The interest in this first back onsite Student-Meet was unprecedented – 80 students from across faculties joined us that night! Whether you were part of the audience or unable to grab one of the popular tickets, here is a brief recap of the most important points raised that night for you.
Exams can be daunting. Whether it is your first time studying for a test or if you’ve never figured out a strategy for writing essays that works for you, a little guidance can ease the process for most students. As a result, EDLAB’s fourth volume of the Student-Meet focused on providing peer-to-peer skillshares to inspire students on how to prepare for their upcoming exam week. After a warm welcome, where everyone could stock up on delicious pizza slices and drinks of their choice, we offered students the opportunity to sit in on one of two student panels with speakers from across faculties and educational levels as well as an expert guest each: one discussing effective strategies to study for exams, the other focusing how to on write academic essays.
Writing Essays: A messy process is normal
The student panel on how to write essays provided many valuable insights into the nitty-gritty of the writing process, yet personal anecdotes from the panelist often led to a giggling audience and a relaxed atmosphere – which is crucial for smooth essay writing! One of the most important things clarified during the discussion is what University Maastricht expects from an essay. In contrast to US college essays that are usually more of an opinion piece, UM expects you to write articles where your arguments are clearly supported by academic research. Yet this was not always made explicit, as one panelist from the States recounts, who promptly failed her first period as a result of this.
However, this brings us to another key take-aways from the night: Failing an assignment is not the end of the world and does not threaten your much anticipated semester abroad! This eased the overall tension in the room remarkably. Panelists also discussed strategies to beat writer’s block such as taking a couple of minutes to jolt down any thoughts that pop up to clear your mind. In general, writing can be a messy process and especially the middle part can be fraught with doubts. However, students were assured that this is quite normal and should not discourage them in their pursuits. Lastly, panelists also discussed time management for writing multiple essays: No all-nighters and ideally reserve a final day to re-read them with some distance and add finishing touches. However, panelists also noted that procrastination is somewhat normal and you should beat yourself (too much) up over it as long as you get everything done in the end.
Exams: Finding your strategy
Similarly, the student panel concerning strategies for studying for exams relieved many students of much of their anxiety for the upcoming exam week. Tips panelists suggested include for students to use the PBL system to their advantage as many found that actively talking during class would help them with studying later. Furthermore, they recommended frequent self-test to probe for any weak spots in your knowledge or to study with friends where you ask each other questions.
Panelists also noted that learning to learn is a process and the encouraged students to try out different strategies and find what works for them individually. If motivation for studying would dwindle in the process, panelists suggested to ask yourself why are you at university in the first place. Focusing on your intentions can serve as a powerful motivational tool during exam week. To finish, the student panel also made a point for students to be kind to themselves – failing an exam does not mean failing in life!
The panels provided more than just tips and tricks that many students had already gathered during classes such as academic skills. Rather, they also aimed to validate differing approaches to preparing for exam week as well as to quell surrounding anxieties by offering students a reality check and lightening the mood with some humor! While we believe the Student-Meet to have been a thorough success that equipped students with valuable tools to brace exam week, as both panels have noted, sometimes failing is inevitable. It is important not to get discouraged by having failed at something and be tempted to hastily give up altogether.
If you’re having a hard time accepting failure or struggle with paralyzing fear to even make mistakes, have a look at our upcoming Student-Meet Vol. 5 – Learning from Failure. Together with student counselor Laura Smeets, we will reflect on failure and how it rather can be used as an opportunity for growth. Interested? You can find the full event description and sign-up here. Until then, we wish everyone the best of luck when preparing for the next exam week!