Tips for success in Third Level courses

BY now most students in Third Level should be well settled into the current academic year. It is a fact, however, that the percentage of Third Level students who don’t know what is expected of them by the course administrators is very high which has a bearing on their workload.

BY now most students in Third Level should be well settled into the current academic year. It is a fact, however, that the percentage of Third Level students who don’t know what is expected of them by the course administrators is very high which has a bearing on their workload.

This also has an impact on their results and even on their levels of stress causing them to score below their potential. To enable you to achieve your potential certain techniques are essential. The following advice is an excerpt of some of these.

Third level differs from secondary school in two ways: the first is you are not just expected to learn off material and reproduce it in an exam like in the Leaving Cert, but you are expected to plan out whatever task you are given, research the information required and use this to form well thought out and cogent arguments about something ie. they don’t want parrots but people who can think for themselves using evidence from many reputable sources and construct coherent arguments.

The purpose of this is to prepare the student for functioning in the workplace where this process is often required eg. in writing reports. The second difference to secondary level is the information isn’t found in one textbook but, as in the real world, all the information is often taken from many reputable sources.

However, because there’s such an enormous amount of information out there it isn’t possible to know or use it all so therefore you need have an idea of what you are looking for before starting ie. planning is essential. To help determine when you have enough information you should first know the total time you have to complete the task (irrespective of whether it is an assignment or an exam question).

There are three stages to completing an assignment - planning (deciding on the direction of the assignment and the type of information you need to include), research (this can require judgement as to whether the information is really relevant), and writing. Decide the percentage of time required for each of the three different stages and divide the total time up accordingly.

Doing well in college is achievable when the skills required have been demonstrated correctly to you. It requires persistence and ingenuity.

Gerald McKeon is a grind tutor with ten years experience of Third Level education. He gives courses in study and exam techniques to assist students looking to improve their performance. The information above is only a brief account of the skills he teaches.

Tel: 086 349 4785.