want to work alone. Except for that one person who left because of us. Oops.

Most favourable score: Alain, Ayush and Beau (4/5)
Harshest critic: Yana (3/5)
Kindest comment: “People were talking and seemed human (impressive for a Commerce building)” -Ayush
Meanest comment: “Taking off half a point for ugly window view but it was alright. Poor feng shui.” -Tash
Most bizarre comment: “This place traumatises me because I saw a guy sniffing his foot at the coffee sink once at 9pm.” -Alain

 

3. Law library (level 4) (average overall score 3.6, tied with FBE)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 3.3 4.1 4.0 3.3 0.4

Likelihood of getting a seat: 25% (as high as your chances of getting into the JD)
Can you eat there: a law student will kill you and make it look like an accident, starting a series of events that will play out over four thrilling seasons.

sdr

Full disclosure: this was the first library we visited, and we were totally unprepared for the impact that we, a group of seven, would have on the atmosphere inside a study space. This was a cold, brutal awakening for us—we had dirty side-eyes on us the moment we set foot in this place. Walking through the silence was literally like trying to walk through jelly; it was just oppressive and uncomfortable.

On the other hand, if you actually have important things to do, this space is a godsend for you. The Law library performed well in literally every metric, and had particularly impressive natural lighting and air conditioning (both categories in which this space scored 4 or more out of 5). All of this serves to complement the seriously productive vibe in this library. Just don’t bring your friends here.

Most favourable score: Tiff (5/5)
Harshest critic: Alain, Beau and Mark (3/5)
Kindest comment: “Best place for catching up on 17 lectures, a 2000 paper due in 1 hour or SWOTVAC.” -Alain
Meanest comment: “Cemeteries at midnight are noisier.” -Ayush
Best summary comment: “Law students are intense.” -Tash

 

2. Eastern Resource Centre (level 3) (average overall score 4.25)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 3.7 3.0 4.2 4.2 4.4

Likelihood of getting a seat: 50%, since getting to it is such a hassle these days. You might have some difficulty finding a seat in the main space (pictured left) but if you wander around there are a couple of rooms and hidden crannies off to the side that are usually less populated (for example, the room pictured right).
Can you eat there: naaaaaah

Ayyy we’re breaking new ground and moving into H1 territory here (a reminder that all coffee tastes bad and none of them deserved an H1 last time). The ERC is a little hard to get to now with the construction of the new Student Precinct, but it’s definitely worth the trek.

The lighting is clever, with big windows for natural light combined with spot lamps strategically placed above tables. There’s also flexibility in seating options, with sofas available for the more laidback as well. The toilets also have full length mirrors, so if you ever need to check your outfit…

Most favourable score: Tiff (4.75/5)
Harshest critic: Beau (3.5/5)
Kindest comment: “Everyone seems to be productive and it’s a comfortable, relaxed environment to work in.” -Mark
Meanest comment: “The aesthetic is not really there, like it’s old but not old enough to be aesthetically pleasing #vintage.” -Beau
Best summary comment: “very close to perfect” -Tiff

 

1. John Medley Linkway (average overall score 4.3)

Criteria Seat Comfort Temperature Lighting Ambience Noise
Avg Score 3.6 4.8 3.0 4.1 3.4

Likelihood of getting a seat: you’ve got a 50/50 chance
Can you eat there: yeah go for it

cof

This may come as a surprise to many: not a lot of people seem to know where the John Medley Linkway is. As Tash put it, “IT’S THE WOMINJEKA [BANNER]” that overlooks Gate 10, the Uni’s main entrance on Grattan St. Those that have ventured inside will know exactly why this space has performed so well on this test, scoring 4 or higher from all but one of our testers.

In spite of the toilets being a bit tricky to find (they’re in the stairwell), the 60s-70s décor and the perfectly temperature were major wins for this space. We didn’t miss the natural light so much, since the built-in lights were nice and bright, and in many ways, the vibe is just right: as Alain put it, this space manages to be “casual and serious at the same time. You know you’re in the Arts faculty when you’re here.”

Most favourable score: Tiff (5/5)
Harshest critic: Yana (3/5)
Kindest comment: “A pretty damn awesome place to study or chill or whatever.” -Ayush
Meanest comment: “Pretty chill and casual, but I wouldn’t go here for serious studying” -Yana
Best summary comment: “good for study, good for chatting, good for coffee, good for naps” -Tiff

 

Final Comments

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to study—some enjoy absolute silence whilst others enjoy a bit of company or chatter; some prefer to study on a stool at a table in a cold room, whilst others go for cushioned swivel chairs in warm rooms; some like dark walls; others like windows.

At the end of the day, we’d just like to acknowledge what’s really, truly important about our study spaces. That is, that Baillieu is just always too full, and you should definitely consider some of these options instead. If natural light is important, try ERC or MSD’s upper levels. If silence is important, go to Law. If you like a bit of background noise, consider Arts West. Just anything but Baillieu. We beg you.


About the author

mark profile

Mark is a second-year Economics major parading as an Arts student. His idea of a good time is Mariah’s Daydream CD on loop plus biscuits and maybe a good book (he’s currently reading Frankenstein). His favourite joke is that he’s like a ninja at the gym because nobody ever sees him there. He’s funnier in real life, he promises. Find him on instagram @myin.rbc

A Guide to Starting Uni

giphy (1).gif
Source: Giphy

 

Starting uni is definitely an exciting adventure, but it can be confusing at first! Here are some tips to help you get started.

 

Attend orientation camps and events – and it doesn’t matter if you go alone!

The best time to make friends at uni is right at the start. I went to an orientation camp in my first year, and it was there that I made close friends that I still have now, going into my fourth year. You don’t have to have a group of friends to go with – these camps and events are all about making friends, and everyone is so nice. It is super reassuring to see a familiar face on campus on your first day when you might be really nervous! I have made most of my friends at uni through orientation, clubs and volunteering, rather than in classes.

 

Find out where your classes are before the first day

You will probably stop by uni to collect your student card anyway, so make the most of your time on campus and do a ‘trial run’ of finding your classes. As an example – my first ever uni class was on the biology floor of the psychology building – and the class was French! The app ‘Lost on Campus’ is a lifesaver when it comes to finding your way around.

 

Financial Aid

Uni comes with a lot of expenses, so make sure to visit the Financial Aid website, which has many resources and opportunities for financial assistance.

 

Read ahead

One thing I noticed when I started uni was that there was a heavy workload and so many ideas were new to me. It is best to start the year feeling somewhat familiar with what you will be learning, as there will be other things you have to sort out when you first start such as transport, accommodation, social events and finding where things are, so you don’t want to fall behind. Gradually you will see classes on the LMS become ‘available’ on the LMS, which means that you can browse through and take note of when assessments are, as well as have a read through any readings that are available. On this point too…

 

Get organised early

If you have to buy textbooks, it is good to do so before O-Week / Week 1, because there are really long lines at these times. You could go when you go to collect your student card and find your way to your tutorial rooms and lectures. It is also good to check out the university subject handbook and plan your timetable before class registration (hint: there are a lot of uni parties on Thursday nights, so you might not want to schedule too many classes for Friday if possible!). You can find out when registration opens for your subjects here. Make sure to be set up early to get the classes you want – the tutorials either side of lectures fill up SUPER quickly, so make sure you have a Plan B. You can schedule lectures back to back, because they start 5 minutes after the time on the timetable, and finish 5 minutes earlier (so, a 9:00am – 10:00am lecture is really 9:05am – 9:55am). Tutorials (tutes) usually go for the full hour.

 

Set up your laptop and get free Microsoft Office!

More details here.

 

Get ready for those sweet STUDENT DISCOUNTS!

Make sure you sign up for UNiDAYS and Student Edge.

 

Make a Student Connect appointment

I found my Student Connect appointment super helpful when starting uni, as they advised me how to plan my time (I had two jobs) and I felt more confident about starting my university journey afterwards. You can learn more here.

 

Familiarise yourself with at least one library

In my first year, I was so intimidated by the library that I didn’t go in there for about the first eight weeks of semester… and I feel like my life would have been a LOT easier if I had known my way around the library from Week 1. You can have a look around yourself before uni starts, or go on a library tour. I also recommend familiarising yourself with ‘Discovery search’ which will be very helpful for assessments. Basically, you use this search to find academic journal articles, which you will use to support arguments in essays, and for research. You should also sign into your university account with Google Scholar (instructions here, just click on ‘Google Scholar preferences’) so that you can access articles you find on Google Scholar. This is important because you want to be able to access complete texts, which you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise unless you paid for them.

 

Join at least one club

This is a great way to meet people. I joined a whole bunch in first year and then I could choose my favourites to continue attending (I wish I could have attended everything, but there are only so many hours in a day unfortunately!). Here is a list of clubs you could join.

If you have Facebook, make sure to ‘like’ the Facebook pages of clubs and societies to be updated on events and ticket sales. Remember with extremely popular events, people start lining up for tickets earlier than the advertised time.

 

Join a mentoring program

When I was in first year I participated in a mentoring program run by the Faculty of Arts and also one run by the Student Union (UMSU). I found these programs great for making connections and learning tips from older students. I even joined as a volunteer in the UMSU program in my second year.

 

Buy a planner

Another thing you will need for uni is a planner! Now is a good time to buy them as many are on sale. You will have a lot to plan, from work, to club meetings, to events, and most importantly, assessment due dates (which come up sooner than you expect)! Typo have some super cool ones, and there is a Typo store at Melbourne Central station.

 

Plan your transport route

It is good to know exactly what train / bus / tram you will need to catch, and how long it will take, to avoid any unnecessary stress or lateness on your first day of uni. Here are some helpful transport tips:

  • Pretty much every tram going along Swanston St takes you to uni. You can get on at both Flinders Street and Melbourne Central if you need to get the train first
  • There is a ‘Melbourne University’ tram stop, but you can also alight one stop earlier, at Lincoln Square – which might be quicker, depending on where your class is
  • If your train passes through North Melbourne, you’re in luck! Read about the 401 bus that goes from North Melbourne to uni (and vice versa)

 

Wishing you the best of luck for university! :) You’ve got this!

 

 

 

 

Overheard on Campus in Week 12

 

Cassie is a third-year Commerce student, majoring in Economics and Finance. She is addicted to podcasts and long distance running.

 

1. “I stopped paying attention in Week 5 and have no idea what’s going on with any content after the mid-sem.”

1.gif

Source: Giphy

2. “Will you take a photo of me on South Lawn?”

3. “Oh, no, I’m not going away. I have an internship this summer.”

3.gif

Source: Giphy

4. “Should I buy a Unimelb hoodie?”

5. “I don’t know why people say this subject is hard, it’s really not that bad.”
“Yeah, totally…”

5.gif

Source: Giphy

6. “I need 2000 more words.”

7. “What’s another word for ‘argues’?”

7.gif

Source: Giphy

8. “I deserve this cupcake, right?”
“Dude. Yes. It’s Week 12.”

8.gif

Source: Giphy

9. “I am so not looking forward to Swotvac.”

10. “I watched eight lectures yesterday.”

10.gif

Source: Giphy

11. “I figured out if I get 55 on all my exams I can still get an H2B average.”

11.gif

Source: Giphy

12. “Do you think this will be examinable?”

13. “Let’s catch up over summer.”
“Yeah, totally.”

13.gif

Source: Giphy

14. “Hey, did you understand the Week 7 content?”
“Uh, I’m not thinking about it until Swotvac starts.”

14.gif

Source: Giphy

15. “Who’s your tutor?”
“Yeah, so, I don’t know his name.”

16. “Week 12 feels.”

16.gif

Source: Giphy

Study hacks

We work hard all semester, but sometimes, we just want that final boost when it comes to the lead-up to exams. Here are some of my favourite ‘study hacks’ – tried and tested for those elusive H1s.

 

giphy (7).gif
Source: Giphy

 

Cues

If you studied VCE Psychology, you probably know about this. I like to give my brain prompts to associate what I learn while studying with recalling it in the exam hall. I like to handwrite my notes with the same type of pen / pencil I will be using in the exam, wearing the same perfume while studying and in the exam, etc.

 

Make arbitrary information memorable

Sometimes, you are just reading over your notes and thinking “there’s no way I’ll remember this!”

So how do you make that information memorable? Think of a link between the new information and something that you already know. Turn the information into a story or relate it to something that has happened to you.

If you are musically inclined and want to turn your study notes into a song, here’s some inspiration.

 

Change up your notes

Don’t just write down what was on the slides – engage with the content. Ask questions and answer them with information you’ve learnt, turn chunks of texts into diagrams, and colour-code. It is a richer process (and also more enjoyable than just copying things word-for-word!).

This tip was inspired by an article on The Conversation – definitely have a read if you are interested in transforming the way you take prepare your notes.

 

Flashcard apps

These are especially helpful because they are portable – when you have a quick break, you can go through flashcards instead of Facebook. I recommend the Cram phone / iPad app and also Anki for your laptop. These apps can prioritise what you don’t know so you can master it.

 

Get in a positive frame of mind – but don’t rely on motivation

If you visit our Twitter page, we have been posting some inspiring study quotes! You can also think about your end goals – e.g. ‘I want to ace this exam to be one step closer to getting into Honours / my dream postgrad degree / my dream job’. However, sometimes that motivation doesn’t come – and that’s when we need to just start anyway. Personally, I find it more mentally exhausting procrastinating than actually doing whatever I need to do. Even if it’s not the best study session you’ve ever had, you’ve still put time and effort in, which is what counts – we can’t be studying machines all the time!

 

Stayfocusd app

This is an extension for Google Chrome that has helped me immensely in the past week completing final essays and exam study – it’s amazing how much work I can get done when I limit social media to ten minutes per day! I’m working myself up to blocking online shopping too – but I’m not quite there yet…

 

giphy (9).gif
Source: Giphy

 

Happy studying and good luck – you’ve got this!

 

My experience studying Arts at Unimelb

Hi readers!

If you haven’t read one of my posts yet, my name is Bella and I have nearly finished the third year of my Arts degree – just one exam to go!

giphy-downsized-large (1).gif
Source: Giphy

 

I remember in high school, there was so much course information out there, it could get quite overwhelming. It is hard to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life while managing all your VCE subjects! I remember that hearing about other students’ experiences in different courses was helpful to me in making my decision, because it’s informative to know what it is like being a student studying what is written in the course guide. So, I’m hoping that this post will be helpful to those who are beginning university studies for the first time, or considering changing courses. Remember that everyone’s university experience is unique – but this is mine.

 

Why this course?

In high school I was a Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholar  – through this program I had visited The University of Melbourne several times. I could feel so much positive energy on campus – it was so welcoming – and stunningly beautiful (as a Harry Potter fan, I loved the Old Quad’s similarity to Hogwarts).

 

Hogwarts
The Old Quad – not a still from a Harry Potter movie!
giphy (6).gif
Source: Giphy

 

Capture-clock tower.JPG

 

Now, this will sound a bit cliché but bear with me: I feel like many prospective students visit multiple universities, and have a moment when they can really see themselves at one. That’s what happened to me at Melbourne – I could really envision myself as a student there. It wasn’t really a single moment for me, but a cumulative effect of me visiting the campus and researching the study options.
Speaking of the study options, that was another part of what made me decide to put the Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne as my first preference. At the end of high school, I had a few career options in mind, but nothing set in stone. I felt like I hadn’t really experienced what the world had to offer yet, and wanted to explore areas I was interested in. I ended up doing well in high school – not only because of the wonderful teachers I had – but also because I followed my interests all the way through. If you’re passionate about something, that motivates you to work hard, and you get results. Even if these results aren’t always exactly what you had been hoping for, you enjoy the process.
I knew that I wanted to major in Psychology because it was my passion. In terms of the practical side, a major in Psychology also has wide applicability in terms of career options: of course there is the career option of being a psychologist, but you can also be an academic, work with businesses as an organisational psychologist, work in public relations, work as a teacher – the list goes on. I also wanted to continue my French studies to become fluent, and knew that I could take subjects in other cool learning areas in the BA, such as Communications. A Bachelor of Arts allowed me to do all of these things.
This was what drew me to the Melbourne Model, where you can explore your interests in broad undergraduate studies and specialise in postgraduate studies. This definitely took a huge weight off my shoulders while completing the VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) because I didn’t have to worry about planning my career straight after high school, but I also had a firm goal to work towards and inspire me to study.

 

giphy (8)
Source: Giphy

First year

You don’t have to make any firm decisions about your major in first year, but in my opinion, it is beneficial to have an idea in mind. Have a look at what the requirements are for your major in the handbook, and try to make sure that you set yourself up in first year to pursue whatever major you would like to. Some of the majors, like Psychology, have specific subject requirements for Level 1 (first year).

Everyone has to do an ‘Arts Foundation’ subject – a full list is available here. I chose Reason, because I had always been interested in Philosophy. I didn’t really mind what foundation subject I did, because I was just keen to learn as much as possible – Reason was fantastic because not only did you learn how to think critically in an Arts degree, you learn about many great philosophers and their ideas, and a bit about history. There are some foundation subjects that help with majors – for example, I believe that Language would be helpful for those studying Linguistics or English. You can change your classes in the first few weeks of uni, so if the one you pick isn’t the right choice for you after all, you can always do another one instead.

 

studying.JPG

For Psychology, we have to complete two subjects in first year. I also studied French each semester, leaving me with one Arts elective and two breadth subjects to choose. Breadth is another awesome thing about Unimelb – you can enhance your employability by complementing your course with subjects from other faculties (I studied Principles of Business Law in first semester, because I knew that the knowledge would be helpful for whatever career I chose) and also pursue other interests (in first year I also studied a subject called Spontaneous Drama: Improv and Communities, because I had enjoyed drama in high school and as an extra-curricular activity in Year 11 and 12).

 

 

Second year

In second year there were four psychology subjects that I had to take, and four other subjects I could choose. I completed my final level of French and a Creative Writing elective in first semester, and in second semester I ended up underloading (I did three subjects instead of four) – to be able to complete an internship in Public Relations. Safe to say that the internship went well, as I am still working for the company today – an amazing culture and team. I recommend doing an internship or getting some kind of work experience if you are interested in taking Media and Communications subjects – from my own experience and conversations with other students, this is really helpful when completing assignments.

 

baby animals.JPG
One of my favourite uni memories – when baby animals came to visit campus at the end of my second year!

 

Third year

This year I continued my Psychology and French studies, as well as studying Media and Communications subjects. I haven’t completed any breadth subjects this year because as a Psychology student in the BA, some of our breadth subjects are subjects in the Psychology major. I also decided to cross-credit my French subjects and apply for the Diploma in Languages. So, I will be completing this Diploma and my BA in four years (instead of the standard three years for a Bachelor’s degree) – meaning that next year will be my final year. Doing French in the Diploma means that I can take more French subjects as well as pursuing all my interests in the BA. The last four subjects of the Diploma are also HECS-free (yay!). There are also concurrent diplomas in other areas, such as Music! I’ve seen on the Diploma in Languages web page that you can also undertake it as a Graduate Student – it’s never too late!

 

artswesttt
The super cool staircase in my favourite building on campus – Arts West! I was so excited to take classes in this building when it was completed in my second year, replacing a former Arts West which was a building at the uni before I started.

 

Overall, my time at Unimelb so far has been nothing short of incredible. There are such inspiring lecturers and tutors, so many subjects available, a wonderful campus environment, excellent facilities and so many volunteering opportunities!

If you have any questions about my experience studying the BA, leave them in the comments below!

– Bella 😊

A guide to getting organised for exams

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when exams and final assessments are looming! So, here are some organisation tips to keep in mind, to make sure you’re ready to perform at your best.

giphy (4).gif
Source: Giphy

Materials

Something that has helped me all 5 semesters that I have taken exams has been making sure my stationery is ready to go. I make sure that I have the correct calculator and then make a trip to Officeworks to stock up on any stationery that I have run out of. I put all my exam materials into a clear zip-lock bag and keep it in a safe place so that it’s all ready to go for exam day (or days) and I don’t have to think about it anymore. I also make sure I have a clear drink bottle without a label and a watch with a working battery to take with me.

For take-home exams, another strategy that has made me feel more organised is setting up my Word document with the correct formatting, spacing settings, required font, etc. This means that when the take-home exam question/s are released, you’ll be ready to just start brainstorming and then typing your amazing essay!

 

Bookings

Remember to use the Book It system if you need to use a computer at uni during SWOTVAC or the exam period. It can be very frustrating to arrive at uni only to find that there aren’t any computers available. You can make more than one booking, although there is a limit at three, so if you are planning to head into uni a few times in the week you can book your place at a computer in advance. The same goes for group study rooms!

 

Make your bed every day

This always helps me feel organised and feel like my day is off to a good start. I make my bed first thing every morning!

 

Let your friends know that your exams are coming up

This is important because towards the end of the year many social events start popping up. Make sure you let your friends know in advance that you will be taking exams and might not be able to go to everything, or reply to any messages immediately. Write down all your social events in your diary so you can leave enough time to complete study and assessments. If any of the social commitments are flexible, perhaps schedule them for after exams, or when you have a week-long break in between exams.

 

Organise your desktop

There usually are a lot of files that aren’t saved in the correct place by the end of semester. Sometimes, it happens! You have to leave a lecture quickly, and all of the sudden the file with your notes is saved as something you probably won’t remember in a folder for another subject. It can be very useful to go through all your files during SWOTVAC and sort them out. You don’t want to be looking for notes when you have limited time and getting stressed because you can’t find them. Some people also find colour-coding notes very helpful. This is also a nice extra revision technique!

 

Clean your living space

I’m sure there is a saying that is something along the lines of “tidy space, tidy mind”. It is so true! Make sure your living space, and particularly the area you will be working in, if you will be studying at home, are spick and span!

 

Wishing you all the best for exams and final assessments.

 

If you have any other tips for staying organised, share them in the comments below!

 

Bella

MKTG10001 Subject Review

Marilyn is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Psychology, and hopes to become a Clinical Psychologist in the future. In her free time, she enjoys rowing and singing with the University choir.

 

Principles of Marketing is a first-year subject offered by the Faculty of Business and Economics. As its name implies, it teaches you the basic concepts in marketing, and gives you the background knowledge required to pursue more advanced marketing subjects in the future.

When Did I Take This Subject?

Semester 1, 2016

What Were the Contact Hours?

1 x 2-hour lecture

1 x 1-hour tutorial

What Textbooks Were Required?

Marketing Principles by Pride et al (2015) was a prescribed text when I took the subject. Our weekly readings came from this textbook, and it complemented the content covered in the lectures pretty well. It cannot be found as an e-book, but hard copies are available in the University Library.

What Topics Were Covered?

Many topics were covered throughout the semester, including value creation, consumer behaviour, product positioning, service failure and marketing communications, just to name a few.  These were covered by the lecturers during the 2-hour lecture every week. For my year, the lecturers were Dr Simon Bell and Mr Samuelson Appau, and they took one lecture stream each. The lecture slides had less content than I would have liked, but the lecturing was pretty detailed, which I found rather beneficial.

During the tutorials, however, we worked on case studies which utilised the marketing concepts that we learnt about in the previous week’s lecture. This was done in groups, and we had to present our ideas to the rest of the class at the end of each tutorial.  We had a separate set of readings for each tutorial, and these were articles that provided background information about the case study we were looking at that week.

 

studying
Giphy

What Type of Assessments Were There?

The style of assessment changed just this year, with research participation being 5% of the grade. This requires you to complete 4 credits worth of research studies (a list of available studies can be found on the research experience portal you will be given access to). On top of that, there is an individual essay worth 10% of your final grade. This involves finding an article about a particular brand’s marketing strategy and doing a write-up about it. The assignment itself wasn’t too difficult, but it would have been nice if we were given more guidance with it.

There is also a group assignment worth 25% of your grade. For this assignment, you will be grouped up with people from your tutorial to complete a 3000-word report about the launch of Coke Life, a new product by the Coca Cola company which uses stevia instead of sugar. Personally speaking, I found the assignment pretty manageable, as my group divided the tasks equally among us, leaving each person with approximately 750 words to write.

The last part of this subject is the exam, which is worth 60% of the final grade. You will be given 2 hours to complete three essay questions based on the course content. This means that you’ll have approximately 40 minutes per essay, which may be a little challenging if you’re not accustomed to writing essays in a relatively short amount of time. There is no upper and lower word limit for these essays, so just write as much as you see fit, but avoid taking longer than 40 minutes per essay.

Overall?

Personally, I’d rate the subject a 3.5/5, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing more advanced marketing subjects, or anybody interested in doing a commerce breadth subject that isn’t mathematical. However, if group projects aren’t your thing, this might not be your cup of tea. All the best to anyone who decides to do this subject!

Exam and take-home tips

Figuring out the best way to prepare for end of semester exams or take-homes can be tricky. Which is why the Unimelb Adventures team has come up with this list of effective ways to approach your final assessments!

Take-homes

  • Set up your Word doc so it is all ready to go while waiting for essay questions to be released. Format it correctly with your name, student number, a spot to write your word count, and any other information you need to include on your assessment piece. This helps ease nerves, and also means that you are less likely to forget to include these details while powering through your essay.
spongebob-writes-essay
Source: Giphy
  • Don’t change questions at the last minute – all the questions are hard if you’re doing them properly, and you don’t want to waste the research you’ve already done.
  • Work on essays in your local library during swotvac. It’s good to get out of the house, and you can escape the stress of being at uni during this time!
arthur-having-fun-library-card
Source: Giphy
  • Go for a walk – as a study break it can really refresh your mind.
  • Avoid social media – try and limit it if you can’t give it up completely while you’re writing your exam. Not only does it reel you in and you end up spending way longer on there than you intended (we know, memes are amazing), but there will probably be a lot of status updates about uni stress at this time of year – which is the last thing you want to see if you’re taking a break!
figure-pressing-like-button
Source: Giphy

Exams

  • Create a Google Doc with all your notes so that you don’t lose them and can access them anywhere.
  • Do any practice exams or questions you can get your hands on.
  • Know your best studying time. Some people like to get up early and work really hard before lunch, then do more relaxed work in the afternoon (or even take some time off). Then they might do a little more work after dinner. But that’s just some people – find out what works best for you!
cat-reading-military-strategy-book
Source: Giphy
  • Make a friend and use them to bounce questions off!
  • Eat sugar before an exam. We’re not sure if this actually helps, but one of the team’s Introductory Microeconomics teacher told them to do this and now they always do!
cotton-candy-girl-sugar-high
Source: Giphy
  • Buy some new pens to make yourself feel good.
  • Keep your life outside of study organised too – make your bed every day, keep track of appointments and so on. An organised life = an organised mind!
doge-much-organise-very-wow
Source: Meme Generator
  • Write your notes in a few different formats – e.g. flashcards, Cornell notes, mind maps, typed documents and diagrams with annotations. You might find you can read through more notes in one sitting if you change things up a bit.
  • Check out if there are any study sessions or revision lectures being run for your subjects.
  • Grab an essential oil you like and chuck it on a burner (or smell it) when you study for a subject, then smell it before the exam and – if what they taught one of the team is correct – you will remember more!

Hopefully you’ve found something useful here, we also have a swotvac tips article that could be handy. Good luck with your assessments and remember – you can do it!

cheat-note-you-can-do-it
Source: Giphy

Meal Prep: Swotvac 2017 Edition

It can be hard to find time to eat well during swotvac, but it is so important.

Luckily, the Unimelb Adventures team is here to make sure that you get H1s in health and organisation this swotvac and exam period!

All our suggestions are student budget friendly and super simple.

Breakfast

Find something that works for you to kickstart your day!

salem-eating-pancakes
Source: Giphy
  • On-the-go: Two slices of bread with your two favourite spreads (e.g. PB + J), cup of milk, and a piece of fruit. At home, you can take two slices of multigrain bread with your two chosen spreads of the day, cut the sandwich in half, pack it in a sandwich bag, drink your cup of soy milk, quickly grab some fruit, and eat it on the way to uni.
  • When you’ll be studying for a long time: Muesli – there are many healthy options available in the supermarket. Just put some granola muesli on top of some greek yoghurt for a breakfast that will keep you full for hours while you study.
  • Winter warmer: Porridge. Microwaves are a lifesaver, aren’t they? So grab yourself instant porridge that you can heat up in the microwave for about 2 minutes, and get yourself some fruit! If you are in a hurry, put your cooked porridge in a disposable cup. Don’t forget to bring a spoon!

Lunch

Options to get you through that deadly 3:30-itis…

mean-girls-diet
Source: Giphy
  • When you only want to cook once: Falafel burgers with half a bag of pre-packaged lettuce and tzatziki dip. The recipe says it makes 6, but it makes more like 10. You can freeze them and they last forever. Make a batch every two weeks and legit eat them every day during exams – tried and tested. If you’re not vegan you can replace the flax eggs with real eggs. Add some chilli too. If you can’t find dried chickpeas, just drain some canned ones really well. You can also swap the zaatar with any kind of dried herb mix, but if you can find zaatar it is very good!
  • Your new go-to lunch: Rice, veggies and can of tuna/selected protein! Make the rice on the weekend, or the night before a big study day. Scoop 1 cup of rice into a tupperware container, fill it up with frozen veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli), and bring a can of tuna or add your desired protein. If you are feeling extra fancy, you can cook yourself scrambled eggs or a hard boiled egg with this quick meal.
  • To eat at home: If you’re at home, eggs on toast is always good. You can add avocado, spinach, mushrooms or tomato for some vegetables, and some feta for extra flavour.
  • Eat anywhere: Wraps! You can make a big salad at the start of the week and fill your wrap with it every day. You can also buy some cans of tuna/salmon, chicken or whatever you fancy to put in with the salad as well.
  • A classic: Potato salad. Boil some potatoes until they are soft, cut into blocks, add some butter, and mix with cheese, store-bought leafy salad mix, bacon and anything else you like.
giphy (2).gif
Source: Giphy

Snacks

To keep your energy levels up while you’re working hard!

  • Fruit salads are great healthy snacks to fuel your brain. You can prepare your own at home or if you’re really strapped for time, purchase one from uni, the station, or the supermarket (there’s usually a section near the front with small fruit salads!).
  • Sliced apples with peanut/almond butter – very nutritious, and yummy too!
  • Cut up carrot and celery with hummus, or just bring carrot/celery.
  • Crackers with peanut butter/vegemite, kinda making yourself a cracker sandwich. There are plenty of things you can make with just a piece of cracker as your base. For instance, salad leaves with smoked salmon. Be creative!
sloth-eating-carrots
Source: Giphy

Dinner

Suggestions that will keep you studying however deep into the night you need to go…

  • Comfort food: Soup is great to have when it’s cold – cook a big pot and then have it a few nights of the week. Dahl is also a one pot meal and something you can store easily, but it is way more filling!
  • Prep like a pro: Make up a big batch of pasta sauce that you can eat all week. Start off with an onion and garlic and you can’t go wrong. You can use a can of tomatoes, whatever other veggies you have in the fridge (carrot and zucchini are good), some bacon or feta cheese for protein, and throw some spinach in at the end. You can use wholemeal pasta if you want to feel extra healthy.
giphy
Source: Giphy
  • Feeling fancy: If you’re in the market for a huge restaurant-style dinner and can afford the luxury of a slow cooker (20 bucks from K-Mart), grab yourself some meat (off-cuts usually work the best, and are super cheap) and veggies, put it in with a can of diced tomatoes and complete! Restaurant-worthy meals for the whole week. Enjoy them on their own or with the rice/pasta of your choosing.
  • An old favourite: Pasta bake! Boil some macaroni until soft, place in a large baking tray, add milk and cheese, bake in the oven.

Beverages

And lastly, the drinks…

  • You can add some cut-up fruit to your water bottle to give it some pizzazz.
  • If you’re at home, endless cups of tea are a proven way (in our experience, anyway!) of getting those essays written and those notes memorised. Alternatively, bring your tea with you to uni in a thermos.
  • A hot chocolate or chai latte can be a relaxing way to take a quick break from studying. Remember to bring your keep cup with you!
  • But we all know coffee might become the beverage of choice for a lot of you… Luckily, we’ve got a guide for that too.
giphy (1).gif
Source: Giphy

Swotvac Tips

Cassie is a third-year Commerce student, majoring in Economics and Finance. She is addicted to podcasts and long distance running.

It’s almost swotvac. It’s the time of year when you realise you didn’t understand 75% of the content this semester, you stopped doing your tutorial work in week 3, and you never actually went back and watched those 12 lectures you skipped. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips on how to survive swotvac.

  1. If you can, avoid the library

When people are studying and stressed, and they’ve been in the library for 12 hours every day for the last week, things get gross. If you can, avoid the library because you will get sick, you will feel disgusting all day, and you will not be able to get up and go to the toilet because either the librarians will come and take your stuff away or some ninja student will steal your seat.

  1. If you must go to the library, do not arrive between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm because you will waste half your day trying to find a seat

Image source: Giphy

Anyone who has lined up to get into the Law Library or Giblin Eunson during swotvac knows that it is pure carnage. I’m not kidding – it is the Hunger Games and the scenes are concerning. It is also the only way you will get a seat during swotvac. You either have to arrive really early or really late or you won’t find a seat. You can also book spaces online at https://bookit.unimelb.edu.au/ but get in early because reservations fill up fast!

  1. Find a good café, and get a loyalty card

You will be drinking a minimum of two coffees a day. Loyalty cards where the 10th coffee is free seriously deliver the goods in swotvac.

  1. Stock up on healthy snack foods

Image source: 9GAG

That’s right, healthy. I’m talking about good fats. Nuts, avocado, sandwiches and fruit. Do not eat sugar all day or try to survive on coffee; you will crash and burn and you will feel absolutely shit. A healthy, well-fed brain will struggle to understand some of the ridiculously difficult things you are studying, and a starving brain will give up.

  1. Make a list and set yourself deadlines

Schedule yourself. Plan what you have to do from the exam date backwards, and put it in a calendar. Then, stick to it. If you finish what you had planned to do that day, take the night off. Seriously this is a golden rule and it is very easy. Just take 15 minutes on the first day of swotvac and make a list.

  1. Get at least one person to study with

Image source: Reaction GIFS

You don’t need to sit down and study with them, but find one person per subject, add them on Facebook and annoy them with questions. The likelihood is that they are also desperate to ask someone else questions and you’ll help each other out. It also helps to have someone to vent to about how f*cked up the practice exams are.

  1. Have scheduled breaks

Image source: Giphy

At the start of each study day, plan out little reward breaks. Like, when you finish a practice exam, watch EllenTube for half an hour. These are really important and they’ll make you less likely to procrastinate later. Little goals are good, and you deserve it.

  1. Don’t let the first few days get you down

When you suddenly realise that you don’t understand half of the content, don’t panic. That is what swotvac is for. All non-first year students will tell you that it is totally normal to teach yourself a lot of the course in swotvac.

  1. You will have a breakdown, it is okay

Image source: Buzzfeed

Every swotvac you will have one breakdown around the time when you do your first practice exam and you fail. You will call your mum or your best friend and you will cry. This is normal. It is okay. Cry it out, go eat a big bowl of pasta, take the night off and get back to it tomorrow. Everyone has this and it is totally normal.

  1. ‘Do Not Disturb’ is your friend

If you’re on a roll, use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function on your phone. It won’t notify you when people contact you unless you go over and pick it up. Procrastinating is so easy in swotvac and minimising your distractions can help a lot. Another useful procrastination reductions method, particularly for essay writing, is the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between. You can read more about how it works and its benefits here.

  1. Sleep

Some students brag that they sleep four hours a night and still smash all their exams. You are not that person. It doesn’t matter how well you function on four hours of sleep, it’s scientifically proven that everyone functions better on 7-8.

  1. Exercise

Image source: Pinterest

You don’t need to go to the gym everyday day but get outside and get some fresh air. You need to take care of your body in this time. It will make you more productive and reduce the frequency of swotvac breakdowns.

  1. If you don’t get something, your friends don’t know and your online tutor is confusing you (it can do more harm than good), go to a consultation

Just go. Get in line with your planned question. Have work to do while you wait, because you will be waiting. 2 minutes with a tutor can save you hours of torture while you try to figure it out yourself. It’s also a great place to meet other students so you can help one another, and often they’ll ask about something you don’t get either and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

  1. If you need a break, take a break

I thoroughly believe that when you hit a wall, just come back to it later and go do something else. You will have days in swotvac where you get nowhere. Don’t waste your time and end up in a pool of lecture slides and tears. Take the afternoon off. Take the night off. If you feel good enough, take the day off. When your brain cracks the shits, just let it have a little rest.

  1. Plan a gift to yourself when your exams are over

Image source: Geek and Sundry

Studying sucks. Treat yo’ self.

– Cassie

The Pros and Cons of Taking an Intensive

Nicole is one of the staff writers for Unimelb Adventures. She is in third year, doing a Bachelor of Music, specialising in Performance and majoring in Piano. She loves keeping herself fit by swimming and going out on adventure walks!

Throughout my undergraduate studies so far, I have loved taking the opportunity to do either summer or winter intensive courses for subjects that I need or would like to do. Most of the subjects I have taken have been core subjects, but I also took a breadth subject that ran during the July intensive period (Auslan and Visual Communication). So here are some of my thoughts on taking an intensive subject!

Pros

You get used to being back on campus
I love the feeling of being back on campus after a short break. I like getting the chance to get comfortable with my surroundings before uni begins. It gives you some mental preparation for the next semester. If you are taking a core subject during either the summer or winter intensive periods, use it as a transitioning period into whatever year you may be going into. When I did Music Language 3, I was able to ease into third year studies. Then, when I got into the semester, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed. It was pretty chilled, in a way. I could get used to being a third year by doing a core subject at the start of the year.

You can get back into the swing of studying and/or practising
One of the advantages of doing an intensive is that you can slowly build up your studying and/or practising routine again. I think that it’s important to develop that before the semester starts, and I found that it worked for me during my intensive courses.

You get the place to yourself
As a music student, I know how packed rehearsal and practice spaces can be during the semester. On the other hand, during the intensive period, practising can be very peaceful indeed. It gives me the chance to think about my technique and musical expression a bit more, as well as more room to move around without a lot of external stimuli to distract me. Likewise when it comes to studying in study spaces or libraries. There are lots of seats to find, and it is quite nice indeed! It’s so quiet and peaceful without so many people around.

Snapchat-4727477109650306252
Look at all the free seats in the MSD study area! (Source: Nicole Ng)

There are no long lines at lunch!
During the summer and winter terms, there is no lunch hour rush. For instance, the lines can be very long at Egg during the semesters! But not during the summer or winter intensives. Just imagine how fast you can get your lunch without a long line at the cash register!

You get the chance (and enough time) to explore the campus more freely
I love exploring! During my intensive last summer, I explored Arts West. I know, I’m a bit late to the party, but it’s better than not going in there at all. I loved every little bit of Arts West, and found a nice studying spot for myself that I will be going to!

18362074_10212829506758434_1598684505_o
Source: Nicole Ng (Instagram)

You can focus on just one subject
The ability and opportunity to concentrate on one subject is a great advantage if you want to do well! I managed to do very well in Music Language 3 because it was the only subject I was doing during the summer intensive period and I could put a lot of effort into it. It’s a really nice feeling to get your final grades back and see that you did really well!

You have fewer subjects to do during the semester
This is personally one of my favourite things about intensives, especially as I am a music student. It gives you more time during semester to do other things such as studying, practising or hanging out with friends. You can be flexible with your schedule too! That’s one of my main reasons for doing an intensive – having more time to prepare for my recital studies, and being able to move around practice and study times if I need to.

ca3c
Meme Generator

You can get it out of the way
If you are doing a core subject during either the summer or winter terms, it’s great because you can get it out of the way! I remember when I finally finished Music Language 3. My goodness, was it a good feeling. I don’t even have to touch the Music Language stream again for the rest of my tertiary studies! Woohoo!

If you fail the subject during the intensives, you can always give it another shot during the semester
And vice versa for those who may have failed during the semester. It gives you another chance to improve or pass the subject, especially when it’s a core subject. Besides, by re-doing a subject that you may have failed during the semester as an intensive, you’ll stay on track with your study plan, and still be able to graduate on time too!

Cons

Can get pretty intense, especially with the workload and expectations that are involved
The courses are intensive – after all, that’s what they’re called. Haha! Learning new content each day can become overwhelming and tiring. That’s why coffee comes in handy: keep yourself awake, and ready to go!

Math GIF
Giphy

Wishing for a holiday when going straight into the semester
Particularly when you take a core subject as an intensive, you may not get a long break for yourself. Basically, you are sacrificing your summer or winter break for your studies. That’s my least favourite thing about intensive subjects. It sucks when it finishes just before O Week, or during the week that O Week starts. A week is never enough, even if it is better than nothing. So, I suggest making the most of the week-long break, and getting a really good rest before the semester starts! Do whatever you want!

giphy
Giphy

If you are feeling this way, remember that all the advantages of taking an intensive always outweigh the disadvantages! Remember to look after yourself when undertaking an intensive subject. Do something that makes you happy, and give yourself a break every now and then! Or have a chat about your worries, stress and concerns with a friend or family member. I found talking about it was helpful, and got the support I needed to get through it.

If you are behind in terms of attendance or studying, you risk of failing the subject
When taking an intensive subject, you have to be on top of everything. Otherwise, you run the risk of being behind, and it can be hard to catch up! Do lots of preparation and stay organised if you want to do well. This also applies to attending classes and lectures! Always double check if there are any hurdle requirements! Make every week, day, hour and minute count!

So there you have it – the pros and cons of taking an intensive! This is mostly reflecting on taking a core subject, or one of your electives during the summer or winter break, but it applies to any intensive subject available. For more information, check out the handbook: see if one of your core, elective, or breadth subjects runs during the summer or winter break. You can also check out an older post about summer subjects by Daph!

– Nicole

What you should know if you want to study Psychology

Marilyn is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Psychology, and hopes to become a Clinical Psychologist in the future. In her free time, she enjoys rowing and singing with the University choir.

Majoring in Psychology

Since Psychology is an extremely popular major in this university, here’s a lowdown on the major sequence in Psychology.

An APAC-accredited major in Psychology (APAC stands for Australian Psychology Accreditation Council) requires students to take 10 Psychology subjects over the course of their degree. At Unimelb, 8 of these subjects are compulsory, and the remaining two are electives. (Students in the Bachelor of Arts are limited to two elective subjects, but those pursuing a Bachelor of Science are allowed to pick more elective subjects.) Also, for students in the Bachelor of Arts, two of your Psychology subjects (one from Level Two and one from Level Three), will have to be taken as breadth subjects, leaving you with a maximum of four breadth subjects instead of six.

The screengrab from the Unimelb handbook (below) shows all the possible subjects that can count towards a major in Psychology. Most of these subjects, especially those at Levels Two and Three, build on what is learnt in previous years, and so it is recommended (but not mandated) that students pursue Psychology subjects at the previous level before enrolling in these subjects.

psychology major
University of Melbourne handbook

If you are doing a different undergraduate course and think that Psychology sounds pretty cool, once you’ve finished your Bachelor degree you can apply for the Graduate Diploma in Psychology. In the Grad Dip, you undertake all the subjects from the APAC-accredited undergraduate major. This is often completed in one year, but can be extended if that suits you! Some students choose to do the subjects over three years, at the same time as students completing the undergraduate major. There is a mid-year intake for this course.

Careers in Psychology

After an undergraduate degree in Psychology, you could work in Marketing, Advertising or Human Resource Management.

If you pursue a postgraduate degree in Psychology, you can work in a role more closely related to Psychology, such as becoming a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist or a researcher. To enter any of these fields requires you to have a Bachelor’s degree with Honours and a Master’s degree, a PhD or even both. This means that any student who intends to enter one of these specialised fields will have to be willing to spend at least six years at university.

lilo_shrink
Giphy

You should also know that Honours in Psychology is very competitive! So it’s important to start working hard early to give yourself the best chance. The absolute minimum weighted average required is at least 70%. However, according to the psychology rumour mill, the cut-off for 2017 entry was just over 80%!

The information here is not exhaustive, and only lists a few career paths you can pursue at each level. For more information, check out the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences website, or speak to an advisor at the Careers and Employability Service in Stop 1.

– Marilyn

5 Storage Techniques for Long Term Memory

Ruby is a first year Master of Biotechnology student with a passion for science, books, and all things musical. If you see her around campus, she’ll most likely be scouting for free food, pressing replay on some fresh tunes, or with her nose stuck in a book.

You and me both, Neville, you and me both.

Uni swamps us with information, and I think most of us could agree that a lot of the time, especially if you haven’t been paying a lot of attention, it seems like an unorganised mess. I mean, you zone out of a lecture for one minute and suddenly the class seems to have a handle on Deacetoxycephalosporin-C synthase. Meanwhile, you’re still trying to figure out what the heck the lecture is even about. So you walk out, your brain foggy with all those new words you don’t yet understand. What do you do with that information?

Memory works through the process of encoding, storage and retrieval. Learning how to store information so that it makes its way into your Long Term Memory (LTM) is how you’re going to get that H1…or at least a pass – let’s be real.

Storage techniques for Long Term Memory

1. Mind maps

An oldie but a goodie.

In order to store information for the long term, a technique that is common but largely underestimated is the mind map. The brain is excellent at remembering by association. But when one lecture is about plant cells and the next is about your liver, it’s difficult to connect the information you’re being given. Having topical mind maps is a fantastic way to solve this problem, because you can sort out your lecture material by topic. This will help your brain connect the dots and allow you to revise more efficiently.

2. Connect the new with the old

This uses the same principle of association as the mind map idea, but does it by connecting new information with previous knowledge. This will help you build on information already stored in your brain and learn by association, making new information more meaningful to you. The brain will be able to make more branches on established pathways rather than build entirely new ones.

neville_transformation
New can be better! (Tumblr)

3. Repetition

Yeah, yeah. You probably know this one cause you’ve heard it a thousand times before…get it?

I agree, it’s boring. But it really does seem to work, and I can attest to it. Every night before bed my dad used to count to ten aloud in different languages, and to this day I can still do it. Get those flashcards out!

4. Chunking

Is this easy to read? Or memorise?

THEQUICKBROWNFOX

What about this one?

THE-QUICK-BROWN-FOX

Chunking is usually a way to store things in your Short Term Memory (STM). Your STM can hold around 7 pieces of information at one time, so storing them in ‘chunks’ is the best way to achieve this. However, chunking can also be helpful for your Long Term Memory. If you break something into chunks that can be stored in your STM, and somehow make that information meaningful to you (e.g. drawing a picture of ‘The Quick Brown Fox’), you can then potentially also store those little nuggets of information in your LTM.

what_does_the_fox_say.gif
Giphy

5. Funny stories

This is a memory technique close to my heart. This one makes study fun, and not just in the way those cheesy kids shows tell you. You can go nuts here. Think big.

For example, you could create your own characters to help you remember topics, like Gentleman Gene for Genetics and Cellular Celine for Cell Biology. While studying Japanese, I would come across unfamiliar sounding words like 医者(いしゃ), pronounced ‘i-shya’, meaning ‘doctor’. So instead of just memorising a bunch of sounds, you make it fun. Like “‘ishya’ foot sore? Better call the doctor!” Makes you look pretty weird, but it sure is efficient.

I hope these help you study for your exams or survive those nightmarish MSTs. Happy studying!

– Ruby

Best Places to Study Outside Uni

Alain Nguyen is a first year student who spends too much time at uni and has called it home. When he’s not at uni he’s probably eating somewhere in some alleyway cafe or slowly working towards getting his P’s.

So it’s exam time and you seem to spend more time trying to find a free seat in the Baillieu or the Giblin than you are studying for your exams and you don’t know what to do about it. Fret not because here are some places OUTSIDE of uni for you to study! And besides, it’s bad to live at uni.

Source: Mohammed @ Monash Stalkerspace, via The University of Melbourne Confession (Facebook)

  1. State Library

An easy start to a list of places to study is the State Library opposite Melbourne Central. The place is massive and has an abundant number of power points for you to study. If you want more quiet places at the Library, head to the Redmond Barry (yes, one and the same) Reading Room, the La Trobe Reading Room and the Chess Room (however it can get noisy there). A word of warning: come early to grab a spot as it can get full with high school students and other uni students.

Source: By Diliff (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

  1. City Library

There actually lies a library on Flinders Lane between the chaos of Degraves St and Centre Place. The City of Melbourne library is small but it’s cozy and quiet enough for you to study. Like any other public place in the world, it can get full and a bit noisy if someone decides to play the random piano there.

  1. Any Cafe on Degraves St or in Melbourne

If you don’t mind noise and on the off chance that the City Library is full, head to any of the cafes on offer around the area and you can grab a bite to eat and study at the same time. Double check on the Wifi however.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

  1. Library at the Dock

There is another City of Melbourne library in Docklands and it’s modern, clean and has nice views to procrastinate while you’re studying. It’s a bit further out but still worth a visit.

  1. RMIT University

Yes, RMIT is on this list because it is literally on UniMelb’s doorstep. Building 80 is particularly nice and modern and has a lot of floors for you to find places to study. If you don’t flash your Student ID or anything UniMelb related you’ll be fine and can blend in with the students there.

  1. Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre

Across the tram stop on Faraday St is the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, which is a gem hidden in plain sight. The place recently underwent a $15.5 million restoration, so make full use of the changes.

Source: City of Melbourne

  1. Parks (and Recreation)

If South Lawn is full then why not head to the many parks around the city? There’s Argyle Square, the Botanical Gardens, Birrarung Marr and the Yarra River. You could even have a picnic! The only drawback with studying outdoors in Melbourne is the weather, so bring an umbrella.

There are probably many other places in the city you could study that aren’t a library or cafe. I personally study in parks or train stations. Let us know if you know a hidden study gem in the city or somewhere to procrastinate!

– Alain

Perform at Your Best: How to Manage Exam-Day Nerves

Ah, exams: The final hurdle to jump over before the summer break. The huge, sad hurdle, that really gets in the way of watching Netflix…

Because exams often make up a large part of your grade, it’s totally natural to feel nervous. Here are some things to do before, during and after the exam to beat those nerves and be able show your markers what you know!

 

giphy (2).gif

 

Before the Exam

• I like changing up my studying methods for memory-based exams – I use concept maps, flashcards (Cram is an excellent flashcard app, because all your cards are on your phone!), posters, and notes.
• When preparing for an essay-based exam, it can help you feel more relaxed if you brainstorm some answers to possible topics. You can take a look at previous exam questions (if available) and practise with those. Your tutor or lecturer may supply them, or you can visit the library website.
• If you know you have some exam questions which allow you to focus on certain areas of the course, pick your course area to write on ahead of time if appropriate. That way, you can prepare thoroughly for certain areas you feel confident in and feel on top of things – rather than trying to cover content in detail for the entire course.
• Blast some happy music and have a one-person dance party (you know you want to). A great stress-reliever!
• The psychology student in me is coming out here – but here’s a #lifehack for studying. Basically, your brain uses heaps of things in the environment to ‘cue’ memories. What you want to do is build up an association between studying content and remembering content (in the exam). It can be as simple as spending sunny days studying on the lawn next to the REB, or wearing the same perfume when you study and take the exam.
• Work out what you don’t know. I know, I know, this can be a totally scary idea. However, it has helped me immensely when I sort out all my notes into three piles: ‘Got this: H1 central’, ‘Somewhat confident’ and ‘What was that again!?’. Then, as exam day draws closer, I can really focus on the latter two piles.
• Ask questions! Even if your tutor isn’t allowed to answer certain questions regarding exam content, make use of the discussion board for your subject and ask your classmates.
• Set out ‘incidental revision time’ – bring your notes along on your public transport commute, to read in your break at work, while waiting to meet someone, etc. It all adds up!
• Exercise! Get out there in the sunshine and go for a walk to relax. If you find it hard to set aside time for fitness because you feel ‘guilty’ for not studying (first of all, you totally don’t need to – but I get it!) record your notes and listen to them while you walk or run! If you’ve seen The Imitation Game – running every day totally worked for Alan to solve Enigma. So if we all go running, we’ll be that smart too…. Right!?
• Plan. Schedule your whole week for SWOTVAC to feel organised and calm about what needs to be done. Don’t forget to pencil in some leisure time!
• Test yourself on your content as you make notes – this has been shown to increase retention. You could even write notes in a question-answer format.
• Study sessions with friends: It can make you feel much more confident going through topics with others. They do say that if you can teach someone else, you’ve got it! If this doesn’t work out, check out noticeboards and club communications to see if any are offering revision sessions!
• NON-study sessions with friends: enjoy a few coffee or lunch breaks, where there is a rule to talk about anything except exams. Your brain will thank you for the quick break!

 

The Day Before

• It’s really up to you if you study or not the day before. A day won’t make a huge amount of difference in terms of the content you remember – so go ahead if it boosts your confidence, but you can also take a day to relax if you think that will be more beneficial. If I have work or take a day to relax, I do set aside an hour or so at night to read over my notes, mostly for a confidence boost.
• Materials: get everything organised the night before – make sure you’ve got your student card! Try and fit your items into a clear bag/pouch to avoid the mad scramble to the shipping containers.

 

 

The Day Of

• Breakfast… This is something I found super interesting when I initially came across it: We’ve all heard the ‘eat a big breakfast’, right? However, if there is a lot of food (or greasy food) to be digested, your body’s energy and resources go into digestion, rather than to your brain. So have a medium-sized, healthy meal – as early before the exam as you can, to allow time for digestion and to enable your brain to operate at its peak.
• Like studying the day before – the idea of studying on the day of an exam can relax some people, but not work for others. It’s really up to you; like studying the day before, it’s important to put things in perspective. If you’ve been working hard for three months, a couple of hours before the exam won’t make much difference either way. I have a really long commute to the city, so I feel relaxed if I bring some notes along and read them on the train. It’s super quiet on the train, and reading notes on the train has boosted my confidence with my exams in first year and this year. I throw my notes out at the station though – and then walk to the REB ready to go and do my best, taking some time before the exam to just get mentally ready to go in.
• If someone tries to talk to me about exam content before an exam, it makes me nervous because I start thinking of concept I might not understand/remember perfectly. If this is the same for you, a good strategy I use is to talk about what I’m doing after the exam. You can think of what you have to look forward to rather than what you have to make it through.

 

After the horror exam

  • Easier said than done, I know – but like talking about the material immediately before the exam, talking about my answers afterwards gets me super worried! At the end of the day, the exam is done and you did the best you were capable of under the circumstances throughout the semester and the exam itself. Celebrate by treating yourself to a coffee as suggested above, or a doughnut (because Doughnut Time is at Melbourne Central now. That is only one station away from Parliament…)

giphy-1

Wishing you all the best for the exam period! Study hard, and walk tall – you can do it!

-Bella :)
Note: These are some tips that have helped me at uni – however, I am not a professional. If you are feeling as if your exam worry is becoming too much, you can contact Counselling and Psychological Services here. They have also published some great tip sheets, such as this one for exam anxiety .